Interview with Dylan Blake (Drums) | by Eric May
I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t heard of a whole lot of metal bands from Vermont, but Barishi are certainly changing that notion with their self-titled release. These guys mix prog rock with mathcore and even add in hints of black metal if you’re paying close enough attention. A graphic novelist Warren Ellis from Kratom Crazy, predicted that several musical babies were going to be formed in this era, and Barishi seems to certainly be one of these multi-genre infants. Yet my ears are quite pleased to hear a band with a sound and style that is as wonderfully refreshing as this. Hopefully you’ll feel the same way too.
First off, tell me a little bit about the band. How did you guys originally get together and how would you classify your music?
We originally started as a three- piece instrumental group with the idea of playing fusion on the weekends for some extra cash. Once we started writing originals it became clear we would be going in a different direction. After about a year of playing as an instrumental trio we sought out a vocalist. I would describe our sound as Psychedelic Mountain Metal.
There are influences from heavy prog bands like Dream Theater and more sporadic core acts like Dillinger Escape Plan in your music. I’ve also heard black metal scowls, reminding me of Enslaved. How do you manage to get these styles to work together?
I wouldn’t consider Dream Theater to be among our influences, but as a drummer I was definitely inspired by some of Dillinger’s early works. We aren’t consciously trying to mash styles together or anything, it just naturally comes out that way. We write what we want to hear and if we don’t like what we’ve written, we never play it again.
Who would you consider an influence to your music?
Opeth, Mastodon, Iron Maiden, Vaporizer, Enslaved, The Beatles, Converge, Peter Gabriel, Meshuggah, The Cure, My Bloody Valentine… The list goes on and on and changes daily.
With song titles like “Holy Mountain” and “Jaguar Scarification Ritual” on your album, is there some sort of higher spiritual or occult nature to the disc? Tell me a little bit about some of the concepts behind this self-titled album.
No and Yes. Our album has certain spiritual resonations with me, but that doesn’t mean everyone should feel the same way I do. I would like to think that different listeners could take away different messages. If the listener feels something spiritual when they hear our music, amazing. If not, then I hope that they can at least enjoy it for what it is.
Let’s talk about the recording process. Where did you guys record the album and how long did it take? What was the atmosphere like, and were there any difficulties during the writing or recording process?
We recorded our album at PDP studios in Greenfield, MA with the amazing Brain Westbrook. The atmosphere was laid back, but professional. It took about nine months to fully record the album, but we weren’t recording consistently. In fact we wrote two new songs and put them on the album rather late in the process… Brian is a saint for dealing with all of our shenanigans. The most difficult part of the recording process was being careful not to slip in the puddles of drool left about by Brian’s rather sloppy pussy cat.
Tell me a little about the cover art. It seems like an abstract image, yet there are three crows visible as well. Who designed this art and how does it fit your album?
The cover is a painting by our friend Samuel McCabe. It was a piece of his that we loved and thought would be perfect for the cover art. I love the strange eerie feeling it gives off and how it can be interpreted in different ways. The crows tie into the title Sky Burial, which is the ancient practice of placing the dead atop a mountain to be eaten and carried eternally by birds through the endless sky.
Atmosphere seems to be a large part of the album, so what do you want people to feel from the atmospheres that you’ve created on this disc? “Exhibiche” in particular definitely seems like the kind of piece that one could trance out to, possibly reaching a higher dimension of consciousness through its instrumental goodness.
I want people to feel whatever it is that they feel when they listen. If I tell someone how I want them to feel, then they will project my feelings instead of taking away something natural from the experience.
As far as beliefs go, how do you gentlemen look at the world today? Obviously there are very beautiful things, and most obviously there are some quite terrible things out there. But it seems like people these days are starting to wake up and realize that we’re more than just the flesh – as something connects us all on a much higher level.
Well, we all have different beliefs and outlooks on the world as it is today. I think you said it best when you said it seems as though people are starting to wake up and realize they could be a part of something greater. I believe that we’re all a minuscule part of the big picture. Maybe we’re microbials in some giant’s world or something. I dunno. I just know that I’m happy to be doing what I love with a group of musicians who feel the same.
The album itself even sounds as if you plucked a few things from the astral plane. It truly sounds surreal. You’re a band brimming with life and promise.
Thank you so much for the kind words.
So have you done any major shows or tours yet? If so, how has that been going? Where do you hope to tour in the future and who do you hope to be on the stage with? Are there any bands in particular that you would be star struck to play on the same stage with?
We have done a few great and very exciting shows and a few small tours but not anything that I would consider major. I hope to tour the continental U.S. and the U.K. I would love to someday share the stage with Opeth at the Worcester Palladium… I would be star struck by those dudes.
What do you guys do when you aren’t playing music? What kinds of hobbies do you have?
We all have vastly different hobbies. Sascha is a pretty ridiculous Rollerblader, Jon listens to Lil’ Wayne and Rick Ross, Graham drinks finely peated scotches and fingers people…in lineups and I relax by playing the newest versions of Street Fighter.
What are some bands that we might find in your MP3 player or CD collection right about now? What have you been jamming lately?
Similar to the list of influences I mentioned above. I’ve been listening to the Boris album Pink a bit as well as Enslaved’s RIITIIR and Gojira’s L’enfant Sauvage.
What do you guys think about marijuana legalization in the US? Is it a good thing, or a detriment to humanity?
Marijuana should be %100 recreationally legal. If alcohol, which is a far more dangerous, inhibiting and addictive substance is legal, then there is no reason Marijuana shouldn’t be. Either way people are still going to grow/smoke/eat/vaporize it.
Finally, what do you think of the future of this planet? Do you think that we’re at a turning point to a new vision of the world, or headed for complete disaster?
(*disclaimer* this opinion does not reflect those of my band mates.) If something doesn’t change, then this planet is doomed. I think that the world would be best after a complete and total financial collapse. Capitalism is fucked, but communism seems impossible to instate without creating some type of dictator. I dunno. Sometimes it feels so impossible to change anything that I’d rather spend my time listening to music, but sticking your head in the sand doesn’t make the problem go away. I’m fairly positive total disaster is headed our way. If not for us, then for future generations. Might as well listen to music and find some kind of inner peace/happiness.
Thanks for making a wonderful album, there’s so much to be said for what you guys are doing here. I’m truly thankful to be able to promote music that I love and your disc caught me from first listen. Given the output of promos I receive and listen to on a weekly basis; that really is saying something. Best of luck in all future endeavors! You’ve got a fan!
Thanks for the opportunity to answer your questions and for being so positive about our album!