Now You Know: BarishiThursday, 13th March 2014
Location: Brattleboro, Vermont
Style: Progressive metal with the flair of The Mars Volta, volatility of The Dillinger Escape Plan, and melodic spaciousness of Opeth
Personnel: Sascha Simms (vocals); Graham Brooks (guitars); Jonathan Kelley (bass); Dylan Blake (drums).
Latest Release: Self-titled (2013, self-released)
Geography lesion of the day: “The mountains here are some of the most ancient in the world,” begins Barishi drummer Dylan Blake, in reference to the band’s proximity to the mountains of the New England region. “Some of the Appalachians are around three billion years old. When you take into consideration that the world is about 4.5 billion years old you begin to understand how long they’ve been here. It’s really nice to be able to go smoke some ted and unwind in a place that’s away from everything and everyone. It’s a very grounding experience and never fails to put things into perspective…at least for me.”
The “smoke some ted” comment aside, the tag “mountain metal.” What does it mean? According to the band, it’s ambiguous enough to describe their sound, but also demonstrates where they’re from, which is always a smart move considering how geography-obsessed the metal scene is. And Barishi’s sound has undergone some changes since their formation, having started as an instrumental band with no clear direction, to an outfit with a purpose and an excellent debut on their hands.
“They were fun,” says Blake of the band’s halcyon days. “We were much more focused on playing music that people would like instead of what came naturally to us, at least in the beginning. We just wanted to play some fusion and make extra cash at the local pubs. That became stale rather quickly and soon enough we were writing music that was more honest.”
Apparently for Barishi, playing all-instrumental music doesn’t equate to a fulfilled creative plate, so the band hooked up with singer Sascha Simms in 2012. Had Simms not had joined, the course of Barishi would have been one of stuffy Birkenstocks and snooty musical repertories. “We could have become a jam band and written terrible songs, that assholes loved, with some monetary success, sure,” he says. “But in order for me to feel truly successful, I have to play music that I love, which would have been very difficult without the addition of Sascha. He allowed us to stretch our songwriting into places that would have been impossible without him.”
Simms – who the band plucked from the streets of Keene, New Hampshire – is more often than not, the pace-setter for some of the more adventurous tunes found the band’s self-titled album. His emotive cleans and razor-sharp growls heard on cuts like “Holy Mountain” and “The Rider” serve to further expand the band’s sonic template.
“He can do some great mid-high screams and has a very nice clean singing voice too,” notes Blake. “I like his versatility and willingness to be pushed outside of his comfort zone. He hadn’t done any ‘screaming’ or ‘unclean’ vocals before he joined the band and he was somewhat reluctant, or maybe even nervous, to try at first. But once he got it down, and realized how dope it sounded he was totally into it.”
Speaking of versatility, a saxophone solo pops up on “Holy Mountain,” only heightening the album’s flair for out-of-the-box twists and turns. According to Blake, the band didn’t have to go very far to find a suitable guest musician. “We really wanted to get Jon’s father Ron, who is an incredible Saxophonist, on the record. We felt that the section in ‘Holy Mountain’ was a fairly blank canvas that would be helped greatly by his work. When we asked him if he was interested he happily obliged. We’re all very happy with the result.”
The rest of 2014 should see the band continue to show their wares on the live circuit (“Things are going well,” adds Blake), but, Barishi is also exploring some out-of-state possibilities, all with the intention of furthering their career.
“We talked briefly about moving, but are unsure where to go,” closes Blake. “Hopefully with some luck and tons more hard work, we’ll get some attention from a label. Until then we’re going to keep doing what we do best; writing new material and playing live shows as energetically as we can.”