Barreleye – Insidious MissionsFriday, 28th September 2018
Thankfully consumer consumption these days helps in forming internet feeds where newcomers can pop across your radar screen. Such is the case for German band Barreleye – as their presence came into this scribe’s social media feed to check out their latest EP Insidious Siren on their Bandcamp page. Subsequently satisfied with their brand of cross-pollinated metal (groove, thrash, and melodic death with a modern touch), it’s evident that the band doggedly pursue their craft for the passion it provides – gaining fans one day at a time.
Reaching out by e-mail to guitarist Danilo Garbe, you’ll discover more about their history, recordings, challenges, and hopes/dreams for the future. The man loves the genre and hopes for the best, a great outlook to have in a period where there is plenty of new acts to discover and consume.
Dead Rhetoric: Barreleye started in 2012 as Barreleyes and stayed that way until 2014 when the name change occurred. What can you tell us about the formation of the group, where you were in terms of a style / songwriting development, and why did you decide on changing the name?
Danilo Garbe: Barreleye started in 2012, consisting of myself, Mischa (vocals) and two ex-members of Secretum, Ives (drums) and Thilo (bass). The history began one year before as I joined the band Secretum in 2011 that split up shortly after. Yves, Thilo, and I started then a new formation. After some months of instrumental jamming, we recorded a four-track demo and we found Mischa. We started first under the name of Karyptis, but because of another band with a similar name and music style, we changed into the name of Barreleyes.
At this time we shifted the thrash /death metal style to a more melodic and progressive style. And that consisted of material for the first official four track EP Virus, which was recorded at the end of 2013 and released the beginning of 2014. From then we had some local shows and I was searching for a second guitar player. I already had an eye on Christoph who I knew from friends in the past. Christoph joined the band in the middle of 2014.
But there were also fundamental conflicts within the band, this time was marked by some personal problems. It developed into a more and more tense relationship so that working was not really possible anymore. Yves decided to leave the band in the middle of 2014 and then we also wanted to part ways with Thilo. After a final show together we told him our decision. But suddenly some demands were imposed on us, like not using the band name or to use the graphics or pictures and then we were denied access to the band’s online presence. That was shocking especially for me because I spent a lot of time on the band with songwriting and booking, and now, someone wanted to damage it. We didn’t accept this, and via ads we met Szymon (bass) and Henry (drums) who joined the band in the summer of 2014. Together we agreed that we will just continue from then on simply as Barreleye.
An interesting point is the original idea of the band name. Somehow it was decided to use it in plural form. The idea of the name Barreleye came to me one night. The word sounds good and I liked that it can have an ambiguous interpretation. On the one hand you have a creature that is living completely alone in the darkness of the deep sea. You can directly look into its head which is transparent, and this can be seen metaphorically too. On the other hand it can also be considered as an art word, consisting of a gun barrel and the eye which is focusing on a victim.
Dead Rhetoric: What can you tell us regarding the development of your previous discography with the Virus EP and Urged to Fall full-length during 2014 and 2015? What do you consider the strengths and weaknesses of each outing, and what was the response like from the media and fans to these releases?
Garbe: Since we started with the new lineup, we reached a higher level of organization and we planned an album release one year later. The production of Urged to Fall meant a first step of a stable situation. We were hungry and heavily motivated to push ourselves forward. We had the mission in our minds and we all worked very hard on the project. I worked daily on the songs, our rehearsals were very intense and the mood within the band was fantastic. After half a year we had enough material for an album, including the four Virus EP tracks, which we definitely wanted to integrate on it. We went to Hidden Planet Studios, again to Jan Oberg, just as we did for the Virus EP before. He did a great job and we had a good time. Micha wrote pretty demanding lyrics and later create a cool lyric video clip for the track “Inner Fiend”.
The feedback for the album was very good, even great. The album got many compliments for the powerful and professional production. For a debut album the songs were strong and we received much respect in all the reviews. With some distance, I would say that the weakness on Urged to Fall is in the vocal arrangements in some parts, where we should have spent more time. But nevermind, it was just that time and just as we felt. And you also need things to learn from to improve the next time, otherwise it could go quickly into stagnation. Micha gave his best as we all did. And furthermore I am not really satisfied with some of the guitar solo parts, but I can reveal that I actually do not like solo parts on guitar- I prefer what serves the song and therefore I have specialized on riffs.
Dead Rhetoric: Insidious Siren is your latest EP release – featuring a new vocalist and drummer in the lineup. What happened to necessitate the lineup changes, and do you believe this helped the band gain more insight into this set of songs by having to work a little longer at them given the three-year gap between releases?
Garbe: Within that three years a lot happened. After the first tour run in 2015, Henry left the band because he wanted to try something new with his friends of Brutal Krunt and other projects. And then we found Dmitry very quickly through a local ad. After we met the first time he could play almost the entire album, this was really impressive to us. Anyway we were able to continue playing live again. I was already writing new material and after half a year we joined the studio to start the production of another EP. After all the instrumental parts were recorded we made a second tour run until the end of 2016.
After that tour Micha decided to leave the band because he was just tired and realized that he cannot take it as seriously as we do. He wanted to focus on his studies and therefore he didn’t have much time and motivation for a band. We did not part in anger. We are still friends with Henry and Micha and they support us too. I can understand their decisions too because working in a band, especially touring, means many sacrifices and a lot of work without real profit. If you don’t love it than it just makes no sense.
We took a break after Micha left and it was really necessary. I just felt burnt out and wanted to refresh the batteries. We spent a half year in just rehearsals and loose songwriting. It was not easy to find a suitable voice for our style. And in 2017 Szymon recommended an old friend of his, David. The first rehearsals were very promising and we were working on the old songs as well as new songs. We had the first shows with David which helped us bond. It felt natural to us to change our style a bit with David’s voice which has a much wider range. The next three months we focus on the studio production for Insidious Siren. We were open-minded for the songwriting and the vocal arrangements. David and Christoph were brainstorming about the lyrics where I helped a bit.
It took some time to finish the cover artwork. Dmitry did a fantastic job on the entire layout design. We wanted to make a video clip for “Cosmic Downfall” which also took some time. Szymon and David worked hard on editing the footage. In the end all efforts were worth it. We are very happy about the development and our current product, done completely by the DIY concept.
Dead Rhetoric: Can you discuss the challenges of constructing the three-part title track? Was this an idea that continuously morphed and changed from inception to completion?
Garbe: I was writing the instrumental songs as usual and collected tons of riffs. I experimented with lots of different arrangements and moods and after some time I had so much stuff in the same song project. Like a mosaic I pieced all the parts together and sometimes apart until it all fit together. The idea of a three-part track appeared clearly because it seemed like a coherent story. Working on it was very exciting to me and for the others too.
I wanted to change the style a bit, a step forward in maturity. The mission was to drop the speed and the shouting, to focus on thrash grooves, including atmospheric vibes and to continue all that with melodic vocals.
Dead Rhetoric: Your music embraces diverse influences across the metal spectrum. Where do you see Barreleye as far as a style – do you think the cross-pollination helps the band gain a wider level of acceptance from different audiences?
Garbe: I’m inspired by so many metal styles. I can identify with almost any metal style and by the fact that I am a complete metal fan I am permanently on the hunt to discover new bands. At the moment there are lots of exciting newcomers in black metal, death metal in Europe and great American epic and doom metal bands.
Our style can be simply described as groove metal. I don’t want to set our style too much. The biggest consensus can be probably found in the neo-thrash era in the middle 1990’s. But it is not only the portion of thrash groove, I also like the combination with melancholic harmonies and a certain refinement. And I want to color it in an authentic warm sound.
I cannot see any wide level of acceptance, not at the moment, not yet. Our style is not really conforming to the current trend which is dominated by old school metal styles. Maybe our style is too modern from the perspective of common metal audiences, so it is actually harder for us than for traditional metal bands.
Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe the band’s philosophy when it comes to performing live? What do you hope the audience is able to take away from a show, and what have been some of the most memorable performances for Barreleye to date?
Garbe: The primary purpose is to transport energy and dedication. I think people notice that we take our music seriously and perform the show accordingly with passion. When people come to see us live, they shall feel comfortable, just switch off the brain and enjoy the vibes. I do not need to urge the crowd on, for me it is fine when they just enjoy the show, by gently headbanging with a beer in their hands. We are not complicated. Most of the club owners, techs, or other people involved notice that. We are grateful for each opportunity that we get.
Dead Rhetoric: Hailing from Berlin, how do you feel about the local scene when it comes to metal, shows, other bands, media support? Everyone of course considers Germany one of the metal meccas, do you believe there’s enough support for the domestic bands as there has been for the international tours and festivals that have developed?
Garbe: Definitely. Germany has a huge metal scene. And the market seems to be increasing steadily. There is no noticeable support for younger bands because there are just too many bands. The competition is immense. Each band has to invest work and money too and its mostly only a matter of luck if you have a well-attended show or getting reviewed in a magazine.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you consider some of the biggest challenges and obstacles that Barreleye face at this point in your career?
Garbe: Our fanbase is not huge and we grow in very small steps, probably it is better for us than having success in a very short time. We have to be very patient and must not expect too much from making music. We enjoy our time together with each new milestone we reach. It’s important to keep that family feeling within the band, like now. I am very proud of the boys.
The biggest challenges for us are to book good shows, that is really hard work and the conditions are mostly bad. Here we hope that it improves over time. Furthermore we are also open for partners who could help us a bit someday in the future. We will see.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel about the social media/internet community tools at your disposal such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Bandcamp, and Spotify as examples? Do you believe this helps independent bands gain more international attention at a quicker pace than the old music industry models?
Garbe: Social media presence is one of the most important parts for an independent band like ourselves. Without these social networks we would not have the status we have now. We are managing everything by ourselves and therefore we are using each serious network because it is important to get in touch with the fans easily.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you consider three of the most important bands or albums to your development and outlook when it comes to heavy music in general? And what have been some of the most memorable concert moments in your lifetime, purely as a fan/audience spectator, and what made them so special?
Garbe: A hard question. I always listen to numerous bands, which can be switched our daily. At the time I was writing Insidious Siren I was very inspired by Grip Inc., Arcane Order, Mastadon, Gojira, and Crowbar. My three most important all-time albums are Painkiller from Judas Priest, Seasons in the Abyss from Slayer, and Dead Heart in a Dead World from Nevermore.
I have seen so many concerts for over 20 years, and going to concerts is still special to me. I was excited this year for the Hell Over Hammaburg festival. I need to be there again next year. That concept is amazing, the combination of heavy, doom, epic, and black metal in connection with occult culture, fantasy, and kinda cult spirit, the fact that you can discover so many unknown bands, it was absolutely awesome.
Dead Rhetoric: What hobbies, activities, or interests do you have away from music that help recharge you when you have the free time to pursue them?
Garbe: There’s not really much time besides my day job and the band business. I love being outdoors in nature, preferably by bike. Mostly with music in my ears I could be biking for many hours, for me it has a meditative-effect. I am also a huge fan of history and I always read magazines with topics of all kinds of eras. The same goes for documentaries. I am very interested in politics, autobiographies, art, culture, and of course history.
My main hobby is metal music. I just live for it. As often as possible I visit concerts and festivals. I collect metal magazines and fanzines, shirts, patches, posters.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the agenda for Barreleye for the next twelve months? Has work begun on the next recording for the band, and if so will it be another EP or a full-length?
Garbe: The mood within the band is great and totally euphoric at the moment. The responsibilities are divided up very well, one for all and all together for the band. All topics and milestones are discussed and agreed upon together. We are looking forward to the upcoming shows and we hope that the conditions will slowly improve for us.
I am already working on new songs for the next album. We all are hot for the new stuff and want to be in the studio in the spring of 2019 for production on a full-length album. There are lots of interesting candidates of songs for the album and I can already reveal that it will be a mix of the last two releases stylistically.