Teddie Taylor Interviews BARGHEST
Since 2006, Barghest have been the ever-present blackness emanating from the swamps of Baton Rouge, LA. Filled with disdain and biting ferociousness, they cultivate a nostalgic, wretched sound that honors the foundation laid by Nordic groups before them. We caught up with vocalist Troy Bennett and guitarist/founder Dallas Smith to talk about the past and the future of Barghest.
The band has been together for ten years now and over the past two you’ve released a lot of material (two splits and two EPs). Are you going to record an LP soon?
Dallas Smith: Yes, we’re writing that right now. It’ll be the third full-length and the first one we don’t DIY record, so we may lose some black metal cred. [Laughs] But, you know, you’ll hear the riffs. That’s kind of the point, so we’re really excited.
Troy Bennett: Barghest riffs are fuckin’ awesome. It’s good to hear all those notes because that’s one thing, even before I joined the band, I’ve always appreciated about Barghest. There are so many notes and there’s so much going on, so you get to hear all of it. It’ll be really cool doing something studio-wise.
Dallas: You mentioned the past few years being more productive and that’s because before, previous to lineup change, our other guitarist (Matthew Thudium) was in Thou. Like, we shared a guitarist with Thou. I’m gonna assume you know how much those guys tour. We kind of wanted to do more and he understood that, so that’s why the past few years have been so productive. We’ve been a band for ten years and don’t have a whole bunch to show for it, but that’s the reason.
How did the recent split with TEETH on GrimCVLT come about?
Dallas: We were approached by Sean from CVLT Nation. He, for whatever reason, loves our band or at least gives us the impression that he likes us a whole lot. [Laughs]
Troy: Yeah, they helped us promote the last tour.
Dallas: Yeah, and before the split was even talked about they were one of the first who always reviewed our albums.
It was received really well by the metal community. Did you do anything different on that or stick to what you normally do?
Dallas: Basically, the writing process has been the same from the beginning of the band. Even with the drastic changes in sound, it hasn’t been like, “Let’s change this!” It just happened. It’s a continuation of Into Weeping Firmament. Would you agree with that [Troy]?
Troy: Oh, absolutely. I mean this guy [Dallas] was the engineer for the past two releases.
Dallas: Which doesn’t mean shit.
Troy: He sells himself short. Maybe that’s what gives us our “kvlt” sound.
Dallas: No, honestly I will say that I feel that if we wouldn’t have recorded everything ourselves then maybe we would be a bigger band. I remember when we started our contemporaries were Mutilation Rites and bands like that. I literally remember reading about Mutilation Rites and they were described as “Barghest-style black metal.” I swear to God. We got a kick out of it. It’s funny how those bands have skyrocketed. And I’m not taking anything away from them – we know those dudes and they’re fuckin’ great musicians. Anyway, my point is that you kind of question whether that had anything to do with it. We’ll see, I guess, with this new record.
So you (Dallas) used to do vocals. Why did that change and has the sound changed since Troy took over?
Dallas: Yeah, absolutely. Well, we talked about how the band has been around for ten years. We’ve gone through very drastic changes as far as the atmosphere. We started out as more of a weakling Silencer-type with real shrill vocals. You know, atmospheric. That type of thing. It morphed from there. The Virtuous Purge was more death metal influenced. The vocals were more gutteral. And then, the thing is, me and Jason (Thorning) write all the Barghest stuff, so even when I was just doing vocals, we were writing the music. Basically, it was a natural evolution for me to pick up the guitar and, rather than do vocals and play guitar, I felt like Troy was a perfect fit. It’s more or less like me and Jason wrote the music and I felt like I wanted to actually play it.
What do you think your band brings to USBM?
Dallas: I think there are very few bands who sound like us from the states. Most of the other American bands are what we started out as, which is more atmospheric, kind of what you would call Cascadian black metal. We’re more of the Finnish, violent, filthy sound.
You guys don’t really do the “occult” thing that a lot of black metal bands do. It’s more hatred.
Troy: No, we’re just asshole guys that hate people. I am. I won’t blanket everyone.
Dallas: What I was going to tell you earlier about the fest (Burn the Throne V), it’s funny. This guy (Troy) was a bartender and I feel like he’s great at handling and talking to people. I am the most socially awkward asshole you’ve ever met. That seeps into the music too.
What are your plans for next year?
Troy: We are on the road a lot.
Dallas: We’re doing 18 days in June. Then some SXSW stuff. We’re doing the first Austin Terror Fest.
Troy: And now we’re doing 71Grind Fest. Being in this band has been wonderful for me. It’s so good to be part of a working band that’s about the hustle.
Dallas: For so long, a lot of us, especially me, felt stagnant. We weren’t able to take it to the next level, so to speak. I feel like now is the time. Sure, it’s kind of shitty that it’s ten years later, but better late than never. That’s where we are.