As the first headline run of tour dates from Baroness approaches, we spoke to drummer Seb Thomson about what we should prepare for.

The band are no strangers to our shores, touring here previous with Metallica and as a part of Soundwave. Seb, personally, has been here enough to have a tab at the local pub. But this time round it will be their name up in lights, with a cheeky stop off at Meredith Music Festival.

They’ll be bringing their current album Purple, which was released on the bands own label. Seb gives us his thoughts on both, and be braved a severe sounding storm to do so…

 

The Neversphere: Baroness will be Down Under in a matter of weeks for their first ever headline tour of Australia. Is it still a trip that you can headline a tour on the other side of the world?

Seb Thomson: Well, I’ve actually been to Australia thirteen times with other bands [laugh]. I’ve headlined Australian many times. For Baroness it’s the first one, and I’m very excited for that. The last tour we did was Soundwave which was really fun…God… Hang on…

The weather is crazy out here. Oh my god…

OH my god… It’s like a monsoon. I have to get under something…

… Are you fucking kidding me?

… Ok. I’m under an umbrella right now. Damn.

Ok. Sorry… Soundwave was really fun but it has all the plus sides and down sites of a festival. The plus sides are you get to see all these great bands and there’s all this great energy. The down side is everything is rushed. You don’t get a proper sound check; it can be a little stressful at times. I’m stoked to be doing our own shows and play to a Baroness crowd.

The Neversphere: In Australia you’ve supported Metallica, played on Soundwave, now you’re headlining and playing at Meredith Music Festival. This is a pretty diverse schedule and testament to the bands ability to shape shift, which is rare for heavy bands. It that something you purposely strive for?

Seb: It’s not on purpose in any kind of business way but it is on purpose aesthetically. We’re not really a metal band. We have some elements of metal in our music but it’s not heavy metal music. I think that can be a strength for us. When I joined Baroness, my friends asked me to describe the band. I actually had a really hard time. I didn’t know what to say, I had to describe it with words not genres.

The Neversphere: So, what words did you use?

Seb: You know what I said? Imagine if you took the rhythm section of an American post-hardcore band like Fugazi, then you added the guitar melodies from Thin Lizzy and Queen and put them together. So we have this really intense foundation with this over-the-top guitar thing happening. It was hard for sure, but that description actually works for some people.

The Neversphere: The band dropped the latest album ‘Purple’ in December last year. Now that the record has had some time to find its footing, how did it go down with fans in the long term?

Seb: Surprisingly well. By that I mean… Maybe I’m taking a selfish point of view on this but i replaced Allan [Blickle, former drummer]. Alan was a massive part of the sound of Baroness so I was slightly anxious to see how the fans would react, especially to the old stuff live where the drums are featured a lot. I have to say it’s been overwhelmingly positive.

I’m not very good at the business stuff because I’m not very interested, though I probably should be. It seems to be going well there too… Press is funny. What I look for is a strong reaction. What I hate is when people say ‘oh, it’s OK’, I’d rather they hate the album than say that.

The most important thing to me is to go into rooms with great energy and play to people who are excited. But you know with all the blogs and stuff these days, people do read these things so it does help, for sure.

The Neversphere: The band formed their own label for the release, Abraxan Hymns. It’s really interesting that artists are going down this road having discovered they don’t need help from the suits. I can’t imagine you had much free time as it was. Was the label a good decision in hindsight?

It’s made the biggest difference for John [Baizley, vocals]. He’s the one who tries to see the day-to-day operation of it. I think it’s pretty stressful for him. The really great thing is we have a great management company. They’ve been in the business for so long and know to reference people to us that can do the things a label does; Press, distribution, whatever.

Now we can just pay them directly instead of paying the middle man which was the label. There are two advantages. One, you get to keep a little bit more of the money. Two, probably more importantly, you get to keep control. So far it seems to have worked out well.

The Neversphere: Is it something you’d recommend for your peers? Bands who have a few releases under their belt and international acclaim?

Seb: You know what… it’s difficult. For us it was a reasonable choice. Traditionally labels were a bank. Back in the day, what was the label really doing? They’re just the capitalist. They own the capital and the money. Basically they’re giving the band a loan to make the record. So if we can get an advance from our management to pay for the producer, studio or whatever, then why not?

The Neversphere: I caught you guys at the Metallica show, which was before you joined, so I have some idea of a Baroness live show. How does it work in a headline capacity? When I listen to ‘Purple’ in full I need at least one cigarette break, it’s so intense.

Seb: That’s a good point. ‘Purple’ is a very intense record, you’re right – It’s almost relentless. We play the track Fugue live in order for the audience and the band to have a breather. We’ll do things like that and Nick [Jost, new bassist] has a great keyboard and synth set up. He’ll do some ambient stuff between songs or John will do ambient stuff with his pedals.

It adds drama, which is nice and it also gives everybody – the band and the audience – a chance to have a beer, catch our breath and get into the next song. We like peaks and valleys.

The Neversphere: Well, Seb, thank you very much for braving the storm to give us a heads up so we can plan accordingly…

Seb: Hey, no problem. I Hope to see you at one of the shows!

Baroness Australian Tour Dates
Tickets available now

Metro Theatre, Sydney
Wednesday, December 7th
Tickets: Live Nation 

The Triffid, Brisbane
Thursday, December 8th
Tickets: Live Nation 

Prince Bandroom, Melbourne
Friday, December 9th
Tickets: Live Nation 

The Gov, Adelaide
Monday, December 12th
Tickets: Live Nation 

Capitol, Perth
Tuesday, December 13th
Tickets: Live Nation