Barrabus: "Dark times make great lyrics, channel those feelings"

Barrabus

Erratic cult metallers Barrabus are streaming their new self-titled album exclusively with Metal Hammer.

Positioning themselves firmly under the radar in recent years while frontman Paul Catten exorcises his demons in all manner of other musical projects, Barrabus are back and armed with a new drummer to help push the angular, ferocious metal ever onward.

Taking cues from the murky world of sludge and desert rock, there’s a violent edge to Barrabus with shadows of Every Time I Die and Dillinger Escape Plan being cast throughout the album.

As you might expect from the lyrical content, this isn’t your straight-forward record, with songs about everything from reality television and Star Wars to porn addiction and gender identity. To get your nails a little bit deeper into the album, we caught up with Paul himself to get the track-by-track guide to his new album.

My Nightmare As A Reality TV Contestant

“Maybe reality TV shows are starting to bite the dust now; even D-list celebrities are avoiding them whenever possible, but in its heyday it was car crash TV at it’s best. People you hadn’t seen for years exposing their own shallow souls in the hope that it may revive their flagging career. Lyrically it was inspired by Leo Sayer’s awful appearance on Celebrity Big Brother – watching him accept he was no longer relevant in any form was both harrowing and entertaining at the same time. Maybe Barrabus will get invited on the show one day.”

The Trials Of Joseph Merrick

“Dedicated to all the outcasts, the people that just don’t fit in wherever they are – school, the workplace, the streets. I have always been fascinated by Merrick, and came to realise that a lot of us are not dissimilar. Almost everyone is a freak for some reason in someone else’s eyes, it’s how we let it affect us that makes the difference.”

Master Of Disguise

“Each one of us has multiple personalities – it’s not an affliction, it’s a way of coping in situations for some. Musicians and artists are the worst for this! How many identities can a person have in a day? How many people are you in 24 hours? The person at work is not the same person on stage, or backstage, or in an interview. It comes to a point where you don’t really know who you are any more. It was for this very reason I took a step back from band life, I had forgotten who I really was.”

Porn!

“Someone recently described the album as being like a series of Jeremy Kyle, due to nature of the characters within, and Porn is a fine example of just that. Porn addiction, who will admit to that? When something takes over your life to a point it becomes your first priority, it’s an issue. There are plenty of songs about substance addiction, but this can be just as dangerous. Everything is fun in moderation guys! Addictive personalities are hard work, and I know I abstain from pretty much everything these days for that reason.”

Kleptomania

“I watched a documentary years ago about different ‘manias’ and kleptomania – the impulse to steal – was on there. Compulsive shoplifting sounds like fun, but gets people who can’t help it into a lot of trouble. You don’t hear so much of it these days – this song is ten years old – so I have no idea where all the kleptomaniacs have gone, but as much as we may laugh, like the song says ‘you’d be doing it too if you had the guts,’ and that’s a fact.”

Behind Closed Doors

“The South Pacific opening tune gives you no idea of what lies afterwards – another stroke of genius from Mark Seddon (guitar/vocals) there along with his ‘shaking like a shitting dog’ backing vocal. It’s quite similar in ways to our early bands in its delivery and lyrical content, but given the Barrabus-suited smoothness to fuel its intensity. This was written at a time when I felt uncomfortable leaving the house, wrapped up in a world of home recording, porn, studying and going through a mid-life crisis. Dark times make great lyrics. Channel those feelings.”

Pre-op

“The whole idea for this song was after hearing Portishead’s Glory Box and the whole wanting to be a woman lyric, and thinking how it would sound with a guy singing it. Thankfully people are more open about their identities these days, many feeling trapped in the wrong body. I tried to put myself into that position without it sounding like a piss-take, which it most certainly isn’t. The more I see in the media about this issue, the more relevant it is. There were interesting glances from the neighbours after hearing screams of ‘I wish I was a woman!’ coming from my attic while recording it.”

In League With Vader

“I’m in love with Star Wars as much as I was when it came out, and I remember these lyrics being deliberately the polar opposite to everything written in previous bands. No more self loathing or aggro, just writing stuff that had a sense of humour, which was a first at the time for us. It still feels dark in places of course, just like The Empire Strikes Back is, and it is that era that the song is based on. ‘Choking with invisible hands’ remains one of my favourite lyrics to this day.”

This Is The End

“The song was already recorded and virtually mixed before I had written the lyrics. I had tried to avoid writing any personal lyrics as I much prefer characters these days, and I’ve written enough traumatic stuff over the years. I went through some fucking drama around three years ago, way too personal to discuss here, but I put pen to paper and this is the result. I still find it uncomfortable to listen to, even though it’s a great song. I remember sending a rough mix to Matt Keen (bass) and he rang me to say he almost cried. Another of those ‘best songs we’ve ever done’ in my opinion.”

Barrabus is on sale June 9 and available to pre-order now via HMV.

Barrabus - Barrabus album review