The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world











Mark: Hi, thanks very much for talking to us. Everyone will know you from your band Baroness and maybe your artistic pursuits, but not many people will have had the chance to see you perform as a solo artist. It’s pretty exciting then to see you coming over to Australia for a solo tour; can you tell us a little bit about choosing the set list for something like that?



John:  I’ll tell you a little bit! I’m still working on it. Unfortunately I haven’t had as much time as I would have liked to develop something with completely original material so it will be a mixture of material from Baroness, some cover stuff and original new stuff, we’ll see!



Mark: So, no unreleased material off the new Baroness album?



John: Well that might happen – we’ll have to wait and see!



Mark: So, basically the set up is two men and their acoustics?



John: That’s what I think it’s going to be, yeah!



Mark: How long have you known Scott; is it a long term friendship?



John: Scott and I have known each other for a few years, and there’s been a couple of occasions when our paths have crossed on tour. Scott asked me to do this tour and when a friend asks you to do something like this, to go to Australia, you don’t say no!



Mark: Yeah, it’s great, because the last time we saw you down here was the Metallica tour in 2010. How was that for you?



John: That was good fun! I thought it was a blast actually. We got to tour in a really unique way that time, because Metallica were doing such a lot of shows in each state, it was really great for us to stay for a few days and see a lot of the cities. The other thing that was really cool, doing the arenas for a couple of nights, and getting to do the side shows, that was a blast!



Mark: I saw the video of the Annandale show which was cool.



John: We really enjoyed that, we had a great time both with Metallica and the solo shows!



Mark: One of the really interesting things about you is your art work as well, which is mind blowing. You’ve had the art blog side up for a while now; did that go up last year?



John: About four or five months ago.



Mark: We’ve had about 50 or 60 people, who when they knew we were speaking to you, wanted to know what merchandise you’ll be bringing over?



John: We will be bringing merchandise over.



Mark: As long as there’s vinyl, I’m told, you won’t have a riot on your hands!!



John: Yeah, I’m trying to figure out a way to get some vinyl over there! That would be fantastic! We have a lot of vinyl in our house that I’d like to do something with, but it’s not fun or easy to get it there!



Mark: Yeah, it’s a big country, and just going from Perth to the East Coast is going to be hard enough!



Mark: As far as your own art is concerned there’s some fantastic creations out there, what’s your favourite work you’ve done for somebody else?



John: I know this sounds a little cliché, but I don’t play favourites, with the whole back catalogue of stuff that I’ve done. Generally I’m most in to what I’m working on right now. That’s the Baroness thing right now, that’s my favourite. With the records that I’ve done, once it’s done, it’s done, I don’t really think about it after that. I don’t look at the records once they’re out, I don’t look at the art.



Mark: I’ve read interviews where you talk about your artistic influences. I see a lot of references that you give are to things like comic book art, rock poster fliers and that sort of thing. I also see a lot of Art Nouveau, artists like Egon Schiele especially, and maybe a bit of Aubrey Beardsley, the Victorian illustrator?



John: Of course, I’m not exactly familiar with art history but I would hesitate to call them my primary influence it’s like when I talk about comic book art, it’s an influence for sure but was more so when I was a kid 10, 15 years ago. There’s stuff that engages me but I’m certainly and admirer of Egon Schiele and I am a great admirer of Aubrey Beardsley. Simply my main influence has always been fine art.



Mark: You can definitely see that, and you can see bits of Gustav Klimt, and maybe a bit of Waterhouse. They were like the forefathers of the poster art. Do you find it difficult to balance the art with Baroness? Do you compartmentalize it well?



John: I think…. (pause) Ask my wife! Sometimes I think it’s easier, and sometimes it’s difficult to make that separation. It’s equally difficult for me to separate what I’m doing musically, from having a real life; it’s all part of a very big project that I’ve been engaged in for 10 or 15 years now. If I’m not writing music then I am creating art.



It’s all I do, it’s all I care to do, whether or not I’m good at it, it’s a subjective thing. I’m very fortunate in that I’m able to do it all the time now, and I don’t take that for granted in any way shape of form. Whatever forced me toward those artistic outlets, continues to drive me, and I think it’s got a little more intense over the years. But there are no compartments it’s all big and bold.



Mark: On to the new Baroness album, you’ve mentioned a few snippets here and there, you mentioned a few things of what to expect when you were out on the Metallica tour. Have you got an idea on when it’s due out?



John: At this point the sooner the better, I think the production time on it is it is what it is. By the time I hit Australia I think the package will be complete and so I hope we’re looking at late Spring, early Summer.



Mark: You mention this time you’ll be pushing the boundaries of what people expect from you in Baroness.



John: Yeah, I know that for a fact now! It will be surprising. I think there will be positive, as well as adverse reactions to what we are doing. We took our first year off touring that we have ever taken, now we’ve not done that in ten years, and we dug our heels in and made sure we wrote the record that we wanted to write. I think the pressure was there to feel obligated to offer something specific to our audience, but we did the stuff we wanted to do, and took some risks with the song writing and direction, and we are quite excited about it.



Mark: Do you think that’s a reaction to the success of the Blue Album? Or do you think you would have gone this way anyway?



John: It’s hard for me to say. I know that so much of this record is a result of the amount of ground we covered with the last record, and the fact that I feel that repetition doesn’t suit the band very well. Varying a single theme might work for some bands, or sticking to the tried and tested but that’s not for us. We wanted to do the things on this record that we weren’t capable of doing before. It’s going to shock people there’s no two ways about it?



Mark: I’ll only ask you one question about the name of the album, will it be Yellow?



John: You’re going to have to wait and see! At this point there is no formal title, nothing official.



Mark: Ok. That’s a good answer! If you could have been a fly on the wall for the creation of one piece of music, at any time in history, what would it have been and why?



John: Definitely, Dark Side of the Moon, because at this point in my life, I reckon it’s been in my collection the longest, and has been listened to the most times. It gave me considerable inspiration in my writing. It’s timeless and pushed the boundaries, and it’s accessible yet unique, and doesn’t sound dated.



Mark: What do you listen to these days? I imagine you are quite eclectic in what you listen to.



John: Over the past few years I’ve been listening to an artist called Scott Walker. He was in a band called The Walker Brothers, and he’s also been putting out solo records. He’s a huge favourite of mine. Then there's all the greats like Pink Floyd



Mark: One very quick question to end with, what is the meaning of life?



John: (Laughs) one very quick one! I don’t know, I’ll tell you when I’m on my death bed!!



Mark: Have some time to think about it and tell me when you come over to Perth!



John: Yeah, I’ll have that ready for you by the time I get there!



Mark; It’s been a pleasure to speak to you John, and we’ll see you at the Perth concert, I’ll be the one pointing the camera at you!



You can check out the Australian dates below or at






By Mark Diggins