An Interview with STICK TO YOUR GUNS frontman Jesse Barnett
by Jon Hole
In this day and age of over hyped and over produced music, it’s a positive thing to see and hear bands that have a firm grasp on not only the music they perform, but the wold around them as well. Very few bands hold the distinction of garnering full respect from fans and peers alike. Even people that don’t care too much for the music still respect the OC Crew known as STICK TO YOUR GUNS. Less than a month ago, the band released it’s newest slab of high energy, thought provoking music, know simply as Diamond. Besides the bands incendiary music, both live and studio, it’s frontman Jesse Barnett that helps propel STYG to the level they are at. Taking some time out to answer a few questions while on the Fight The Silence Tour with FOR TODAY, here’s Jesse.
For those who may not know, can we get a brief rundown of the ‘History Of…’ the band?
The band started around 2003. We didn’t actually start touring until about 2005/06. When the band start there was really no fantasy of it ever leaving Orange County or even my moms garage for that matter. I think that’s why we had success we have had. I think we were focused on the right things. We were just a bunch of fuck ups playing breakdowns. I think over the years and with all the member changes that we’ve had we have perfected a sound that we all enjoy and found a group that works really well together.
What spurred you to get into music? More specifically, what bands inspired you?
Obviously as the years pass more bands and different bands inspire me now. However, there are the few that have always remained an inspiration for me. Some of those bands are DEATH BY STEREO, IGNITE, BOY SETS FIRE, TERROR, RISE AGAINST, PROPAGANDHI (my favorite band of all time, HATEBREED, SANTA SANGRE and many other. Those are just name a few.
On the new record, Diamond, you go harder and deeper into a few topics you’ve addressed before, such as the intolerance towards homo sexual’s, what sparked this new found aggression? By that I mean, the new material is fiercer and almost angrier, what was the motivation?
I’m glad that was noticed. Look, I feel like we’ve always been this band who stood behind the positivity thing but almost used it as a mask to not really say anything specific. We didn’t want to offend anyone. But as I get older, there are things that i just have absolutely no tolerance for. Homophobia being one of them. Now I’m not saying everyone should go around kissing homosexuals, holding there hands and run around through fields of sugar cane. Instead, just stand on a common ground where someone can just love someone else, man or woman, and it be ok. I felt like I wasn’t outspoken enough about the subject, so in the song we are talking about, “Life In A Box”, I really wanted to get the point across. People say we aren’t positive any more because we sound more angry. To me anger and positivity go hand and fucking hand. We are just militantly positive. “I’m through acting civil, now you know how I feel”!
Have you always been so ‘vocal’?
Of course. I think the only difference now is that I’m more mature in what I’m being vocal about. By that, I mean I make sure I form a good solid opinion about something before I start screaming about it. But also on the other hand I’m trying not hold judgement on anything. I honestly think if people weren’t so defined by there opinions, we wouldn’t have the problems we have today.
You also touch upon more positive aspects, like in ‘We Still Believe’, both the album version, the intro to the video and the Acoustic tracks are very inspiring. Again, for those that may not know, what was the ultimate purpose in writing it?
I don’t think this song is anymore positive than others but I guess I know what you’re saying. The purpose for writing this was because I still believe. I believe this world isn’t too far gone from saving like the rest of the god fearing county would have you believe. There are good people in the world doing really amazing things. You if can’t see them, then you have your head so far up your ass to realize that you’re the actual problem. Also, there is an organization of hardcore kids from back home, orange county CA, that I work with called We Still Believe that do really great things. You know, the things hardcore kids are supposed to do. This song is a tribute to the things that they are doing. I believe in them with all my heart so I felt like this is the least I could do.
Musically Diamond is more diverse without losing any of what makes STICK TO YOUR GUNS what you are, it’s almost a mature continuation of The Hope Division, how was the writing different this time around?
Plain and simple. We had more time. With The Hope Division we had just had Chris (WALLS OF JERICHO) join the band and really had to rush to out the record together. We are very proud and honestly pretty amazed at how it came out. With Diamond, we were able to breathe and actually put more of an effort into. To think about things and make decisions based off of what we thought instead a time constraint.
Are any of the issues addressed on Diamond actually fueled by personal experiences?
‘Such Pain’. The whole is a personal experience, it’s a song I’m singing to myself. I made an amazing and self awakening discovery. I am the source of all my pain. There are no external enemies, I am the enemy. Once I realized that, I was able to adjust and I’m now training my brain to hold no judgement and not to blame. An inward revolution of sorts.
‘The Bond’ is about all the people in my life and in STYG’s career who have actually stayed with us the entire time. They know who they are.
Honestly, every song. But I won’t get into everyone. Some are personal.
One of the biggest and most notable changes are the vocals. At times you almost have a Scott Vogel type of fury in your voice but then turn around and the cleans are extremely harmonious and original, which is something the music scene has been missing. Bands like EVERGREEN TERRACE never got the full credit they deserved for what they did. Was this an intentional change?
Haha I didn’t really know. I have heard that alot though. I think that that just proves I’m a guy who sings, not a singer. I’m not consistent. I don’t know, maybe I’m just still growing. The screaming I could see just because on this record I want everyone to know that I’m furiously intentional with every word I have written. With the singing maybe I got better? Maybe worse? Who knows.
The use of Jiddu Krishnamurti has become an important and integral part of the last two records, how did you come across this man and his thought provoking words?
YouTube. Some how stumbled across him. My life has never been the same.
With this record, what is the band hoping to achieve?
Nothing. Everything is a journey and we don’t want to be concerned with a destination or achievement. Really I guess you could say we just want to inspire positive thought and inspire positive action.
The addition of Josh James (EVERGREEN TERRACE, CASEY JONES) is a match made in heaven. He not only understands the STYG vision, but is a perfect musical fit. How did this union come to fruition and what is it like being, basically, a Straight Edge band now?
Haha it makes it easier having someone else as fucked in the head as us. He’s a great dude and we love him very much.
What are the bands future touring plans for the rest of 2012?
Anywhere and everywhere. Up next Europe with EVERGREEN TERRACE and then the ALL STARS TOUR.
On tour, what are a few of the most important things you cannot live without?
iPad. iPod. iPhone.
If you could assemble a ‘Dream Tour’ with current bands, who would be on the line-up?
TERROR. That’s it.
If you haven’t already picked up Diamond, now is the time. And as always, be sure to catch STICK TO YOUR GUNS on the road and support them and any of the other bands you get the privilege of seeing live.
If you need any further convincing, read our review here: