INTERVIEW: Tom Kennedy (BARE BONES)
If you're a lover of heavy music and have not yet heard of a band called Bare Bones - stop reading this immediately and go treat yourself to a binge-listen. Seriously. Ok, now that we've got that out of the way, there's a whole lot to be stoked on in the world of this heavy-hitting Sydney quintet; recently unveiling their brand new full-length Rival Minds to rave reviews, it seems to be an ongoing golden run for the Bare Bones gents since their inception in 2013.
Presenting an irresistably heavy cocktail of punk, rock, hardcore and more, Bare Bones have steadily found themselves whipping up attention, from signing with legendary Aussie heavy label Resist Records (home to the likes of Parkway Drive, Polaris and so forth) to jumping onstage at UNIFY, Soundwave and stages all over the country along the way.
A band who will rattle your bones while leaving a smile on your dial, Rival Minds sees the Bare Bones gents more invogorated and assured than ever before, and they're also now set to bring their brand new sonic baby to life in a live setting, closing out 2019 with shows in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney alongside Sydney punks Fangz to celebrate in style. But before the shows kick off, Tiana Speter grabbed some time with Bare Bones frontman Tom Kennedy to chat concepts, tour memories and why Fangz had better watch their Adidas when these shows kick off later this month. Full interview below.
TIANA SPETER: Hey Tom, thank you for chatting with me today!
TOM KENNEDY: No worries, thank you for having me!
TIANA: Well it's a nice coincidence because I've actually been drooling over Rival Minds for the last few days...which sounds like a bit of a kiss-ass thing to say, but it's legit! So it's a nice way to round out my listening binge!
TOM: (laughs) Awesome! Thank you!
TIANA: First things first: congrats on the album release...how does it feel to finally have it out in the world?
TOM: Yeah, it's awesome! I think it's the same for most bands, you go through the process of writing the songs and watching them grow and then going through the recording process and slogging it out. And then you get this finished product and then it's like...six months before the rest of the world gets to hear it! So, it can be a little...not frustrating, but just a little bit like...you're really anxious to get it out there, and you're really keen for people to hear it and you've just gotta go through the natural process so...release day and the few days that follow are always, I think, are a high for any band, particularly if you're kind of stoked on what you're releasing. And we're really happy with Rival Minds so - it's a really good feeling!
TIANA: And there has been a lot of positive stuff swirling around for this one, but stepping back a bit...because obviously you guys have been sitting on the songs for a little while now, can you talk me through a bit how Rival Minds came to life? Was there a clear direction sonically for it from day one?
TOM: Yeah, so once we had released and done the touring cycle for Bad Habits and sort of got into the writing for this album...we all had a pretty clear vision that we wanted to do something a little darker, a little heavier. We've always had a pretty wide range of influences and this time round we just wanted to focus a little more on the metal side of things, and those heavier influence while still sounding like Bare Bones.
TIANA: Yes, which I'm always onboard for, so I was secretly stoked to hear more of that - as are a lot of people! And thematically as well, while the album has a lot of kick-ass ear candy, there are those deep and dark themes bubbling away...I particularly enjoyed that you threw in a Shakespeare reference as well because...well, I'm a total nerd, so I loved that!
TOM: Awesome, yeah, yeah! Lyrics are something that I've always been driven by, and I'm just always looking to try and see where I can take that. Myself ,and JD (James Dean) our guitarist also helped out on writing a song...and it had some of those Shakespeare themes and Easter eggs happening throughout. And it's maybe not something you'd expect from us or from a heavy band...!
RUST (BARE BONES)
TIANA: Well, it was very much appreciated indeed! Now on a side note to the whole album adventure, obviously it's yet another release for Bare Bones through Resist Records...looking back a way, let's say even six or seven years ago...would you have believe yourself if you could go back in time and tell your younger self you'd be reaming up with Resist?
TOM: Um - no!! Yeah, no way (laughs). I think like anyone who grew up in Australia and liking heavy music, Resist is like an institution in this country and Graham's (Graham Nixon - Owner/Operator Resist Records) done a lot of really unreal things. And he's someone that I've always really looked up to and I think that Resist as a label is something that the band have always looked up to. Having that guidance and wisdom that Graham brings is pretty unrivaled, so we couldn't be happier. And it definitely wouldn't be something that we would've expected when we first started!
TIANA: Yeah, well you're a perfect fit there and you've produced yet another home-run with the new album so no doubt they'd be very excited as well with what you've come up with. And obviously aside from the album release, another exciting thing for Bare Bones is that you guys will be gifting fans with some extra shows to celebrate, hitting up Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne armed with the new album...what can we expect from these shows to close out a pretty killer 2019 for you guys?
TOM: Definitely the debut of a whole lot of songs off Rival Minds, which is really exciting for us. We, as you might know, released a few singles before the album came out and we've played those, but the other seven tracks - we're yet to play live! So we've been rehearsing really hard to get those ready and I think you're just gonna see a reinvigorated Bare Bones with a whole new set, and a whole new passion for what we do!
TIANA: And is there a song off Rival Minds that you're super keen to bust out live for the first time with these shows? Or are you just excited for all of them?
TOM: Yeah, kinda all of them...but also, mainly a track called Drag Me Down Below. It's something a little bit different for us, it's a little more melodic. It's still heavy and dark but it shows off a side of us that, I suppose, we haven't really been able to show much of before now so - that would be the main one that I'm excited for!
DRAG ME DOWN BELOW (BARE BONES)
TIANA: Awesome! I've been very lucky, I've managed to catch you guys live a few times now, most recently caught you at Dead of Winter back in July, kicking ass for the spooky crowds up there! But on the topic of live shows, you guys have played your fair share of shows since Bare Bones first started...has there been a particularly memorable live moment for you along the way, whether it's been memorably good, bad or other?
TOM: It's hard to really pick one show, like you said we've been really lucky, especially off the back of Bad Habits, the caliber of tours and festivals and all that we've been able to do is pretty mind-blowing for us! I don't think any of us expected that. I guess one major highlight...it'd be hard to pick one show but the whole Stone Sour tour was really special for us. We absolutely love Stone Sour and Slipknot, and I guess anyone our age kind of grew up worshiping Corey (Corey Taylor - frontman for Slipknot and Stone Sour), especially myself as a singer and as a lyric writer I really, really look up to Corey and I'm a big fan. So to get the opportunity to tour with that band, and then to have them be as nice and as welcoming as they were...I mean, they really didn't have to be that way, Corey Taylor's a giant rockstar and the first night of tour he came into our dressing room and introduced himself and said "if you need anything, just please let me know". And that kind of stuff is just mind-blowing!! So I think that tour was really special for us, and one where we took a lot from that, and learned a lot from them. So that was really cool!
TIANA: That is amazing, I'm definitely in awe of that. Not gonna lie, I'm a little bit jealous - but also excited and happy for you!
TOM: And! He wore our shirt too on the last show, which was so cool too!
COREY TAYLOR ROCKING HIS BARE BONES SHIRT WITH THE BARE BONES LADS//pic Bare Bones Instagram
TIANA: Stop it, this is awesome! Yep, that's a huge, huge win. And on the note of what you were mentioning about music you grew up with...a lot of people in a particular generation did grow up with all those kinds of bands and music. And for someone who is now in that world...did you grow up really interested in that sort of music from the get-go, or were there any artists who really stood out along the way and drew you into this heavier world?
TOM: For me it all started when my dad took me to see AC/DC when I was 11 years old...and that was my first concert experience and my first kind of introduction to loud, hard music. And seeing that, I think, really inspired me to pick up the guitar and start playing music. I also had an older sister and a cousin around a lot when I was a kid, and my cousin played in punk bands and my sister was going to gigs...so there was always this kind of...hard rock/heavy metal/punk music in my house from a young age. So, yeah! I was always interested in that from as young as I can remember. I actually remember my sister having the Slipknot self-titled album and Marilyn Manson's Mechanical Animals album, and the album cover scaring the shit out of me when I was a little kid...
TIANA: Oh man, same! I remember that cover plastered all over the place!
TOM: Yes! It scared the shit out of me, but I remember also being interested by the imagery and the sound and everything...so that stuff is something I've been into as long as I can remember.
TIANA: It sounds your house was the place to be growing up, I love this! Good taste from day one! Now, obviously you have a lot more coming up in the near future with this tour for Rival Minds...but aside from the run of shows to close out the year, if we cast our eyes briefly into the near future: what exciting things are bubbling away for Bare Bones right now, is there anything you can reveal? Or do we just have to wait and see?
TOM: I think it's a matter of waiting and seeing, we've actually gotta wait and see as well! There's definitely some cool things bubbling away in the background, I know that we definitely want to hit new places that we haven't been to before and I think there's some scope for us to potentially be looking at going overseas in the near future...so there's some really exciting stuff kind of bubbling away. But we like to focus on what's in front of us first mostly, and we just wanna put on a really great time on this tour and close out the year with a band, and represent Rival Minds to the best of our ability!
pic by Billy Zammit
TIANA: Yes, i think that's undoubtedly going to happen, and based on what I've seen in the past you guys more than deliver with your live sets, so we've got some very good times ahead to look forward to. Now, for my last question to close this out and let you get on with your day...in honour of the new album Rival Minds...I'm going to take the "rival" part of the title to make this question make sense...if Bare Bones and your upcoming tour mates Fangz had to compete in a rival dance battle...what song are Bare Bones dancing to, and who's taking out the crown?
TOM: We are gonna dance to a song called My Adidas by Run-D.M.C because Fangz like to think that they invented wearing Adidas tracksuits and Adidas shoes. And I take a little issue with that, because I've been wearing shell toes since the early 90s so...I take a little issue with that, so we're gonna out-dance them and we're gonna do it to My Adidas.
TIANA: Um. Damn. I want this to be real now, can we please make this happen?!
TOM: (laughs) Yeah, we'll do it onstage! I'll see if we can make that happen.
TIANA: I'm pretty sure I've got a pair lurking in my wardrobe too, so I'll bust them out in honour of this battle.
TOM: (laughs) Yes, everyone's gotta bust out the shell toes for the tour!
TIANA: Mandatory uniform imposed. I love it! Awesome Tom, well I'm so excited for you guys, the album's fantastic, the shows are gonna be killer, what a great year for Bare Bones and thank you for sharing some time with me to chat about it all. I can't wait to see you guys later this month!
TOM: Hey, thank you so much! See you there!
THE BRAND NEW ALBUM RIVAL MINDS FROM BARE BONES IS OUT NOW VIA RESIST RECORDS - AND THE BOYS ARE TAKING IT FOR A SPIN HITTING BRISBANE, SYDNEY AND MELBOURNE LATER THIS MONTH TO CELEBRATE.
TOUR INFO BELOW, AND FOR ALL OTHER BARE BONES INFO, HEAD HERE.
GOLD LEAF (BARE BONES)
BY TIANA SPETER