What do you do when the band you have been in most of your life splits? If your Jonathon Barwick you start a solo project, remap your life and take a massive leap of faith in yourself.
This was such an interesting conversation. Jonathon and I talked about his solo project and where that project is about to take him.
So Fierce Deity is a solo project?
Yeah it’s just all me. I play everything and program the drums and orchestral stuff but yes it all comes out of my head.
How did that come about because you have been in a band prior to this
Yes I was in a band called Taberah for pretty much my whole life. It just got to the point in life where our priorities shifted, and I wanted to really buckle down and make music. I want to try and build the kind of life where I can spend most of my time doing that. I fell out of love with doing the local grind and just wanted to make music, so I branched off and put it under Fierce Deity and went full steam ahead.
You have stuff in the works?
This is the last of the material I had written. I had 5 songs written that I was going to do with the old band. When it all disbanded they were just sitting around, and I wasn’t sure if they would get released. Friends helped me get the wind back in my sails and I decided to release these under the new name. I wanted to learn about the visual side of things as well and just hone my craft to get to this point. Now I am going to write and record an album. So the singles are all just stand alone.
I was going to say lockdown has been productive for you, but you guys wouldn’t have had that in Tasmania.
No we haven’t had anything, I have all the gear at home, so all of this has been done here. I spent some money where it needed to be spent and I’ve got some cool sounds to play with. I just sit here in my laboratory like a mad wizard and see what happens. I’m learning as I go, so I can kind of hear it in the songs, there are like little learning curves where things start to ramp up a bit towards the end which I think is pretty cool. Hopefully by the time I do this album I will be hitting my stride.
It’s so good to see so many musicians learning their craft as an entirety. Seeing the whole process through from the beginning to the end product.
Yeah I’m late to the game in that sense. I think Parkway Drive really set the standard for that, they are a DIY band basically and they are monsters. The only benefit I can think of for having a label is that pre-existing reach that they have. What they have that someone starting out doesn’t is that reach and relationships with the press. But you can claw your way up, make cool stuff that people want.
The younger generation are all over the technology too! And they know how to use social media
Yes they give people want they want – plenty of content which drives them up. I’m in that first basket. I’m late to the game on promo. The band I was in, Taberah, we were a good band and people really resonated with us but the management side of things we were just making up. Our drummer Tom did most of that stuff, we had a Myspace!!!! That’s how old we are.
I never had Myspace… that was before I could work a computer properly haha.
So will you tour with this project? Would you get a band together to head out on tour?
I can imagine it, but I have a pretty wild imagination. If it got to a ridiculous point where it would be silly for me to not then yes. I love the idea of getting a group of musicians together, you know like Motorhead was always Lemmy, but different people came in and out. And with Motorhead all these great musicians came and went and added their elements to the songs. I really do like that. I miss that element of being in a band. At the moment I like just making the music and I am having a ball learning how to record and produce. At this stage I have no real desire to get back into the local grind. I’d like to bring out an actual show and to do that you need an existing following.
I think the concept of what is a band is changing too. The music is so separate from the band now. It used to be part and parcel because it was all about live shows. A couple of mates can get together now, one on bass one on guitar, and get themselves a drum machine and some synth stuff and they can make a full band sound. The line is starting to blur on what a band actually is. Like Fierce Deity is just a title and can be whatever.
Have you already started writing the new stuff?
Yes I have something to dive straight into for next year. It started off as an EP, it was just three songs. I’ve been getting into a lot more progressive stonier doom and I can’t seem to write short songs at the moment. They have all blown out to some longer type things. Less of a verse/chorus structure and more of a movement, sectional type structure. It’s quickly becoming about 30-35 minutes worth of music.
That’s technically an album!!
It is. So I’m going to dive into that next year and I will be streaming all the recording. All the production and tracking I will do live on Twitch. Hopefully people can get a kick out of seeing how an album is made. Like you said you have had a peep behind the curtain as to what it takes to make even a song, I’m going to rip the curtain wide open.
A lot of bands are doing those 5-10 minute behind the scene video clips now so that fans can get an idea into the process. It’s awesome for the fans because like I said until I started my blog I had no idea the amount of work it took to produce even one song.
Yeah just in the song writing alone, the tracking of it. Every little facet is so deep. So instead of being a 10-15 minute clip it will be live in real time. Six hours a day, and people can interact with me as I am doing it. It’s kind of this weird new thing that I thought of doing. I’m going to leave my job to do it.
You better tell me about some of these songs that you have already released especially the latest one ‘A Ballard of Heartbreak and Despair’
Yeah sure. This latest one is kind of the big cherry on top of them all. I wrote these songs back in 2017, my life started to get really crazy. A relationship ended, I got to a point with the band that I was wanting to push onwards and upwards. The universe just wasn’t showing me the way. I was in a really weird and dark place of transition. Grieving the end of a relationship, all the silly things I had done as a young man came back and hit me at once. For whatever reason I just decided that I was going to take ownership of it. Sort out the people I needed to apologise to, forgive and let go of a lot of stuff I was angry about as a young man. Going through all of that I started meditating and trying all these things that people said you should try when you are feeling this way. I got on a bit of a self help journey and these songs just all poured out as I was playing certain games. Like Witcher and Zelda. I noticed I was getting really into religious type ideas and philosophical thinkers. I just noticed that a lot of the archetypical stories that I was enjoying through video games, movies and books, a lot of it came from philosophical ideas. I started to very easily connect dots and through putting myself into the character of a game or in a book I could see my own journey. It was jet fuel for writing. I feel like it was just coming out, and all the things I had learned with the three albums I did with Taberah all culminated into these songs. I was like My God I am on a new thing here, I sort of figured out how to make songs a bit more exciting, you know key changes and time changes. Not just sticking to the normal formula of a 4 piece band in mind. When I was unsure if Taberah would ever play again I sort of thought I don’t have to write these songs as if we are going to play them live. I was on this different plane of thought when I was writing these. I wanted them to be more produced. More synth and more layers. More depth I suppose. There was bit of synth and stuff on Taberah, but I never had it at home, so it was always rushed because we were going to someone’s house or studio to get it done. I never had the ability to just sit and stew in something for a day and then listen to it for a week.
These songs became very dear to me because I wrote them in such a stage of grief. It was the catalyst for what I am doing now, the beginning of the path. So that leads into this song where, as I said everything with Taberah was rushed, and I didn’t really know how to speak the language of producing or anything like that so I couldn’t really ask for what I wanted. This is the culmination of the learning curve. It feels like it’s the top of it. It’s probably as good a job as I can do right now. It’s crazy, 2017 feels like it was a different world so to be on the doorstep of releasing it is just amazing. I almost can’t believe it. Having the website up and a Patreon with people signing up to It and a Twitch channel that is growing. I can’t tell if its been 3 years or 30. It’s amazing.
Taking the time had really helped my song writing and that is what I want to do. Just write better and better stuff. Try things not that I can. I just want to make music, that’s all I want to do.
I think that is why I do this. I did music at school and played a heap of instruments but then let it all slide once I left. I rediscovered music when I left my marriage, and it was like the universe had put it smack bang in front of me for a reason.
That sounds like where I was at. I couldn’t figure out who I was, where I was.
Absolutely. I didn’t know who I was, it had kind of gotten lost along the way. Not knocking the life I had but I was always someone’s wife, mum, employee, daughter etc.
You didn’t know who Suze was
Exactly, so the last 4 years of my life have been quite a journey of self-discovery. I think I am there now.
It’s funny isn’t it how you sometimes just find yourself doing something that you really want to do.
Yep! If I could interview bands all day every day I would be in my element.
When you decide what you want to do your brain starts trying to figure out how it can be made achievable. It’s finding likeminded people; you can’t grow on your own. You need those people to collaborate with. Especially now, meeting people and the sharing of information is key.
It’s a new era of self-production. There is nothing stopping anyone. You just have to have that mind set like you have of I am just going to do it. And figure it out as you go.
100%. I’m still figuring it out but at least I have made a start for where I want to go.
I want to know what life is like waking up and just knowing I am going to spend that day doing what I want to do. Had I done this at 21 it would have been dumb. I want to wake up and work but not in retail
You want to work your passion
Yes. I want to make something. I want to build something that means something to me and provides joy for other people. I’m about to jump off the ship into the ocean and I have had to work out how I am going to do that. I can probably stay afloat for 3-4 months and see where I end up at the end of it. I’m taking that chance. Like I said the universe just doesn’t like it when it calls you and you don’t respond.
I have learnt that.
A few things have happened in the last 12 months and it’s been like can it be made any easier for me. It’s a freakish weird time in history where people get paid to do ridiculous things that they want to do.
Worse case scenario is it fails but you wont know if you don’t give it that chance.
Worse case you end up working in retail. That’s what I am doing now. People do plan B first, it’s really strange. You get pushed into that box of safety and comfort but for some reason some people at a certain point realise that comfort is miserable. The best way I have heard it described is a quiet desperation. That is what it has felt like. Survival is not just food, water and shelter. You have to find something that you want to do. The biggest enemy to survival is yourself.
I’m just doing my thing and talking to people about it. Unapologetically this is my thing. I’m not qualified to do anything else and that is why I am walking the plank now. I can’t just work a job for the rest of my life knowing I didn’t try to do what I love. I have this six month period and if I have to go back to working in retail or hospitality I will be able to do that if I know I’ve done this properly. This is something I have to get off my chest before I can go forward so I’m putting everything into it.
Good on you for actually being brave enough to do that. There are so many people out there that just wouldn’t take that leap of faith in themselves.
I never wanted to get a job in the first place, I always knew what I wanted to do but I was such a lazy teenager and kid. I’m glad I went and got a job because the last 10 years has shown me exactly what I don’t want my life to be like. All the jobs have served a purpose because they have gotten me to the point, not only monetarily, but experience of essentially being owned. Those two days a week where they don’t care if you don’t come in. It’s a weird sort of role you play. Without any overarching goal or some higher purpose I cant spend my life doing that. They have gotten me to where I need to be – how am I going to sustain myself off of music. I didn’t have that thought at 21. I thought the world was magic and I’m the chosen one and everything is going to work out. Now I no that its not but it was a case of how can I put myself on the path to survive. I don’t want to make music to be able to fly first class, I want to make music and be grateful that I can afford to fly coach!
You just want to be able to live a simple life doing what you love.
Yes. And to have time for family and the things that are important to me.
Give Fierce Deity’s latest release a spin below and hit up all the socials so you can watch Jonathon’s journey.