STYG’s Jesse Barnett on how his mother inspired every song on the new record
Hardcore punks Stick To Your Guns lay their feelings on the line with their sixth record, and AP has the exclusive stream of True View two days early.
From the very start of True View, it's clear that this album isn't just another collection of songs for STYG. Known for their political cries and positive defiance, the Orange County natives go in a different direction for this record, focusing on personal thoughts and personal feelings about one's self. For vocalist Jesse Barnett, True View is the result of a long time spent on self-reflection and realization, the songs themselves navigating through his personal journey.
When we sat down with Barnett to discuss the release, he shared that he had spent a lot of years going through difficult times and kept a lot of things bottled up. True View is an expulsion of these feelings and Barnett's mother was the main inspiration behind the honesty, and the songs. From track one, the singer's mother can be heard on the recording, a personal message that breaths life into the album. "This entire record was inspired by conversations I had with my mother over the last two and a half years," Barnett says. "She gave me the compass to be able to navigate this painful path."
During the interview we also talked with Barnett about moving forward from Disobedient, his personal connection with music and how to translate emotion into song. Stream the record and read the full interview with Barnett below.
True View is out October 13 via Pure Noise and can be pre-ordered here.
Stream the record:
Your last album, Disobedient, seemed to have an air of positive defiance, but True View is very much about self-reflection and realization. Can you discuss this transition and how the band has since developed and moved forward from your prior material?
BARNETT: The transition comes from simply feeling different things. That’s what great about being in a band or being an artist of any sort. You can express the vast complexities of life right when you are feeling them. I think where a lot of artists start getting into strange waters is when they try to “stay in their lane.” Every human on earth feels a million things, so why would someone’s art not reflect that? Plus, in a world that currently already has a billion “Fuck Donald Trump” songs, we wanted to offer something a little different.
The insightful impact of actions on others is a prominent theme throughout the record. Was it difficult to translate these thoughts into songs that would embrace that honesty in a vulnerable way?
For me that’s always been the easy part. When writing a song, I have time to think and sit and really dwell on my feelings—to pick it all apart and look at each piece and try to understand how it all makes me feel. This has always been easy for me. I have always written, so I guess I’ve had a lot of practice with that. Having said that, expressing myself to a person in normal life, that’s a whole different story. This is something I’m terrible at. I’m learning how to get better, though. I can’t always be in a situation and then say “hold that thought” and go write a song about it. [Laughs.] I need to learn how to actually talk to people—seems like a useful quality to have.
What kind of “sound,” production-wise, did you have in the back of your mind prior to entering the studio, to successfully portray your lyrical intentions?
Luckily for me, the band had come up with so many different songs with a wide range of feelings. So then the challenge becomes putting them together in a cohesive way that doesn’t just sound like a bunch of nonsense thrown together—to make it breathe as one unit of work. It’s challenging, but it’s also fun. It’s what I imagine making a baby is like: You can guess that it’s gonna look like the mother and the father, but in the end, you have no idea how it’s exactly going to look. Just do all the fun stuff and see how it comes out.
“Married To The Noise” begins with the lyrics “I found a place to belong, so I went all in.” Can you explain how being part of the music scene has affected you throughout your career?
Being involved with this music has affected my whole life—every single aspect. It introduced me to every friend I have. It has taken me around the world and continues to do so. It has given me an education that is invaluable. It has taught me ethics and given me morals that have shaped the person I am. When people talk about love, they often say “when you know, you know.” When it comes to this music, I know.
"When people talk about love, they often say 'when you know, you know.' When it comes to this music, I know."
Throughout the record’s track list, there’s a progression of titles: “Penance Of Self,” “Realization Of Self,” “Forgiveness Of Self.” Do these songs establish a natural progression of shifting emotions throughout the album’s entirety?
These songs are three parts of a personal journey that I went through, and still am going through, while making this record. This entire record was inspired by conversations I had with my mother over the last two and a half years. A lot of changes happened, and a lot of things I kept buried came up. She gave me the compass to be able to navigate this painful path. To paraphrase she said, “Jesse, first you need to own your debts and you better pay them. You need to take ownership of that pain and you need to feel it. You will even begin to find peace otherwise (penance of self). You then need to come to terms with who you are—not the person you think you are, but who you truly are in the deepest parts of you. You need to understand that you can change your course whenever you see fit and whenever it serves you (realization of self). Last but not least, you must forgive. You must ask for forgiveness from the ones you hurt, forgive those who hurt you and, the hardest part, forgive yourself. You do not need to carry guilt with you everywhere you go. It won’t serve you so leave it at the shore (forgiveness of self).
“3 Feet From Peace” begins the record with a recording of an older woman giving some positive advice. Who is this woman or where did you get this recording? And how does this sample relate to the record as a whole?
That recording is a voicemail from my mother. She is the driving force behind this whole record. True View could not have existed without her. She inspired every song on this record. The wisdom she shares with me is something that I am eternally grateful for.
"That recording is a voicemail from my mother... She inspired every song on this record."
There are a lot of positive messages in the lyrics on True View. But if there were one piece of guidance that you want listeners to take away from the album, what would it be?
I want them to take away from it whatever their interpretation may be. The True View is different for everyone. You have to find yours.
Stick To Your Guns will be playing select True View release shows before embarking on their tour with Architects and Counterparts in February.
Tour dates for release shows:
10/11: Windsor, ON @ The Back Stage
10/13: Toronto, ON @ Opera House
10/4: Montreal, QC @ Club Soda
10/14: Amityville, NY @ Revolution
10/19: San Diego, CA @ Soma
10/20: Tijuana, Mexico @ You Revolution
10/21: Mesa, AZ @ Nile
10/22: Anaheim, CA @ Chain Reaction
Tour dates with Architects and Counterparts: