Monday 28 July 2014

Interview: Phil Barry (Be My Enemy)

The enemy within...

“I know where I’m heading and what I’m doing. That doesn’t mean that I will stick to a formula and pump out loads of similar sounding albums like some bands, I’ve never done that.”

Formerly of UK rave-rock pioneers Cubanate, Phil Barry has spent the past few years carving out a new path for himself with the anarchic and riotous new band Be My Enemy. Imbued with hard riffs, punk vocals and acidic synthesizers, Be My Enemy lit the touchpaper with their 2011 début, 'This Is The New Wave'. Now in 2014 Barry and his crew have unleashed the sophomore offering to solidify the band's sound and focus their rage.
We caught up with Barry to talk about the new album, retaining control of his work and the shadow of Cubanate.

Intravenous Magazine: Your second album under the Be My Enemy name, 'The Enemy Within' was released recently. How has the reaction been to it so far?

Phil Barry: It’s been great, I’m happy with how it has been received.

IVM: How do you feel Be My Enemy has developed since the release of your first album 'This Is The New Wave' and now?

PB: I think I have found the Be My Enemy sound now. I know where I’m heading and what I’m doing. That doesn’t mean that I will stick to a formula and pump out loads of similar sounding albums like some bands, I’ve never done that. I also think I’m improving and evolving as a song writer, musician and as a performer and I’m enjoying the journey.

IVM: How do you typically approach writing a song for Be My Enemy?

PB: That’s a huge question. There isn’t a set way. On the whole I’ll set up a groove, drums bass and guitar and then see if it evokes a particular emotion to write some words to. Writing words for the songs is by far the hardest part of the process for me. I’ve already made a decision to change the way I’m going to work on the next BME album, I’m not going to say how but changes are a foot.

IVM: You shot a video for the track 'Party Monster' how did the concept for that come about and are you happy with the results?

PB: I’m very happy with the results Malwalka Production did an unbelievable great job with the budget. They mostly came up with the concept and did everything . There’s some really great acting in the video, really top stuff. I did want to make sure the ‘Party Monster’ in the video is not a hero, he does commit mass murder at the end of it, and he is a total bastard.

IVM: The album is a riotous and anthemic affair. What were your thematic and stylistic influences going into writing it?

PB: The album is in two halves split by the track ‘The Memory Hole’ in the middle. Two themes are ‘The Enemy Within’ looking out and ‘The Enemy Within’ looking in. So looking out, corruption, police brutality and TV mind control. Looking in, drug abuse self destructive thoughts and so on. The song ‘We Become God’s’ is about the “Singularity”, which on the surface seems wonderful and exciting until you realise that uploading your consciousness to machines is only going to be available to the uber rich, effectively they will become gods with endless wealth and power and everyone else will be their slaves. It sounds like Science Fiction but it’s only a decade or two away now.

IVM: The new album has been self-released this time in comparison to 'This Is The New Wave' which was available on DWA & Bit Riot. Why did you opt to go for this route?

PB: I want to own and control all my own master recordings from now on, I don’t want to be in a Cubanate situation where the albums we put blood sweat and tears into have effectively disappeared into the Memory Hole. It just seems like the right thing for me to do right now and fits in with the overall philosophy of Be My Enemy and what I sing about.

IVM: You are of course formerly of Cubanate. Has this association cast a shadow of expectation over Be My Enemy at all?

PB: When I first started this project I was very aware that anything I did was going to be compared with Cubanate. That’s good, I don’t mind at all. I think those albums have aged pretty well and it’s my past. I think people are now aware that BME is a different animal although very much from the same gene pool.

IVM: You enlisted the help of Steve and Deb Alton of System:FX, as well as Keef Baker of Nimon and Slipdrive (et al). What do they bring to the band's live sound and have they had any part in the studio process?

PB: Live, they are all great players. We aren’t a laptop band, if you take their individual parts away then it’s a incomplete sound. They haven’t had any input as yet into the studio process but they will do.

IVM: Be My Enemy's live début was at Resisatnz 2012 in Sheffield. How was that experience and how do you feel Be My Enemy has developed as a live band since?

PB: Resistanz is a great festival, they really look after the bands really well there. I have to say I wasn’t comfortable in myself in Sheffield. I’ve addressed what was wrong and have sorted it out and I’m raring to get back on stage. We played in London a few months back and I loved it. I am looking forward to getting back on stage again.

IVM: Cubanate's style has been taken on and evolved under Be My Enemy. But its safe to say that back in the 90's Cubanate planted the seeds for a lot of bands to follow. How do you feel about this and how do you think the scene has developed since?

PB: I’m not sure if I think any bands have followed Cubanate’s lead I would like to hear what bands you think have. It’s no secret that I haven’t been into what has been termed ‘Industrial’ for ages, it’s just hasn’t been my thing. Luckily for me there seems to be a new wave of bands coming through which are adopting the old sound and doing something interesting with it. It’s not just the sound though; there is a definite shift towards music with political and social themes which was very much prevalent in the earlier Industrial bands. I’m more excited about new bands in general now than what I have been for years.

IVM: Which bands, if any, get the Phil Barry seal of approval in 2014?

PB: There is so much good music coming out at the moment from new young artists. Tonnes of great stuff coming out of the US, 3Teeth, Author and Punisher and loads of others Over in the UK, I really like Randolph and Mortimer . I do like Petrol Bastard as well; they are the most mental live band going, if you haven’t seen Petrol Bastard live then you should.

IVM: For a while it looked like you and Marc Heal were going to get Cubanate back together with the release of 'We Are Crowd'. What's the current status of Cubanate?

PB: Nothing to report. Sorry.

IVM: In addition to your own projects you've been features on many other recordings by a range of different artists. Who have been your favourites to work with and are there any other guest appearances coming up on the horizon?

PB: The best remix I did was for Caustic, ‘666 on the crucifix’ I’m really pleased with how that turned out and it took about five hours to do in total which is a bonus but often the way it is when you are on a roll. The remix I did for Alter Der Ruine ‘Relax and Ride It’ I really like as well. I like working with Mangadrive, ‘Kill Your Television’ the track we worked on together on the new album really worked out well.
No other guest appearances for me or anyone else at the moment.

IVM: Finally, what else do you have in store for the rest of 2014?

PB: We have two gigs lined up, 23rd of August at Infest in Bradford and the 6th September at Electrowerks in London with Flesh Eating Foundation, Ventenner and Unstoppable Achievers.

Be My Enemy's latest album, 'The Enemy Within', is available to buy now via the band's bandcamp page. For more information on the band, including future releases and live dates, please visit their official website.

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