FIERCE DEITY: "No one is here to tell me "no", and they couldn’t stop me anyway"
Since we spent most of our journey around Europe so far, it's time to finally head over to Australia, more precisely Tasmania. We meet the master mind behind stoner powermetal project FIERCE DEITY, who released its great EP "Power Wisdom Courage" on September 3rd, 2021.
Welcome to learn more about his new work, musical background, and the fantastic artwork here:
Hey, thanks for making time to answer my questions. Could you please introduce yourself and FIERCE DEITY to our readers?
No problem - thanks for having me! My name is Jonathon Barwick. I’m a songwriter and producer, and FIERCE DEITY is the band I create in my imagination. I guess I’m just Kanye West if he made massive riffs.
How did you come up with “Fierce Deity” being your project’s name, and is there a deeper meaning behind?
"The Legend of Zelda" games were a massive part of my childhood, and Koji Kondo’s work on their soundtracks STILL captures my imagination. "Fierce Deity" is a reference to ‘Majora’s Mask’ - the BEST Zelda game.
You released your EP “Power Wisdom Courage” in September. How do you feel about it, and how was the reception so far?
I’m really happy with that record - I quit my job to make it and my life is on a totally different path because of it. The reception has been what I’d hoped for - fans enjoy it, and the word-of-mouth has been powerful!
I wanted to put it out on a particular label but they turned it down. Another label was interested but they refused my terms, so I put it out independently, and I think that gives it a cooler vibe anyway.
Let’s take a look at the stunning cover artwork, which also was my first introduction to your music when I saw it on Ryan T. Hancock’s account a while ago. What can you tell us about its origins, and how does it reflect your record thematically?
Man… I love Ryan’s work - I have 3-4 prints of his in my studio. As soon as I saw "The River Guide", I knew I wanted him to do PWC. I had a fuzzy idea in my mind and spoke to him about it - I basically said it needs a few elements from the music / story (a desert, a temple, a forest, and a traveller smoking pink and blue), and he ran with it. I love it!
Could you dive a bit into the story with us, please?
I prefer it when people tell me the story they find there :-)
That would be definitely interesting. Music-wise, “Power Wisdom Courage” comes along with many different elements and a mighty sound. Even if stoner and powermetal don't necessarily seem to fit, you prove that they can go perfectly together. What makes your music special, and could you briefly describe your writing and recording process, please?
I think my music is hitting you differently because I see songwriting and production as the same thing. That helps me set up the big riffs and hooks, but also because I do what I want. If I hear an emotional piano part with guitars like Periphery grooving over it, I do it - no one is here to tell me "no", and they couldn’t stop me anyway.
Having gear at home allows me to write and record all at once - again, production and writing are the same thing - so if I’m hearing riffs I’ll plug my guitar in and riff out, but if I have a more broad idea, I’ll write it on a piano. Pianos rule man - you can write your bass line, chords and melodies all at once.
FIERCE DEITY is your solo project, but can we hear any guest musicians on your newest work?
Yes, I love getting some features - I like the way guys like Dre, Jay Z and Kanye bring people in for moments in a track. The metal world needs to catch up.
David Van Pelt from Acolyte provided the face melting synth solo in "Power" - one of the hottest bits of the record! My man Joe Haley of Psycroptic took the guitar solo in "Wisdom" - he finds ways to spice up those rock licks we all love! Lastly by the grace of the Gods Nick Disalvo from one of my favourite bands ever - Elder - added the crowning jewel of the record at the end of "Courage"!
What is your musical background, and where do your main influences come from?
Background is 100% guitar - my dad played and he showed me some chords which got me going. Once I discovered AC/DC and guitar tabs, I was away!
Influence creeps in from everywhere - game or movie soundtracks often stick with me if the music at a certain moment just hits, and on top of that I’m one of those hippies that loves all music as long as it’s genuine. I like Lady Gaga because she’s an artist first - ones like Katy Perry and Ariana Grande are only making songs as a means to get famous and sell perfume. To an old soul like me, the difference in the music is obvious.
You’re on Patreon (note: meanwhile switched to Bandcamp fanclub) as well, which is an interesting way to get support by a strong community of fans. What kind of experience is this for you (also regarding being an independent artist)?
Every indie artist should have one - if you truly believe in yourself then others will too - you’d be shocked at how far even a little money goes. The Deity community is a group of believers - I think the following I do have are people who are starving for something new in the metal world.
How about FIERCE DEITY live: Do you have any plans to bring your music on stage, or is it a pure studio project?
Here’s the thing - right now I’ve got a weird and interesting record out. The worst thing I could do for Deity right now is get 4-5 guys together and show up on a local bill and play these songs through a borrowed backline to 70 people - all the mystery would be gone. When business is good enough to do the show properly I’ll get some people together. Right now I’m just happy making music and working with artists / illustrators to make cool stuff.
You’re from Tasmania, an island south of Australia with a breathtaking landscape, but - to be honest - which is new for me on the “musical radar”. How would you describe your local music scene, and is there something special about it?
I mean… I don’t go to many local shows because there’s nothing going on here that’s absolutely “must see”. There’s some younger bands green as fuck, who pull stadium faces to 20 people like we all use to, and some dusty old pseudo-veterans who do Facebook statuses in 3rd person like it’s PR - even this is not as fun to watch as it sounds. All the bands that have found any true connection to people, like Psycroptic and Departe, rarely play here.
I came across a comment recently that was like: ”The world needs more Tasmanian stoner powermetal”, and I can totally agree with that. So, what can you tell us about your future plans?
I’m glad the music in my head is resonating with people - definitely no plans to slow down. In the new year I’m gonna drop a stand alone single with an Ozzy Osbourne cover as it’s B-Side. Right now I’m working on the next thing which is a dumb, sexy rock ‘n’ roll album - the world is in dire need of a real fun rock record, but all the rock bands are losing their voices trying to convince you they’re the new AC/DC, so I guess it’s up to me.
Sounds promising :-) Do you have any further thoughts you’d like to share here?
Everyone go and search for ‘sturgill simpson call to arms snl’ on youtube right now.
Thanks for joining my musical journey, and all the best for you and your musical plans \m/