BARABBAS - Under The Sign Of Nothingness ! (DOOM-Metal - Interview with Saint Stéphane)

07 May 2024
BARABBAS - Under The Sign Of Nothingness ! (DOOM-Metal - Interview with Saint Stéphane)
Express interview to help you discover as many of today's most interesting bands as possible - this time, BARABBAS, DOOM-Metal from France - Interview with St Stéphane (Guitars).

Please introduce yourself and let me know how it all began with the band ?
Hi Fabien ! Saint Stéphane here, rythm guitar in Barabbas. The Church of the Holy Redeemer Riff of Barabbas was founded in 2007. At first, it was just me and Saint Jean-Christophe (drums) jamming on heavy riffs, trying to emulate that doom sound we appreciated so much in bands like Black Sabbath, Cathedral, Saint-Vitus… We had no great expectations, no world domination plan, we only wanted to have a good time playing slow, heavy, doomy riff.
Soon we recruited Saint Jérôme (bass), a man of many talents, an experienced musician but also sound engineer and soon-to-be our record producer. At first I was singing but I wanted to concentrate on guitar. Just when we were looking for a singer, out of nowhere came Saint Rodolphe. He had never sang before in a band but he had so much charisma (and still has) that he seemed the obvious choice for a frontman.
We released our 1st ep, "Libérez Barabbas !" in 2011, recorded and produced by Saint Jérôme. Critics were positive and among the first people to really dig us was Magister Stéphane Le Saux, a long time doom activist (he ran the Temple of Perdition blog and now runs the Morbidoom channel). The Magister really helped us to promote the band and to find gigs and fests. He still helps us when he can and still is a good friend of the band - doom brotherhood !
In 2014, we released our 1st album, "Messe pour un chien" , still DIY, still recorded and produced by our bass player. At that time we felt we needed a second guitar player to beef up the sound and we were fortunate enough to find Saint-Thomas who played guitar in the great, late French band Northwinds. "Messe pour un chien" gathered more positive reviews and allowed us to play gigs and fests in France and Europe and also to tour with high profile bands like Lord Vicar, Goatess, Apostle of Solitude…
In 2016, we began working on a new album but the stars weren’t aligned. Some of us had deep personnal issues so it was a hard time for the band. We were often on the verge of splitting and Saint Jérôme left us. Again we were lucky to find Saint-Alexandre who played with an old friend of us. We also had the chance to sign with Sleeping Church Records, a label created by two old friends playing in Presumption and Father Merrin (check them out !). So we soldiered on and against all odds, managed to released our 2nd lp, "La Mort appelle tous les vivants" in december 2023. We are still surprised by all the positive reviews this album gathered so it’s like Barabbas is reborn.

Describe your sound and explain why I should listen to YOUR band at all cost ?
I’m not sure that you should listen to us at all costs, that’s too high of a price for our music - but if you have an ear for songs, you could be interested in Barabbas. We are rather old school and we dig the traditional "verse/chorus/bridge" routine. We’re not trying to get the most crushing doom sound you’ll ever heard, we’re always up for melodies that you can sing in your shower.

Lyrical and musical inspirations/influences ?
As stated below, Black Sabbath, Cathedral and Saint-Vitus would be our Holy Trinity. Bands like Pentagram, Trouble and heavy metal bands like Judas Priest or Witchfinder General are also very important to us. Of course, each member adds his own influences, be it the 90s scene for Saint-Alexandre or some hardcore bands for Saint Jean-Christophe.


How important are the lyrics for you ? Are there any specific messages or thoughts you try to develop and share through your lyrics ?
Lyrics are of course an important part of the song. Singing in French, we take great care of the lyrics because we know French audience will understand what we sing, ha ha. We don’t carry any particular message, we mainly sing about states of mind, like when you feel like you are dead inside, or when it seems you just can’t escape from who you are. So our songs are quite like a diary : no political or social issue, no scifi escapism, etc.

About your latest release ?
"La Mort appelle tous les vivants" came out in december 2023 through Sleeping Church Records. As stated below, it took us a looong time to finish it. The recording itself was really cool as we worked with Andrew Guillotin in the Hybreed Studio. He’s an experienced producer with some great doom/sludge albums under his belt so he succeded in bringing the best out of us in a recording context and we are really happy with the way we sound on this album. The album is available as a single cd and double lp - no extra songs but big, large grooves so you can enjoy Barabbas in all its heavyness ! After months spent searching for the right cover, our singer Rodolphe found this image from an old newspaper. The image struck us because it seems that these people where going to their own funeral so it was perfect with the general mood of the album, which deals mainly with death, loss… and its title.

Future plans ? 
We are currently working on our next album. That’s our main objective. We don’t want to wait eight years again to produce something new. We are also working on a split ep with Father Merrin. More infos to come soon !

Your most insane dream with the band would be ?
CATHEDRAL returns and chooses BARABBAS as their support band for their international reunion tour - Hey, you said "your wildest dream". (I did - everything is possible then here - Ed.) and the alchemy between the bands is so intense that we record a split EP together. I marry Gaz Jennings and we live happily ever after.. okay, I might be exagerating a bit.


Your BEST & WORST concert and why ? 
We hope the best gig is yet to come but as of now, we still have fond memories when opening the Fall of Summer Festival in France, a few years ago. It was our first big stage and we managed to get through our set without too much trouble… and the audience dug it ! It really helped us to build confidence and to "believe" in Barabbas as a "legitimate" band.
Worst gig would be a gig we have done in a pub where no one (except one guy in the audience) was interested in our kind of music. So it was near to zero reaction after each song, except for a few polite applause. Of course it did not help our singer to interact with the audience. (F**k - it's a nightmare - Ed.)

Next live-appearance(s) ?
We have at the moment nothing really planned, maybe one or two gigs in autumn or winter... wait and see. We’re always open for new opportunities but gigging can be time consuming and we also need time to work on the next album.

Some words on your local scene - bands you're friends with and you'd like to name ?
We just came back from a small tour (three dates) with Nornes and Supertzar, top guys and top bands, it was really great so we hope we’ll be able to tour again with them in a near future. We’re also good buddies with Presumption, Father Merrin, Conviction, Clégane, Ataraxie, Negative Concept to name a few. France has a great doom scene. A few month ago, our friend Stéphane Le Saux created a compilation called "Doomed and stoned in France" which featured something like 50 French doom, sludge and stoner bands… and it was the volume 2 in the series ! So the bands are here and ready to doom.

Last word is yours..
Many thanks for this interview Fabien. And to yours readers - even if it sounds awfully cliché : support the French DOOM scene !

Follow the Band

Credits :
Band photo by Claire DAO.
1st LIVE photo by Elise DIEDERICH.
2nd LIVE photo by MESS WITH ME Photography.



Born 1969, grew up with the NWOBHM sounds, musically educated with cult french magazines that were ENFER and METAL ATTACK, definitely nailed to the style when "The Number Of The Beast" by IRON MAIDEN was released... From 1982, it was clear life would never be the same ! Young & getting wild to the HEAVY sounds of SAXON, VENOM, BLACK SABBATH, MOTORHEAD, Young Fab also discovered thanks to school mates the NOISE, FILTH & FURY of Hard-Core/Punk bands like G.B.H, DISCHARGE, BROKEN BONES but also CRO-MAGS, BAD BRAINS, FUGAZI... and later on, through the 90's, everything that was ALTERNATIVE, EXPERIMENTAL, GRUNGE, INDUSTRIAL (SONIC YOUTH, NINE INCH NAILS, SOUDGARDEN, ALICE IN CHAINS)... Passion & curiosity grew up as years went by ... Fate was SEALED... no turning back ! No Music = No Life !

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