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Interviewed by
Joshua Thomas
Friday 4th September, 2015 2:46PM

Regionally-divided outfit Barracks have been making waves in the New Zealand scene with their own brand of breakneck post-hardcore. This style, which can be heard on their 2014 debut album Ghosts, even caught the attention of renowned Portland-based website and their staff's Absolute 100 list of "bands you must check out" for 2015. UnderTheRadar caught up with vocalist Judd Ipsen ahead of their back-to-back shows this weekend to see what makes the group tick....

UTR: Hey Judd, how are things?

JI: Hey dude! Things are great. Just saw Motion City Soundtrack play in Auckland last night and they were unreal. Hopefully they come back these ways some time soon.

Where did you guys meet and how did you start playing music together?

I used to play in a band in high school called Grasping Silence (there's some pretty hilarious / incriminating videos on YouTube if anyone is interested), and when we went on tour with You Are I Am we met the boys from Acalmbefore, who went on to become Barracks. After Grasping Silence split, the next band I was in [Nightmares] did a few shows with EMFH and Barracks, and then when their vocalist left I got a message from Kane asking if I knew anyone that would be keen to try out. I sent them an early demo of Held Down with my vocals on it, and the rest is history.

What do you guys do while you aren’t playing together as Barracks?

We always joke about how being in a band is actually our excuse to just go up and down the country and do mean shit. You get to meet so many cool people through playing shows, it rules. Because all of our members are so split up throughout different towns we get to do a lot of fun things in each one. In the summer in Rotorua we go out to Hamurana and have BBQs. After every Hamilton show we go out to Lola Cafe in Dinsdale (check it out if you're in the area, you won't regret it). We watch a lot of Rick And Morty... a lot. Our banter in between songs now has pretty much regressed into quotes from the show. On our last tour we watched almost the entire Frieza saga of Dragon Ball Z. I know that Simon plays DOTA. If you want to battle him message the Barracks page, we'll set it up. I'm pretty sure that "battle" isn't the correct term but hey, I don't even know what DOTA stands for.

We Are Lions was a fantastic EP but you really stepped it up with your full-length album Ghosts, how was the recording process different?

I can't really answer this question in regards to the EP as I wasn't in the band at that point, but Ghosts was actually a pretty long and crazy process for everyone. We knew that we all wanted to have the most real, raw sounding recording possible. The drums were recorded at The Lab in Auckland, and our good friend Nathan Sowter did the rest at his studio in Tauranga (he did Antag, Blindspott, Take The Willing, and the "funky up your bumper" ad). He's a fucking genius. If you're ever looking for someone to do your album, he's the guy. We came in to the studio with an idea of how we wanted it to sound and he exceeded all of our expectations - and then some. I remember when I first got the master copy we were driving home listening to it and I just couldn't believe how good of a job he'd done.

Being that we are split up through different cities, Dropbox was instrumental in recording our album. Tom and Martin would track guitar demos in Rotorua, then send them to Simon in TGA to lay down drums, and then Hunter / William (Thy Assassin) and I would demo the vocals in Hamilton.

While writing Ghosts did you have any themes in mind or did you let it develop on its own?

When writing the lyrics I definitely wanted to focus on mental health issues that seem to plague so much of our generation. My hopes were that if I talked about my experiences, maybe others could relate and open up about their own. Everyone is going through something and I've found the best way to get through it is let it out - whether it be talking to your friends, making art, etc etc. All of the lyrics are based off what was happening around the time we were recording, apart from a few exceptions - 'Wake Up / Fight Back' is based on a book that my sister wrote. Tide is based on Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino.

The New Zealand metal/punk scene has important ties to all ages venues. How important has it been for you guys playing all ages venues like Zeal?

Todd [Hammertime] has been running a lot of shows here in Hamilton lately and hooking us up. I love playing AA shows because going to them is how it all started for me. I love the kids that come out and watch us - not in a Front Porch Step way, but in a way that I can remember exactly what it was like when I was that age. You think that everyone in the bands is so cool when you're younger, but then you grow up and realise that we're all just super lame.

How soon can we expect to see another release from you guys?

Hopefully early next year. We started writing some new material recently for our next EP. If any labels are reading this right now, please send lots of money to

Any chance of an New Zealand wide tour, and more importantly when can South Island folks hope to see you?

Yes definitely! If you want us to come to your town hit us up on Facebook and we will do our best. I've been wanting to get down to Christchurch for a while - there have been a few shows planned down there that didn't pan out, and it can get pretty expensive too. But we have a few things planned out for 2016 so stay tuned.

Three quick fire questions... favourite pizza topping?

I had a dream last night that Dominos brought back puff pastry and I was literally screaming. Please bring that back Dominos.

Favourite book?

House Of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski, or I'm gonna go really generic and say On The Road - Kerouac is my favourite author, I think I own three copies of that book. You're A Genius All The Time is my go-to when it comes to writing.

Favourite album from 2014?

I think from sheer amount of thrashing it got I'm gonna have to go with Hammertime's Black Sheep.

You can catch Barracks playing tonight, Friday 4th September at The Royal in Palmerston North, and then Saturday 5th September at Zeal in Wellington.