Consistency is a rare commodity these days. Stick To Your Guns, by name and nature, are however a beaming example of this unique trait. Throughout their career, the band has built on their previous outputs and remained a constant presence on the live scene – even all the way Down Under. While sonically, their latest album True View fits the profile of a STYG album, True View is by and large an outlier.

This was a hard-fought album if there ever was one. An earth-shattering manifesto of self-assessment, self-deprecation but above all self-actualisation. To get there, the band eased their grasp on politics, something that had been a key ingredient in albums past, allowing more breathing space for frontman Jesse Barnett to explore something he previously hadn’t. Something that had calcified over the years. Something that had led to the breakdown of relationships – his own inability to communicate to those he cares about the most.

Following the release of True View, and ahead of their impending Australian tour, we caught up with Jesse to learn more.

The Neversphere: True View was clearly a hard-fought album for you. I can tell you spent so long studying the themes, lessons and experiences that went into it. Now that you’ve finished that study, for want of a better term, what did you learn? 
Jesse: What I tend to do as a person – and I’m sure a lot of people can relate to this, is I keep things buried…Just because things aren’t comfortable to deal with, I’ll just try to be like ‘Nah nah, it’s all good, I’m fine’. I was keeping a lot of things buried, and when these things come up one at a time, I’m able to deal with them in a way I feel I can internally deal with them. But in this case, about five or six things came up at once and it became too much for me to be able to handle on my own. I had this breaking point where I realised I have to clean house, I have to get in there and I have to deal with these things.

I’m not one who likes emotional confrontation so I try to avoid that at all costs. I was obviously able to grow from this experience. I turned 30 on Monday; I started this band at 16 and it’s interesting because I still feel like that 16-year-old kid. It’s a cool feeling, it keeps me young – it keeps me fresh. But when I was dealing with things that are way more intense and way more serious than when I was 16, I felt like I wasn’t that well equipped. Admitting I don’t have all the answers, and admitting I need help sometimes – that was the part that was hard. Especially with my family situation, a lot of people rely on me, I have a really hard time letting people down – that means I have a hard time telling them I’m going through shit, I just tell them everything is all good.

I guess the thing I learnt the most was being able to communicate with people in a positive way, and to also understand confrontation isn’t always a negative thing. Even though it can be at times uncomfortable, it’s never a negative thing. Since I’ve been able to learn how to tell people how I feel, or express how I feel, or express boundaries with people, my life has been easier. These so-called confrontations have never been uncomfortable because I’ve learnt a way to express these things to people in a way that’s not fucking weird [Laughs].
The Neversphere: To be honest, the first thing that came to mind was you just walking around, middle fingers up saying, “Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you” to everyone you walk past…
Jesse: [Laughs] Oh my god…Can you imagine? I love that. I’ve never been afraid of like, physical confrontation, that’s never been my issue, it’s more emotional.
The Neversphere: From writing the record, to recording it, to performing it, when did the healing begin to take place for you? When did it all start to connect and make sense in your mind? 
Jesse: The record starts with a voice message from my Mother, and almost every single song on the record is inspired by her, or a conversation we had. Life has really put her through the ringer in a lot of different ways. What’s interesting is she’s become unbelievably wise because of it. I had to reach out for that wisdom. She and I have a history of having a weird relationship, especially when I was younger. but she’s become my best friend now that I’m older. She’s just been an incredible human being and someone who inspires me every day.

So, the healing started for me when we started having those conversations. The whole thing has been a healing process and I’m still healing. There was a person in my life, we had a huge, dramatic falling-apart-moment. I did everything I could do to avoid seeing that person and I actually bumped into them recently. I built it up in my head that if I ever ran into them it would be a nightmare. So, I ran into them…

It was emotional for sure. They started crying. We talked for about two hours and it was really awesome, I was able to let a lot go from that conversation we had. It was interesting, my Mum’s kind of a hippy and said ‘oh, that was supposed to happen.’ I was in a place that I don’t ever go, that person also happened to be there. It was almost like we were drawn together to have this conversation and it was good. It was a cool moment and I’m glad it happened.
The Neversphere: I want to go back to what you said previously about starting the band as a 16-year-old. I’d be interested to know if you’re finding it harder or easier to be Stick To Your Guns with age?
Jesse: Way easier. I don’t want to admit this to myself but touring in a van has become difficult. Not that I can’t do it – we still do it, but I’m starting to feel parts of my body I didn’t use to because I’m not 16. When you wake up in a van at 30 you’re like ‘Ah my knees, and my hip, and my back, and my neck, ah fuck!” Now that the band is doing relatively well, we’re able to travel in more comfort. I’m able to support myself and people in my family because of my band – That’s the part that’s gotten easier in that sense.

In another sense, we take it way more seriously than we use to and that can be more challenging than it used to be. When you’re 16, you have nothing to lose, who gives a shit? I never planned for this to become what it became. It didn’t matter, there was this freedom that lead us to the point we’re at now. There’s pros and cons to both but I’d say it’s definitely easier now compared to what it was.

The Neversphere: We’re in a pretty solid climate of anniversary and nostalgia tours, you have some records that are reaching that milestone this year and next year, do you think there’ll be any 10-year anniversary shows from STYG in the coming months? 
Jesse: Definitely not. Those first to have been…I don’t want to say forgotten about because they made us who we are but those songs are too old. What I’ve learned is that people really come to join us at Diamond. That’s interesting for me because from Diamond on, those are my favourite songs and records. I think that’s what people want to hear and that’s awesome.

Obviously you’ll get people who want to really hear the old shit, and every now often we’ll play something from the very old days but for the most part, we just play the newer songs.
The Neversphere: The band will be in town for a while. You have the Unify performance then your own shows. What do you have up your sleeves for us? 
Jesse: We have a really good dynamic of songs spanning a bunch of different records. I start riding my bike about a week or two before we go on tour to get my stamina up because well, because-
The Neversphere: …Because you’re not 16 anymore…
Jesse: Exactly. But we’re high-energy individuals as is, so that’s what people can expect from us. We’ll hit the stage and go fucking psycho…

…Because that’s what we love to do.

Stick To Your Guns Australian Tour Dates
With Being As An Ocean

Tickets on sale now

Monday, January 15
Corner Hotel, Melbourne 18+
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Tuesday, January 16
Factory Theatre, Sydney Lic AA
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Wednesday, January 17
Triffid, Brisbane Lic AA
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Thursday, January 18
Fowlers Live, Adelaide Lic AA
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Friday, January 19
Amplifier Bar, Perth 18+
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Also performing at Unify Gathering 2018