"There was really nothing going on there back then. If you were aspiring to play rock music, it wasn't a good place to be."

More than anything, Bass Drum of Death were born out of frustration and disillusion with their musical surroundings in rural Mississippi. The band are, for all intents and purposes, the solo project of John Barrett, who found his musical feet through records from scenes far removed from his hometown of Oxford in the southern state.

"I've probably been playing since I was ten or eleven. I was in a few bands growing up and shit, not that they were any good. But there just weren't really any bands to look up to or takes your cues from around there. I guess there were a couple of older garage bands like The Preacher's Kids and Black and Whites who were around town, but they were the only local ones I really gave a shit about."

"At that point, I hadn't really been turned onto any of the Memphis stuff; I didn't hear the likes of Lost Sounds and Oblivians until later. I think the act that nothing was doing anything for me locally meant that I was into all the obvious stuff; New York shit like Sonic Youth, and then all the Seattle stuff, Mudhoney and Nirvana and so on."

After weathering a relentless travelling schedule in support of the band's debut - alternating between a three-piece and a duo in and out of North America, respectively - Barrett finally had the opportunity to satisfy his impressive work ethic by nailing down a new, self-titled follow-up. "Well, GB City came out back in April of 2011, I think, and then we toured for like a year and a half straight. I wrote a few things when we were on breaks back home, but I didn't really get the chance to sit down and start working on another record until July of last year. I had four or five songs that were pretty much finished at that point, and then I spent maybe two, two and a half months recording. I had it mixed and mastered in October, and that was that. I guess it wasn't as drawn out a process as the time lapse makes it seem. I was kinda bummed about that, too, because in an ideal world, I'd release a record every year, but until I get a bus that I can record in, I can't really tour and make music at the same time."

Irrespective of the obvious necessity of fleshing out Bass Drum of Death with live backing on the road, the band has so far remained Barrett's sole responsibility in the studio - something that remained the case for album number two. "Everything was done the same way as GB City; I recorded everything myself. I like to think I've gotten a little bit better at it now, although I guess we'll see when the record comes out," Barrett laughs. "This will definitely be the last one that I do completely by myself, though. The guys I'm playing with now I've become pretty comfortable with, and I think I need some collaboration. Plus, I've made two pretty lo-fi records, so it'd probably be food for me to go into a studio with somebody who could make everything pop a little bit more, without it being too glossy, you know."

After eighteen months of collaboration not only with the other members of the live band, but with a host of other outfits they'd toured with, you might be forgiven for expecting Barrett to have embraced the idea of a more co-operative writing and recording process second time out. "I guess Colin (Sneed, live drummer) officially left the band in October, but he'd already been pretty much done for a little while by that point, so I guess I didn't really have much choice in that respect. I think I've just always found it easier to do things myself, and not bother anyone else with it. In bands I've been part of in the past, things were more collaborative and I just found myself spending a lot of time trying to organise everybody and make sure everyone's taken care of. I'm still like that on tour, but I guess I've been a little selfish when it's come to recording. I know now that the guys I'm working with now would be happy to sacrifice their time and put the effort in to make something cool, you know. What I really want t do is figure out a good studio situation and bang out some songs as a group, rather than it just be me teaching them the songs."

Barrett also resisted the temptation to go into a studio and lay down tracks with a producer, instead favouring the same recording methods as on GB City - including the usage of USB microphones. "Everything was pretty much the same; I was using all the same equipment as last time. There were a couple of pieces of outboard gear I used, and I put some bass on every song to help fill out the low end a little bit more, but for all intents and purposes, it was the exact same process - same shit, different record. Although I did include a tiny, five-second keyboard part on one song, so that's something to listen out for."

The band have moved from Fat Possum to Innovative Leisure for the release of the new record, and you have to wonder whether the insistence on sticking with such lo-fi methods of production raised any eyebrows when Barrett took the new album to executives. "I'm on a new label now, and it wasn't like they gave me a bunch of money up front to go and make a record. I put it together, showed it to them and they were stoked on it and wanted to put it out. I guess the good thing about the way I've been doing it is that you're not beholden to anyone in that way. Neither label were ever really concerned about how I made the albums - I mean, it's not like they're super lo-fi.

'Super lo-fi' they might not have been, but that doesn't mean that GB City's distorted vocals didn't fall victim to a familiar curse. "One thing I will do differently this time is print out the lyrics. They can be hard to make out at times, and I've seen people on the internet get them really, really wrong. I'd rather people knew the right ones than see them go put some whack shit on the internet that I didn't say, you know?"

Despite the rigid insistence on making the album in his own way, Barrett admits that having played with innumerable bands over the past couple of years has left an indelible mark on his approach to writing. "It was kinda weird. I feel like I absorbed a few different things from bands that we toured with; general things, like harmonies, and the fact that the record's a little bit softer, and poppier, and easier to get into. Otherwise, I guess I tried to stop myself from adhering to strictly to standard song structures; I tried to get away from verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-verse-chorus, so some of the songs are actually pretty jammy by my standards. I've been listening to all the same shit, though, and I think I'd rather let myself spit things out unconsciously; I find that usually produces the best results."

During promotion for GB City, Barrett commented that he felt thirty minutes was the optimum set length for a band like Bass Drum of Death. With a new record imminent and twice as many songs to play, is this a view he's sticking to? "Well, we're playing for about forty-five minutes now. You know, on the first record, nobody knew who the fuck we were, so I felt like it made more of an impression to get up on stage, bash out ten songs in thirty minutes and just let people be like, "whoa, what the fuck did we just see?" he laughs. "Now, it's a little bit different because there's kind of a select few who know who we are. Still not many, but enough that we have to think about balancing the set between the songs people want to hear and the new stuff we want to play. Forty-five minutes is still pretty short, though."

The band's most recent release was a split seven-inch with tourmates DZ Deathrays, something that Barrett claims came about very naturally. "Oh, that was totally organic. Our manager was working with those guys, too, and we were about to head out on tour together in the US. We just thought we should do something cool for that tour, so we pressed up five hundred copies of that single. That was actually the best tour we've ever done, so I'm glad we've got something to remember it by."

The frustration caused by the long lay-off between finishing the new record and getting it out into the world has left Barrett more eager than ever to dive straight back into new recording projects at the first opportunity. "There's a few little things I'd like to do; there's this project going on where bands are just releasing these quick recordings they've made purely on a four-track, and I'd like to be part of that. I think the next thing for the band is just going to be sitting down with these dudes, probably in July when we have some time off, and trying to get to a couple of different studios and seeing which suits us best. I want to start building towards another record and have it ready within a year or so. I just never want to feel like the songs I'm playing are going stale."

"That said, if we carry on at this rate, I can't see myself having any free time til, like, Christmas 2014. I feel like we're just getting started, but I don't know. Shit like that always changes, man."


Bass Drum of Death's self-titled album is released on July 22nd via Innovative Leisure.