To this day, Dave Sardy can’t figure out what producer/American Recordings president Rick Rubin sees in Barkmarket.
The Brooklyn-based trio, with its blistering, uncompromising and in-your-face swagger, crashes the gates of conventional rock and leaves victims in a stupor with its just-released American debut album, “Gimmick.”
“He’s probably wondering why he signed us right now, especially when he heard this record,” Barkmarket frontman Sardy said with a sinister laugh in a recent interview.
“Honestly, they thought we were going to grow out of playing weird, intense music, and that’s a quote from (Rubin). I’m like, ‘Sorry.’
“I’ve had this argument with people at the label. I maintain that this intense, heavy music is as viable as anything else. It just takes a different approach.”
It’s an approach that’s equally alarming and appealing. Sardy’s rambling but artful lyrics and slashing vocals gnaw at the listener from start to finish.
Take, for instance, the socio-politically charged track “Dumb Jaw.” On it, Sardy snarls, “The party’s gone, your dead can’t dance/ All your kings men can’t remake innocence.”
“I would say that’s aimed at all of us,” Sardy said. “I wrote that about how we’re not learning from the lessons of history.
“It’s really about coming to the end of the century, and ‘here we go again,’ how everything is happening all over again and nobody seems to get it. Like Bosnia.
“I would say that song is directed at anyone who watches CNN, including myself.”
Don’t get him wrong. Sardy is not an angry young man. For one thing, he’s not young anymore, and if anything, he’s a product of his environment.
“I started off playing in hard-core bands, and John (Nowlin) the bassist also started off in industrial bands, and that’s where we come from,” he said. “I like to make the hair on the back of my head stand up. Our music is really more about being as overwhelming as possible.
“I mean, it’s like playing really intense music also makes you less angry. If I wasn’t playing music, I’d probably be doing something a lot more pessimistic.”
For now, Barkmarket attracts the disenchanted.
“It used to be like years ago, it was the serious pocket-protector crowd. Kids with no friends,” Sardy said, in describing the average Barkmarket fan. “The biggest thing we get from people, and we get a lot of mail, is like, ‘I love you, guys. I’ve told all my friends about you, but I don’t have too many friends, though.’
“We tend to get people who don’t pay much attention to the mass media for what they should like. We’ve never really been one of the ‘hip’ bands.
“We really fly in the face of a lot of the stuff that’s going on in the ‘quote-unquote’ alternative scene, in which everybody is writing a la-la-la pop song and hoping it’s going to break on MTV.”