Profile: Borys Crossburn of Italy’s Barbarian


The Italian power-trio, Barbarian, has been rocking underground heavy metal since 2009 Cult of the Empty Grave, their latest work, is an aggressive, heavy metal assault. With distorted bass lines, drums that sound like they are being beaten with the bones of the enemy and a double-tracked guitar that both synchronize and harmonize its assault, Barbarian deliver an album which you can murder your enemies as well as chug beers with your pals to.  We had a chance to chat with Borys Crossburn about the current state of metal. Pick up a copy of their new album (and some sweet merch) at the Hells Headbangers shop.

How did you first get into playing music and have you achieved the level of success that you always hoped to achieve?

I guess it happened when I felt that air guitar wasn’t enough anymore so I got myself a Washburn guitar, a small amplifier and “Kill’em all” tablatures and I went on.  I’m not into it for any kind of success and I’ve never haved any kind of big expectations, I just love playing and I love metal, and releasing records and playing live it’s already awesome.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, debased and praised?
I’ve NEVER debased myself or what I do for any of that, I do care about integrity and I don’t have any narcissistic deficits that lead me to beg for anything just to be in the spotlight, I just don’t care. Embarrassed? Probably a bit once at a wedding of a friend, it was all very poshy and I was wearing a Genital Deformities t-shirt.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
I’d say that one of the worst things is exactly bands debasing themselves just to get some coverage or whatever instead of concentrating on writing good music. On the other hand it’s great having so many bands, labels, venues around, looks like there’s life on Mars and the scene is particularly alive. Among such a big crowd the chance of finding excellence is bigger.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music? 
Barbarian lyrics are concerned on some of the “chains that bind us” (as Napalm Death would say), the self-enslavement derived from religion and theism in general. If the Will is chained there no chance of being truly liberated. I would call this a big issue, but besides that I wouldn’t call Barbarian music socially engaged. Yes, music is an emotional and physical outlet, and it’s probably the greatest “game” ever invented, but when it comes to social and political issues music probably isn’t the greatest mean. Sometimes it worked that way in the past, being Crass the most enlightening example, more often it’s just the illusion of being truly effective. My eyes are wide open on the world, I like being informed on what’s going on around, ignorance is the first step to enslavement (and then to obliteration, yes, Napalm Death again).  But I’m not into showing off to much, I just live the way I think best.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
I’ve grown up in a small village in the middle of nowhere far from any big city, it was hard in the 80’s to get hold of decent music and there was no older brother to get tips from. I was lucky enough to visit Poland several times (I’m half Polish) where the bootleg-tapes market was very rich. My introduction to metal it’s been probably some Anthrax video on the Italian music television in the 80’s. My family took it very badly, I’ve been put in a madhouse where I’m replying to this interview from (or the Anthrax video was Madhouse, I don’t remember…).
What’s the stickiest you have ever been?
Never been such, I’m a well educated metal kid.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
Be curious, read and listen a lot, try to be interesting when writing and care about the grammar (and forgive my poor one, but English is not my mothertongue). And always remember that you never have the truth in your pocket.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
My job is teaching kids, when not working I listen to music, read books, watch movies and do a lot of road–cycling, probably nothing groundbreaking but interesting enough.  I’m too busy, no time to invade any continent…
Finally, when you’re not listening to, writing or playing metal, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? 
I constantly listen to music, be it metal or not, I’m “bulimic” about that, and I’m concerned about good music rather than music genres. The latest non-metal albums I’ve bought are License to ill by the Beastie Boys and The End by Nico.
Thanks to Borys Crossburn for his time! Be sure to check out their latest album Cult of the Empty Grave!

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