Let’s just get it out of the way: Sunn O))) is loud. Promoters have said it, punters have said it; basically, anyone capable of sensing vibration in any given area of their body will say it. This experimental drone-metal act even issued a mission statement that reads, rather graphically:

”The Sunn O))) mission is to create trance-like soundscapes with the ultimate low end/bottom frequencies intended to massage the listeners intestines into an act of defecation.”

Quite. But despite what seems like a well-earned reputation, Sunn co-founder Stephen O’Malley seems a little sick of talking about it. “A lot of journalists must have a sports-analyst or sports-journalist gene in them,” he says. “For some reason they think it’s necessary to find a high-score for a certain thing.”

But, under pressure, O’Malley does admit that the band – named after the infamous bass amplifier used to terrorise attendees of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Fair – is perhaps a little rowdy. “Sunn’s music is very physical. It has a physical property in the sound,” he says. “In order to do that, it demands a lot of energy, which umm, sound equates to on some level.”

Founded in Seattle in 1998, O’Malley and regular band mate, Greg Anderson, first imagined the band as a tribute to legendary doom band Earth – which, ironically, is opening for Sunn at this weekend’s Dark MOFO Festival. Incorporating waves of macerating squall and abandoning any percussion, Sunn creates a truly visceral noise experience (often while wearing robes).

O’Malley believes that the ceremonial presentation works to alter the audience’s perception of what they’re in for, making them more receptive to the show. “There’s a difference between performing and entertaining,” he explains. “An entertainer’s definitely a performer, but a performer’s not necessarily meant to always be an entertainer. So there’s different expectations depending on the setting, and the way things are presented.”

But if Sunn O))) started out with one, clear purpose, it quickly changed tack toward another. Using a broad roster of musicians and regularly breaking through whatever perceived category they’re placed in, the band is open to experimentation. Subsequently, its beloved of Swedish Deathgrind nuts and standard-issue nerds with a subscription to The Wire (ahem). “I don’t really care about genre and I don’t really think about music that way,” explains O’Malley. “When you’re writing music, you are always taking a risk based on your own experience regardless of what you’re trying to write. So making choices, trying to incorporate and to understand other types of music that you’ve never worked with before, it’s part of the responsibility of being a creative, I think.”

Collaboration has regularly formed a part of Sunn’s process. It has produced joint releases with like-minded bands with disparate tastes, notably 2006’s Alter with Boris and more recently Terrestrials with Ulver. O’Malley attributes band’s practice of collaborating to its protean nature. “Over the years I think that’s been the prime transformative aspect of the group,” he says. “We have all of these different elements; people, personalities, charismas together on stage. It can be quite different musically.”

And while Sunn O))) is all about changing-it-up style-wise, don’t expect its Hobart show to be adult contemporary. At the same time, O’Malley believes that the bone-rattling drone he intends to create is an expression of joy. “From my point of view, the music is quite joyful and liberating, at least to play,” he says. “The physicality of it, I find it extremely intoxicating and pleasurable, actually. It’s not a painful thing at all.”

Sunn O))) is performing at this year’s Dark MOFO Festival in Hobart, playing a stripped-back show at Dark Faux Mo at 10pm on Thursday June 19, and with Earth and Veil of Darkness at the Odeon Theatre Friday June 20. For more information visit darkmofo.net.au