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[INTERVIEW] Baroness

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By Thomas Riley Lanyon

In August of 2012, Baroness‘s tour bus suffered a brake failure, sending the bus and its occupants plummeting from an aqueduct near Bath, England. The crash took no life but left the band and their crew in pieces. For drummer, Allen Blickle, and bassist, Matt Maggioni, the trauma proved too much, and both departed the band in wake of the accident. A rhythm section down, founding member, guitarist, and lead vocalist, John Baizley, and guitarist/vocalist, Peter Adams, were left looking at an unsure future; a future they would have been forgiven for not venturing into.

Fortunately, they persevered, through physiotherapy and self-doubt, and are now, four years later, in a better place than they were. With the additions of Sebastian Thomson, former drummer for post-rock progenitors, Trans Am, and jazz-trained bassist, Nick Jost, Baroness was whole again; and in December last year, they returned with the triumphant and critically acclaimed, Purple, a collection of 10 songs that illustrated Baroness’s renewed sense of focus and ambition. It’s paid off too, as the band is a few short months away from their first headline tour of Australia, a tour that Baizley and his band mates have been looking forward to for a long time.

“It’s been a long time in the making,” states Baizley, who is currently in the mid-western United States, part way through a headline tour with celebrated doomers, Pallbearer. “I think Australia is one of the last places in the world we haven’t headlined. We’ve done side shows and things like that but to have a tour that’s dedicated to our set, that’s what we’re there to do, and the fact that that’s come to fruition now and we’re on the verge of coming back, that’s really nice for us.” Baizley continues, “…what we as a band aim to do primarily is to play shows as a headline act, where we have the time to play a dynamic set that has everything in it. When we get two hours to perform, we get to showcase the range that we’re capable of, the ups and the downs, the fast stuff and the slow stuff, the heavier stuff and the lighter stuff, and I think that makes for a better experience.

“When we get two hours to perform, we get to showcase the range that we’re capable of, the ups and the downs, the fast stuff and the slow stuff, the heavier stuff and the lighter stuff, and I think that makes for a better experience.”

The upcoming shows in December also mark Baroness’s first landing on our shores in nearly three years, the last time as part of the 2014 iteration of the now defunct Soundwave Festival. At the time, their most recent record was the 2012 double album, Yellow & Green, therefore, this will be the first chance Australian’s will get to experience the songs from Purple performed live, an experience that, by the sounds of it, you will not want to miss. When asked how the songs have translated to the live environment, Baizley, with a resolute sense of conviction, has the following to say:

“They’re great!” He enthuses, “I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true and I don’t think I’ve ever said that about any of our albums. They all have the kind of heft and power you expect out of any decent live song, and that’s why we play them every night. Normally on a record we write that’s a little bit longer, there’ll be some tracks that are more suited for listening on headphones, or they’ve been put together in the studio in such way that they don’t necessarily translate live as well. This is not a record that has that; this is a record that’s designed to be played live in its entirety.

“This is not a record that has that; this is a record that’s designed to be played live in its entirety.”

While Thomson and Jost were a part of Baroness when they last toured Australia, they hadn’t yet been through the process of writing and recording an album with Baizley and Adams, a process that furthered their camaraderie, not only offstage, but on. “There’s now full ownership over the majority of our set. It’s something we all experienced from its infancy to its current position, and that’s an important thing, you don’t want to just hire a bunch of ringers and have them show up and play all the right notes, that’s boring. This is a band. It’s comprised of four people, all four people have input, personality, character, and that needs to shine through. You don’t want one person to be leading everybody else, then it’s like a solo act and that’s a completely different thing. What we are is a band, we’re a team and there’s camaraderie on stage, and that’s an important aspect of our music.

“What we are is a band, we’re a team and there’s camaraderie on stage, and that’s an important aspect of our music.”

In the very near future, Baroness will have been a band for 14 years, yet it still remains vital for Baizley that the band hold onto the DIY punk ethic that they adhered to in the early days, silk screening their own merch and organising their own shows in and around Savannah, Georgia.

“It was a major determining factor in defining who I was,” explains Baizley. “The mentality is still there. I think people grow up in that universe and they carry the attitude and the ideals with them life long.” As a band grows, however, it becomes necessary to rely on and trust other people, something that Baizley has managed to do while staying true to the DIY ethos. “We are not so pretentious that we think we can do everything, there’s just too much to do. So we will hire someone or add someone to our team when we simply cannot shoulder the burden of work without slightly handicapping ourselves. It’s not like at one point we were just like, ‘okay, now we’re a bigger band, let’s hire 10 different people.

“There’s an instinct and a feeling, and then it’s just a matter of using those same ethics that taught you how to book tours and pull off shows, and applying them to hiring people who fit that bill and can work within that set of parameters, that aren’t going to misrepresent you or compromise your ethical integrity.”

Baroness is set to bring Christmas early for all rock and metal fans when their long-awaited headline tour begins on the seventh of December. If you’re a fan, these shows will be unmissable, if you’re not, come along and become one, because that solo in Shock Me is going to be mind-blowing.

 

BARENESS AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES

METRO THEATRE, SYDNEY
WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 7

THE TRIFFID, BRISBANE
THURSDAY DECEMBER 8

PRINCE BANDROOM, MELBOURNE
FRIDAY DECEMBER 9

THE GOV, ADELAIDE
MONDAY DECEMBER 12

CAPITOL, PERTH
TUESDAY DECEMBER 13

FOR TICKETS, MUSIC AND MERCH, VISIT:

http://www.yourbaroness.com

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWlPhX2Pl9A&w=560&h=315]

 

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