Baroness Have Enough New Songs for Up to Three New Albums, Says John Baizley
Baroness' John Baizley was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. The singer/guitarist spoke about the group's upcoming intimate tour in which fans can vote for up to 10 songs to be played each night, while Baroness extend the night with over a dozen extras on top of the fan-voted portion. A new album is in the works too and they've got enough material for up to three more albums, or two albums and one from a brand new band, Baizley suggested.
Maintaining a direct connection with their fans has always been a paramount priority for Baroness and, nearly two decades later, the group has had to navigate fresh ways to keep that objective in focus.
Read the full interview below.
Let's talk about the name of your tour, 'An Intimate Evening with Your Baroness.' In what ways is this band in the hands of its audience?
We've always felt a very close kinship with our audience and it's always been a mission of mine since the very earliest days of this band that we never lose a direct, tangible connection with our fans.
That's always been very important to me as a result of having a few positive experiences when I was a young musician, meeting musicians that I looked up to.
I came up in the punk rock/hardcore/DIY community and there was a very little distinction between the band and audience at every point in the road. Now that we've been a band for two decades, it has become a different challenge at this stage in our career to do that.
We thought it would be a cool idea to hand over a large portion of our set on this tour to our audience. When people buy tickets for this tour, they're sent a link to a page where you get to vote for literally any song that we've ever released. In this very intimate show, the first 10 songs we play are all fan-generated songs from our set list.
There are no support bands on this tour and it truly is an evening in a small venue — 300 capacity or less — where we play 10 songs that our fans have voted for and then usually another 15 or 17 songs that we've decided on playing. It's quite a lengthy set.
We've tried to create an environment where not only is the set list in the hands of our audience, but we're really trying to provide a huge experience for everybody coming. We'll play four or five songs from every record every night, regardless of what is voted for. What's not voted for balances out our set list, so every night is basically a look back at the history of the band.
The fact that our fans get to choose the set list main makes it 'your Baroness,' as opposed to my Baroness.
Performing songs handpicked by each audience is compelling and challenging way to tour. What does a given city's set list reveal about their relationship with your music?
The variety in the fan-generated setlist is pretty low. It's basically our popular songs that end up in that list. However, in the cities that we spent the most time in early in our career, we tend to see a larger selection of songs from those early days.
A city like Richmond, Virginia or anywhere on the East Coast, which is where we're from, tends to have some of our earlier songs on it. There were a handful of cities on the first leg of the tour, where people were voting for some of the songs from our EPs, which we released in 2004 and 2005. Those songs are drastically different from our newest songs, so it's really cool to see that the towns we've been going to the longest dig back the deepest into our back catalog.
Baroness, "Tower Falls" (First EP, 2004)
John, there's a settling, healing component to art, including music. What made you first aware of the correlation between health and creativity?
I've always been a creative person since I was very young and I don't think I ever realized it because creating art and creating music and the performance has been a part of my life for so long now that I'm only aware of how unhealthy it is when I am not able to create or play music and perform. It's such an intrinsic part of my life that I literally can't imagine a happy, healthy life without it.
You're nearly finished with a new Baroness album. What aspects of the challenge of making music during a pandemic were ultimately beneficial?
In the early stages of writing, the geographic distance that we had and the isolation that we had forced each of the four of us to really bring forth ideas that were closer to songs than riffs or small ideas since we couldn't spend time in a room together developing ideas.
Everybody shared more fully formed ideas. Nick, Sebastian and Gina and I are all creatively competitive. The fact that we were all distant and expected to provide something meant that we each of us wrote at least 10 or 15 songs in that first year of the pandemic. As a result, we've got more material in our hands than we know what to do with at the moment. Not only have we got enough music for this and for our next record, but we've probably got a good, healthy start on a second band or third record after that.
The music of your youth is varied from Sonic Youth and Nirvana to Black Sabbath, Heart, and even Huey Lewis and The News. What's different and also the same about the way that music affects you now?
I'm like everybody else out there — I respond in the most genuine and the deepest way to the music that moves me the most. That just sort of boils down to what I hear, what I interpret as passion and energy and, genre by genre, it's displayed in a different way.
The passion and creativity that you'll hear in in punk music is of a louder, faster, more aggressive variety than you would hear in vintage country or Western or reggae or electronic music.
At its core, what I've always appreciated and what I've always gravitated toward is free-thinking, open-minded artists who really don't fit securely or squarely into any of the genre boundaries, but who instead seem to really take to heart the idea that you, as a musician/creator/artist, are here to forge your own path.
That comes across more in the music that I respond to than almost anything else.
Thanks to John Baizley for the interview. Follow Baroness on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify and pick up their latest album, 'Gold & Grey,' here. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.