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Baroness

Dit interview werd al maanden geleden verstuurd, rond de tijd van de officiele release van 'Yellow and Green', het derde (en vierde) album van Baroness. Het duurde een tijd voordat we iets van de heren vernomen en al gauw werd daarvan de trieste reden bekend. De band had namelijk een ernstig ongeluk gehad in Engeland. Daarbij viel de bandbus van grote hoogte van een brug en hing het leven van zanger John Dyer Baizley even aan een zijden draad. Inmiddels zijn de heren terug in de VS om te revalideren. Vol hechtingen en met een flinke dosis realiteitszin zien ze de toekomst tegemoet. Gitarist Pete Adams doet het woord.

Door: Jasper | Archiveer onder different metal

Hi guys! How is Baroness doing today?
We are still recovering from the bus crash in England in August. Things are looking better everyday. So things are as good as they can be.

How is Europe treating you? How have the responses to playing the
new songs live been so far?

On our last tour though, before the accident, every night out there was amazing response to the new songs. I would say Europe is treating us well and has been for many years now.

The new album is quite a radical move in more than one way, for some
people it's been hard adjusting to the changes! Can you explain what brought you to writing this mellower material and abandon the harsh vocals? Have you guys been getting mellower as well perhaps?

It's pretty simple really. We want to just continue to write NEW material. We don't like to continually repeat ourselves. Although there are things we do that may always keep us sounding like us. We are always trying to become better musicians, better vocalists and better song writers. It would get boring to spend this short life we live saying the same thing over and over.

Did the material write itself, or was it a conscious decision to focus on the more melodic side of Baroness? Did you perhaps feel out of place with metal and thought it time to explore horizons and perhaps also a new audience, a new scene?
It was a natural writing experience for 'Yellow and Green'. Of course after the first few songs we obviously understood that this record was going to be different. We just flowed with it. It's not that
we were looking for a new audience we just wrote what we were feeling at the time. Next time we write maybe it could be more aggressive. We'll see.

One aspect that struck me of the album were the vocal harmonies, you've used them before, but definitely not in this way. Was there a lot of practicing involved before recording all those clean vocals, I mean that would have been a whole new experience to you guys, right?
Unlike Baroness albums in the past, we actually worked on vocals pretty early on in it. John and I both found our natural range were comfortable singing in and just started there. We've both done enough singing in the past to not be completely hindered by it. It did take getting used to it though.

The way some of the harmonies were sung strangely enough reminded me a little of Weezer sometimes. It's probably unlikely, but were they an inspiration? They also used more or less the same color patterns in their albums by the way!
The answer from me is short. No. Turns out lots of bands have used colors as a theme.

What role did producer John Congleton play changing your sound? I guess he has more experience with indie rock than you guys, did that help?
Congelton let us just play. There was no influence over the music. We went to John in the first place because of the dynamics of his recordings. We never wanted a one volume album that's overly compressed so we went with John. Working with him has been a blast from start to finish.

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It seems with the absence of harsh vocals you've also changed the scope of the lyrics. Am I right in thinking they are much more personal this time around? They used to be 'bibilical' and 'epic', and now they sound much more personal, dealing with loss and more personal things. Could you explain this change?
The lyrics have always been personal. John has always written in metaphors. This time around with the change in sound of vocals it seemed more appropriate to say something we can easily relate to. Life hasn't fully been lived until you've lost someone or something dear to you. We all go through pain and we all deal with addiction on one level or another. So with you now hearing us out more clearly you should understand and hopefully relate.

A 'theme' on both 'Yellow And Green' lyrically seems to be 'going away' or 'leaving', am I right? It's something that seems to be popping up more than a couple of times throughout the record. Does that reflect some of the personal things you have been experiencing, maybe also the departure of Summer (Welch-bassist)?
Maybe yes, in a way. Honestly the lyrics are very personal. And to sit and discuss what they are about specifically would ruin it I believe.

Did Summer leave before or after you started writing new material? He always seemed to me the more 'metal' guy in the band, was he the one who had the biggest problems with the way the music was changing?
He left midway throug the process and no he had no problem with the direction.

Was making a double album hard work for you guys? Did you write much more material than you fit on both 'Yellow and Green'? Or was it easier since you didn't have to throw much of your 'babies' away?
We wrote so much that we really got to choose. It's not often we get that kind of freedom. So on that level it was easy. On another though, it was difficult cause you have so much to sift through that you've really got to keep up with it all. We demoed everything twice!

The instrumental pieces in Baroness have always been derived from a similar theme, right? Is that part of the color-concept? Does that tie the first three (or four) albums together thematically?
No, it's just what we like to do. Although it does tend to fit nicely. Thanks for noticing.

Was your label Relapse instantly happy with the idea of releasing a double album, or would they rather release it as two albums? (was that ever an option?)
They have been and were super supportive from the start. We've got a great relationship with Relapse so it's easy to work together.

About the album colors; I guess yellow was the logical third one being the remaining primary color. But why did you choose green over purple, orange, or pink? Did you look into the meaning of the color
green (fertility, growth, but also sickness and death) or was there less thinking to the decision?

Honestly we just thought it would be a cool way to theme the records. They also look really nice set side by side.

Can you share the best responses to the new album so far? And the worst too?
Man, I don't really read the responses. With the Internet giving any one a voice. It has made everyone a professional music critic. I'm not paying it any attention. The response at the shows have been overwhelming though. That's what I see and hear.

You're touring festivals now, right? When will you be back in Europe doing headliner gigs? And what kind of band(s) will you be taking with you?
Well, no plans as of now but definitely in 2013.

I guess changing your style gives you a much broader spectrum of bands you could play with, do you have any ideas yet or perhaps a wishlist?
That's a tough question. I've always wanted to tour with Enslaved. Hope that works out one day.

It seems that you've outgrown the Savannah sludge scene, and that bands like Kylesa and Black Tusk have definitely gone different ways. Are there other bands you feel more related to now, or would you feel more of the odd one out in the metal/rock scene these days?
It's hard to define what we do exactly. We really just want to focus on being a headlining band though.

Having done numbered albums and colored albums, and a double album, what is next? It seems like the future is completely open...or have you got any ideas yet?
No plans in the works man. Just touring and finding new inspiration along the way.

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