Baroness after the bus crash: ‘Starting with a very humble mindset’
Metalheads united in a rare moment of emotional synchronicity last summer: we were gutted by a tragedy that struck the best of us — we had a Man Down. Baroness, a critically acclaimed crossover act whose recently released album “Yellow & Green” had captivated audiences and critics with its powerful and somber melodic muscle, had suffered a terrible touring accident — a bus crash in England that left important bones shattered and important people sidelined.
This isn’t that story. Read the worry in archives. This is the story of the trial-klined aftermath. This is the story of how integrity trumps superficiality — the story of the difference between rock stars and rock saints.
“I really only have one option — that option being to get back in the swing of things and become active and productive and creative again,” says Baroness’s nucleus John Baizley. “The only other option is just to give up… and then do what?”
Getting back in the swing of things for a road-dog band like Baroness means touring, and a lot of it, on an astonishing schedule, considering the breadth of their injuries. Robbed of the opportunity to present “Yellow & Green” — a deeply personal and artistically exploratory double album — to American audiences due to the bus crash early in their tour cycle, Baroness’s upcoming dates mark their first opportunity to present — and defend — their work.
“The predictability of the album cycle was wrenched away from us, so now the net of safety and predictability is a thing of the past. I think most people have made up their minds on whether they like the album at this point. And things have changed — in terms of lineup [two members of Baroness have left the band as a result of injury], in terms of perspective. This tour is in gratitude to our fans who continued to pay attention to us all while we were out of commission momentarily. If it turns into anything bigger than that, then I think we’ll be very happy. But we’re starting with a very humble mindset.”
Baizley’s run with Baroness has seen a number of lineup changes, and with this tour, fans will see a completely new rhythm section as drummer Allen Blickle and bassist Matt Maggioni recover from the accident. “We’ve just lost two members, so 50 percent of our sound has changed. So in some ways we’ve taken a very big step in a different direction, musically speaking. And I think the important thing is to embrace that. That’s the new existence, and you work therein. When Allen and Matt left the band, the first discussion that I had with Pete [Adams, lead guitar] was, ‘OK, we absolutely can’t look at this as a shot against the band. We have to look at this as opportunity. This has to be a door open for us to improve. We don’t find the mirror images of what we’ve got, we find something to make us better. We have to get better.”
Although these factors make for a tempestuous start to a tour, Baizley is glad to be hitting the East Coast for his first few dates, having breathed life into Baroness across a number of Atlantic states. And, for fans of his gorgeous art-nouveau style album art, he confirms that he’s incorporating art into his recovery.
“I’m getting close to that overextension again, which is where I actually love being. I like to be constantly in the midst of something.”