That 13 years on that same band, Baroness, would’ve survived the extremely competitive live music scene in Savannah, Georgia, numerous lineup changes, and a near fatal bus accident while on tour in the UK that left Baizley with a broken left arm and leg, and former members, Matt Maggioni and Allen Blickle, with fractured vertebrae. “I believe the fact that we’re feeling as positive and enthusiastic as we are, after having gone through what we have, is an achievement in itself,” Baizley says.
After spending months away from the spotlight to recover, and receiving sound advice from Metallica’s James Hetfield (who has also been the victim of a bus-related accident while on the road), Baizley says he became more determined than ever to keep the band alive. And not only did Baroness survive the crash, they thrived, producing some of their best work to date on Purple.
“There was no way I could’ve anticipated the level of response I’ve seen from some people. I could never have imagined that could happen,” he says. “For me [Purple]was a personal endeavour, and I had no idea that people would respond that well to it. It brought something out in me – and that was the success of the record for me. Everything else is gravy, or icing on the cake, so to speak.”
Baizley credits Purple as his saving grace and a chance to work with US producer Dave Fridmann (Sleater-Kinney, Weezer, Tame Impala, MGMT). “This album helped to heal our bruises. The lyrics deal with some very private stories of suffering from people I love, and I think there was a big risk in writing that way.
“The risk is that if you give too much away and people don’t understand it or identify with it, then you’re there pouring your heart out night after night,” Baizley says. “We thought it’d be a good opportunity to explore a different way of connecting with people.
“Now there’s a high level of emotion in a lot of our shows. I never expected that – I never thought we were going to be a band like that, but we are, and I think it’s been a pretty amazing thing but it’s certainly not something we could’ve foreseen.”
While their earlier albums, Red Album (2007) and Blue Record (2009), are known for their blistering riffs and heavy lyrical style, 2012’s Yellow & Green and Purple reveal a band undergoing a creative change. “In the very early days we were very dependent on riffs. We weren’t confident as songwriters,” Baizley says. “We would come up with a bunch of riffs, play them all together, and see what happened. Red and Blue were very guitar-based albums.
“But as time went on we made a concerted effort to make sure there was a good balance between songwriting and maintaining a very heavy guitar presence. We tried to strike a balance between the two and when we did, it became obvious that we hadn’t lost the riff-thing at all, and we were very optimistic and excited. I realised I could use these emotive and personal lyrics together with our energetic and exciting music – and that makes for a very uplifting live show.”
Baroness will return to Australia to play Meredith Music Festival, and from all accounts, the four-piece can’t wait. “I’m a huge fan of Australian music. I’ve listened to potentially every guitar band that is currently touring in search of support and I’ve come across quite a few bands that I’ve been enjoying. I promise at every show we have there will be somebody good, because we’ve spent a lot of time digging into the Australian music scene and there are some really great bands.
“We see the Australian/New Zealand dates as a cap on the year and potentially an end of touring Purple.” Baizley says. “After these dates we’re going to settle in and start writing again, and I think once we start I’m positive we’ll crank out a new record really quickly. We’re hungry to write, and see where our next record takes us.”
By Natalie Rogers