Scott Kelly & John Baizley

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Scott Kelly & John Baizley


Neurosis’ Scott Kelly is all too aware that his work as a solo artist is not always fully appreciated by fans of his heavier work. In fact, Kelly claims to have “gone closer to a fist fight at a solo show than I ever have at a Neurosis show!”

Scott Kelly has been playing music for over two and a half decades, generally heavy, all consuming, shredding and confusing music with his original band, or lately singing on Mastodon records, riffing it up with Shrinebuilder or freaking folks out with Tribes Of Neurot.

John Baizley will be familiar to the Soundwave generation as the man from Baroness and the dude who does that Pushead-inspired art for bands such as Kylesa, Pig Destroyer, Torche and even, according to Wikipedia, Flight of The Conchords.

And while Kelly has at least a decade of experience playing acoustically, this is Baizley’s first outing as a solo performer.

“I’m friends with Scott,” explains Baizley, “and there was a couple of shows in Germany a few years back that he asked me and Pete [Baroness’ other guitar player] to back him up on and it went pretty well. So when he was working on this Australian thing he rang me up. How can you say no to that sort of invitation?” laughs Baizley. “So now I am faced with the prospect coming over with no recorded material but it is a really good outlet for me to premiere some of the stuff I have had for a while now.”

“That is true,” confirms Kelly. “Yeah, we did a Townes Van Zandt song at the end of a Baroness set in Germany and that was kind of, that was the spark for him. I wasn’t aware that he hadn’t considered it before. It’s been 10 years, a little bit more I’ve been doing this now. It’s becoming a little more normal but it is still something outside of my comfort zone.”

But how did you get into it in the first place?

“First of all the music spoke to me,” begins Kelly. “All the years of travelling in the van and listening to tunes you start to find these things, you start digging into old Hank Williams, old folk stuff and it started to occur to me that there was something there that I should investigate. It occurred to me there was something that would be a real challenge to me as a musician and as a person and as a performer. It is definitely a different sort of craft.”

It definitely is a different craft; these upcoming shows from these two renowned underground musicians – being ably supported by Blackie from The Hard-Ons also playing solo – will be intimate and personal, an opportunity to connect with these artists on an individual level. However, Baizley also sees it as an extension of what he is known for.

“To me it doesn’t sound very far removed from Baroness but the audience will be 100 percent unfamiliar with the sound and the voice that I have singing acoustically. When Baroness plays,” he continues, “it is a guitar band and when you take that out of the mix and add to that the fact that I am an incredibly limited vocalist and a moderately skillful guitar player it automatically becomes a different thing.”           

Kelly comes at it from a similar point of view, as well.

“It’s really not that different for me either,” he explains. “I see it as one thing. It is merely stripping it down to its bare essence, that is what I look to do. To me it still totally fits with my upbringing around music, those things that really appealed to me, like Black Flag or Crass, bands that influenced me when I was really young. To me, going out with as an acoustic guitar by yourself is about as punk rock as it gets, it’s a definite ‘fuck you’ approach.”

Speaking of influence, it is clear that on one level Kelly has influenced Baizley to pick up the acoustic guitar, but on a different level Kelly has influenced a myriad other performers through his work over the last 26 years. But as Kelly knows, you can’t feed a family of four on acclaim.

“That’s cool, that’s the way it is. It’s that old thing of the first one over the wall gets the bloody nose. For us we realise that we have influenced a lot of bands and we totally respect that and appreciate it but we were heavily influenced by a lot of bands too. And bands that got a lot less out of it than we ever did, bands like Amebix and Rudimentary Peni, those bands didn’t get shit for what they did. The amount of significant music they made against the amount of money or the amount of acclaim they got – it was nothing. So you know, you can’t be in this for the money or the fame, not on the road we are on. This is a music thing, this is music first, y’know?”