banner ad
banner ad
banner ad

INTERVIEW – John Baizley, Baroness – January 2014

| 1 March 2014 | 1 Reply

INTERVIEW – John Baizley, Baroness – January 2014

Many thought it was over for Baroness on the rainy August day in 2012 when their tour bus slid 9 metres from a viaduct near Bath, England, but against all odds the band play Soundwave Festival at Arena Joondalup on Monday 3 March. SHANE PINNEGAR finds singer and guitarist John Baizley filled with relief and vigour for being back in action.

NOTE John Baizley will be selling & signing prints of his stunning artwork at Outre Gallery in Perth on Sunday 2 March 2014 from 2pm –

John Baizley, Baroness 01

Baizley suffered a broken arm and leg in the accident, which also gave drummer Allen Blickle and bassist Matt Maggioni fractured vertebrae. Both of them quit the band as a result, but Baizley says he and guitarist Pete Adams never considered giving it away.

“I didn’t, and I know Pete didn’t,” he explains, “the guys who did, they ultimately left. We were terrified for a moment that we would have too, but as soon as there was like a snowballs chance in hell that we could put ourselves back together and get back on the road, that’s what we focused on. That’s what we obsessed over, and that’s what we fought very hard for.

“Because this is truly a labour of love for us. If it wasn’t, then of course we would have closed up shop and figured out something to do that offered us a little bit more security and a greater sense of financial freedom and kept us closer to our families. But the truth of it is, we love touring, we love playing music, and no matter what comes along with that, we’re willing to sacrifice ourselves to it.

“Yeah, it’s awesome,” he laughs, “who knew a year ago that we’d have another opportunity, or that we’d be capable of it. It’s been quite a trip this [last] year.”

Not wanting to harp on about the accident and reopen old wounds, none-the-less I wonder if it has made Baizley more fearful of travel, or touring in general?

“No, I mean it’s like a weird disease,” he says hesitantly, “especially after the crash, where there’s a lot of residual fear. I don’t know if you have the same name for the whole Post Traumatic Stress Disorder thing… that’s a real thing.

“Personally, I suffer from it, but I think that anxiety and fear are very tricky things to contend with. I have found that the best way to circumnavigate those waters of anxiety, and those fearful moments in life, is just to really engage them head-on, and I’m open about it. I had to be open about it.

“After the crash, I had to be open about what was going on. It was just, we thought our fans might want to hear how we’re doing, so we started talking about it. In doing so, we realized that a lot of the weird stressful anxieties, that sort of angle of the story, became easier every time I told the story.

“Then we just started finding all these little things, things that we were unconfident about, or things that we were concerned about, and we just went directly at them as hard as we could. In doing so, we got through all of that. I mean, there’s probably still some things left, but I’m not afraid to get on the tour bus. I’m not afraid to get in an airplane any more than anybody else would be.

“Every once in a while, if I’m in a bus and it’s a little rainy outside and it’s a little bumpy and we’re heading down a hill, yeah, then it creeps in a little bit, but not always. It’s not a consistent, constant thing.”

Well, you’re only human John.

“Yeah, I know,” he says quietly. “Exactly.”

As he went slowly recovered from his injuries, Baizley was quoted as saying that he viewed the rehab as ‘just work.’ By focussing on the goal of recovery, it was just head down, and do the work to get through to the other side. He stresses how much family and his art and music helped him through the process.

“It was absolutely quintessential to my recovery,” he stresses, “If I didn’t have my family around, if we didn’t have a good, strong, network of friends in addition to that, and furthermore, if I didn’t have music to look forward to and to help me, I think I’d be in a vastly different position today than I am.

John Baizley Baroness art

“In many ways, I feel like it was the proximity of my family and the new music we have, it’s like the luckiest – it made me very lucky, very fortunate, because I wasn’t able to dwell on things very long, and I wasn’t able to become, and master any of the difficult stuff. Because I had good people surrounding me, helping me get through that, and then at the end of the day, we had, basically Soundwave 2014 to look forward too. Things like that – opportunities to tour again, opportunities to get back and make music, were the cornerstone of the recovery.”

Baizley has more than one string to his bow, with his artwork in high demand for album covers and posters by the likes of Metallica, Kverletak, Flight Of The Conchords and many more. He says there was no lack of creativity once he was able again.

“The moment I got back from being stuck in England for almost two months,” he explains, “I just started making artwork again. As soon as my thumb was capable of making music, I started playing music again. I started to make little demos and recordings, and little performances here and there.

“Those things were driven by a lot of the pain that I was in at the time, primarily. I’m just looking for an escape from that, but I always work. That’s what I love to do.

“Just the other day I clicked on one of these online poll things. It’s stupid. I don’t even know why I clicked on it. All I remember is it saying the top 5 things that people on their deathbeds say. One of the most commonly uttered phrases by people on their way out was, ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.’

“I’m not sure I agree with that. I guess it depends on the nature of the work, but I love to work and I always have, so I always fill my days with it. I very rarely feel uninspired towards something. Whether it’s the artwork that I made for the music, or touring, or whatever it is, I’m always looking forward to something.”

The difference, of course, is that Baizley is doing something he loves, and following his creative imperative, as opposed to going to the office in a suit and tie.

“Yeah, and there I think that’s the difference,” he agrees, “so that creative imperative, as you call it, has become accelerated as I’ve become more aware of its finiteness. We had the rug pulled out from underneath us very abruptly, and rather than dwelling on the dark side of that, it has to be almost like a consciously made decision to use that as a lesson. A lesson to urge me forward, and to keep me on point, and to keep me focused and motivated to do what I’m capable of doing while I’m capable of doing it.

“While I’ve still got the heart to do it, I’m going to give it my all.”

John Baizley, Baroness 02

Baizley says that recruiting Nick Jost on bass and Sebastian Thomson as drummer to replace Blickle & Maddioni when they chose to exit the band, worked instantly.

“[There] hasn’t been any settling about it man, we just start,” he says emphatically. “They joined, they started kicking ass, and we really haven’t looked back since then. We’re just really, really happy with the way everything’s turned out.

“We like to think [things are back on track]. I mean it definitely feels like it, and we’re pretty sensitive and tuned in to when things are working or when they’re not. We’re happy, and that’s the first requirement in order for this band to be productive.

“Pete and I, we have to feel confident in what we’re doing. I think we’ve turned ourselves, in the past six months, into a much better band than we’ve ever been. We’re in much better condition than we’ve ever been in before and I hope this continues.”

Baizley is adamant though, that in reimagining Baroness, he and Adams didn’t have to go through that horrible breakup phase.

“Well, first of all,” he says, shooting straighter than most, “we didn’t lose [Blickle & Maggioni] as friends, they decided to leave the band. Everybody was in agreement. We’re all making decisions that are the best decisions for each of us individually. With that said, yes, of course you never want to change line-ups, especially not as many times as we have, you know?

“The first five years that this band existed, we had a stable line-up. It was like in-between every record something drastic would change. Every time that happens, it gets a little harder because you begin to feel a little bit more removed from the core, your core, of where you started. That distance can be unsettling, can be troubling. I think that we’ve been fortunate, either that, or we’ve just been around long enough that we know how to make a well-informed decision.

John Baizley art - Kverletak

“When we found Nick and Sebastian to play for us it wasn’t like we were replacing people, it was like we were adding brand new parts, and huge improvements over the old parts. For us, we try to think of it as, well, maybe this is what needed to happen. There’s a new sense of urgency on stage. That comes along in the rehearsal room as well, and I hope it carries over with the next record. I think we’re in the best position we’ve been in, in many years.”

Baizley is pretty laid back about the Soundwave Festival slot.

“I don’t know,” he laughs, “we’re just going to show up and throw down, that’s what we do. We’re not bringing a huge production, we’re just bringing what we’ve been doing for the past year to Australia.

“Unfortunately, it’s a festival, so we don’t get to do our full spread, but we’ll probably just scale it down to the all killer, no filler sort of thing. Hopefully there’s some sideshows in there where we can do a bit more. We’re just going to show up and we’re ready to throw down.

“I’m excited!”

With Baroness constantly striving to make a statement and to evolve musically, Baizley is typically forthright about the proliferation of bands that just rehash other bands and themselves ad infinitum and just sell records by the truckload as a result.

“It’s low hanging fruit, you know?” he states. “I don’t really [care if] these bands entirely churn out what I think of as second or third tier Neanderthal rock. That’s fine. There’s a market for it and if you are business savvy, as well as somewhat musically inclined, you can absolutely figure out the formula. There is a very simple formula for that stuff.

“Most people that I associate with and most of the circles that I run in, the whole point of being a musician and being creative, is to challenge that, and to challenge the popular mainstream. In order to do so, a lot of times we have to be on festivals with those bands.
“We have to tour near them, or we’re aware of them, but it’s the easy way out: You wanna make a few bucks, find some good looking singer that can halfway sing, write some generic riffs, or whatever it is. And I guess rock and roll is not really popular anymore, so write some country songs, or some pop tunes, and if you’re good looking enough and your press person is skillful and you’ve got a little bit of talent, then there you go. You’re good. But I don’t think there’s any longevity in it. I don’t think there’s much integrity to it.

“I certainly appreciate a well written pop song. I absolutely do,” he states emphatically. “I just don’t think there’s that many of them in existence anymore. I think the days where pop music was actually really exciting have ended. I think that era is well over. However, I enjoy playing music. I enjoy writing music. I enjoy all different types of music, so of course in any creative field where there is some fame and some money to be had, there is an attractiveness to a certain type of person to that lifestyle.

“Being a musician is very easy – if you want to fuck yourself up. If you just want to party all the time. Be wild, chase after girls. If you have no morals, no ethics, and really if you have no drive to work hard, it could be a wonderful place for you because there are plenty of institutions where you just don’t have to do anything.

“It’s all about the way somebody markets you. We’re not that band. A) We’re not talented enough technically, B) We’re not good looking enough. There’s no musical prodigies in our band. There’s no drive to succeed financially. We just want to make good music and we want to rock. That puts us at odds with the collective Neanderthal mainstream music industry. So, I don’t know, I like that.

“Someone tried to tell me to do that [compromise for commercial success], and I was like, ‘Fuck off.’

Baronessm 01

“We got to maintain a little bit of that edge because we still feel that way.”

Baizley says that the next Baroness record needs to be a bit special.

“The next record? We just have to prove… we have to write a record that’s so good that it overshadows the injuries we suffered in-between albums. I think that’s part of our goal. The other part is like, let’s just write a good record. Let’s really dig our heels in and write a great fucking record.”

John Baizley is a kind of modern renaissance man, making amazing music, creating incredible art, and even inspiring people by overcoming tremendous obstacles. Does he recognise the uniqueness of all he does?

“Yeah, occasionally I’m aware that not everybody does precisely what I do,” he says thoughtfully, “but I also realise that pride, for somebody in my position – you know, somebody with a public forum and that being the press, and stages, and venues, and all those sort of thing – one of my biggest enemies is going to be my own pride, and in order that I don’t become too prideful, I think it’s important that I have humility checks time and time again. At the core, all I am is somebody who’s tenacious, ambitious, and kind of lucky, musically especially.

“When I first started playing music I was a complete hack. I think in some ways I still am, I’ve just never stopped doing it. I loved doing it and I think that the passion translates into quality, so I have to remain passionate. I can’t get to the point where I trust myself. If I’m too overly confident, then I’m just going to be part of that system that I hate.”

Baroness play Soundwave Festival:




Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Albert says:

    This is one of the most insightful and thoughtfully written and conducted interviews with John that I’ve seen. It’s also a promising and exciting update regarding their new record. Thank you for this!

Leave a Reply

Please verify you\'re a real person: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

banner ad
banner ad