Time goes on and bands fade as quickly as they appeared, but somehow the New York natives of Bayside have succeeded in making themselves a staple in the punk rock music scene. Drawing in fans with their powerful riffs and memorable melodies, the foursome—vocalist and guitarist Anthony Raneri, lead guitarist Jack O’Shea, bassist Nick Ghanbarian, and drummer Chris Guglielmo—have secured a dedicated following that continues to grow. Now six studio albums later, as the band’s embarked on their 15-year anniversary tour, Ghanbarian discusses meeting fans, earning respect, and what continues to drive Bayside after all these years.
You’re currently in the middle of your 15-year anniversary tour. How’s it been so far?
We had high hopes, we knew it was going to be a fun tour, one of our bigger tours; maybe our biggest headlining tour. It’s definitely exceeding our expectations. It’s going really well. We were friends with all the bands on the tour previously so it’s a good feeling to be out there. All the backstage antics with us, Senses Fail, Seaway, and Man Overboard is just real settling, and then the vibes at the shows are just really celebratory and everyone’s having a good time. So we’re really excited. And now we’re starting to head back east toward more hometown territory, so we’re really excited to see what the East Coast brings.
What are some milestones for Bayside that stand out to you?
I just think having the respect of some of our peers was really the biggest thing for us. Being able to meet like bands I just mentioned, Bad Religion, Bouncing Souls, and being parts of tours with them and stuff like that, and them realizing that we’re a lifer of a band just like they are. That’s really one of my favorite things when I think of 15 years. Like meeting Tim Armstrong from Rancid and he knows what we’re all about, and like I said Bad Religion, Bouncing Souls, Saves The Day, and all these bands that were really pivotal bands for me growing up and becoming a musician.
Just to cross paths with them at some point and them have respect for us and know that we’re not some clashing the pans little kid band. They realize we’re trying to do things the right way and kind of carry the torch for any kind of punk rock, alternative, whatever you want to call it. Just know that we’re a prideful band trying to do things the right way, and just to have the respect of certain peers is a big thing for me.
I can imagine! Do you feel like when you guys first started, you had a specific sound in mind that’s progressed or changed over time?
The driving force behind our band forever really has always been to do whatever we need to do to stay a band within reason. And I think that over the years we’ve just continued to try and get better with every record, and tried to do some different tours here and there that would win us new fans. It’s never at any point that we want to ever go away so we’ve always done whatever we needed to keep the longevity of the band in mind, and now we’re 15 years in. I think that from the beginning it always seemed like the same goal is just to get to the point where this was our lives, and we reached that a long time ago.
The safety net is never there I guess when you’re in a band these days. This could all end pretty quickly if people decide they don’t like us or if we do something, release an album that people don’t like. So we always have pressure on ourselves to do better, to keep our fans happy, to keep our fans interested, and just take it year by year really.
In terms of growth, what’s the reception been like when performing songs from the last album, Cult, for fans a year after its release?
What’s really cool and just made us feel great right away is, I guess when we were writing Cult we felt like we were within bounds of the sound we’ve kind of created for ourselves. But at the same time we knew that there were some chances that we were taking that we felt like we needed to make just for our own sanity and to prolong our band. So to let people know that not every song will be super fast or energetic, or not every song is going to stick to necessarily a Bayside structure or anything like that, those were some leaps of faith we took on the album.
And honestly, everybody who already was a fan of our band loves every song, and it might be our most celebrated songs from the first track to the last track where I feel it’s our most celebrated album where people like every song and there’s not a hit or specific song people gravitate to that much. Whenever we ask people what songs they want to hear from the record we get a really even response for every song which is cool because we felt like we were taking a couple of chances with a lot of the songs.
I think the most different song we’ve written, because it has like kind of a ska twang to it, is the song “Stuttering” and that’s one that people love the most. So it’s cool that our fans appreciate one of the more different songs that we can do but still see that we’re holding true to ourselves. We just got a little more creative with it. Our fans are our fans. It’s cool when we can make some new ones and that helps us move along as a band. But this whole new record it seems like we’re really happy with it, we were happy with it when we made it, and the fact a lot of longtime fans are with us, and we made some new fans along the way is a good feeling.
You mentioned having a variety of fans; what’s it like when you meet a longtime fan versus a new fan?
I’m just super appreciative of both. The bands that I’ve followed for half my life at this point, Bad Religion, Bouncing Souls, I’m super appreciative of them growing up as musicians, and them being in bands, and touring, and sacrificing a lot of their lives. I guess I relate to them on that level that I know what it takes to do what they do. So when people who have been fans of ours for a long time, have been with us, I kind of relate to that.
At the same time I feel like finding any sort of rock music as a new fan these days, it takes a little bit of effort. It’s barely on the radio and there are thousands of bands on the Internet vying for your attention, so the fact that we could still be a new band for some people is a good feeling. I like to think that we did things the right way and we still try to find new fans now. And when we write a song, if their first song that they’ve ever heard from Bayside is a new song, we want to make sure that they’re just as comfortable with any song we’ve ever released. So the new fan thing has always been something that we’ve taken very seriously with every record, every tour. It’s super important to us. And by the looks of it people seem to stick around once they become a fan. It’s a good feeling to meet people who’ve been with us a long time, but I still get excited when people say it’s their first time seeing us too.
That’s awesome! Is there anything you want to say to fans coming to your East Coast and hometown tour dates?
We tour so we can see you guys smile all the time and sing and just have a good time at our shows. We know everyone works hard for their money and we want to give them their money’s worth if they’re spending their money on a Bayside ticket or album or t-shirt or anything like that. Keep in touch with us, request songs, and make sure if you’re coming to a show to be ready to have a good time because we want it to be a cathartic experience. It definitely is for us. The best part of our day is when we get to play at night so when the crowd is more into it we’re more into it. Thanks to anyone who has ever bought a ticket, a t-shirt, a record. You’re helping us fulfill our dreams and maintain doing what we do.
You can catch Bayside performing at the Best Buy Theater in New York City on April 2, the Electric Factory in Philadelphia on April 3, and the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ on April 4. Bayside’s latest record, Cult, is available through Hopeless Records. For more information, visit their website baysidebayside.com.