Baroness: Interview with John Baizley: Kind Of Blue

The art of music is something which the members of Baroness have always taken seriously. Since they began playing together in Atlanta in 2003 Baroness’ music has always dealt with personal and decidedly heavier matters than the clichéd heavy metal fantasies/nightmares of yore. As vocalist, guitarist, and chief lyricist John Dyer Baizley explains below Baroness always had rather self-centered goals of expression when making music and little has changed in that respect with the completion of their milestone sophomore release Blue Record.

I met with Baizley on Oct. 13, the day Blue Record was released in the U.S., and though he was drained after a long day of press, he proved to have plenty left in the tank to offer an insightful and even inspiring interview.

It seems, from the outside looking in, that a lot of people in the metal community and the music industry are behind you guys. Can you talk about that support and your expectations for the album?

Of course, I am nothing but ingratiated to everybody who’s offered their support for us through the past two records. The outpouring, both physical and otherwise, has been really impressive and really surprising. The way that we came up as a band was that we worked very hard for everything we got. We always felt we had earned it and at a certain point it seemed like the pendulum really just swung back our way and all of the sudden we had a lot of people who were looking out for us and seemed to genuinely care what was going on. And I guess I like to just be romantic about why that is and I just think it’s because we started out where every band should start out and that’s nowhere and with no pretenses and no expectations of where things would go. We started playing music because we loved to do it and that’s what has carried us this far and I think people appreciate that. I know when our peers in bands are elevated and they climb those stairs and they seem to be earning it and they have that, sort of, genuine love of music and seem to be coming from a genuine place, it elevates us all as fans and as an audience. I can hope that that’s a similar story to the one we have.

As far as expectations for this record, it’s really simple. My hope, and the best possible scenario for Baroness and this record, is that 12 months from now we still love playing the music as much as we do today. We’re not a finance driven band, it’s all about sweating it out on the road and as long as we can do that and enjoy what we’re doing, we’re a success to ourselves.

Why did you call it the Blue Record?

On the [personal] level, the chromatic titling was very obvious to the members of the band. We used it for very specific reasons, for very personal reasons and they have everything to do with the experiences that we are suggesting and hinting at within our music. Now, the reason I won’t go much further with that is because with this record, in respect to all our other releases, we have out [a great deal of] time into the development of communicating our very difficult experiences [through music]. To a certain extent all of [the members of the band] have gone through some incredibly traumatic things in all of our lives and we elected to sort of put a light on that and expose ourselves in such a way that it’s relatively vague. While at the same time we’re exposing ourselves we’re also keeping the details and the individual circumstances sort of shrouded. Coupled with the music, coupled with the visual imagery it made for a terrifically dense and wildly complex experience for us. The music, to me, is incredibly dense. I think the best way for me to explain it is when I heard the first mix of the record it was like I couldn’t even understand it, I wasn’t even aware of what we had done. It was hard for me to even hear the songs, there was just so much going on in them for me.

We really went out on a limb, or at least we thought so, with some of the stuff. We just poured a whole ton of gut-level reaction and critical analysis and intellectualism lyrically, visually, the whole nine yards. So I thought that it would be a complete mistake to try to encapsulate that in a title that was anything else than blunt and very bold and very open to interpretation. So, you have blue. I mean it works in respect to our last record, in the history of this band we’ve always come up with these very sequential …

First, second (EPs)…

Yeah, so it’s like at first it’s chronological, then it’s chromatic. It’s easy to understand, it’s easy to place in context and if you are willing to go the extra step, there are some things to figure out and there are some things to delve into.