BARONESS – Music, art and literature in all of its many forms
With their latest album, with the already classic title "the red album", Baroness has released one of the most fascinating albums of the year. Full of admiration of the bands unique blend of heaviness and experimentation, yours truly contacted the band via e-mail. Bassist Summer Welch was the one answering my questions.
Tell us about your background and your hometown of Savannah.
We all grew up together in the mountains of Virginia. John, Allen and myself played in a punk band in high school; I guess that was in 2000. In the summer of 2001 after I finished high school, I moved to Eastern Europe for a year. John moved to savannah, and Allen went to college. A year later I came back from Europe and moved down to live with John. Savannah is a really unique spot. It's humid as hell 12 months out of the year and so hot in the summer months that it's not even worth wearing cloths. It's definitely a grim place, but there is an underlying beauty to it, that overshadows the harshness of the city.
Baroness, as I've understood it, formed in 2003. Did you already know what kind of music you wanted to play back then?
John and I had been living together in Savannah for about a year. We had been playing together and talking about starting a band up again. I think at that point we were being exposed to a bunch of new invigorating bands. During that time there was a tone of great shows coming through savannah. We met a lot of people in the music community and realized there was good music coming out of the town we lived in. When we starting writing songs for Baroness, we didn't really have a sound in mind. We picked a handful of bands that we admired and had gained something from and picked the best elements and used that as the spearhead for our music. Once we started practicing, things just flowed in a natural way.
I haven't had the pleasure of hearing your first two releases, first and second. What do these albums sound like compared to your new album?
Well the first two releases are definitely more aggressive, rawer sounding. At that point we were all in a very different state mentally and emotionally. We have since parted ways with our original guitar player Tim Loose. Allen's brother Brian joined in late 2005 right before we went over to Europe. In my opinion there isn't a drastic change between "second" and "red". Yeah, the vocals are different and to someone who has followed us since the beginning, it's probably going to sound like we "changed" our sound, but to us it is a very natural progression. There was no conscious decision to change, but when there's two years between recording sessions, something is bound to change. At least it should.
I've had the red album in my possession for quite some time now, and it grows on me. It took some getting used to, but now I think it's great, what inspires you to make music that has so much depth?
We draw inspiration from a wide range of sources. I couldn't tell you exactly what inspires us. We play from the heart though and the music that you hear is what comes naturally to us. There isn't a formula and there is no preplanning.
What are your main sources of inspiration is it music or is it something else entirely?
Music, art and literature in all of its many forms.
How do you write music? My guess is that a lot of the music on the red album came out as a result of your band jamming together.
We write music like most people I guess. When there is a good riff or idea we just go with it and build it, until it turns into something we feel is worthy of being heard by others.
Have any of the members of the band, played in other bands before you formed Baroness?
We have all been in bands prior to Baroness, none of which had any longevity.
Even though you don't sound like any of them, I get the some of the same feeling from listening to your music, as I get from listening to Mastodon and Rwake. Do you feel any kinship with these bands?
Definitely, we are friends with Rwake and have played with them in the past. Mastodon we don't know personally, and we have never had a chance to play with them, but they hail from Georgia, as do we, so there is a definite connection. I also feel that bands from the same geological area will have noticeable musical similarities with out doing so on purpose.
I must say that I'm not surprised you signed a deal with Relapse. You fit right in with their profile. Is Relapse the right record company for you? Did you hope to get signed by them?
Relapse has been a great label to work with. We were not in any hurry to sign with a label. Relapse approached us last year, and at the time we didn't even feel that we were ready to make the move to a bigger label. We waited about four more months and then relapse expressed more of an interest, so…
Will you tour Europe any time soon?
We will be over in January with our friends Kylesa.
The artwork is brilliant. I understand that John Baizley is the artist behind it, as well as the artwork for Pig Destroyer's new album. Has he done artwork for other bands, except Pig Destroyer?
John makes music related art full time. He has worked with a ton of other bands.
In what direction will the band head musically in the future? Will you continue to develop the style you're playing today, or do something else entirely?
We will continue to write and play music as long as we feel it is genuine and for the right reasons. What direction that is I cannot say.
Good luck with the forthcoming tour, and I really hope your new album does well. You deserve it!