Baroness’ John Baizley Rediscovers Musical Soulmate on ‘Blue Record’
Savannah, Ga. psych-prog band Baroness explored various techniques to make their new disc, ‘Blue Record,’ different from their 2007 debut ‘Red Album.’ They worked with a different producer, modified their songwriting approach and spent more time in the writing room. But the greatest difference in their sound came from an unplanned source. In September 2008, guitarist Brian Blickle left the band and was replaced by Peter Adams.
“Whoever’s in the band has a directly proportional impact on our sound,” frontman John Baizley tells Noisecreep. “So, when 25 percent of the band leaves, 25 percent of our sound changes, because we’ve never asked anybody to join the band and conform to what we do. Somebody joins, and at the same time as they’re learning how to play Baroness, we’re learning how to play with them.”
Although Blickle’s departure resulted in some significant sonic shifts, they came with little drama or bitterness. He and Baizley are still friends, and, in some ways, the frontman envies Blickle’s ability to walk away.
“He made a decision that’s smarter than the rest of our decisions to stay in the band,” Baizley says. “He wanted a better career with some more stability, and who can blame him? We’re an independently moderately successful band, but there’s just not that much ease of lifestyle involved. We live in a van more than half the year. It’s tough to live on the road. It’s tough to sacrifice things at home for a living that — considering the hours we put into it — is barely worth it. We always have to come home and find a new job. There’s no stability in relationships, not a lot of money. So everything that’s difficult about being in a band was wearing on him. But we left on great terms.”
In many cases, replacing a band member is a frustrating process that necessitates getting to know a new musician’s personality and style of playing, and developing a relationship over time. However, for Baizley, Adams’ initiation was more like a joyous reunion.
“Pete is one of my oldest friends in the world,” Baizley says. “He and I learned to play guitar together when we were 12 or 13 years old, and I had only been playing casually for a few years. We jammed throughout middle school and high school. Even after I left town and he had gone on to do his own thing, we’ve always stayed in touch.”
Not only did Adams provide brotherly friendship, he locked right into Baizley’s writing style and synched with his schedule. And as the two worked on the songs, they found that their history together enabled them to compliment each others riffs in an uncanny manner.
“There’s a musical bond between the two of us, and that type of intimacy can only come from knowing somebody in their formative years and going through adolescence together,” Baizley says. “The stuff you see and listen to and experience when you are the most impressionable has a real effect on your later in life and he and I have that in common. There’s a type of musical sentence finishing that happens with us. It’s very much unspoken and it’s very natural and comfortable.”
Once Baizley and Adams started working together again, ideas for ‘Blue Album’ began flowing like a freshly tapped oil well. Not only was Baizley immediately able to fill the void left by Blickle, he realized that Blickle and his predecessor Tim Loose were actually both hired because of their similarities with Adams.
“I think Pete has always been the Ying to my Yang, and everybody else I’ve ever played with has sort of been an approximation of that,” Baizley continues. “With Pete there’s a fluid ‘here’s how I start a phrase, here’s how you end it’ thing that flows between us as guitar players and vocalists as well. So in the studio it was a really interesting thing to see how our voices worked together, and we were really able to analyze that. And that’s probably one of the bigger changes in the band. There’s now a second personality coming through vocally as well as compositionally and I couldn’t be more thrilled.”