Baroness interview: "I want our imagery and music to develop, so that at the end, we've created the story of a lifetime"

12/12/2012 @ 13:25
We were preparing to ask a million questions with regards to their impressive new album "Yellow & Green", when Baroness gave us a serious scare by taking a thirty feet dive with their bus into the British flora. Heavily injured, these adventurous spokesmen of impure sludge from Savannah, Georgia fraught their bad luck with admirable grit, and after a few months of recovery, they took the time to give us their news. The frontman of the band, singer and guitarist John Baizley sent us his message of mental strength, confirmed the band’s willingness to go back on the road, and unveiled interesting information about his work as a visual artist.

Hello John, thank you for your time. How are you these days? How is everyday life for you and how is your recovery going?
I'm good. Life is getting easier by the day, and my recovery is progressing, though slower than I'd like. I have finally gotten out of my wheelchair, and I am beginning to play music and make art again. Walking again has been really good for my overall well-being. I am looking forward to the day when the injuries are less immediate than they are now.

BaronessCan you tell, at this point, how the accident will affect Baroness and at what extent?
The accident has forced us to take a short break from touring, but as soon as we can, we'll be back on the road. Considering the fact that we will all heal (in time), I don’t see any reason why this accident should do anything other than facilitate this short respite from playing live. It would be a shame if I let this accident have any unnecessary negative effects.  A practical attitude has gone a long way in the past few months, and reasonable amount of optimism should help us get through to the end of this. Either way, staying focused and confident can't really hurt.

Before the accident, the band was back with an impressive new double album, "Yellow & Green", which seems to be far mellower and maybe somehow less complicated than your previous albums. What lead you to this result?
"Yellow & Green" is no less complicated for us than any other record we've done. Our goal was, simply put, to write a better record than our last record. In order to do so, we had to ignore the accomplishments of our past records and start from somewhere fresh. We felt that we had to grow as songwriters, and rely less on stylistic trappings and technical artifice. The songs for "Yellow & Green" came from a less guarded place than many of our past songs.

Baroness"Eula" is one of the excellent songs of the new album. Would you care to explain this song title? We are curious, because it seems to be deriving from the Greek name 'Eulalia'.
The title "Eula" is a literary reference to a chapter from William Faulkner's "The Hamlet", a novel that had a pronounced effect on my songwriting for "Yellow & Green".

Which Baroness album cover is more meaningful to you and why?
I cannot really say any one cover is more or less meaningful than any of the others. "Yellow & Green" is most recent, and therefore its content is the most relevant, as it contains the most current emotions and characters. The narrative and meaning is the closest to me for the moment, at least until we have another record to make artwork for. The art, as well as the music that we make is, rather typically, a snapshot of the time in which it was created. I want our imagery and music to develop and grow over time, so that at the end, we've created the story of a lifetime.

BaronessWhat is your method when creating an illustration or an album cover? What tools do you use?
I make artwork in a traditional way, using pencils, pens, brushes, watercolors and ink. I do not use computers to create my paintings. I make a sketch, turn it into a drawing, and ultimately paint the drawing in full color. It’s a bit archaic, it’s messy, it’s expressive, time consuming and it’s the only way that makes sense to me.

Has the artist Pushead been an influence for you? Some of you works seem to have a little something of that 'Metallica skeleton' aesthetics.
Pushead was instrumental in illuminating the way that artwork and music can syncopate. Visual art and music have developed in tandem throughout history, and Pushead was the artist that influenced me most directly, with relation to album art, when I was in my teens. His covers seemed to capture the feeling, energy and aesthetic of the music that was so important to me in my youth.

BaronessWhat illustrators or painters do you admire?
Other notables are Raymond Pettibon, Roger Dean and Hipgnosis.

What are your favorite album covers 'of all times'? Can you give me a top five?
Damad - "Burning Cold" by Damad, "My War" by Black Flag, "Relayer" by Yes, "Bitches Brew" by Miles Davis and "Houses Of The Holy" by Led Zeppelin.

What is your opinion with regards to illegal downloading?
Necessary evil. It has leveled the playing field. If music is free and available everywhere to everyone, quality counts for more. It certainly hurts musicians who write, record and perform music, but not to the extent where we're going to fold up and quit. If anything, the lack of profit to be found in the music industry has forced the hand of the musician, compelling them to reaffirm their convictions. Anyone who was in music purely for profit will leave the game, but the heart and soul of music will remain.

BaronessWhat are the reasons bassist Summer Welch left the band?
He left because his heart wasn't in the music anymore. He didn't want his lack of enthusiasm to infect the band, so he left.

Did he have a significant part in making "Yellow & Green"?
He helped out with some of the writing, but did not play a significant role in the making of the record.

Thank you. I wish you all a complete recovery and all the best.
Thank you.