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Friday, July 27, 2012

BARONESS: The Heavy Planet Interview



You can compare your band's gold-nugget with their sub-par releases all you want. Fans fall in love with their favorites and expect Point A to meet Point Fuck in an encapsulation of everything the band never quite achieved. The standards aren't met, the fans aren't pumping fists, and the whispers drive you crazy.

Holy fucking hell. Enter Baroness: Sludge/Swamp/Progressive juggernauts that have cemented their status as stone-carved metal kings. Their new double album, Yellow & Green, is heavy enough for your fist-pumping uncle and accessible enough for your aunt Judy to say "I could listen to that." I'm not saying this is fishing music. I'm saying this is a gorgeous, expansive, and far-reaching double-serving of the best song-craft you'll hear in 2012.

Heavy Planet recently snagged Pete Adams for a coiled spell and discovered the band's connections to the new record, touring perspectives, and heavy music in the modern era.

Heavy Planet: Yellow & Green was released on July 17th. These songs are consistent with the Baroness sound and fit alongside the band's catalog, though listeners will detect a broadened scope. What was the approach to writing Yellow & Green and how does this approach compare to those of The Red Album and The Blue Record?

Pete Adams: We had a more streamlined approach on how the songs would be composed. In the past we would add as much as possible to create a technically progressive sounding song. We wanted to create songs that could be focused around vocals and have a broader range of dynamics.

HP: Yellow & Green contains noticeably more melody, more harmony, and an increased (and seemingly effortless) focus on song-writing. Is this the product of any deliberate shift or more the band's (and band members') natural trajectory?

PA: It is definitely a natural progression. We have grown a lot as songwriters since we started this band almost 10 years ago. You grow a lot as a person in that amount of time as well, which will change your creative process and outcome. We are not the type of band to just make the same record over and over. We will always shift and challenge ourselves to create something compelling.

HP: You guys brought back John Congleton to handle production and engineering on Yellow & Green. What separates him from his contemporaries and what drew you guys back to him?

PA: John has a great ear for authenticity. He is a producer that believes in the humanistic value of recording. He can capture the real essence of a musician down to their raw form. This was important for this album, since so much of the music on this album is very personal; it opens up a new side of Baroness.

HP: Every listener has favorites, tracks that immediately strike a personal, emotional chord. To which tracks from Yellow & Green do you have the strongest personal connection?

PA: There are a lot of different emotions happening on this album. Each song creates a different vibe. I think that ‘Back Where I Belong’ has always hit close to home for me. I remember the first time I heard the lyrics and I listened to the demo over and over, it really struck a chord with me.

HP: What experiences (be they personal, professional, even super-conscious) most heavily influenced and shaped the songs on Yellow & Green?

PA: We always try to push ourselves as musicians to create something that challenges us. We all have grown as songwriters and wanted to try and create something. Writing this album was a different process which needed different inspirations: from life or from other music that we had not taken influence from before. This is Baroness stretching its arms out and trying new paths to create a broader palette of music.

HP: Describe the band's connection to the city of Savannah. How does that compare to the connection to Lexington? Where on Yellow and Green (and in the band's entire catalog) are these connections most strongly evident?

PA: We all grew up as kids in Lexington, that’s where our roots are. This is where we started to learn about music and would go to great lengths to discover new bands. You had to work hard to get out and see live shows or even to buy albums. Savannah was the town where we started the band, so there was a lot of influence from the community there as well as the vibe of the city.

HP: You guys just began a tour of Europe. How's the new material being received by audiences?

PA: Most people know the singles that were released a few weeks before the album came out. We are throwing more and more songs into the set. It's interesting to see the reaction, and if people sing along you know they have listened to the whole album.

HP: What was it like playing between two unrelenting, undeniably brutal acts like Meshuggah and Decapitated?

PA: We were the light and fluffy cream filling in the middle of a brutal sandwich. It wasn’t easy to play in between such acts but I think some people who never had heard of us enjoyed our set.

HP: What have been some of the most rewarding tour experiences? What acts have you shared the stage with that you feel audiences shouldn't miss?

PA: I really like doing our own headlining tours. Mostly because our fan base is so diverse that we get to meet so many different types of people. Its very rewarding to connect with your own fan base. We just recently played some festivals with Red Fang. You should definately see them live. It’s a lot of fun.

HP: Describe what you believe to be the current state of metal/heavy music. In what directions do you see today's bands going and how do these compare to their forerunners and influences?

PA: There have been some really huge strides in heavy music from bands experimenting and going outside the boundaries. Metal can be a very conservative music style. The fans want it the way it always has been and it takes a while for people to latch on to a new way of looking at heavy music. I respect bands that push the limits and try new things. I think that newer influences are becoming more broad, alas shaping heavy music to be a more rounded experience than in the past, where at times was very one sided.

Many thanks to Pete for allowing Heavy Planet to interrupt his European touring schedule. Look for Yellow & Green in stores and online NOW!

3 comments:

  1. killer! excellent interview seth!

    ReplyDelete
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  3. Last Friday, I saw the Baroness concert in Prague at Klub 007. 2 Years ago they played here at a medium sized venue with Weedeater, Saviours, Black Cobra, and Dragged Into Sunlight.
    Baroness were leaping lizards all over the stage in dynamic with the songs. It accentuated how hard they rip into the harmonies, melodis and dynamics and counter/contra/cross-rhythms. If you think they sound light on their first 3 records, you should see how heavy they hit it on stage.
    On Friday, they played Klub 007, which is the basement of a college dormitory building number 7. I was 10 feet from the stage and could only see the tops of their heads because the stage is so low, and the Czechs are really tall people, and I am not.
    Anyhow the crowd was going nuts, and the band was eating it up, non-stop rocking with almost no talking, and their break was only 4 minutes long (they must have known that the college security will pull the plug right at 10 pm).
    They ripped through mostly older material, and only a handful of newer stuff. Only 1 song was from the new poppy album. I almost fell asleep during that one; their well planned dynamics intensifies all their soporific slow tunes, regardless. But really, the most incredible music and performance of the year.
    On the finale, the shaven-headed vocalist dude shoved right through the crowd to the back, and did his Paul Stanley flailing arm and guitar surf dance thing, and it was epic.

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