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Interview: Bayside Ė 01.28.11
 

Bayside Ė 01.28.11

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Bayside Ė 01.28.11In the following phone interview Bayside frontman Anthony Raneri discusses the bandís new record Killing Time, its lyrical theme of waiting and honesty in pop music.

You did some 10th anniversary shows recently. What does it feel like to have been doing this for 10 years now?

Itís weird, you know, because it doesnít really feel that long. I think itís pretty awesome, I guess. Itís a testament to what weíve accomplished.

A lot of people are pointing out how this is your first album on a different label and all that. I am curious about what the free agent process was like, what you were looking for in a new label and how you ended up choosing Wind-Up.

The process was interesting, you know what I mean? It was what we expected. A lot of different labels calling and saying a lot of stuff, and really Wind-Up turned out to be exactly what we were looking for. Itís very music driven, very artist driven. I think everybody involved, every label Ė majors, indies, somewhere in between Ė everybody wants to win. I think Wind-Up was the label that after talking to really understood that music is where you win.

You can spend all this time and effort and money advertising things and trying all these tricks, and Wind-Up was the label who was, like, ďWe understand. Weíre going to give you time.Ē Wind-Up owns a studio, for instance. They were the one label that understood. ďWeíre going to give you time. Weíre going to give you a studio. Weíre going to give you whatever you need to make the best record you can make because thatís how weíre all going to win.Ē That was the main thing we were looking for and thatís what we got.

The big thing on this record was you were able to work with Gil Norton, who is one of my favorite producers of all time. How did you hook up with him and then what was that experience like?

When we were talking about producers, on every record when we talk about producers, thereís the list of people who we would love to produce the record and then the list of people who might actually do it. We demoed a ton on this record, which is something weíve never done before. We rewrote and rewrote and demoed and demoed everything until we felt like it was perfect.

We sent demos out to a bunch of producers, Gil being one of them, but we didnít even expect to hear back from Gil, let alone him getting back to us and actually being interested. So we sent the demos and his management called our management. Our manager called me and was, like, ďHey, Gil Norton wants to get on the phone with you,Ē which was hard to believe. Gil called me at home and we had a long conversation. It was amazing. Heís a genius. I can honestly say that heís an actual genius of our time. I think heís the best living rock producer there is.

How long were you in the studio with him?

Itís hard to say because the process was very long and stretched out. We were in studios here in the States while Gil was in England, where he lives. So we were working on songs and weíd send him demos and heíd send back comments. Weíd get on the phone and talk about the songs and heíd give us his input on things. That went on for a while. That went on probably six months. We were actually in the studio together for two or three months.

This record is certainly your most polished-sounding and really catchy, but it also rocks really well and has a lot of solos and stuff. Was that something that he brought out of you guys more?

The thing with a real good producer, which Gil just nailed, and what I always look for in a producer and Gil was perfect at it, is he figured out in a lot of conversations what we wanted to do. His job is really to make sure we pull it off. His job wasnít really to have input into the vision, it was to make sure we were pulling off the vision that we wanted. Itís hard because itís one thing to say we want it to sound like this. You know it. Youíre a music journalist. You read bios all the time where people say that they sound like this or they sound like that or they sound nothing like that. You know what I mean? So itís one thing to want to sound a certain way and itís another thing to actually pull it off. Thatís really where a producer comes in and thatís where Gil really excels, making sure we were pulling off what we were trying to do.

I know in the past your songwriting has initially started off acoustically and then goes from there. Is that how it was like on this record as well?

Oh, yeah, a hundred percent. I donít even have an electric guitar in my house and thatís where I do all my writing. I write everything on acoustic, except there was one song on the record I wrote on a piano. Everything starts on acoustic, and then I take it to the rest of the band and we start sorting out where to take it from there. But it starts out with an acoustic chord progression and melody and lyrics.

I want to talk real quick about the cover, which I think is my favorite cover that you have done so far. What was your concept behind that image?

When we came up with the title, Killing Time, which is kind of the theme we think is on the record, the way we look at Killing Time is not so much that we wanted to waste time necessarily, but more like youíre waiting for something. Youíre waiting and youíre waiting and youíre waiting. The title track on the record, the chorus lyric is, ďI spent all my life waiting for a moment to come.Ē Thatís where we are in our personal lives and thatís definitely where we are as a band. This is a big, coming out record for us, we feel. Weíve done that waiting and waiting for something great. That image of the astronaut hanging out, heís going to be doing something great any day now. Heís going to be in space. Heís kind of a future hero, but heís waiting for a call, though. Heís in a diner, reading a paper, waiting for the call.

You mentioned the song ďKilling TimeĒ and another one of its lines I really like is, ďIím halfway to happy now and I always mistake it for progress.Ē What does that mean to you?

I guess that line in particular youíre always waiting for something. People have asked us when we knew that the band was starting to do well, when we felt like we made it, you know. I always say I donít feel like we have. Iíve had conversations with some close friends who are incredibly successful musicians and they say the same thing. They donít feel like theyíve arrived. The amount of work that it takes, physical work of actually putting in the work and then the mental effort to really accomplish something great, it doesnít afford you the time to notice what youíve already accomplished.

To me, that line is I donít ever want to feel like Iím finished. Iím waiting for this great moment, and itís OK to keep waiting for the great moment because youíre constantly creating new great moments. I think itís wrong to ever say Iíve arrived or Iíve accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish.

I want to talk a little bit about your lyrical process. You write a little about the music business, you write a lot about relationships and also some philosophical type stuff. How do approach those and come up with those themes?

Most of our records have a theme. This record more so than any other record Iím writing from a very specific place, the whole waiting thing. You find this greater concept, which is constantly waiting for greatness or something incredible, and sometimes you get it and you donít know and itís incredible, and sometimes you get it and itís not what you thought it was. That can be great if it comes in the form of career success or greatness in life in general. Career or relationships, youíre waiting for the beauty in life to happen. Thatís the general theme for me. Then for each song that general idea takes the form of being in a band or takes the form of being in a relationship.

When you first started writing this record did you already have that theme in mind or was that something you discovered as you were writing?

Yeah, Iím real big on concepts, constantly. There definitely was a lyrical concept of what I wanted to say through this record before I ever wrote any lyrics. Then even musically, before I write a song I come up with the kind of song I want to write, what I want it to do, where I want it to go, and then I write it.

Another song I want to mention is ďSeeing Sound,Ē which might be my favorite off the record. I really love the lyrics on that where youíre talking about being your own puppet and not following the heartbreak trend. Can you talk a little about how you came up with that song?

Itís supposed to be tongue in cheek and sarcastic, very sarcastic. When I was writing it and when we were recording it we were definitely keeping our fingers crossed, hoping it was coming off sarcastically. I didnít really want anyone to think I was a puppet, you know what I mean? But, you know, bands donít really use their voice to speak about who they are and where they are. I think itís this juggling thing you have to deal with. Youíre kind of giving people what they want but at the same time sneaking in what you want. The heartbreak thing, again, sarcastic. Heartbreak is a trend but Iíve never been that trendy, you know.

I want to bring up something you said in the Alt Press podcast that I know a couple people online were confused about. You were talking about how you canít really like punk music and Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga at the same time unless itís in an ironic sense. Can you clarify a little bit more on where you were going with that?

I think it spun a little. I think it came off a little differently than I might have meant it to be. Honestly, I listen to a ton of pop music. Iím a big advocate of the fact that a song is a song. Itís more of the mentality behind the two things. I listen to pop music because I appreciate the songwriting and whoeverís singing it is totally secondary. I donít even think about it. I like a lot of Miley Cyrus songs because I really like Max Martinís songwriting. I could care less about Miley Cyrus. A song is a song, and I think thatís wonderful.

For people to sign up for something completely honest, which is punk music, and the image and the lifestyle, and also subscribe to the celebrity, which comes with pop, itís very conflicting things. I guess I donít mean it in the sense that you canít like a Justin Bieber song and a Bad Religion song. You can like both songs, but you canít like Bad Religion and Justin Bieber because theyíre conflicting ideas.

So youíre talking more about the ideologies behind the two mindsets?

Yeah, but more than that because music is just music. Itís faceless. Itís its own entity. To be a Justin Bieber fan, itís this weird thing in our little corner of the music scene where people listen to things and dress in ways that our ironic. To me, people listen to Justin Bieber the same way they grow a mustache because they donít mean it. They donít actually think that the mustache is cool. Theyíre doing it because itís ironic.

Or it was cool at some point in the past.

But was it ever cool? It was never cool, you know. Doing it is so uncool that itís funny. Again, a song is a song, whether Justin Bieber sings it or Bad Religion sings it. I do listen to a lot of pop music, but you canít think Justin Bieber is cool and Bad Religion are cool because itís two different sides of the war. You canít think that both teams are going to win. You have to go with one, honesty or celebrity, because theyíre not the same thing.

Youíve done that Whereís the Band? tour for a couple years now and youíve been getting a lot of questions about doing a solo record. Do you think you will ever put one of those out at some point?

Yeah, definitely itís something that I want to do. I have a lot of songs that Iíve written that donít really work for Bayside that Iíd definitely love to see the light of day. Itís so hard to get the time to do it. To do the shows is one thing because I can find a week in my schedule to go on tour and play some shows. But to do a record, youíre committing to a year of your time, at least. Itís impossible to find the year to finish writing a record, record it, tour on the record and do the whole press thing on the record. It would have to be a year off from Bayside, which really is not feasible.

One last song I would like to ask about is called ďItís Not a Bad Little War.Ē I love the chorus on that one where youíre saying, ďIf fate should fail us hope will see us through/Stand for something because somethingís over due.Ē How did you come up with those lines?

I donít know. I just came up with it. Itís hard to explain where something comes from. I think theyíre pretty self-explanatory lines. The song is about music and being in my band, specifically. Itís a little more like a Bayside story. Honesty in music is so important to me and the music that I play. Stand for something, stand for anything, because I feel like thereís a real lack on anything. I guess I was trying to purposefully keep it anonymous. Stand for something because somethingís over due. Whatever it is that you stand for, have a purpose.

Youíve been talking about how bands are never content and how thereís always some next level you have to reach or maintain. With that said, what are your hopes and ambitions for Killing Time and the future of Bayside?

Weíve actually already accomplished a ton with the record because I think itís the best thing weíve done. So weíve already accomplished a lot just by making the record and writing those songs and we feel making the perfect Bayside record. I know itís hard what to expect from the cycle that comes after the record. I mean, I donít know. Itís not up to me, really. Weíre going to keep playing shows and writing songs. Like I said, I donít really allow myself the time to think about where we are right now, let alone where weíre going.
 
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11:21 AM on 02/28/11
#2
sammyboy516
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Great interview. I love the new album so much. It's my favorite of the year so far and I think it's becoming my favorite Bayside album.

Also, he has interesting thoughts on the whole Bieber/Bad Religion thing. I'm not sure that I agree with him but it was interesting. He seems like a super nice guy.
11:31 AM on 02/28/11
#3
Miketheunicycle
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nice interview, interesting
11:50 AM on 02/28/11
#4
derekjd
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Not sure if i agree with the pop music thing he said, but I can deffinently see where he's coming from. Really well done review, and I really enjoy the album.
12:10 PM on 02/28/11
#5
ReadyForAction
life in the greenhouse effect
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Not sure if i agree with the pop music thing he said, but I can deffinently see where he's coming from. Really well done review, and I really enjoy the album.
I agree. I'm not sure how you can decide what people should and shouldnt like. Especially since he already mentions listening to Miley Cyrus and punk music lol
12:19 PM on 02/28/11
#6
JJW319
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awesome awesome interview
12:45 PM on 02/28/11
#7
mms13
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I agree. I'm not sure how you can decide what people should and shouldnt like. Especially since he already mentions listening to Miley Cyrus and punk music lol
he actually makes a really great point if you think about it. He's saying he can like Miley Cyrus songs but he doesn't give a shit about her, he likes what the songwriter made. Pop artists don't make their own music 90% of the time, but that doesn't mean music isn't being created. If you enjoy a Bayside song, you like Bayside because they made that music. If you like a Justin Beiber song, you like whoever wrote that song for him.
12:55 PM on 02/28/11
#8
Momo32T
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Great interview. I was very curious about the process of making this record, because it seemed different given the amount of time spent and the credibility that Gil Norton brings to the table. As per usual, Anthony gave a lot of awesomely alternative perspectives on the music industry.
01:05 PM on 02/28/11
#9
harley7733
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he actually makes a really great point if you think about it. He's saying he can like Miley Cyrus songs but he doesn't give a shit about her, he likes what the songwriter made. Pop artists don't make their own music 90% of the time, but that doesn't mean music isn't being created. If you enjoy a Bayside song, you like Bayside because they made that music. If you like a Justin Beiber song, you like whoever wrote that song for him.
Glad to see someone gets it. Hes saying its about the craft, any kid in america with a halfway decent voice could be Miley or Justin, but to write the song takes talent, its talent, craft, over image.
01:14 PM on 02/28/11
katiedontcryx41
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we think alike mister anthony! i'm always telling people about the 'like the music all ya want, i get that its catchy or whatnot, but the idea / reasons / aesthetic behind it is two different worlds'
01:20 PM on 02/28/11
AnnuhGator
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he actually makes a really great point if you think about it. He's saying he can like Miley Cyrus songs but he doesn't give a shit about her, he likes what the songwriter made. Pop artists don't make their own music 90% of the time, but that doesn't mean music isn't being created. If you enjoy a Bayside song, you like Bayside because they made that music. If you like a Justin Beiber song, you like whoever wrote that song for him.
I completely understand what he's trying to say because I come into this exact some contradicting idea. He just doesn't want to say it and I believe you put it nicely. I'm not going to, modern pop is basically fake. I like songs for lyrics. So if someone else writes and does a good job I'll enjoy the song; however most of the time they just get an "attractive" singer "singing" songs about meaningless ideas or such ambitious points that its pointless.
So to go from something deep such as bad religion or bayside and say you like bieber just as much is a bit ridiculous. Chances are you like him for his appearance not his pubescent voice.
Anthony's point is completely legit just most people don't want to believe it. They are different kinds of music.. real and fake.
This is why I love Bayside. Their lyrics ACTUALLY mean something.
01:33 PM on 02/28/11
ReadyForAction
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he actually makes a really great point if you think about it. He's saying he can like Miley Cyrus songs but he doesn't give a shit about her, he likes what the songwriter made. Pop artists don't make their own music 90% of the time, but that doesn't mean music isn't being created. If you enjoy a Bayside song, you like Bayside because they made that music. If you like a Justin Beiber song, you like whoever wrote that song for him.
What about co-songwriting? Do I only like the collaboration and not the individual parts? It just comes off as douchey thing to say lol. And I say this as a massive Bayside fan who has loved them since '04.
01:59 PM on 02/28/11
Yellowcard2006
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Awesome interview Amazing album.
02:36 PM on 02/28/11
Sandie-Jenkins
Ignore the chiodos SN, this is old.
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One of the better interviews I've come across. Stoked for them!
02:44 PM on 02/28/11
sensesneverfail
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i understand what ants saying about the whole pop thing, i do,but.. im not sure i agree.something about it is just off. now i am in no way shape or form a fan of pop but in the grand scheme of things, for him to have such a judgmental view is right but wrong. i mean he said himself music is just music(in a much different context of course) its faceless. it is also lawless, so liking bayside and gaga exist and is acceptable because some may like her not for the lyrics written but for her voice.

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