Bayside Interview

 

Bayside are among the most consistent, professional bands of this scene’s history. They’ve churned out countless jams over their 15-year career, and have never strayed from their tried-and-true formula of keeping their heads down and working really, really hard. It’s no surprise, then, that their 15th Birthday Tour was a rousing success, and has the band poised to do even bigger things in the future. With so much to be happy about, look back on, and look forward to, TGS sat down with Anthony Raneri to discuss the impact of this tour on their career, what they’ve learned along the road, and what we can look forward to from Bayside in the future. Check out one of our favorite interviews we’ve ever done below!

 

The Garden Statement: You’re listening to 91.3FM WTSR, this is Donald Wagenblast with The Garden Statement. We’re here at Starland Ballroom for the last night of the 15th Anniversary Tour of Bayside, and we’re lucky enough to be joined by the lead singer and guitarist, Mr. Anthony Raneri. Anthony, how are we doing today?
Anthony Raneri: I’m doing good, how are you?

TGS: Great! Last night of the tour, how has it been?
AR: It’s been great. At first, we were just so excited to be going into this, and all we kept thinking was, “It’s so cool that we’ve made it 15 years.” Now that the tour is wrapping up, to have seen that it wound up being our most successful tour that we’ve done after all this time, it tells us that not only did we make it this long, but that we’re still growing. And that has added a whole new layer of excitement for us.

TGS: So how did the idea for a 15-year anniversary tour come about? A lot of bands nowadays would rather just do a ten-year album anniversary tour. Instead of that, you guys decided to do a 15-year anniversary tour. What went into the decision for you guys to do it like this?
AR: That same idea I just touched on: we’re still a growing band. We’re at our biggest right now. We’re at our most popular right now. For one, I don’t totally agree with the record anniversary tours, you know what I mean? We didn’t want to celebrate the past. We wanted to celebrate the whole history of the band, and the current, and the future. So this tour we’re playing old songs, we’re playing songs from every record. We’re playing songs from the new record. To us, we don’t have a moment in time that we’re trying to reconnect with. This is our proudest moment, right now.
TGS: It’s interesting, because you guys are certainly candidates for it. A lot of people still love the self-titled, a lot people love The Walking Wounded.
AR: And it is actually the ten-year anniversary of the self-titled this year.
TGS: So it’s interesting to me that you guys chose this format instead of a ten-year anniversary.
AR: Yeah, and we could easily have done that, you know? And it probably would have made the tour successful, it probably would have made some people excited, but we went this road instead, and it still went great.
TGS: Possibly even more successful, judging by the way you’ve been talking about this one.
AR: Yeah. And we’re not trying to relive a moment in time. We’re just trying to celebrate a milestone, and make the statement that we’re still going to continue.

TGS: How difficult is it, then, to pick a setlist for a 15-year anniversary tour, when you do have six full-lengths, including one that just came out last year, that you’re still promoting?
AR: It’s very hard. It’s really hard. I mean, picking a setlist, for us, on any tour, is tough for us, because we have so many songs, and I think the way that we look at it is there’s about 8 or 10 songs that we need to play every show. There are just the songs that a lot of people would be disappointed if we didn’t play. We have to play “Devotion and Desire.” We have to play “Blame it on Bad Luck.” We have to play “Duality.” There’s a handful of songs that have to go in every setlist. We used to play about 16 songs in a set, that was a normal headline set for us. So we had about 6 to 8 songs that we could play with, play some deep cuts from old records, put in new stuff, and just try to shake it up a little bit. Now, on this tour, we’ve been playing 20, 21 songs, which gave us a lot more room to add in some other stuff. It’s really hard, though. You can’t make everybody happy. We do try to listen, though. We always go to our social media, we always ask people when we meet them, “What do you want to hear? What was your favorite song tonight?” We’re constantly paying attention to that stuff.
TGS: It certainly shows, just when I was going on setlist.fm, even for this tour, you guys have been switching it up a lot. Was that on purpose, because you knew that you wanted to get to a bunch of different songs on this tour?
AR: Yeah, we definitely don’t just go up there and play whatever we feel like playing. We are really paying attention to what people want to hear, and try to give them that. With this set, specifically, we did a short tour in October of last year, where we did some small clubs, in smaller cities. That setlist, people were really, really happy about. We felt like it really clicked. Since that was only 8 shows, and it was in much smaller markets that this tour wasn’t going to go through, we sort of based this setlist around that one, because we felt that was  pretty good set, and most of the country hadn’t seen us do that set yet.

TGS: The openers for this tour: you’ve got Senses Fail, who you guys did a co-headlining tour with in 2011, you’ve also go Man Overboard and Seaway. What made those three the right choices for you guys to take out on a tour like this?
AR: All of our tours at this point, what we try to do is have friends out, for one thing. But besides that, we always are mindful of the history of the band, which is where Senses Fail comes in. Senses Fail was coming up at the same time as us, who we spent a lot of time with. Most importantly, we try to buildl packages that our fans would be really excited about. We could easily just take bands out that we love, that our fans have never heard of, and it would be cool for us to see them every day. But that’s not what we’re here for. We try to entertain the people. Senses Fail I know is a band we probably share a lot of fans with, so we took them, and we knew that was going to be a home run with the fan base who were already coming. Also, we’re at a point where we’re asking people to come and see Bayside for the fifteenth time, for the twentieth time. That’s what we’re asking of people. I know as a fan of bands like Bad Religion, of bands like Social Distortion, bands that have been around for ages, like NOFX; they’ve been around for ages, and I’ve been going to see them for 25 years, and I know as a fan, that if I don’t want to see Bad Religion with the three bands they’re on tour with, I’ll wait for the next one, you know what I mean? I just saw them six months ago. There are people who are going to come to every show no matter what. They’ll see the band ten times a year, if that’s how many times they come through, you know? But that is sort of where we have to build packages where people are like “Well, I just saw them nine months ago, but now they’re playing with Senses Fail. I love both of those bands!” So Senses Fail is great in that aspect. Man Overboard is sort of a newer version of that. They’re one of the older of the newer bands.
TGS: They did a mini-holiday run with you guys a few years back.
AR: Yeah, they did, and those shows were great. Our fans seemed to like them, so we decided to take them on the full run. They’re also really good friends of ours, besides that. Seaway, that’ s the other angle. On every tour, we always try to take out younger bands that we want to put our “Stamp of Approval” on.
TGS: Like on the Great American Cult Tour, you guys brought out Superheaven, and Mixtapes.
AR: Exactly, and then years ago, we took out Title Fight and Balance and Composure. So every tour, we always try to take out some young, new bands. Balance and Title Fight were new bands at that point, but they’re not really anymore. We always try to have that fresh band that our fans have never even heard of, and say, “Here’s our stamp of approval. They’re worth checking out.”

TGS: Like you said, you guys are trying to make the point that you are still here, you are still doing things, you are still releasing new material, which segues right into the fact that you re-released Cult this year, as the Cult: White Edition. You had four new songs that you added at the end of the original recording of Cult. What made it the right idea to re-release Cult, rather than just put those four songs out as a 15th birthday EP?
AR: Just because of the way record cycles move these days. With the way that the internet works, the way that record labels work, the way that fanbases work. It’s a constant barrage of information. With that comes, something’s here for a minute, and then it’s gone. We felt like we wanted to make sure that Cult got back into everyone’s consciousness. It’s something that, these days, you just really have to do. ‘Cause, Cult came out, we got everybody’s attention for a couple of weeks, and then all of a sudden, another record comes out. Then another record comes out, then another. Sometimes you’re getting people’s attention for 15 minutes.
TGS: And Cult is a record you guys  are particularly proud of. You’ve spoken in a lot of different interviews that it’s your favorite Bayside album.
AR: Totally, and with any album, with any band, I know with other bands, the re-release, deluxe editions, are a lot more common. There are people who might think that it’s a greedy way to buy the same record twice, but it’s a testament to the way that media, the internet, and music fans work these days. You need these grand gestures. You need to re-release the record now, with four more songs. It’s the only way to get press on the record for more than three days.

TGS: The big –I’ll call it “controversy,” because there were so many tweets about it, and you guys ended up responding to it: “Dancing Like an Idiot,” ended up causing quite a stir. How did that feel for you guys? You came out with that long blog post explaining yourself about it. How did it feel when it dropped, and you saw that people were reacting that way? Was that a reaction that you guys were expecting?
AR: Yeah, I think that we thought there were gonna be people who thought it was great, and people who thought that we were being self-important, or whatever. But I mean, that is the way I grew up in punk rock. You call out the elements that you think are bad for society. Really, we’re speaking against bands that promote mysogyny, and homophobia. That’s punk rock. That’s my job. That’s who I’ve grown up as, and as a musician with a voice, and a platform, that is my job to speak out against that. With those bands, it’s not the adults that they’re hurting. It’s the impressionable kids who don’t know better. To me, I just feel like it’s my job, and it’s nothing that I haven’t done before. We’re not a very controversial band, we haven’t had a whole lot of fits of that, but any time it has been, it’s been because  I spoke out against a band. I don’t know how long ago that was, with like, Metro Station, you know what I mean? I guess we expected it. It’s not why we did it, but I guess we expected there was going to be supporters, there was going to be backlash. It’s the life we live. Right now, there are millions of people sitting down in coffee shops, having conversations about their opinions, that nobody’s gonna care about. But if I have an opinion, the same opinion that like, a million other people have, it becomes a big thing. Which I’m not complaining about, I know that’s the life I’ve chosen. It’s fine. I’m not, like, a rock star. I’m just a dude who plays music. It’s always weird for me, negative, positive, whenever we put out a new song, a new single, a new music video, I always feel weird when I know the world is talking about me. The day the song came out, and there was tons and tons of things on message boards, and on news sites, and there was tweets, and Facebook, and all of that was going crazy, I don’t even care what they’re saying, whether it’s positive or negative, but I just feel awkward knowing that there’s tens of thousands of people having a discussion about me.
TGS: Even being in a band for 15 years, I’m sure you never get used to it.
AR: Yeah, and I mean, I don’t really care, you know? But when I released the blog post, what I wanted to do was, I saw some things that people had mentioned online, and like I said, we really do pay attention to what people are saying, whether it’s the setlist, lyrics, no matter what, we really do pay attention. If there was critisim, or critiques, then I think I’m big enough to recognize it. So I wanted to do that. I wanted to recognize interesting critiques, that I think made good points. Also, I didn’t want the song to be misconstrued. It would be incredibly petty for me to stand up on a soapbox and talk about bad bands. I don’t care if your band is bad. All I care about is my band. I don’t care about your band. What I care about is these kids who go to shows, who are going to grow up to be messed up. I didn’t want the song to be misconstrued. I didn’t want anybody to think I was complaining about bands being bad. I could care less. People think that my band’s bad, I don’t really care. But what I care about is a message. You don’t have to have a message, but don’t have a bad one. Not everybody has to be Bono. But don’t contribute to the downfall of society, because that’s truly what it is. You watch these videos of spring break, and you’re like, “Oh, man, look at these people. I can’t believe that’s what people act like now.” People are always talking about “kids these days.” That’s what was pissing me off, you’d be at Warped, you’d be around other bands, and everyone’s saying “Oh, kids are so dumb these days, it was so different when we were younger.” And then I’m like “Well, you’re the one going on stage, and telling them to take their shirts off. You’re the reason they’re like that.” That’s what the song’s about. I wanted to make sure that that point got across. I don’t care if a band’s bad or not. That’s subjective.

TGS: Moving towards something that was received very positively, you guys also had a cover of Blondie’s “Call Me” on [Cult: White Edition], which– just as a personal fan of Covers, Vol. 1, are we ever going to see a Covers, Vol. 2? Is that a project that you guys are looking to continue? Because we haven’t seen one in a while.
AR: Yeah. There’s sort of like a list of improtance, and a list of priorities. Obviously, we’re going to put out records sort of every “x” amount of time. In between those records, I try to do a solo record, when Bayside has time off. If there’s no Bayside record to be made, there’s no solo record to be made, then we’ll do a cover record. It’s always like, “What do we have going on this next six months?” If we just put out a Bayside record, I’m gonna start writing a solo record. If the Bayside record is still new-ish, and the solo record is still new-ish, and we want to put something out, we can go do a Covers record. It’s hard to fit it in. For instance, I’m gonna put a solo record out in June. I just finished recording it before this tour. Then I’m gonna tour on that for a little bit. Then when that’s over, this fall we’re going to start writing the next Bayside record. The problem with the Covers record is, do we put off writing the  nect Bayside record in the fall to record a Covers record, or do we just get started on the next Bayside record. The timing was perfect for that first one because we were coming off of Wind-Up, and we were ready to make Cult, but we wound up getting offered the Taking Back Sunday Tell All Your Friends Tour. We were about to go in the studio, and then that tour came up and we were like, “Okay, cancel the studio, let’s do this tour, and then we’ll go in the studio.” And then Alkaline Trio call, and we were like, “Well, that tour just has to happen. That’s the tour everybody’s been waiting for, the Bayside-Alkaline Trio tour.” It’s the one everybody’s been waiting for, so we had to do that. We put off making Cult for almost an entire year beacuse of touring that we wanted to do instead. So it was perfect timing, because we were like “We have to put out new music, we haven’t put out new music in like, 2 or 3 years. We just gotta put something out.” So that was, like, perfect timing for the Covers record.

TGS: So, if you don’t mind, I have some questions I wanted to ask you about being in a 15-year old band now, and I don’t want to age you or anything like that.
AR: Hey, I’m proud of it. You don’t have to worry about offending me. I wear it with pride.
TGS: Having said that, then, what would you say is the most important thing that Bayside has learned about being a band that’s lead to your 15-year existence. What’s the most improtant thing that you’ve learned along the way that’s helped you remain a band all this time?
AR: From a career, and I guess from a business standpoint, to not pay attention to anybody else. I think when we were younger, we’d get mad, we’d get jealous, we’d get upset about bands that were bad, who we’re getting more popular than us. We’d get really mad about it. We definitely learned for our own well-being to not care. You can’t care. We just look at what we’re doing, be excited about the steps that we’re taking forward. And then musically, stylistically, and with our fans, it’s just to always be honest, transparent, and always try to do things that are timeless, that we’ll never be embarrassed of. I think that we’ve pretty much succeeded. Every once in a while, a photo will pop up, and we’re like, “God, what are we wearing?” But for the most part, our photo shoots, our album covers, our music, it doesn’t speak to a certain time. Our first record came out in 2004, self-titled came out in 2005, we could have easily had silly haircuts. We could have been wearing make-up. There’s a lot of things we could have been doing in 2004 that we would have been really embarrassed about now, and we didn’t do that. We did our own thing. Maybe if we did do those things, we would have followed trends, we could have gotten bigger, we could have gotten bigger faster, but we always steered clear of those things through all those years. Through 2007, through 2012, every year that we’ve put out records, we’ve steered clear of the trends. We still do that. Because of that, we’ve been able to carve out our own legacy. Our booking agent the other day compared us to Insane Clown Posse, which I thought was really funny. Obviously, if you listen to Bayside, you listen to other bands. There was a guy at a show the other day who had a Disturbed tattoo on one arm, and Bayside tattoo on the other arm. There’s people who come to shows where they’re in their 40s, and they listened to Bayside when we first started, and now they come with their teenage kids who also listen to Bayside. So like Insane Clown Posse, which is so weird to agree with, we sort of exist on an island. We’re not part of a scene. We’re just Bayside. Bayside fans come from all walks of life. Buddy from Senses Fail a couple of days into the tour was like, “So, your fans are basically just like, cops, and construction workers at this point. They’re just, like, regular people now.” And I was just like, “Yeah, they’re like, adults.” We’re not a part of anything, which I’m really proud of.
TGS: Yeah, because otherwise, who knows what you would have been a part of.
AR:  We have our lineage. We’re part of the same thing that Bad Religion is a part of. We’re part of the same thing that Senses Fail’s a part of. We’re part of the same things that even My Chem and Fall Out Boy are a part of. But if you look out onto a Bayside crowd, these people did not all go to the same show last week.
TGS: I think it’s a testament to what’s kept you guys grounded. Especially being on a label who’s stirred up as much controversy as Victory does. You had all these bands talking about their disputes, and no one ever really heard a peep from– I talk about this with my friends all the time– no one really heard a peep about it from you, or Silverstein. You guys were just like, “We’re here, we’ll get through it.”
AR: Well, I mean, there’s a lot that goes into it. We’ve always had a lot of respect for Victory. Victory, in that same way, they live on an island. Victory is controversial within the scene. The message boards, they all like to chat about this-and-that about Victory. Meanwhile, Victory is selling A Day to Remember records to people who don’t even know what Victory is. They’re just fans of A Day to Remember. They’re fans of Taking Back Sunday. They’re bands of Bayside, fans of Hawthorne Heights. Those people don’t care. Bayside will have played to,I don’t know how many people over the course of this tour. Or over the course of our career, I don’t know how many people in the world listen to Bayside, or how many people listen to A Day to Remember. Out of those hundreds of thousands of people that listen to all these bands, there’s like, a thousand of them that are the ones who are on the message boards chatting. So when something is quote-unquote “controversial,” it’s only controversial to an incredibly small pocket of people. That’s another thing, to go back to your question about what have I learned of the last 15 years, that’s what I’ve learned over the last 15 years. It is a very small pocket of people that complain about that stuff.

TGS: I know it’s going to be tough, because it’s been 15 years, but if you can, what would you say were one of the 2 or 3 moments where you were just like, “Wow, this is really, really cool”?
AR: This is definitely one of them. This tour. I was talking to our old manager. He was our manager for most of our career. He was out at our New York show the other day, and we were having a conversation about it. He’s played in The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and he was always part of the conversation with us of, “We want to have a legacy. Everything we do, every decision we make, has to be timeless. It has to lead up to something bigger.” It’s not about, how do we get big now, how do we get huge, ever. It’s all about, how can we still be Bayside, and making a living 20 years from now. He was always a huge part of that path for us, and we were saying that this tour is when we feel like we’ve really turned the corner. We are now there. We always said we wanted to be the next generation’s Bad Religion or Social Distortion, and we’re starting to feel like, “Yeah, I think we did it.”
TGS: Because of that, and just because of the number 15 being there, there are bands like Man Overboard and like Seaway who are trying to get to where you guys have gotten. I would say a lot of bands look up to you guys, and they can look up to the model that you guys have used to become successful. Is that something that you guys are comfortable with as a band?
AR: Yeah! As I was saying, I’m very comfortable with being dated. I’m proud of it. So any bands that want, I mean, I’m not the old man who sits backstage and tells bands how they should act and stuff. But Man Overboard has been asking for career advice throughout this tour, and I’m happy to give it, if anybody asks.

TGS: Alrighty, so you’re about to wrap up your 15-year anniversary tour. Tour’s wrapped up, you’ve got the re-release of Cult out already. Now what?
AR: Like I was saying earlier, I’m going to do a solo record in June, and I’m going to do some solo touring this summer. The band just needed a bunch of time off. After every record cycle, we need a chunk of time off, time away from Bayside, time away from these songs, time away from playing in a punk band, and for some of the guys, time away from being in a band altogether. You just need that reset time after every record cycle. I’m gonna go and do the solo stuff, which is a great outlet for me to do different stuff. It’s fun, I love playing acoustic shows, I love playing smaller shows.
TGS: Yeah, you had the EP New Cathedrals that came out in 2012, which had a lot different stuff.
AR: Yeah, it’s great for me to have that outlet to still play music, but to play different styles, to play acoustic, to play smaller clubs is really fun for me.
TGS: Should we be expecting the same kind of stuff, like just a bunch of different sounds that you’ve been experimenting with?
AR: 
It’s even broader. It’s even more all over the place than New Cathedrals. Every single song sounds like it could be a different band, or from a different era. It’s really all over the place. So we’re gonna do that for the better part of this year, we’re gonna do a couple of festivals, a couple of shows for Bayside, just one-off things throughout the fall. But for the most part, fall and winter, we’re gonna start writing the next Bayside record. So probably by the end of next year, a new record, I think.

 

The Garden Statement would like to thank Anthony Raneri for a wonderful, in-depth interview that was a pleasure to conduct and be a part of . Be sure to look out for Anthony’s new solo album dropping in June, and pick up the band’s new album Cult: White Edition, which is in stores now!