Bayside rocks. They just do. I’ve been into them since the album ‘The Walking Wounded’. Admittedly much later than most people get into them, but early enough in their career to appreciate the artistic forward steps they’ve taken, even since 2007. Since then, ‘Shudder’ was a solid bunch of poppy heartbreakers, ‘Killing Time’ was a masterpiece, ‘Cult’ felt like a swan song and in between they released a live album and a cover album. And with the side projects the various members undertake in the short spats of time they have off between Bayside commitments, this is a band that is ever-present and anything but lazy.
Their new album ‘Vacancy’ does nothing the Bayside cult (that’s what their diehard fans call themselves) won’t love. It’s hard, it’s catchy, it’s angry, sad and elated in dramatic swaths and fits of fury. In short, it’s one of their best albums thus far.
Bayside singer/guitarist/songwriter/founder Anthony Raneri wore his heart on his sleeve, in typical fashion, when he spoke with us about the band’s history, the new album and the importance of longevity vs. mega popularity.
This is a very energetic batch of songs. Was there anything in particular pumping you guys up this time around?
Anthony: I think it’s always been something that’s been in our DNA. It’s always been really important to us, since the beginning of the band, to be a punk band. And we’re always talking about going faster and heavier. Certainly over the years, unlike a lot of punk band who have been together for a long time and start exploring different things, I think we’ve actually gotten more aggressive.
You have. You’ve also kept it catchy and accessible which is a nice balance.
Anthony: Yeah, being catchy and being melodic is a huge part of our sound. We kind of feel that there are certain characteristics that make us Bayside and we’re always trying to explore those where we can.
‘Cult’ felt like the end of an era for the band in a way. A tipping of the hat to what you’ve accomplished thus far. Would you say ‘Vacancy’ is the start of a new chapter?
Anthony: It’s hard to say. We never really think about the band on that kind of scale. We always just write whatever’s on our minds and I think that with ‘Cult’, with what was going on in my life, there were a lot of things ending and a lot of new things beginning. It was a very transitional time for me. So I think that just came out in the lyrics. Whereas with this album, a lot of things have ended for me, and it’s very wide open as to what comes next in my life. So that’s really all I could write about while we were making the record. And for a lot of the songs on this record, it doesn’t have answers, whereas with past records, there has been answers or conclusions that I’m drawing.
That’s interesting because this album, even more so than your previous ones, feels like a concept album. Was the track listing and the order of it very premeditated this time around?
Anthony: Oh yeah, absolutely. I wrote the record within the course of about four months, during which I had gotten a divorce, and had moved out of my house and was living in a little apartment while I was trying to figure out what I was going to do next. And even living in a state that I had never lived in before and now I was living in it alone. I didn’t know what was going to happen, I just had no idea. So I was writing this record while trying to decide what to do with myself. And I always try to write from life experience, but it’s pretty rare that I write a song about something while it’s happening. This whole record was written like that, while I was in this crash pad.
And the music reflects that as well. The song ‘I’ve Been Dead All Day’ is very musically emotional, with many different ideas flowing in and out of each other.
Anthony: Yeah musically we always strive to be very dramatic. And I’m a big fan of show tunes and even classical music. What I love about that stuff is that they can tell a story with the melodies and with the movements. And you don’t even need the lyrics to be able to feel the different emotions throughout the song. I’ve strived to do that since the beginning of my writing career and I just like to think that I’m getting better and better at it. But one word that gets thrown around in the studio a lot is dramatic. We want you to feel every movement and the music to dictate your mood while you’re listening.
Yeah, and that attention to detail is what has gained Bayside such a big and dedicated fan base. I mean your fans were calling themselves the ‘Bayside cult’ before you ever were.
So do you ever write with the fan base in mind? Songs you think they’d like to hear, or do you just write what you write and assume they’ll come along with you, wherever you go.
Anthony: We always wanted to be the kind of band that would stick around for a long time. That was always what we had in mind. When we signed our first deal, there were bands like My Chemical Romance and Fallout Boy that were just getting enormous around us. And while we had a lot of respect for those bands, and a lot of them were our friends, we always just said that we weren’t going to fall into the trap of chasing some kind of popularity. Because for every My Chemical Romance or Fallout Boy, there were a hundred bands that were chasing that and not getting anywhere. And all we ever said was we want to be like Bad Religion, or NOFX, or Social Distortion. We still want to be a band in twenty or thirty years. So we always just figured that the road to that was to be honest, and write about things that we loved or were passionate about. We never considered what other people wanted to listen to and maybe that’s why we didn’t get as popular as some of those other bands, but we always figured that the honesty would carry us, and it did.
Anthony: No, we just liked that image. We knew we wanted to have a hotel theme with the record. Like I said, it’s about me living in a strange place and not really feeling comfortable or at home. I was in this apartment and I never unpacked or hung anything on the walls, because I didn’t know if I was going to be there for a week or a month or ten years. It was in a town called Franklin, Tennessee. So I always just called that apartment the Franklin Hotel, because it felt like a hotel to me.
Did you record the album in Tennessee?
Anthony: Yes, we recorded it in Nashville.
Your band has always been sort of synonymous with New York City. I’m not sure how many of you still live there, but does the city still influence your writing, even when you’re not writing or recording there?
Anthony: It influences us as people. And that certainly comes through in our music. We’re very big personalities. We’re pretty ambitious and bold. We just don’t give a shit. I read a review once that said that we were musically arrogant. I just thought that was one of the coolest things.
I’ve always found it somewhat unfair that you guys were always slapped with the ‘emo’ label. I felt you fit in more with the bands you mentioned before. The Bad Religions, or the NOFX’s, than with the emo/screamo crowd.
Anthony: It only bothers me when I speak to people who tell me it took a long time for them to give our band a listen because they assumed it was a style that they weren’t into. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. The labels, I think the fans put a lot more stock into it than we do. We just show up and play the music.
Bayside newest album “Vacancy” is out August 19th but fans can pre-order the album and also watch and listen to their latest Single “Pretty Vacant” which is streaming now. Also starting August 11th the guys will be on a tour across the USA (with The Menzingers) and then down to Australia (Young Lions and Far Away Stables). To keep up with the latest updates and more visit them online