Baroness Talks Tour, "Yellow & Green", Movies, and More
Mon, 15 Apr 2013 11:52:15
"I'm in the mountains," laughs Baroness guitarist Peter Adams. "You never know when spring is going to come. Sometimes, it's early. Sometimes, you get another month of winter. This year, it's coming before I lose my mind completely in all this cold!"
Spring signals something of a rebirth for Baroness. The group will once again embark on the road supporting last year's seminal Yellow & Green, and the headline jaunt is bound to be as epic as the two-disc opus is. Once again, their mind-bending riffs fuse to weirdly warm melodies making for an aural ride that'll leave you changed for the better. You've got to see it on stage though to really believe it.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Baroness guitarist Peter Adams discusses the upcoming tour and so much more.
How do the songs from Yellow & Green transform on stage?
To be honest, we've played these songs so many times that they've become extremely comfortable at this point. These are some of the most comfortable songs to play live. For some reason, I think what you do when you're eager to write something crazy no one's ever heard before is challenge the shit out of yourself. We would tend to write these songs that were loaded with fucking notes—like thousands of notes per song. You know what? It never got easy playing those songs. Eventually, you get used to it, but you always had to think about the song. I don't even remember how to play some of them anymore [Laughs]. For these songs, we were a little bit more careful. We were like, "What does this song need? What doesn't it need? What can we say with the least amount of stuff?" Honestly, we wanted to be comfortable as musicians and say the most with the least on this record. Whether that happens on the next record or not, who knows? Your guess is as good as mine. We could sit back down to write, and it might get crazy again. I'm up for whatever. These songs are much more comfortable to play live.
"Take My Bones Away" has a riff that was made for the stage.
Absolutely! We think about the live show a lot. What's been hard for us is thinking about how to do it in the studio. You leave room in the studio for those little special moments or the things you can add in there which you won't do live like a little keyboard part simply tucked in. I'm always thinking about the power of the riff live. I like playing at full volume and loud, fucking period. That's it. That's all I've ever wanted to do since I was a tiny little kid, man. I want to crank the fucking amp, and that still hasn't changed. That's why I'm here. I want to turn an amp up as loud as I can get it and fucking play it. That was an older riff from The Blue Record timeframe, and it carried over. It ended up being the first song we wrote for Yellow & Green. It came together pretty easily. John and I always say, "We've got two guitars so let's not play the same thing". The melody is there, but compiling everything you're hearing, John and I are playing eight to ten notes, fucking making these really full chords.
Is there a riff you're particularly proud of?
"March to the Sea" is one. You know in the chorus when you hear that banjo-style bit? When I wrote that, there were only three chords that went with that riff. That song started out of that riff I'm playing in the chorus. I was playing it. Something about it sounded really nice. I wanted to see if we could get away with writing a song that was actually three chords. That's what the whole song was. That riff really sticks out to me. Sometimes, you write stuff, and it fits in the song. Then, you don't think about it. In "March to the Sea", the riff really stands out. It kicks in, and it amps up the song before we bring it back down to another verse. It's a simple song, and it's fun as shit to play. It never gets old.
What's the story behind "The Line Between"?
John wrote every ounce of that song. It came together so fast. One day we were messing with the bit in the chorus. We were going back and forth between a couple of things. I left for a couple of weeks and came back, and he was like, "Listen to this song I wrote around that chorus!" I said, "Hell yeah!" It grew on me once he put the lyrics on there. I really appreciated it then. That's a totally fun song to play live.
What's the thread that ties Yellow & Green together?
That's a good question. I think what ties everything together with these two records is more of an idea. It was the idea of, "Let's get it all out". We wanted to get all of our influences out. At the end of The Blue Record, we were feeling a little drained. We were feeling like we needed to say a few more things. We were trying to make some headway. We wanted to get everything out and see what happens. As we started to write, we realized there was an overall theme which is a little more mellow. It was a little more experimental too. We were searching for a few things and trying new things out. We wanted to turn over a new stone and see if we could get anything to bite. We started writing, and songs began happening. We wrote so many songs. There were more songs we wrote that didn't go on this. We were shelving them for next time or whatever. It's all there. It was like a trial period for some things. We wanted to see if we were capable of doing certain things musically or sonically that we hadn't in the past. It feels good. It's like when you're sitting in class, the teacher asks a question, and everybody knows the answer but nobody raises their hands. You say to yourself, "Why didn't I answer that question?" I feel like that's what we were doing. We were jumping in there, answering our own question, taking a sacrifice, and not worrying about whether or not we were right or wrong. We just did what felt right.
"Back Where I Belong" showed another side of the band. It's heavy in a different way.
Absolutely! I think there's more than one way to be heavy. Live, we're still working on how to play things mellow [Laughs]. It's just loud. It's another way of saying something.
When you listen to Yellow & Green, you can see it as much as you can hear it.
That's the idea. It's not something we stumbled into. I felt that way from the start. When we write something, I want to visualize something, whether it's some kind of fantasy thing, something super psychedelic, or something nostalgic, simple, and real. We're all about the imagery.
Have you already started kicking around ideas for the next record?
Well, writing hasn't been the number one priority over this past fall and winter. However, on our own individually, John is always writing, and I am too. I've been messing with a few things. I'll record a riff here and there and tuck them away. We always end up getting those out on the road when we're doing sound checks. We'll begin writing for the next one on the road. It's not necessarily on the bus or in the hotel room, but more so on stage. We'll noodle around and get the ideas we sit down at home with out. There hasn't been talk of writing. We want to focus on getting back on the road and doing it right. We want to pick up where we left off.
What would be the cinematic equivalent of Yellow & Green?
That's a really good question. I'm going to say one of my favorite movies. I'm just throwing this out there. There's actually no direct correlation between this movie and the record [Laughs]. It's a Korean film called Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ...And Spring. It's one of my favorites. It's a very silent film. There's not a lot of dialogue, but the cinematography is pretty rad. I would think that would be the film I'd play this record along to. Now that I mentioned it, I think I need to do that just to see if it fits.
Who have you been listening to?
I go through phases where I bust out this finger-picking Americana shit like John Fahey and Leo Kottke. I've been listening to a lot of old school Jethro Tull. I was listening to tons of it like Benefit and Living in the Past. I love that whole era of Jethro Tull. They were really on it. They were so good. Those dudes were serious players. They wrote some of the most memorable riffs. I've been going back and digging through the vault.
Who have you always dreamed of touring with?
You got twenty minutes? [Laughs] I've always wanted to tour with Dinosaur Jr. I love that band. I don't think that's impossible. I think it'd be a really cool bill. They'd be one of my dream bands. I've loved them ever since I was 10- or 12-years-old. I wish we could've done something with Wishbone Ash. It'd be cool to do a Soundgarden tour. That'd be pretty awesome! There are a lot of parallels there. I'm a big Soundgarden fan. A lot of the way Kim Thayil plays isn't too far off from the way we write songs. There are similarities in the writing and chords.
What heavy bands do you come back to?
The first super heavy band I liked was The Melvins. When I first heard Houdini, all I had in my room was this tiny practice amp. That's when I discovered drop tuning. I was like, "This fucking record's amazing!" Between listening to The Melvins, Soundgarden, and Green River, that was a big gateway for me into punk rock too. It's funny. I have more of a punk background than metal. Then there's High on Fire and Sleep. I love High On Fire. Those are great guys!
You guys also maintain a mystique that's often lost in today's music.
This isn't a fashion show. That's not what we're here for. We're not going to do the shtick on the stage. We're just dudes like you who grew up in basements and garages playing and we stuck with it. We kept doing it, and we want to keep doing it. The idea isn't to see us and be influenced. It's to listen to us. We want to play music and stay true to what we do. It's playing rock 'n' roll any which way we can.
Photo Credit: Jimmy Hubbard
See our interview with John Baizley here!
What's your favorite Baroness song?
Yellow & Green tour dates:
May 24 Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer
May 25 Baltimore, MD Ram's Head Live
May 26 Norfolk, VA Jewish Mother
May 28 Charleston, SC The Music Farm
May 29 Atlanta, GA Center Stage
May 31 Dallas, TX Trees
June 1 Austin, TX Chaos in Tejas (Mohawk)
June 4 Lawrence, KS Granada Theatre
June 5 St. Louis, MO The Firebird
June 8 Grand Rapids, MI The Pyramid Scheme
June 9 Madison, WI The Majestic Theatre
June 11 Indianapolis, IN Deluxe @ Old National Centre
June 12 Cincinnati, OH Taft Ballroom
June 14 Pittsburgh, PA Mr. Small's
June 15 Huntington, WV V Club
June 13 - 16 Manchester, TN Bonnaroo (performance date to be announced soon)
August 10 – 11 Montreal, QC Heavy MTL (performance date to be announced soon)
Inter Arma opens May 25 & 26; True Widow opens May 28 – 31; Coliseum opens June 4 to 15