There is no doubt that Bayside is an incredibly experienced band. Currently, their in the midst of a national tour, prepping for their third album in 4 years and adjusting to life on their new label, Windup Records. But, Bayside is more than productive, they're experienced, having endured more trials and tribulations than bands 10 years their senior. Punknews interviewer Justin Dickman recently sat down down with Anthony Reneri to talk about touring, switching labels and the memory of John "Beatz" Holohan.
Your new tour titled the "Out With The In Crowd Tour" began just a couple days ago. Iâm wondering who came up with the name and why?
I think we, Buddy and I, Buddy of Senses Fail and I had talked about trying to come up with a name that would fit the mentality of both of our bands, you know, as both of our bands kind of have a repetition in this corner of the scene for calling a lot of the bullshit out. So, we wanted something that would tie the two bands together.
Have you toured with Senses Fail before?
Weâve done like Warped Tour together and some festivals type stuff. This is our first full on club tour together.
Why a co-headlining tour?
Thereâs a way everything has been with tours lately. I think with the ways things are going with the economy and itâs harder and harder to people out to shows these days I think itâs best to go with stronger packages. So, itâs two bands who are around the same size and decent draw have the best chance of getting the most people.
Are you guys playing at larger venues then you normally would if it was just you or Senses Fail headlining?
In some places. For some places, weâre playing a couple 2500 or 3000 capacity places on this tour, which is definitely a first for us to headline. But at the same time, some cities you donât want to go and try to sell 3000 tickets in Omaha, or something.
How many new songs can we expect to hear off of the new record?
Weâre doing one or two. We have one song called "Already Gone," which was released, already online. Weâre playing that one to get people excited to hear. Every once in a while I think weâll be putting in a second song. As a fan of music and an avid show goer myself I get pissed off on songs I donât know. I donât think people are dying to hear that new stuff yet quite yet, but sooner or later, the record doesnât come out for four months.
Is there any specific meaning behind the title Killing Time?
We had just signed to a new label, we had been in contract for most of our time in the band and this new label situation is really great for us. We got to work the producer that we wanted to. A producer we wanted to work with since we were teenagers. I really think itâs the best record weâve made, by far. So itâs a really big moment for our bandâs career. Weâve been a band for ten years now and we feel the last ten years have leading up to this point, as if weâve been killing time up until now.
And in a way a lot of the lyrics are about hope and getting through changes. So for us Killing Time is a way of explaining what happens before change, before an important change.
And who is the producer?
Gil Norton. [Foo Fighters, Jimmy Eat World, Dashboard Confessional]
How does the record sound compared to your previous records?
I would say itâs our fastest and heaviest record for sure. This record took everything we do best and do it more. Thereâs more guitar work. We tried to make it all catchier. We tried to make it heavier. Sonically, itâs above anything weâve ever done before.
I think itâs a record the people wanted us to make and we wanted to make.
Did you try any new techniques?
I feel like a lot of bands in our position who would have signed with a major and would have gone in a safer direction, where you want to try and write singles and write radio friendly stuff. You see that a lot with bands who are up and coming and doing well within the scene and they feel like itâs their time to break out so they want to make softer or poppier songs. For us, when weâre making a whole record we try to make everything more interesting and a little more experimental. Whenever weâre torn between two ideas we always try to go for the weirder one. I think people are going to think itâs a fresh sound for us but it definitely reminiscent enough of what we do already.
Did getting divorced set any mood on the recording process?
Not on the recording process but certainly in the lyrics. You canât help but write about that stuff when you go through anything important in your life, you know. But it definitely came through in the lyrics; I tried not to make it sad. I tried not to dwell on this but it kind of goes through my range of emotions of the record. Thereâs sad song, thereâs angry songs and thereâs songs where Iâm questioning whoâs fault everything is. I think thereâs something everybody can relate to. I donât think people wanna hear a whole album about one thing.
Coming up is the 5th anniversary of John Beatz death. Do you have anything special planned?
Ever since John passed away itâs always been really important to us to celebrate his life. We try, and some people donât agree with it and some people want to get a little upset over it but we try not to put a huge spotlight on what happened cause to us he was a friend first, and a band-mate second. I feel like fans have a strong connection to John and what happened and sometimes they feel a little left out, or that we donât talk about him enough. Just some people donât agree with how we handle but for us we handle it internally. For us, on the anniversaries, as long as weâre home we go and visit his grave together. Weâll sit down and tell stories. Thatâs the special thing we do you know, cause he was a friend first. Itâs a life for us to celebrate. Itâs not a public thing to us.
In the past, since the accident, Iâve noticed that the band would take a day off in between Denver and Salt Lake City but not this year. Why is that?
You know it really comes down to logistics. As dangerous of a drive as that is, as far as time and drivable; so when youâre routing a tour between Salt Lake and Seattle you canât make that drive in one night. Itâs typically not possible. And between Portland and San Francisco, you know you canât make that drive either. So if you were to go from Denver and have a day off and play in Salt Lake and have a day off and play Seattle and Portland and have another day offâitâs hard finically to take three or four days off in a week.
Luckily, we travel on a bus now, ever since our accident. So luckily we feel a lot safer with a professional driver driving whoâs through sleeping all day. You know, whose main focus after sleeping all day is to make that drive. So, weâre very, very, very fortunate in our aspect but those in bands need to be super careful. Take it easy. If youâre going to be late, be late.
"Winter" is one of my favorite songs that you have written. Do you ever intend to play this song live?
Um, no actually, weâve never played it live and I doubt we ever will. Cause again, what itâs about is a very private matter.
The song in general and his passing is very private to us and that song I wrote is a closing of a chapter for me and a part of my mourning process. To play it and kind of revisit it to me is not why that song is there, and to have other people singing it in the crowd. I think itâs great. I hear a lot that it helps people through the passing of their own friends and thatâs amazing and Iâm really so glad that people can take something from that. But for me to experience that song in a room full of people is not why that song exists. You know what I mean?
The reason we released it is because we felt other people can get something out of it, and they do, which is great but I donât want to share, I donât want to stand on stage and share that experience with a thousand people.
In some of your songs you make reference to works of literature and film pretty often. Are you a huge reader or film geek?
Not so much. I like movies just as much as anyone else but I wouldnât call myself a film geek. Iâm definitely a reader. I do love to read.
Are you reading anything now?
Iâm going through The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo [Millennium] trilogy.
How is that? I want to read that myself.
Oh, itâs unbelievable. Seriously; the first book. All three books run about 500 - 600 pages and the first one hundred pages are really painful to get through. Everyone was telling me to stick with it, stick with it, its good, it gets good. But after about a hundred pages you canât put it down. Itâs a really, really incredible book.
What kind of connection do you need to make before you write a song based off of a book or a movie?
I think anything, anything that sends my mind in a tangent. To write a song you need a lot of ideas about one idea. You canât just base a song around one thought, I think. You have a lot of lines to fill.
So if I see something in a movie or hear a quote in a movie or read, or if thereâs a concept or an idea in a book that sends my mind off that I have a multiple conversation with myself about it, so you just canât help yourself but start writing it down.
By any chance did you see the PSA Victory put out last week with Gilbert Godfrey criticizing illegal downloading?
I didnât. I heard itâs hilarious though.
They compare illegal downloading to asking for free food at McDonalds.
[Laughs] I guess that makes sense.
It kinda makes sense but itâs also different. When youâre illegal downloading youâre not asking permission but if you go to McDonalds and ask for free food, obviously theyâre just going to tell you no.
Well thatâs because thereâs no precedent for it. Thatâs why theyâd tell you no. Music costs way more money to produce than a McDonaldâs hamburger. They should be giving out more hamburgers than they should be giving out songs, if you really think about it. Itâs cheaper to make a hamburger than a song.
But, what it comes down to that downloading music and music being free on the Internet, at this point itâs unavoidable. You know what I mean. Itâs happening; itâs happened.
Thereâs some people, younger people, who just started getting into music while illegal downloading music was already happening. To me I remember it happening. I was already buying music and suddenly this happened. Some people think itâs a weird concept to ever pay for music. So that precedent has been set already. And like, the music industry, and labels and bands; everybody needs to get with the program. Doesnât matter if you like it or not just figure how to make things work around it.
Whatâs your stance on illegal downloading?
Thatâs basically my stance. Itâs there. Somebody who makes a living in the music industry obviously and with someone getting your goods for free; youâre with punknews. The website charges for ad space. If someone came and asked for free ads, obviously youâd say, "no" cause those cost money.
So, obviously, itâs a pain in the ass, you know what I mean but I think itâs good for music. I think itâs cool. I think thereâs always these new bands, bands like Balance & Composure and Title Fight for instance who were on tour with. I think for bands like that, up and coming bands itâs huge to be able to build this following on the internet without labels and tons of money behind it. I think itâs really cool. I think labels, and bands, myself included all need to figure out how to make it work within this world where there is illegal downloading. We just need to figure it out.
How was it working with Victory, when so many bands like Thursday, Hawthorne Heights & Streetlight Manifesto have had so much trouble?
The Bayside motto is "Itâs not my fault, but it is my problem." Our stance is the same as illegal downloading. Thereâs trouble when we were on Victory, of course thereâs trouble, there are things youâd like to go another way but at the same time, we always looked at it like theyâre still giving us a great opportunity, there are a lot things theyâre doing for us, weâre making records, weâre going on tour, weâre living our dream. You just have to work with the best you have. I canât speak for those guys, cause I donât know their situation but we never got as big as Hawthorne Heights was or Thursday was you know. If someone owed me millions and millions of dollars and I wasnât getting any I might have a different opinion on it but for us we have a lot to thank Victory for.
And how did you end up on Wind Up Records?
Actually, the presidentâs son was a really big fan. The story goes he went and told his dad, the president, that he was listening to this band for a long time and that he read online they werenât on their label anymore and that he should check them out. So Wind Up came out to a show after our contract with Victory was up. We met them and we hit it off. Itâs great. Itâs a really great home.
I think when it comes to major labels thereâs a lot of rock stars A&R guys who put themselves above bands and you have all these stock holders who you have to answer to and board of directors who you have to answer to who donât care about bands or music or art; itâs just product and numbers. Wind Up was one of the bigger labels we talked to that really put music first and their whole vibe is that if the band is happy and music is good and everything is going to fall in place.
Youâre one of the four frontmen who participates in the "Whereâs The Band?" Tour. Recently, a couple of dates were announced for a third outing. Could you tell me what that is like?
Ah, thatâs my vacation. We do that every year, like in the winter every year. The four of us always joke about how we look forward to it when weâre on tour with our respected bands, which is of course a lot of fun but itâs a much bigger production and staging.
Thatâs our vacation. Thatâs our time where the four of us who are really good friends, hop in a van and drive around, listen to music, talk, talk about music, play some shows together. Everything is really low stressed, low pressure.
Why does this tour only ever have a handful of dates a year and regionally located?
For one, the reason we originally rotated is because we only get a handful of days. We want to make sure we can get everywhere with it. The reason for that is the four of our bands come first. Iâm always very busy with Bayside. Dustin is always busy with Thrice, Chris with Saves the Day and Matt with The Get Up Kids again. All of those bands come first. The fall youâre always on a band tour. The fall is a really busy touring season. The spring and the summer are really busy touring seasons. The winter, right around the holidays is usually the time the four of our bands are off at the same time. Itâs hard to find a week where four bands arenât on tour.
Are there plans to take the tour nationally?
It comes up all the time. Internationally will probably be sooner than later. Itâs some thoughts that we have. Itâs a real good possibility of taking it internationally soon. But making the tour longer and kind of doing like a full US tour out of it or like a 3 to 4 week tour of it, like I said is almost impossible cause none of us can tell our bands, "Iâm taking a month off to go do this other thing while you stay at home."
On the tour do you do solo material or Bayside songs?
I play mostly Bayside songs. I have a couple solo songs written and Iâll play like one a night. Iâll play a lot of cover songs. To me the funnest things, like I said is that itâs so low stressed and low pressure that you can just go up there and do whatever you want, thereâs no expectations. When you get on stage with your band the setlist is written for you before you ever write it. You know, you have to do certain songs the fans want to hear and thatâs what you play, and you play it like it sounds on the record. Youâre tied to a lot of things. With this solo thing, you barely even have to practice. There are times weâll be in the van driving to one of the solo shows and Iâll have a song stuck in my head cause we listened to it in the van and Iâll get there and decide Iâll play that song tonight. Some random cover song or whatever and Iâm going to play this today. It doesnât matter, you know what I mean? I donât have to practice it with three other guys. I donât need three other guys to agree with it.
As a person who has a Bayside tattoo, Iâm often asked what kind of bird it is. Would you care to set the record straight?
I have no idea. We call it the chicken. I know itâs not that. Iâve heard sparrow before. We really donât know. We got it about six years ago off a piece of wallpaper we ripped. It was just that bird pattern over and over and we just cut one out and scanned it and it became the logo.