Published Oct 23, 2009"I try to keep our intellectualizing of our music in check. It's not always easy," admits Baroness guitarist/vocalist John Baizley, discussing the intricacies and deep personal revelations contained in sophomore effort Blue Record. "When we're writing, it's more gut reaction. Once we've committed that reaction to a song and it begins to solidify, it has to hold up to analytic scrutiny though. That's the type of people we are."
It's no small task for Baroness ― Baizley, guitarist Peter Adams, bassist Summer Welch and drummer Allen Blickle ― to ride the line between habitual groove and cerebral analysis. Despite early EPs First and Second being guttural blasts of detuned, monolithic sludge, their 2006 debut full-length Red Album was a drastic swing from instinctual riffs into progressive, exploratory territory that incorporated vast dynamic shifts and subtleties. It was exceptionally bookish, musically speaking, and such changes initially surprised and unsettled fans.
Yet as the album sunk in, it became an essential favourite. Knowing the Savannah, GA crew would inherently evolve with their second album, an equal amount of anticipation and hesitation has swelled within proponents as to just how far they'll push their own boundaries this time around. Baizley notes that with its lumbering riffs offset by intricate, atmospheric probing, Blue Record does host a great deal of congenital instinct. But it's filtered through four incredibly analytical minds.
"If [Blue Record] was just straight-up gut-reaction stuff, we wouldn't apply theory to anything. I consider this band a major, all-encompassing art project. As such, there's some greater purpose to it for me. We're about never reaching an endpoint, resting on a laurel. Once you near some goal, be it musical, conceptual or personal, then you adjust and come up with something else that's too far away to focus on and move towards that. That's the relationship between this album and the last one... and the next one."
Still, Baizley insists that while Baroness will always push fans to their expectant limits, they haven't, nor will they ever, stray so far from their original metallic foundation as to outright alienate.
"We could go somewhere undesirable but that's why I place the utmost importance on the initial gut reaction. If that's not your foundation, you're acting over-intellectually. Music's not over-intellectual. The critical mind has a desire to look but first and foremost you want to react. There has to be some sort of unquantifiable reaction. That's what we go with first. From there, it's refinement. I look at it like this: we not only challenge ourselves to progress as musicians, we challenge our listeners to progress as fans."