Interview with Pete of Baroness/Concert Review: Baroness & Royal Thunder at Tunnel Club, Milan Italy Oct. 15, 2013
Posted by RiffRaff
Spending many years crafting, evolving, and honing one of the most original sounds in music today, Savannah, GA band Baroness have carved quite a niche for themselves that transcends musical genre barriers and deeply appeals to fans of all styles of rock music. If one can say anything about Baroness, it would have to be about how incredibly hard-working and determined its members are in bringing their love of music to their fans and delivering it at the highest quality possible. Even a terrible tour bus accident which could have easily killed any member of the band couldn’t hold founding members Pete Adams (guitars/backing vocals) and John Baizley (lead vocals/guitars) from powering through serious injuries, healing themselves up, and reforming their rhythm section after Allen Blickle (drums) and Matt Maggioni (bass) very understandably took leave of the band. Just a little over a year since the tragic accident Baroness have once again jumped onto the tour bus and returned to Europe to continue putting audiences in awe with their stellar live shows.
On Oct. 15th I was fortunate enough to be able to catch up with guitarist Pete Adams when they stopped in my city of Milan, Italy to play a show at Tunnel Club with Royal Thunder. After witnessing my first live experience with a band I have followed for over 10 years and my chat with Pete I have found myself with an even deeper respect for the lads in the band. All of the passion Pete put into his responses to my questions was reciprocated ten-fold when him and the band took the stage and the amount of smiles and good vibes the band exuded off-stage came with them onto the stage in a very uplifting way of saying ‘we’re back’.
The first question I asked Pete was about the live focus of the bands media since the release of Yellow & Green (all of their official videos in support of the album contain live concert footage and the band has also released a live EP called Live at Maida Vale-BBC). He responded: Well we’ve been recording a lot of live stuff, because, well, we don’t have a lot of live stuff. 10 years into it, down the road, we really didn’t have a lot of quality live footage so we’ve been kinda focusing on it. Also, ya know, being a band for 10 years and going through everything you go through as a band, not to mention what did happen last year, you got to be documenting this stuff. You need to have a good representation of what you do live. Because, ya know, we’re a live band. We’re not a studio band. It’s like, we get it out live, it’s where we shine the best. […] We focus on live. When we write music, we focus on how it’s going to translate live. We really do. All of our thought is in our live show. ‘Cause at the end of the day, we want to be a headlining band. We want to be a band that does our own thing. One step at a time. We’re a one step at a time kind of band. We’re not like ‘oh oh, now we need it all!” It’s just like “what do we need? What do we want?” We just kinda introduce it a little at a time.
And I can attest, where they shine the best is on the live front as they played through their catalog of songs that spanned the 10+ years of material. When they played songs like “Take These Bones Away”, “A Horse Called Golgatha”, and “Swollen and Halo” they had the near capacity crowd not only mesmerized, but also filled with moving bodies, good vibes, and bright smiles. Their live feel had a much more honest and human punch to it compared to their already very down-to-Earth studio albums. And the bands focus on writing for live really thundered home as small intricacies like a guitar lick or bass line played live came out more pronounced and added that much more impact to the songs they were playing. The real highlight of the evening for me was the live rendition of what is my favorite Baroness song “Eula” where every note contained such primal emotion it was nigh impossible to imagine a single person in the club without chills shooting down their spine.
Next, I naturally wanted to ask about how the new members, Nick Jost (bass) and Sebastian Thomson (drums) in the band are fitting in and how their effect is on the live show dynamic. Man they’re working out great. Working out better than I’ve ever asked for the first two dudes we’ve found. These are the first two guys that we tried out. They didn’t know each other and have gotten to know each other since and they’re really clicking. They click on stage well. They’re both great musicians. It’s hard to argue with that.
I also asked if Nick and Sebastian would be involved in the writing process when the time came for the next Baroness record. I think so. Absolutely. At this point in the game we’ve toured and toured, and now toured with them again so it’s like why not. Unless something big comes along or something happens, I think that these are the guys we’re sticking with here.
I do hope that nothing comes along or happens that would make them want to leave the band as after watching them mesh so well on stage and have nothing but a good time while they grooved out made me agree with Pete that they are a perfect fit for the band. I also noticed just how happy they seemed to be on stage. Both constantly with bright smiles matching John and Pete’s and always moving around and playing with comfort.
Also playing that evening was Royal Thunder, who absolutely dominated the stage that evening with their unique brand of sludgy blues rock. Singer Mlny Parsons, while not very active, poured with a tremendous stage presence and overflowed with passion in her vocals. They played a weighty 45 minute set containing great songs like “Whispering World” and “Blue” as well as a couple of new untitled songs that seem to sound like the band is heading in the more psychedelic direction with their upcoming material. I for one can’t wait until the follow up of C.V.I. is released so I can hear them again.
I asked Pete how the European tour with them is going and how you pronounce the singer’s name 😛 . Haha, just call her Mel. We just call her Mel. She’s rad, Josh (guitar) is rad, Even on drums is rad. They’re just really sweet people who love to do what they do, man. And they’re also doing something kind of unique with rock and roll right now. I respect that and appreciate it. We had room on this bus, so we thought why the hell not. This is their first European tour. […] We keep coming back, we come back on a yearly basis. So, why not bring some friends into it, ya know. We’ve known them for a little while now and it’s just a good thing.
We just don’t want to go out and do the heavy metal tours or the light rock tours. We want the show to be also dynamic. It’s meant to be entertainment. Get a little bit of everything happening at a show. And to keep it (this tour) two bands, haha. It’s so easy. It’s more relaxed. For you, the club, for us, ya know. Everything is laid-back a little bit more, you’re not packing 15 guitars and 3 drum kits and then all this shit up on stage. It’s just nice and easy.
That nice easy and relaxed tour set-up is something I can totally agree with Pete on. Which led to us talking about enjoying traveling and just being able to take things nice and easy. He expanded on how important being able to take things easy was when I asked him what his favorite stop was so far on this current tour. Stockholm and Trondheim. I just love Scandinavia. It’s just very nice. I’m an outdoors kind of guy. I live in the mountains myself. All the joy on this planet I take from the outdoors and the elements. […] I’m not a city kid. And that’s plain and simple, and I’m ok with that. So to be in countries where people are really in tune with their environment; people are active and out in the outdoors and so on and so forth. That really lifts me up. And I find that Scandinavia is just a really friendly place.
Curious about how Pete’s love of nature and the outdoors affects his playing and ultimately Baroness’s music I kept on with the subject. Absolutely! It affects every aspect of my life. From how I think and live to what I do on a daily basis. I can’t write unless I’m completely relaxed, 100% relaxed. […] Being in the country, being in the mountains really helps bring that together for me.
And on asking if there is a specific Baroness song that really takes heavy inspiration from the outdoors: It really comes down to certain riffs that I write. Because in Baroness we contribute to the songs. John and I will sit and write songs together. In every Baroness song there’s him and there’s me. [One riff in particular?] “March to the Sea” man. That run, that flat picked kind of banjo-esque type of sound [he hummed the section out for me, which is at the 1:05 mark on the album version]. I play a bit of banjo, not a lot, just a little bit. I do all that sitting at home on the river. I just pull stuff from just being there.
So, all in all, the show was great and getting a bit of insight into one of the minds in Baroness let me get a better understanding of what goes not only into their stellar live show, but also into the songs themselves. If you ever find yourself with an opportunity to see Baroness (or Royal Thunder) live do not hesitate a second to grab tickets. They are a great group of people and they really make you feel appreciated and welcome at their show.
Thanks to Pete for taking the time to chat with me as well as their tour manager and Speak Easy PR for setting everything up. And also a huge thank you to my wife who once again helped out with all the great pictures you can check out in the photo gallery below. Peace Love and Metal!!!!