Q&A w/ Bayside on new acoustic EP, 20th anniversary & more (new song & video out now)
New York emo veterans Bayside were supposed to go on a 20th anniversary tour this year, but that was of course derailed due to the pandemic. They instead released a "tour cancellation" shirt (and a branded facemask and other merch), as well as a Record Store Day 7", and now they're closing out the year with the third volume of their long-running acoustic EP series. "We had no intentions of recording anything this year," frontman Anthony Raneri tells us. "We had three US tours, a bunch of festivals and a European tour planned to celebrate the 20 year anniversary which would have left us no time to do anything else. We decided going into the studio and working on something was a safe way to stay creative, do what we love and also give the fans something special."
Acoustic Volume 3 comes out December 11 via Hopeless Records (pre-order), and it'll feature reworkings of four older songs, plus the entirely new "Light Me Up," which was originally written during the sessions for 2019's Interrobang. "We didn’t think it really fit what we were doing with that record so we left it off and just held on to it," Anthony said. "When we started working on the acoustic record, we worked on it in that format and it seemed to work a lot better."
As good as Bayside's heavier songs are, it's always nice to hear them tone things down, and "Light Me Up" is a lovely song that finds this long-running band sounding as fresh as ever. "Longevity was always important [to us]," Anthony said. "It was a constant topic of discussion and the guiding force in our decision making." You can definitely hear that on "Light Me Up," a song that suggests this is a band who are still moving forward, not getting nostalgic for the era when emo was most popular.
The song's video is a montage of happy couples sent in to Bayside by fans. "Some of the clips in the video are actually engagements taking place on stage at our shows. Some are first dances that I actually played the song for in person," Anthony says. Watch the video below, and read on for our chat with Anthony about this new EP, the 20th anniversary, band life during Covid, and more…
You were supposed to go on a 20th anniversary tour in the spring, and obviously that couldn't happen. It seemed like you took it in stride (the "tour cancellation" tee, etc), but all these months later with still no end to the pandemic in sight, how has this all been impacting you as musicians and people?
Well it never really felt like we had an easy path to where we’ve gotten, so we named the tour the 20 Years of Bad Luck Tour, which was also a reference to a song. Whenever we do get to make that tour up, we’ll just have to call it the 21 or 22 Years of REALLY Bad Luck Tour. It's no surprise to people that touring is where the bulk of our income comes from so we’ve had to get creative through the year but I’d say we’re doing well. We’re finding ways to stay busy and, like this acoustic project, finding ways to keep creating.
Even without a tour to celebrate, 20 years is a big achievement. Did you ever imagine this kind of longevity when the band started out? What's changed over the years about the way you approach your music and what's stayed the same?
I think when a band first starts out, your goal is to play a show in front of anyone. Eventually you hope to go on tour and eventually you hope to get a record deal, make fans etc. The goals always change and I think our goal was always to just take the next step. I never even thought I’d be able to make money playing music so I certainly never thought I’d still be doing it as a career 20 years later. Once we did start making fans and had a proper “career” though, longevity was always important. It was a constant topic of discussion and the guiding force in our decision making. From the music we’ve made to how we dress, people we associate with and even photo shoots have been done with longevity and integrity in mind. We’ve never wanted to do anything to get a big leg up in the moment but sacrifice the future. Never wanted to be a band that people would be embarrassed to have liked when they grew up and definitely wanted to make sure we never did anything we’d be embarrassed about in the future.
For all of us who want to help keep bands, crews, venues, etc afloat during these times, what in your opinion is the most effective way for fans to support music right now?
As far as immediate support, buying merch is far and away #1, if not the only real thing you can do to help at the moment. It probably goes without saying. One other thing to consider too is that, when tours do start happening again, buy tickets. We look at that, whenever it happens, as the light at the end of the tunnel, but if people aren’t going on to shows, the problem for bands just keeps going.
The "Light Me Up" video is a montage of footage of happy couples sent in to you by fans. Can you tell us a bit about how this all came together, and how it ties into the song?
"Light Me Up" is one of very few love songs that we’ve written. Maybe one of three or so. Part of what inspired the song and the video was that our song, "Landing Feet First," was getting used as people's first dances at their weddings a lot. Also, when we did our acoustic tour in 2018/2019, I would say someone got engaged at the show during that song at about half of the shows. Somehow we were this dark, emo band with 150 sad songs and two happy ones and we became an engagement/wedding staple. So we thought we’d go with it. Some of the clips in the video are actually engagements taking place on stage at our shows. Some are first dances that I actually played the song for in person. Obviously, with the restriction and limitations around Covid, we also had to try and be creative about how to get a video shot so this was a good solution.
Your first acoustic release was kind of just a stripped-back, solo acoustic thing, but on the second one you went further and re-arranged the songs in various ways. How has doing these acoustic records over the years changed your approach to acoustic music, and at this point, how do you approach reinventing an electric song as an acoustic one?
The first acoustic record just happened. We had just gotten into a bad accident on tour. Our drummer, John Beatz died and our bass player, Nick Ghanbarian broke his back. Me and Jack continued the tour we were playing acoustic, just the two of us, because we had to. We made that record on the last day of that tour to sort of commemorate that time in our history. After that record, acoustic stuff became an important flavor in our world. We sort of became known for it, so we were doing a lot more of it. Putting it into shows every night, playing lots of acoustic in-stores. Now when we do acoustic version of songs, we break the song down to chords, melodies and lyrics and try and write a completely new song with it. We never want to just play a song the way we normally do but switch guitars. We always want the acoustic versions to sound like the songs were meant to be that way. I think it’s fun for the fans too because it could be a song they’ve known for 15 years and have no idea what to expect.
Acoustic Volume Three Tracklist
1. Light Me Up
2. The New Flesh
3. Not Fair
4. Poison In My Veins