The New York based alternative punk band Bayside has been forming a notable legacy over the past fifteen years. Their gritty, unapologetic and self-reflective alternative music wasn’t one that followed trends but created them. At the pinnacle of their career, they aren’t riding on a past legacy but instead remaining steadfast and celebrating the success of their most popular album to date, Cult, which was released last year. Amidst a scene popularized by trends of scream singing or doom-pop championed with singers masquerading in heroin chic make-up fit for John Cameron Mitchell’s recent rendition of Tony Award winning broadway musical Hedwig And The Angry Inch, Bayside set out to create music that made them proud and didn’t succumb to any fleeting trends. Their impeccable foresight is the reason we celebrate their most successful album fifteen years after the bands inception.
In preparation for the release of their rerelease of Cult White Addition, available earlier this month, lead singer Anthony Raneri sat down with EARMILK to talk about the past fifteen years, their ability to remain ahead of the curve and their tour currently in progress, the Fifteen Year Birthday Tour with Senses Fail, Man Overboard and Seaway. Take a backseat ride and see what it is like to create a legacy that is only growing stronger with every passing day.
EM: Coming from New York, what were some of your favorite venues you went to/still go to?
BS: As far as discovering music, I grew up going to was this one place downtown that I think still exists. It’s very different now though. At the time it was a squat. It was like an abandoned building that a bunch of punk kids had taken over. They were doing shows every Saturday. There would be new bands playing. [It] was never anybody that you had heard of really but it was always cool local showcases or small touring bands. They since have actual ownership. Now that they have actually ownership of this building it has changed a lot but it’s still there and they still do their Saturday showcases which is cool.
EM: What area of New York is that in?
AR: It’s downtown, in the LES area.
EM: Are there venues that you frequent now, that you like and respect?
AR: It’s funny, it’s sort of going in an opposite direction as far as venues that I respect. There are a lot of places that I respected and loved growing up but they’re being replaced by super corporate kind of things. I always loved Irving Plaza. I grew up going there and saw some of my favorite shows there. I remember the first time we ever got to play there and it was just like mind blowing. We got to play at the spot that I grew up seeing my favorite bands at. It was there or CBGBs. The first time we played at CBs, the first time we played at Irving Plaza – those really stick out to me.
EM: Y’all are playing at Best Buy Theater when you’re here in April right?
AR: Yeah. A cool place – we did a secret show at The Acheron. That place is rad. I know they do a lot of stuff like that – kind of like surprise shows. The Refused played there and some version of Nirvana. So that’s a really cool place keeping the old school mentality alive.
EM: Let’s talk about 15 years. What a milestone. A lot of bands haven’t been able to keep the longevity and ability to keep releasing albums like y’all have. You’ve released seven albums, done several UK tours, US tours, you’ve been married and you just recently had a kid. So as you look back on the past fifteen years what have you learned, what do you take away from it?
AR: The most important lesson I’ve learned is to concentrate on what you’re doing and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. We’ve always kind of done that for the most part as far as our music goes. We’ve never jumped on a trend. In 15 years we’ve seen a lot of trends and a lot of …. There was pressure in the early days to be screaming on your records. There was pressure to dress a certain way. We lived through the makeup thing. We lived through the neon thing. We’ve lived through a lot of trends and phases of music and we never did any of them. We never associated with any of them. We always just concentrated on what Bayside is supposed to be. I think whenever we’ve done a photo-shoot, whenever we’ve written a record, whenever we’ve played songs we always ask ourselves if this is something we would be embarrassed about. I think a lot of the bands already asked themselves that question in regards to what they did 10 years ago.
EM: That’s what is amazing about Bayside and makes you so notable is that from Sirens And Condolences all the way to Cult, y’all have stuck to your core sound.
AR: Yeah. I mean that’s not to say that we have anything against that. It’s not to be political or anything. When that first Used record came out in 2002 we were both on Warped Tour and I remember seeing them before I heard the record. Like The Used in particular I love that record. I thought it was something new and exciting. There were a couple bands doing the screaming and singing thing but they took what bands like Thursday and a bunch of others were doing and they just made it fully realized. So it’s not to say that we didn’t like what was happening in those trends, but like – My Chemical Romance is a perfect example. I absolutely love My Chemical Romance and I think they write great records and great songs. But at that point we could have easily started wearing makeup and doing the whole horror punk thing but we chose not too. We didn’t want to align ourselves with anything in particular. But I think a lot of those bands did great things so it’s not to say that we’re against any of it.
EM: Absolutely. So looking back at the fifteen years are there any moments that really stand out to you?
AR: Honestly, those moments are just happening now. We got to play huge festivals all over the world. We got to play these big festivals with big names all over the world. It’s crazy to be in Belgium on stage in front of twenty-five thousand people and you’re like – Wow, I’m in Belgium write now and there’s all these people singing along to a song I wrote 13 years ago. That’s crazy. But my proudest moments are when we are doing our headline tours, our own things. That’s what I’m most proud of. To think that after 15 years we’re not fading out but instead this upcoming tour will be our biggest head ling tour we’ve ever done. We’re not doing it on the back of a legacy really. We’re going to play our new songs. On our last one we played the new songs, we played the catalog. We’re not doing a tour because it’s nostalgia. We’re not doing the records from back in the day when we used to be famous. That’s what I’m the most proud of – that people who were teenagers are coming to see us 15 years ago they now have kids and their kids and them both like us and they both come to see us play. That’s what I’m the most proud of, that longevity.
EM: Speaking of reunion tours – You were with Taking Back Sunday on their Tell All Your Friends Tour. What was it like being on that tour with them and being able to see that legacy that they have and the fan base that they accumulated?
AR: It was awesome. TBS is another great example of a band that did it the right way. They did it the same way that we set to do. TBS started trends, they didn’t follow trends. That’s what we’ve always set out to do. Like, Taking Back Sunday is very much a part of a scene. It is very much a part of a time and an era that they started. They didn’t watch a scene form and say that’s what’s happening. That’s what we need to do. They did what they wanted and everybody else followed them. That’s a prime example of the right way to do things.
EM: For this tour you have Senses Fail and all these other great bands playing with you. How did you go about selecting the artists to join you on this tour?
AR: Senses Fail was one of the first bands we talked to. It’s always cool when you can book a tour. Sometimes you just don’t know who should be on the tour and you start at the drawing board. Our agent will send an email out to all these other agents saying Bayside is doing a tour, these are the places they are playing, these are the dates. Then you submit. If you have any bands that you think want to do it then you line if with a list of these bands. Then we’ll go through this list and pick out anybody that we think makes sense for it. It’s always the best when we started planning this tour and Buddy from Senses Fail called me and said ‘I know you’re doing that tour. We want to do it, we want to be a part of it’ Me and Buddy just booked it out, because we both knew we should do it together. Man Overboard is a band we’ve been friends with for a long time. Collier and the guys, we always love to take young bands on tour also. A – to give them a shot but also we want to help them out, we really want to help out the younger bands. But also we like being involved with those younger bands and the new scene. We’re not trying to sell a legacy. We’re not trying to sell nostalgia. We’re an active band and that’s the best part of what we’re doing. Then Seaway was a band that we took out for a couple of small shows. We helped them out – this young cool pop punk band. We just love those guys, we had such a great time hanging out with the kids in that band so we figured we wanted to spend some more time with them.
EM: You’re talking about these young bands in the new scene. What does the scene look like now and how is it different from when y’all were getting started?
AR: I think it’s cool. When we first started it was a good time. Bands weren’t – pop punk bands and bands in our scene weren’t getting played on the radio or the TV. They weren’t signing to major labels. Nobody set out to do that. So only people started bands with the best intentions. When we were starting out it was Saves The Day, it was Taking Back Sunday. It was bands like that. They didn’t start bands with the intention of being famous. We all just started pop punk bands. We knew we weren’t going to be famous. It just wasn’t going to happen. And then that started and it did start happening and some of those bands did get played on MTV and started getting played on the radio. Bands like New Found Glory started playing arenas. They got all this success – so in the years following you had all these bands who were starting out trying to get played on MTV and trying to get played on the radio or to try and be as big as New Found Glory was. So that really fucked everything up because you had people coming in with the wrong intentions. But now I think it’s coming back. I think that bands like Title Fight or Balance and Composure or Man Overboard. Set Your Goals is doing good things. Four Year Strong is doing good things. I think it’s cool now that it’s going back to people doing it for the right reasons. The Wonder Years - they’re doing their own thing. Whether or not you like any of those bands I think it’s cool because all of those bands are forming with the right intentions. None of those bands are forming thinking they’re going to be on MTV.
EM: Speaking of the changing of times. You used to stream some music on Myspace and Purevolume, but now Spotify and Soundcloud are king. How do you keep up with releasing your music and relevant and getting your music to your fans ears?
AR: We do the exact thing that we did when we started. We tried to write music that we would be proud of. Whether your using social media or websites – good music gets itself out. Nothing compares to word of mouth. Nothing compares to your friend finding Bayside. Falling in love with Bayside and it meaning so much to them that they have to tell you about it and tell and their friends about it. That’s who you’re going to listen to. You’re not going to like a band because they showed up on your news feed or because Spotify recommended them to you. That’s not going to make you like it. The best recommendation you can get is your friend recommending it. That only comes from a human being. That’s the only way that you can get honest music.
EM: Talking about you personally. How has being married and having a child affected you as a person and how do you see that affecting your music in the future?
AR: It doesn’t really. If anything all that stuff probably affects the lyrics a little bit on Cult but sort of in a round about way. I’m not writing anything about having a family and the happiness it brings. It affected the way I think about the world which inherently affects my writing. When you have a family the world changes a lot and your perspective changes a lot. What matters to you. What you start finding important – that all changes. So I think that works it’s way into my lyrics but more so that I see the world as a much bigger place now.
EM: A lot of your lyrics reflect on the future, so what in your eyes is in the future for Bayside?
AR: You know when we first started this band we wanted to do something that mattered. I grew up listening to bands like Bad Religion and NoFx and Social Distortion. That’s what we wanted to be. When we made our first record we didin’t say that this record is going to make us famous or that we finally made it because we made a hit record. We just said this is the first of a lot of records. We want to make a record that people are talking about 10 years later. That is still our goal. Every record is the next. We’re just going to keep doing what we do and try to make our fans proud. We’ve been lucky enough to gain the trust of our fans that they’ve followed us with every turn and decision we make. We’re pretty lucky.
EM: It’s pretty incredible that your latest album is your biggest album in record sales and your most popular record. So congratulations on that, that’s a huge accomplishment.
AR: Thank you. There are probably people who think Walking Wounded is our best album or think that Bayside is our best album. There are people like that. There are people who think that also think that Shutter is our best album or that Cult is our best album. What’s cool is that the people who think Self Titled is our best album they still think that Cult is a good album, and that’ really all that matters. Every record doesn’t have to be the biggest at best. As long as it adds to the legacy, as long as it adds to the longevity. As long as it give the people who have been with us for 10 or 15 years – as long as it gives them one more Bayside record to enjoy then we did our jobs.