â€œSpent all my life/Waiting for a moment to comeâ€ - â€œKilling Timeâ€
Bayside lead singer/rhythm guitarist and founding member Anthony Raneri has been waiting 10 yearsâ€”since he formed the rock group in Queens, N.Y. in the winter of 2000â€”to make an album like Killing Time, which represents a number of fi rsts for the band named after his hometown.
The album is the bandâ€™s debut for new label Wind-up Records after four releases on Chicagobased indie Victory Records, including Sirens and Condolences (2004), Bayside (2005), The Walking Wounded (2007) and Shudder (2008), steadily growing their following through tireless touring. Recording their latest at Dreamland Studios in Woodstock, N.Y., and Water Music in Hoboken, N.J., with renowned producer Gil Norton [Foo Fighters, Counting Crows, Pixies, Jimmy Eat World], Bayside fi nally had the time and resources to fulfi ll their creative vision.
The group turns Raneriâ€™s acoustic songs into full-blown, deceptively complex rock epics that touch on bitter endings (like that of his marriage on the fi rst single, â€œSick, Sick, Sick,â€ and the angry, full-throttle rocker â€œThe Wrong Wayâ€), fresh starts (â€œThe New Fleshâ€), band camaraderie (â€œItâ€™s Not a Bad Little War,â€ â€œSinking and Swimming on Long Islandâ€) and even a hopeful ballad, complete with a 20-piece orchestra and a horn section (â€œOn Love, On Lifeâ€).
â€œThis is a new chapter, a new beginning for us,â€ acknowledges guitarist Jack Oâ€™Shea, who joined the band in 2003 and has played on all fi ve of their albums. â€œThis feels like our debut release. Gil really encouraged us to push the boundaries of what we do, and not to become timid. Having that kind of encouragement from someone so accomplished really gave us the confi dence to be more creative.â€ One can hear that in Oâ€™Sheaâ€™s various guitar sounds, from the Dick Dale/Link Wray surf guitar rumble which opens â€œAlready Gone,â€ to the gnarled, twisted solos in â€œSick Sick, Sickâ€ and â€œItâ€™s Not a Bad Little War,â€ to the pneumatic rush of â€œSinking and Swimming on Long Islandâ€ or the frenetic jam that ends â€œThe Wrong Way.â€
â€œWe wanted to make a big, detailed record, but still retain the pop sensibility that makes us who we are,â€ states Raneri about the studio process. â€œGil helped us stay on an aggressive rock track without losing sight of the musicâ€™s commercial appeal, its ability to get on the radio. To achieve that balance was the plan.â€
For Bayside, the rest of its career leading to this moment feels like Killing Time, according to Raneri. â€œWe had the time, the producer, the label to support it and fans who are ready to hear it. Everything was in place for us to make our masterpiece.â€
Indeed, Killing Time takes everything Bayside has learned in its decade in the music business and puts it on display for all to hear. On â€œMona Lisa,â€ another song Raneri wrote about his ex (â€œSomeday, Iâ€™ll forgive you/But it still hasnâ€™t happened yetâ€), he tried an experiment in writing. â€œI half-jokingly call it my greatest accomplishment,â€ he laughs. â€œIt was an attempt to write a song with as many chromatic key changes in it as possible, without it sounding like mathematics. I was sure it would never make the album, but everyone seemed to love it.â€
There are also glimpses of the hard road Bayside has traveled to this point in â€œItâ€™s Not a Bad Little War,â€ a song about being on the front lines and trenches with your bandmates (â€œWe are the only friends we ever hadâ€), and â€œSinking and Swimming on Long Island,â€ about all the ones that got left behind (â€œThe harder you work/The harder you fall/You wake up one day/With nothing at allâ€). â€œSeeing Soundâ€ has an operatic, almost Queen-like vibe, refl ecting Raneriâ€™s own love of Broadway show tunes, while the dramatic â€œOn Love, On Life,â€ is driven by piano and acoustic guitar, with pop tunesmiths Bacharach and David and Welsh crooner Tom Jones as the touchstones. The title track shows off the bandâ€™s metal chops, with ominous Blue Oyster Cult overtones.
â€œI really think this album has the best elements of all our previous releases,â€ says Oâ€™Shea, whose own guitar heroes include metal speedsters like Metallicaâ€™s Kirk Hammett and Megadethâ€™s Dave Mustaine as well as Slash, along with such jazz-rock muses as Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Allan Holdsworth, Al DiMelola and John McLaughlin. â€œItâ€™s the most representative of what weâ€™ve always gone for as a band. It encompasses what our fans like best about us.â€
With 10 songs weighing in at 38 minutes, there is no fi ller on Killing Time, an album, while not a concept, with songs that are organically connected and of a piece, like Green Dayâ€™s American Idiot or Nirvanaâ€™s Nevermind.
â€œWe were trying to make the perfect album,â€ says Anthony. â€œWeâ€™ve been trying to make this record for 10 years. We fi nally had all the elements we needed to do it. We wanted these to be the 10 best songs weâ€™ve ever written.â€
â€œNow I donâ€™t ask for much/But this could defi ne a lifetimeâ€ - â€œItâ€™s Not a Bad Little Warâ€
â€œEverything has been leading up until right now,â€ says Anthony. â€œKilling Time is about new beginnings, changes. This is our moment, the album we were supposed to make. A lot of bands that came up with us, weâ€™ve watched form, get signed, get huge and then disappear. And weâ€™re still hereâ€¦People continue to listen and care. Weâ€™re living the dream.â€
On Killing Time, that dream becomes reality.
â€œWeâ€™re all just excited about the possibilities of what the next year holds for us,â€ concludes Jack.
â€œWeâ€™ve always approached our career with a cautious optimism. We hope for the best, but weâ€™re OK with whatever happens. We roll with the punchesâ€¦but this time it all seems so much more tangible.â€