"I lost my grandfather, my step father and my step brother in the space of four months and then I became a father, that can't help but affect how you see the world…" – hmv.com talks to Bayside
Bayside's Anthony Raneri has had some up and downs over the last two years. In the space of four months he lost his grandfather, step father and step brother, and then became a father to a baby girl himself.
As he and his bandmates prepare to release their new album Cult on Monday (February 17), he tells us about how he's tackling bigger themes on this LP, how fatherhood has changed his writing and why Morrissey continues to inspire him.
Your new album Cult is out on Monday. Are you nervous or excited about it coming out?
"Definitely a little of both. It's natural to be nervous obviously, but I'm excited for people to hear it too."
So when did you finish it off?
"I think August, that's when we finished tracking the whole record. We've been sat on it a long time and that's where the nervousness comes in, you're waiting and waiting for people to hear it and get their reactions."
How long did the album take to record? Were you in the studio for long?
"We actually spent a lot of time working on our own on this record, far more than ever before. We spent two years on it, going to studios in between tours and reworking stuff. Once we got in to the studio, we only took 14 days to record the album."
How many songs did you end up with? You must have built up a huge bank of songs?
"Actually, not really. I have friends in bands who seem to be able to just write and write and write and pick their best songs. I can't do that, if I don't think something's great I throw it out. We recorded 13 songs and 12 are on the record."
You worked with Shep Goodman again as a producer, does he really know how to get the best out of you?
"Shep's a super talented guy and he really knows how to get the best out of me, I feel like he taught me how to write songs. He made our second and third record and you can hear the step up from our first in song writing ability. He really works well with us."
If you were only in the studio for two weeks, does that mean you didn't do many takes? Or you just knew exactly what you were doing with each song?
"We knew exactly what we were doing. We spent so much time on the songs over the years. It's not like we wrote lots of songs in that time, we really fine-tuned the ones we had. We left nothing to chance, we were meticulous this time."
Why have you decided to call the record Cult?
"The word 'Cult' is a name that's followed our band around for the last few years. The fans just started calling themselves that a while back and we wanted to pay homage of them with that. Also, a real theme for this album is legacy, in terms of my lyrics and how we feel about the band, so it's a good name to sum up the history of the band."
What effect did that have on the way you wrote lyrics?
"I thought a lot about the older generation. The people who are now in their 80s and 90s, the people who fought in World War II, the people who built these family businesses that our generation now relies on. That generation has a real legacy, they've got a great story, if I want a story like that, I need to put the work in, so I tried to."
Did you take inspiration from any direct examples in your own life?
"Absolutely. I lost my grandfather, my step father, my step brother in the space of four months and then I became a father, that can't help but affect how you see the world and make you think about legacy. I need to be comfortable with what I'll leave after me."
Those are huge events in anyone's life, do you think you can hear their effect in your lyrics on some of the tracks?
"For sure. I used to write a lot more about situations, funny things that would happen to me, but, after all this, my life has become much bigger than that. I can't write about fighting with my girlfriend anymore."
Did you take inspiration from anyone in particular?
"I've always been a big fan of Morrissey, but I never quite in the full scope of what he does for people. He really goes for it, he's preaching morality, he writes lyrics that change how people see the world, that's an amazing legacy. Writing a good break-up song is fine and there's a place for that, but if you could become a lyricist who makes people want to be better, that would be something to be really proud of."
Were you worried that you might come across as overly preachy?
"Definitely. I knew I had to do it anyway though. It's where I am in my life. I became a writer in this band by accident, our bass player used to write the lyrics, but after he left after our first record I had to write lyrics. The only way I could do it was to write journal entries and turn them into songs. It's how I know how to write, it's all I do."
So, after the record comes out, are you touring for the rest of the year?
"Oh yeah, and beyond. We're booked until well into 2015. We usually try to get to Europe once a year, but we'll be back there twice this year. We're doing a club tour in the UK with Alkaline Trio in April."
Is it going to be hard touring now you're a father?
"Of course, it's already hard, we've barely started and it's been difficult. But this is my job, it pays for my house and my daughter's clothes, I can't sit at home, it's how we work."
Finally, what were some of the albums that really influenced you during the making of the album? Any favourites?
"I loved the Chvrches record a lot, I thought the 1975 album was really good, Masked Intruder, this punk band, that was amazing. I like to pull influences and inspiration from all sorts of places, not just bands who sound a little like we do."
Bayside's new album Cult is released on Monday (February 17). You can check out their back catalogue in our download store here.