Baroness has been busy. Okay, maybe they took a one-year break from relentless touring, but fans have been paid back in full with a Baroness double album, Yellow & Green. Once again, Baroness confounds critics who attempt to place the Savannah, Ga., band into a easily, identifiable category. Bassist Matt Maggioni, the newest addition to Baroness’ lineup, prefers it that way. For them, their music is defined by hard work, challenge and most importantly, progress.
We reached the Baroness, through a maze of long distance calls, as they traveled through Holland to its next show in France. Also from Georgia, Maggioni might be a new addition to the group, but he couldn’t me more excited. When asked how it felt to be on the road, he simply answered: “we’ve been having a fucking blast.”
How has the European tour been going?
Matt Maggioni: Pretty good. We’re right in the middle of Holland right now. We played Roskilde [Festival] yesterday, which was fucking killer. We’re on our way to France tomorrow. We got a ridiculous looking bus. We found this German guy who owns his own bus and drives it around. It’s got leopard and giraffe print, a weird Jesus clock and owl doors everywhere. It all comes with just crazy ephemera. The bathroom is neon pink with blue starts all over it. It’s incredible. Probably the craziest vehicle I’ve ever been in.
So crazy bus aside, all the shows have been going well?
Maggioni: Oh yeah. We’ve only played a couple shows We played the Tuska Open Air Festival in Helsinki, then we played a headlining set in Gothenburg and Stockholm, and then played Roskilde yesterday. We’ve been having great crowds and great receptions. It’s been really fun for us to have such a passionate crowd and for people to be so into it. It helps set the mood for us to be really into it as well. We’ve got some loyal fans who come out and make new ones along the way.
I know this Yellow & Green doesn’t release until July 17, have you been sneaking some new songs into your sets?
Maggioni: Totally. We did a tour around the U.S. with Meshuggah earlier in the year. We were playing two songs off the record, so we’re slowing bring new Baroness stuff into the fold. Right now were up to about five or six news songs and by the end of the tour, we’ll be playing a lot of the new ones. Hopefully we’ll be back on the road again in the fall and touring the United States pretty hard with the new stuff. It’s really crazy to have a record that’s not even out yet and to have people sing along with the words. That’s a new one for me. But people seem to really be into, and they’re doing their homework. We’re totally stoked on it, it’s great.
Baroness was born out of the Savannah music scene in Georgia. Can you describe what that music scene is like?
Maggioni: It’s real tight-knit. We’re friends with everybody. We’ve grown up with a lot of them. When I was coming up in the music scene, I started playing in bands when I was 14 there. A lot of older bands showed us the way. Taught us about touring, recording and doing all that stuff. It’s like a family. We hooked up with Black Tusk the other day at Orion fest, and it was great seeing those dudes. We just partied and watched Metallica play all kinds of stuff. It was great.
What I’ve always admired about Baroness, is your ability to defy any label that someone might try to force your music into. Some might say progressive metal but some of these acoustic numbers off of Yellow & Green would suggest otherwise. When people ask you to describe Baroness, what do you say?
Maggioni: At the end of the day we’re just trying to write music that we like, and that we find contains the passion we have for playing music. We try to come at it with our whole hearts and that sort of thing. So whatever comes out is what comes out. As to what genre to put it in, that’s a good question and a hard one to answer. It’s rock ‘n’ roll with some psychedelic influences. I don’t know, man. It’s just good shit that we like. We don’t want to censor ourselves in any way. So during the writing process we just want to experiment and see what we come up with. We obviously have an editing process that goes with it. We don’t release everything that we make, but what comes out comes out. Experimentation is important when making an album. If you’re not engaging in that aspect, it’s not really being creative necessarily. It’s at the core of the creative process, I suppose.
Yellow & Green is just so different when compared to previous Baroness material, especially your older stuff. Was there some different thinking that went into this album?
Maggioni: I think that the case is such with all the records, that we come to the table trying write music that we’re passionate about. It’s been the case that each record has been a progression from the last one. If you’re going to be in any creative industry, whether it be music or fine art or whatever, the idea of maintaining the status quo is disingenuous to the creative process. Not that we necessarily set out to flip the script or anything like that, but there’s definitely an idea that we want to progress musically and creatively and emotionally.
Where there any challenges in the studio?
Maggioni: It’s always a constant challenge. Every time you change and move forward you put yourself out on a limb. The challenge can be how to change gears and still be different. Production is different even though we’re still working with John Congleton. The atmosphere can be different. It’s all those things. So it’s definitely a challenge, but it’s been a wonderful, pleasant challenge. So it is a challenge but one worth endeavoring to get through.
Yellow & Green as the title suggests is a double album. How did the idea to split up the album develop?
Maggioni: What is was that we decided to take a year off to be with our families and not tour so much, so we were in the writing process and experimenting as we do. We were getting the ideas out there and putting them on the table and it just developed into a lot of material. There was actually more material than was on the record. We edited it and decided we had enough material to make it a double. Why wait to put out two albums when it’s really just a single entity?
You mention that these two albums are a single entity, but there is a clear division between the first nine songs and the last nine songs. Are the differences between the two albums?
Maggioni: We tried to organize them in some kind of way. I wouldn’t say they’re totally different, but there’s a little bit of different mood in both of them, just slightly. We just put them together in ways they seemed to flow together well. Maybe with having the two records, you don’t have to necessarily listen to it all at once. It’s a nice breaking point.
Many have cited Yellow & Green as a bridge between what Baroness was and what they will become. What do you think is in store for Baroness in the future?
Maggioni: We’re all trying play music and having fun with it, and to keep moving forward musically and to keep being creative. We don’t know what’s to come, we’re just going to take it day by day.