It’s not easy to keep an independent rock band alive for nearly 20 years. It’s akin to an act of survival. That’s literally so for Baroness, which features one lone original member, John Baizley. While touring England in 2012, the metal band’s bus flew off a viaduct near Bath and plunged 40 feet. Remarkably, there were no fatalities. However, the injuries were severe.
Baizley, Baroness’s vocalist-guitarist, suffered a broken left arm and left leg. Bassist Matt Maggioni and drummer Allen Blickle each fractured vertebrae. The rhythm section never returned to Baroness. “I was fully conscious during the experience,” Baizley recalled. “I had enough time to fully consider what was happening, and I made my peace. I knew that we were likely to die.
“We dropped 40 feet off of a cliff. We were airborne over the tops of pine trees. It’s incredible that nobody died. We lost control for two and a half miles. The brake system and the emergency brake all failed. It was a near-death experience that completely destroyed my body. My left arm was broken in 17 places. It took three days to convince the doctors in the hospital not to amputate it.”
Baizley and guitarist Peter Adams, who sustained minor injuries, returned to Baroness. However, Adams left the band in 2017. “I feel a sense of gratitude to the people who have joined the band to keep this alive,” Baisley said while calling from his Philadelphia home. “I’m still friendly with everyone who was ever in Baroness. I never lost sight of what was good about this band.”
Baroness, which will perform Wednesday at Lucky You Lounge, can be filed under alternative metal since the band combines the power of metal and the wit and melody of post-punk. “It’s not one genre that influenced me while growing up,” Baizley said. “Look at bands like Slayer and Metallica and all that influenced them.”
Metallica vocalist-guitarist James Hetfield called Baisley after his bus accident. Metallica’s tour bus crashed in Sweden in 1986, killing bassist Cliff Burton. “When you’re at the bottom of your own barrel and somebody calls you with a shared experience, well, it saved that day for me,” Baizley said. Music also saved Baizley. “The next couple of records we made were about that accident in some form or other,” Baizley said. “I couldn’t help but write songs from that experience.”
“Purple” was one of the finest albums released in 2015. Hurt and healing are all over the urgent and gritty songs. “Shock Me,” “Kerosene” and “If I Have to Wake Up (Would You Stop the Rain?)” are powerful and poignant. “Energy was harnessed, and that album was made,” Baizley said. Baizley has used color to convey his feelings with each album.
Baroness’ 2007 debut is the “Red Album.” “The Blue Record” followed in 2009. “Yellow & Green” dropped in 2012. “Gold & Grey” was released in 2019. “Colors for me have always been an easy way to connect the two very important aspects of my life, which is music and the visual side of things,” Baizley said. “What I do with colors is kind of similar to what Led Zeppelin did with numbers.” Led Zeppelin’s first four albums are numeric, from one to four.
Baroness, which also includes guitarist Gina Gleason, bassist Nick Jost and drummer Sebastian Thomson, is finishing up its latest album, which is complete with the exception of vocals. Forty songs were written, but it’s unknown if the new songs will be previewed. “We’ll see how things go since we start our tour tomorrow,” Baizley said. “Hopefully, we’ll hit our stride by the time we play Spokane.”
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