A Minute with Bayside

HM's Managing Editor Collin Simula talks to Bayside vocalist Anthony Raneiri, on tour celebrating the band's 15th anniversary -- and they're sick of a few things


It’s your 15th anniversary as a band. How does that feel? You don’t come by many bands with that kind of longevity.
Part of this 15th anniversary is celebrating all year. We spent a lot of time digging through old stuff to post. Or a lot of it is just reposting old videos and stuff from YouTube. But most of it’s from the archives. We’ve all been going through old stuff to post. Or a lot of it is just reposting old videos and stuff from YouTube. But most of it’s from the archives. We’ve all been going through boxes and boxes of memorabilia at our houses and scanning stuff in. We released a tour history of every show we’ve ever played — the city, the date, the venue, even the other bands we played with if we could get that information — all the way back to the beginning. It was pretty hard to do, considering a lot of those early shows were at V.F.W. Halls and places like that.

After we’ve posted things on Facebook, we’ve been putting them into a time capsule section on our website. By the time this year is done, it will all be there.

But to answer your question: it’s awesome. It’s so cool to be able to go through all this old stuff. We’ve been very lucky in the sense that not only have we existed this long, but we’ve been getting bigger in the process, always progressing. We think we’re getting better as a band, the shows are getting bigger, the records are doing better. And that’s unheard of for a band 15 years in. It’s awesome to see it growing.

So it’s been really fun to go back through this old stuff because we haven’t taken any time to do that because we’re constantly pushing forward. We’ve never really reached that stage where we felt like we needed to live in the past or felt like we needed to do something for the tenth anniversary of our most popular record — because we’re still making our most popular records.

You’re right. You never really see that anymore, especially in the underground punk scene, where a band can be 15 years old with six full-lengths and still be besting themselves. Most bands that age have broken up already and are getting back together to play one-off shows. It’s a remarkable thing for you to have made it this far.
That was always our goal when we started this band. We never thought we’d hit this point where we’d “arrive,” and we still don’t feel like we have yet. We’re always progressing. We’ve never put out a record or did a tour and said, “This is the one.” Even when we put out our first proper record, it still wasn’t like, “Okay, we have a record deal. Finally. And this is our record. This is real now.” It was always, “This is the first of a lot records. This isn’t the record. It’s just the first.” That was always how we set out to do this.

We’ve been very lucky in the sense that not only have we existed this long, but we’ve been getting bigger in the process, always progressing.

With the release of Cult, you said you guys felt it was the quintessential Bayside record because it was the culmination of all your records. And at 15, Bayside has potentially had two full generations of fans. Do you see Cult as a reintroduction to the band for some of these newer, younger fans? Does it feel like a stake in the ground?
Well, no. Because we’ve never set a stake in the ground. I love Cult. With every record, we step up our game and get better at what we do — but it’s always just the next Bayside record. Give us a couple years and we’ll give you another one. And give us a couple more years and we’ll give you another one after that.

We didn’t set out to make a record that was a culmination of all of our records. We decided to name it that after we finished it. We listened to and realized it had characteristics of every record we had ever done. It kind of ties the whole record together.
Titling a record is important to give people a sense of what they’re looking for. You know? We wanted them to enjoy it the way we intended it to be enjoyed.

But as far as our career goes, like I said, we don’t have landmarks. Everything is just the next step. Nobody knows where it’s leading, but everything is just that next step.

Do you attribute that ideal to being a working band, focusing on each moment as it happens?
Absolutely. There are bands from our scene who’ve really made it. Paramore. My Chemical Romance. Fall Out Boy. Those bands had a “moment.” Granted, they are all still important bands; I don’t mean to say they had their moment and it’s passed and that’s it. But they did their indie or D.I.Y. stuff, the stuff they were developing on. When Paramore made Riot, when Fall Out Boy made From Under the Cork Tree and when My Chemical Romance made Three Cheers…, that was their moment. They had all just signed to major labels. Everyone was going to be watching. They had to make a record knowing it was their chance to be on the radio or TV. And they pulled it off, knowing the world was going to be looking at them.

A lot of other bands in our scene have had that opportunity, and — in general, knowing everyone would be watching them — and their moment has caused them to fail. They make the record they think they are supposed to make, instead of making the next Paramore record or the next My Chemical Romance record. It causes them to think they’re supposed to do something.

Right, that turning point where they forget they need to write music to write music, to please themselves first, and instead end up writing one to impress someone. That’s the point, where the heart of it shifts. And sometimes it’s good. But most of the time, it’s not good.
But it doesn’t have to shift. For a lot of bands, it’s a very real thing that’s happening. This door just opened, you have everyone’s attention. Now — how do you walk through it? And those bands I mentioned, they pulled it off because they stayed true to what they were and made the best record of their career up to that point.

But a lot of bands take that opportunity to say, “Now that I have the chance to be on the radio, I need to write something that sounds like it needs to be on the radio,” or, “I have the chance to be on TV, so I need to look a certain way,” or, “Now that I’m on a major label, I need to write the kind of record that the label is going to like.” That’s exactly the wrong point of view. You got to the point you did by doing what you do.

We’ve always just ignored that. Our self-titled record was sort of a breakout moment for us, so when we made Walking Wounded we had a bit more attention — we played on Conan O’Brien, we were in Rolling Stone, we were in SPIN. But we still just made the next Bayside record. And the record after that was still just the next Bayside record. We’ve never paid attention to what was going  on outside of making our music.
So yes, we absolutely attribute our longevity to that mentality. The train just keeps moving, and you don’t worry about the people who’ve gotten off.

You’re just concerned with impressing yourselves, but not in a selfish way. It’s the Bayside train; you’re on or you’re off.
We only try and top ourselves. We don’t care about making a record for those who’ve jumped off the train. We want to make a record that’s better than the last one, in our own opinions, and one that’s going to make the people on the train happy.

Talk to me about Cult: White Edition, that recently came out.
We did a couple of extra songs when we were writing the record. One of them we recorded in the Cult sessions but didn’t quite fit, so we left it off. Another song, “Transitive Property,” was originally written on piano and acoustic guitar; it was meant to be a real ballad. But we thought it was cool when we started adding drums and heavier guitars to it to make it a more Bayside version of a ballad. We ended up doing a version of that song for the re-release that was more like where it started, to show people the original intentions of that song, piano, strings and stuff like that.
We also did a Blondie cover, one I’ve been wanting to cover forever: “Call Me.” I think we did a really cool version of it.

There’s one brand new song we wrote specifically for this. It’s called “Dancing Like an Idiot.” It’s our “call out” song. We’re older guys, and most of our friends are older guys. We’ve been a band for a long time — we’ve seen a lot of trends come and go. We’ve seen a lot of bands — good and bad — come and go. And what you hear now from older guys is that these younger bands don’t get it. And we hear the kids don’t get it. On a daily basis I hear things like, “The movie Idiocracy is coming true,” or, “This is why the aliens don’t come visit us.” Sh-t like that.

When you’re an older guy, that’s a big topic of discussion, especially in the music business. We were on Warped Tour last summer. It’s hard being a 32-year-old in a 15-year-old band doing your sixth or seventh Warped Tour or whatever it is to not notice how the music has changed, how the bands have changed and how the kids have changed. The world has changed.

But that song isn’t about that. It’s about why they’re like that. It’s basically calling out the bands or any other public figures — anyone who’s a role model that people are looking up to — about how they should take responsibility before damning the youth today.

You can’t be in a band who gets up on stage and does nothing but curse and tell the crowd to form a circle pit or wall of death and have that be your message. You can’t stand up there on stage being misogynistic and make all of your money selling shirts with misogynistic messages on them and then turn around and get off stage and talk about how stupid kids are these days and how you’re afraid for our future. It’s your fault that they’re stupid. You should challenge them, make them better, you know? That’s where that song comes from.

That’s so valid. People listen to you. You are responsible in a way. You recently had a child. Did you see a change in yourself in regard to that responsibility?
I mean, it definitely took me higher into that, but I’ve always felt that way. Since I was a kid, I grew up loving the Smiths and loving Nirvana and hating Guns ’n’ Roses. I’ve always felt that way. I’ve always felt the people who were up there telling you being rude or being mean or being a sexist or homophobe or womanizer — the people telling you it’s cool as opposed to thinking that stuff sucks and challenging you, not caring if you think their band sucks because they are challenging you — thats always who I’ve looked up to. It’s always who I’ve wanted to be.

I do think having a kid definitely made me start thinking more along those lines. But just getting older… Like I said, it was being on Warped Tour last year, looking around at all of the bands and all of the kids and all that, and then being backstage and hearing the conversations amongst bands. Things like, “Can you believe the things kids are wearing now? Girls are wearing pants with their asses hanging out. Can you believe that’s a trend now?” And I’m like, “Well then tell them not to.” You know? You’re going to get on stage in front of 4,000 kids you think are going to down the wrong road. And instead of telling them you think they’re going down the wrong road, you’re going to say, “Suck my fck.” You’re going to say something stupid. You’re going to tell them to do a wall of death. It’s your fault.

And going back to earlier in our conversation, that’s where you find that fine line between impressing people at the expense of you being responsible for the very thing you’re upset about.
Exactly. And that’s what that song is about. It’s about being upset at the idea of contributing to the very thing you’re upset about. That’s not to say we’re a political band or something like that. Some things are opinions and some things are just for the good of the world. I don’t push my politics on people, because it’s just my opinion. I don’t think the world is going down the toilet just because young kids don’t see things like I do. I think the world is going down the toilet if you’re encouraging guys to treat girls badly. You know? That’s the problem.

In response to you saying you’re not a political band, a portion of the proceeds of the Cult: White Edition sales are going to the Human Rights Campaign whose biggest focus is on the LGBTQ community. Is that something you guys are passionate about as a band, using your position to be responsible in that area?
Oh yeah. One-hundred percent. I’m putting my money where my mouth is. We have a platform, and we need to do something good with it. Now that doesn’t mean I need to get on stage and preach about it. You know what I mean? Because that’s not what everyone might be there for. So it’s a fine line between being responsible, doing the right thing — but you don’t need to be a Jehovah’s Witness about anything.

It’s one thing to get up there and preach a bunch of opinions, but you’re putting actual money toward making actual change.
I don’t have a problem with people getting on stage and preaching their opinions because that’s their prerogative and their passion. My problem is about the people who have fcking nothing to say. They’re the one’s writing ‘fck’ on a shirt and selling it because they know people are stupid enough to buy it. Instead of taking advantage of that, why don’t you tell people that shirts that say fck across them are stupid? Why not tell them it’s not cool to buy a shirt that’s going to piss off your mother?

There’s a responsibility that doesn’t necessarily have to come with preachiness, but there’s certainly responsibility, at least not to make it worse. You don’t have to fix it. I’m not saying I’m fixing it. I’m just not going to add to it because I don’t want that on my conscience.

Bayside was posted on March 10, 2015 for HM Magazine and authored by .