A musician’s life is a landscape filled with cheap, flashy distractions – is it possible to suffer through self-examination and actually find the benefits of it? Bayside don’t claim to have it any worse than anyone else; but they are conscious of their hardships and sins and the struggle for redemption. Working within lush sonic landscapes, the band makes documenting faithlessness seem like an exercise in beauty, with rich vocals soaring over rock-solid arrangements spiked with truly imaginative guitar solos. While Bayside’s Victory Records debut, “Sirens and Condolences” resided in the territory of bleak hopelessness and helpless fury, in their new self-titled album, rays of hope shine through. When Raneri sings, “I hate myself more than I ever let on, I’m burned out at 22,” on “Tortures Of The Damned,” the world is a dark place, but by the chorus he sings, “I’ve made mistakes but I’ll find my way,” revealing strength and resolve missing from their previous recordings.
Bayside formed in Long Island, NY during the winter of 2000, developing their own style based on soaring vocals, powerful guitar work and brooding lyrics from influences as diverse as The Smiths, the Smoking Popes, and Nirvana, to the Cure, Stevie Wonder and Nick Drake. The band began to tour, establishing an early fan base and drawing the attention of various tastemakers, ultimately contributing to several high profile compilations. The exposure brought Bayside to the attention of Victory Records, and in the fall of 2003 the band began recording their debut album, “Sirens and Condolences”, with producer J. Robbins of Jawbox. The release of the album drew praise from magazines like Teen People, Alternative Press and Guitar World, who called Bayside “Angular but melodic emo, with two well-arranged guitars and off-kilter vocal melodies.”
While preparing for the release of “Sirens and Condolences” Bayside wanted to find a way to connect with fans directly, so they started a “cult”, utilizing Friendster and Myspace as well as the Baysideisacult.com website to spread the word. They were one of the earliest bands to connect with Myspace, and to date they have 32,000 friends, with 300 coming in every day. Fans demonstrate their loyalty with Bayside tattoos, homemade Bayside razor blade necklaces and long road trips to their shows. Since the release of their debut, Bayside’s fan base continues to grow; with 40,000 albums sold and almost 400,000 downloads of their music.
The road was a constant for the band in the next year: during that time bassist Nick Ghanbarian and drummer John “Beatz” Holohan joined the line-up and their contributions solidified an already cohesive band into something more like a family. Both musicians are extremely accomplished: Ghanbarian was an original member of The Movielife and Silent Majority, while Holohan performed with various NYC-based bands and solo artists. He attributes his style to time spent sampling with hip hop legends Big Daddy Kane and Lil Daddy Shane.
By fall of 2004, the band was ready to take it to the next level and began planning their new album. Singer/guitarist/lyricist Anthony remembers, “We made a really conscious decision to work with producers that no one else in our scene were using – it seems like the same ten producers are doing all the albums and it shows. We found Shep and Kenny, who are well known for their work with acts like Mandy Moore, Aaron Carter, Leanne Womack and Paulina Rubio; while it’s a huge departure from that world, after meeting with them we felt that they understood what we were looking for.” Alan Douches mastered the album at his famous West West Side Studios.
Bayside hit the studio with an arsenal of songs that ran the gamut from relationship drama in “Existing In A Crisis” and “Devotion and Desire” to the sharp dressing down of sideline hecklers in “Half A Life”. “Montauk” was inspired by the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, using imagery that evokes winter on Long Island and the weight of emotional baggage. “They Looked Like Strong Hands” is a naked examination of a faulty soul. Guitarist Jack 0’Shea is on fire on the entire album, but surpasses himself with wickedly inventive solos on “Half A Life” and “Devotion and Desire” among others.
The band elected to self-title the album in part due to the contributions of Ghanbarian and Holohan. “Nick and John are two of the best musicians I have ever played with, we named the album “Bayside” because with them in the band, we are one unit and we wanted to reflect that,” Anthony said. With a new album of luminous, beautifully arranged songs at the ready, the band will turn back to touring – with Vendetta Red through August 2005 before heading out with label mates Hawthorne Heights and Silverstein in the fall. Bayside’s emotional intensity, lyrical honesty and solid musicianship coalesced on this remarkable new album.