Perhaps more than any other band at Bumbershoot this year, Savannah, Ga.’s boundary-pushing metal act Baroness finds itself in transition. After the band’s tour bus skidded off the road near Bath, England, last year, nine members of the group and its crew were injured, several seriously, and the band spent nearly a year recuperating. Singer/guitarist John Baizley, whose arm required titanium plates, 20 screws, and a foot and a half of wire to rebuild, talks about the decision to reconvene.
It can’t be a stretch to call the bus crash a turning point for Baroness, correct? A turning point not just for the band, but for everybody involved. It was the kind of experience that creates both an ending and a beginning chapter in your life. We’ve got Baroness before August 15, and you’ve got Baroness after August 15.
Do you think your resiliency comes at all from the struggles most young rock bands encounter on their way to success? There aren’t a lot of overnight sensations or reality-TV contest winners in metal. We certainly learned over the course of 10 years of nonstop touring how to handle the ups and downs and the blows dealt. While what we went through came with a very severe amount of pain and trauma, we just have to accept that unpleasant things are going to happen in our lives. We are the type of people that define ourselves by the way we get through them. The things that some people might use as an excuse to wallow in pain or frustration or self-pity are the very things that we have to use to slingshot ourselves forward.
Did any other bands that had dealt with a similar experience reach out with words of wisdom? I’m thinking specifically of Lamb of God or Metallica, with whom you share management. We were going through recovery while Randy [Blythe from Lamb of God] was in prison, and he’s a friend of ours. A lot of other musicians from a lot of other bands, they all called, they all wrote e-mails, they all got in touch. As a musician, you’ve got four or five things that you hope don’t happen, like a bus crash or an airplane crash. Every touring musician thinks about it. Everybody else who’s a part of it welcomed us to that bizarre club that you don’t really want to be in. And that helped us.
Was it hard to get back onto a tour bus? It’s been OK. Pete [Adams] and I have had to tell the story so many times that I think we’ve come to terms with it. And while it’s not my favorite thing to be doing crash-related press all the time, it’s highly therapeutic, and it’s allowed me to circumnavigate the waters of weirdness and anxiety in an interesting and probably more efficient way than someone who’s not constantly forced to remind themselves what happened.
Baroness plays Monday at 5:15 p.m. on the Fountain Lawn Stage.