This was the highlight of my Bumbershoot experience. I sat down with Allen Blickle (drummer) and Summer Welch (bassist) of sludge metal band, Baroness, in the Blue Lounge at the Experience Music Project in Seattle.
How do you feel about being one of the harder bands at Bumbershoot?
Allen: We are like the only hard band here.
Summer: Well, Anvil.
Allen: Oh yeah, Anvil’s playing tonight!
Summer: I always like being the odd man out at festivals. We’ve played a few festivals this year where we were the heaviest, harder rock band.
Allen: It’s cool to be asked to play this event, at something so different, being brought to these audiences.
You get billed as rock a lot, but many consider you metal, where do you feel you belong?
Allen: I think it’s cool we can get billed for metal and prog rock, rock, all across the board. It’s interesting we can play all these different venues and be totally different from the other bands. It’s more fun for us. It’s more interesting. We don’t get locked in with all the metal bands, always playing metal festivals which I think would be boring.
Do you listen to a lot of metal?
Allen: I don’t really listen to much metal personally. I listen to a lot of music.
Summer: We all have a pretty wide variety of interests and tastes.
Allen: I listen to a lot of electronic. I like Parisian production dance stuff. I listen to it for the production value more than just the music because I’m really interested in that. You get a lot of cool stuff out of it. It’s just weird sounds and things like that.
Summer: I’ve been listening to a lot of Radiohead recently. Every month changes.
What are your opinions about file sharing?
Summer: In this day and age everybody is doing it. There’s no real control over it. As a musician it kind of sucks because record sales and CD sales aren’t what they were ten years ago before the internet. But the same time the internet has killed that, it has allowed so many more people to find out about bands.
Allen: At our level there are people coming out to the show that maybe didn’t buy the record but heard it online that still want to pay for the show.
Summer: It’s kind of a necessary evil at this point. It’s hard to say I hate it or love it. It is what it is.
What’s in your musical future?
Allen: We have a festival on Thursday in Portland. Then we have a month off and then we got to Australia to tour with Metallica for two months. Then we’ll be writing an album after that.
Summer: We’ll have six to eight months off to write a new album.
Any plans for the new album?
Summer: When we started we were 19, 20 years old and everybody was little more aggro and the music represented where we were in our lives at that point. As individuals, as a band, we’ve grown, been exposed to so much more music and toured all over the place. It’s only natural it changes and involves into something else. I think I speak for everyone in that I don’t want to be playing the same style or format over and over again. I think that gets boring.
Will there be a style change for the new album?
Allen: I think so. The next album is going to be different than the last one.
Summer. Yeah, definitely. There’s this core that will always be there but we’re always trying to incorporate new aspects of the music that we feel pertain to where we are at that point in life. We draw influence from everything. The only rule we’ve ever had is that there are no rules to what we draw influence from and what we do. As long as we like it and it sounds cool, that’s really all that matters. That it evokes an emotion, a feeling in us.
What would you say that “core” is?
Allen: The music I grew up listening to, what I thought had musical value. You get that at an early age and I think you keep that core and it expands from there as a road. Rock music would be our core.
Summer: Yeah, punk rock and just hard driven rock and roll. That’s what brought us together when we were 15 and 16. We’ve known each other forever. We’ve been playing music literally since we were teenagers. That’s the core, the glue that holds us together.
How did Baroness form?
Summer: When we started Baroness in 2003, Allen lived in Virginia and John and I lived in Savannah with our original guitar player. The first couple years we were in college we all worked full time jobs, so touring was whenever we had a break. Even if we didn’t have a break we would turn a weekend into four days. We sacrificed a lot but at that point it was all so fresh and none of us knew what we were doing. We just were, “This is awesome!” We got in a band and just went for it. At that point we booked all of our own shows.
Allen: It was a complete learning experience. Trial and error. We all just worked together.
What’s your favorite show kind of show?
Allen: We’ve been on so many support tours lately, big tours, even with Metallica, it’s going to be even bigger than what we’ve done before. We haven’t done a headlining tour in about a year and I miss that. Those are all our fans. There’s always a great vibe to them because they just want to hear you instead of opening for Deftones where nobody knows who you are.
Any bands you want to open for you?
Allen: It’s funny you ask that because a year ago I remember Jeff the Brotherhood and they just played here today, but I missed it.
Summer: Yeah, I remember you talking about that!
Allen: I don’t know. It’s always difficult to find a band to bring out with us.
Do you find bands that you like as people and not just for their music?
Summer: Out of all the bands we’ve toured with over the years, I can’t think of one that as people were unbearable. There’s always one or two dudes you don’t get along with though.
Allen: It doesn’t even matter about their music, whether you like it or not. If they’re just cool people it makes the experience that much better.
Do you have any fan annoyances?
Summer: We have a term called “The Punisher.” We don’t get this too often, but we played a show at Bonnaroo and our sound guy had an instance where he went up to somebody famous and shined a light in their face and called them out. So we’re like, “Dude, you punished him.” It’s just when there’s been some fan that comes up and just goes further than expressing their gratitude and that they enjoy your music. That’s awesome, you know, but it’s hard to tell someone to piss off because the people out there are the reason we’re able to do this.
Allen: We’re fans of other bands as well and just being down to earth people that really just want to hang out with other people, we don’t walk to talk about the band. Maybe for a minute like, “Hey, it’s cool you like my band,” but other than that let’s talk about whatever. If they keep doing it for like a half hour, an hour…
Summer: …It’s like alright dude, I get it.
What your favorite concert you’ve been a spectator at?
Summer: The Jesus Lizard. That was really amazing. We went and saw Rush at Red Rocks in Colorado.
Allen: It was a real concert.
Summer: A real concert. A rock concert.
Allen: It’s tough. We play so many shows we get burnt out on tour.
Summer: The first time I saw Slayer was pretty intense. I saw them five years ago for the first time and I didn’t really expect much. But love ’em or hate ’em, they just destroy everything. It was impressive to see a bunch of old dudes doing what they do.
What makes a good show?
Allen: A lot of variables. It’s all about having a good crowd. A positive vibe.
Summer: I think that’s the most important because you can have a crappy venue with bad sound and a rude staff.
Allen: Everything could go wrong.
Summer: But as long as the crowd there is excited, then that excites you.
Let’s just hope Monday night’s crowd fit the bill. Thank you, Baroness!