Baroness & Graveyard

MCD proudly presents…

Baroness & Graveyard

24th November 2024 The Academy, Dublin Doors: 6pm | 18+

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Grammy-award nominated heavy rock outfit Baroness mark their much-anticipated return with new album, STONE. Their sixth record overall and third released via Abraxan Hymns, STONE finds the Philadelphia-based quartet of John Baizley (guitars/vocals/illustration), Gina Gleason (guitars), Nick Jost (bass), and Sebastian Thomson (drums) streamlining the momentous multi-genre vocabulary of its critically-acclaimed predecessor Gold & Grey (2019). This is still very much Baroness—just refocused for efficiency and rethought as a consequence of stability. STONE’s most prominent tracks, “Last Word,” “Beneath the Rose,” “Shine,” and “Anodyne,” reflect thoughtfully, groove deeply, and refract tumult effortlessly. They, of course, rock.

“An important through line in Baroness is we don’t like to repeat ourselves,” says founding member John Baizley. “It’s all about the willingness to take risks. When I was younger, the whole point of music was to be different, to find fresh risks and exciting ideas to explore, and to follow your own impulses rather than play by the rules. That’s kind of goofy, but in practice, it works. It’s really sort of terrifying to be at the sixth record in your career and think that you’ll have to keep up with your history rather than continually invent. So, we doubled down on continuously inventing to see where it takes us. I think this record is a good reflection of that. STONE is a lot more alive, more direct.”

Baizley founded Baroness in Savannah, Georgia, in 2003. Local/regional punk-hardcore scenes harbored the group as they went from strength to strength. They signed to indie Relapse Records (Mastodon, Cave In) in early 2007, where they released three decorated records—Red Album (2007), Blue Record (2009), and Yellow & Green (2012)—before forming their own label Abraxan Hymns. On STONE, Baroness untangle from self-imposed complication. It’s back to basics but constructed with a lifetime of perspective and experience. To wit, acoustic opener “Embers” features Baizley and Gleason harmonizing to the lyric “Build me a home of ember and chain / Leave me a simple life.” This mantra carries through to the arcadian vibes of closer “Bloom.” If home is where the heart is, then Baroness is home.

“When I joined in 2017, I was just trying to find my place,” Gleason says. “This time, I felt like I could express a little more. I had a history with everybody in the band, so I was less scared of imposing. I incorporated more of my guitar playing, which, in a way, was like coming full circle to what I’ve done in the past. I think we were able to strip everything away on this record. We were unified in that, I think. So, we just jumped in and did our best. That felt really good. It was a really cool, empowering, creative experience.”

The origins of STONE go back to 2020. It is not a pandemic record, but the core of it was written during its darkest days. Anxiety, relief, and resolve are stitched deeply throughout. When the foursome was isolated in Pennsylvania and New York, turning stems of music into full-fledged songs felt insurmountable. Baroness toiled as the world roiled. Creativity fully flourished only when they escaped to an Airbnb in Barryville, a quaint hamlet on the New York/Pennsylvania border. The undulating “Beneath the Rose,” the energetic drive of “Anodyne,” the trad-metal burl of “Last Word,” and the dynamic introspection of “Shine” rushed out, as did the motorik of “Choir” and the emotional heft of “Magnolia.” STONE was a sort of catharsis, a turning of the page, a middle finger to the suffocating insincerity of expectation.

“Playing one idea for 13 hours a day, you lose yourself inside of the music,” Jost shares. “You have to follow where that headspace takes you and trust your mates. Extreme isolation enhances this state of mind and allows you to explore things unhindered. That process of exploration is a big part of this album.”

One of the main aspirations behind STONE was to take Baroness back to a DIY approach. Over the years, Baizley had become accustomed to, and talented at, engineering, recording, and mixing. Instead of taking the band to an actual studio, they transformed the Airbnb in Barryville into an impromptu recording space with its big, vaulted ceilings, hardwood floors, and brick/glass walls. While Baroness wrote STONE, Baizley recorded and pre-mixed it. In a way, each song on STONE has its own sonic treatment. After the group finished tracking drums, guitars, and bass, they took everything back to Baizley’s unfinished basement – where parts of Gold & Grey were also recorded—in Pennsylvania to put down the vocals and add other bells and whistles. STONE was then handed off to Grammy-nominated mix master Joe Barresi (Kyuss, Alice In Chains) for final mixing and polishing and Grammy-winning mastering guru Bob Ludwig (Led Zeppelin, Nirvana) at Gateway Mastering Studios.

“The recording process was completely self-contained,” Thomson explains. “Having just the four of us in a rented house in the mountains for a month resulted in not only a cohesive and authentic sound, but also an intense collective mentality.”

Conceptually, STONE eschews the color-based themes of its predecessors, but it’s just as personally weighty. Baizley’s initial ideas were negative and rayless. The right feel wasn’t right. To get out of his funk he took Baroness on the road again, playing in smaller, intimate venues on the ‘Your Baroness’ tour, which featured no opening acts and fan-curated setlists that reached nearly three hours in length and offered an extensive look at the band’s back-catalogue. He built the lyrical foundation for STONE on that tour. Indeed, freedom gave way to ideas of permanence, both literal and figurative. Sure, Baizley came face-to-face with death—and a distant relative, in fact—while strolling through a local cemetery, but he also realized that STONE means so much more, from struggle and support to perseverance and comfort.

“This record started off the loosest conceptually,” says Baizley. “It ended up feeling like it was different chapters in a short story. One thing I’ve learned about myself is that each album is always about the time between. That’s pretty broad, but it’s true. I tend to focus on the things that are confusing to me—and I’m confused by the things I find difficult. So, this album is sort of a reflection of my life. I’ve had some tough years, and I think I’ve found some semblance of calm now. I think I found that walking through Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia. Sure, there’s death, but there’s memory, too. I found that almost peaceful. There’s a song on Pink Floyd’s Animals where they use stone as a metaphor for a grave, but it’s presented in this almost polite, poetic way. That was definitely going through my mind.”

As Baroness edge into their 20th year, they’re finding new ways to engage internally. They’re more secure now than ever before, largely due to the lineup of Baizley, Gleason, Jost, and Thomson remaining intact through thick and thin. In that certainty, Baroness have found the will to innovate or iterate for their artistic pleasure. STONE is a monument. That it kicks ass helps, too.


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