Photo courtesy of Baroness

An Intimate Evening with Baroness at Ace of Cups takes place on Tuesday, October 9. Tickets for the show are $60. Every attendee will also receive a free, limited-edition Your Baroness tour poster print, to be picked up at the merch booth the night of the show. Proof of Vaccination or a Negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours are required for entry into this event.

Though Baroness released Gold & Grey in June 2019 and had completed a European tour, the band never had a chance to promote the album in the States as the spring 2020 tour with Against Me, like every other tour last year, was canceled due to the ongoing pandemic. With vaccines now readily available and venues reopening, Baroness is taking a unique approach to closing out 2021 – they are touring coast-to-coast, doing two sets a night consisting of a fan-curated set and a band-curated set. Concert attendees have the opportunity to vote for the songs they want to hear in the fan-curated set, the band says nothing is off limits and will receive a unique-to-each-stop tour poster designed by Baroness singer/guitarist John Baizley.

The day before the first night of the tour, bassist Nick Jost, who joined Baroness in 2013, checked in from Philly where he and drummer Sebastian Thomson (both NYC residents) had met up with Baizley and guitarist Gina Gleason to get gear and merch packed and ready to go on a tour that will run through mid-December.

After a year-and-a-half with no shows, you finally were able to hit a stage recently when Baroness played Fest19 in Gainesville, Florida. How did that go?

It went really well. That’s a punk run, small operation and it’s awesome. Gainesville has a great community down there. We got to see our dudes in Torche, who are doing well, happy and healthy and sound fucking awesome. Sheer Mag played, which was super fun to meet those guys. It was awesome, it was outdoors, everybody was hanging, it felt great. It was hilarious how nervous everybody was. Seeing Torche play made me be like, “Oh, these guys are ruling. We can do that too!” It’s a smaller scale festival and is spread out over a city and it’s in different clubs, so it just felt great.

Because it was a festival, did you play an abbreviated set?

We had an hour which is actually kind of long for a festival because people can’t canceling. Eve 6 was supposed to play. Good for Eve 6. I know Hate5Six is about to work with them, which is hilarious as well. Somebody said, as a joke, “Have Eve 6 play” and then Eve 6 was like, “Yeah, we’ll do it.” And then they got booked. Their Twitter game is doing them a lot of favors right now, it seems. [Eve 6 pulled out of the festival at the last moment due to a positive Covid test within the band].

The idea behind this tour is pretty unique – playing one set made up of songs fans pick and then one set you put together. Is this something the band came up with? Was it management’s idea?

I think the idea was kind of sent to me. I hadn’t thought about that. We just immediately got on board with it. It’s been awesome for us to learn a bunch of songs that we pushed away, for whatever reason. It’s cool, everybody came back [from the pandemic] a little bit of a different player. We’re better at all the Red album stuff than we used to be. I think we broke some bad habits. It’s really cool to be able to do that. I’m excited that it’s going to be our room every night. We haven’t even done that in a while, especially in America. The closest thing we did was a co-headlining tour with Deafheaven two years ago.

So, everything from the Baroness catalog is game on this tour?

Yeah. It’s been awesome to have to learn all this stuff and gain an identity with us playing it. Some of these songs haven’t seen a stage for Baroness in a decade. It’s going to be awesome.

Have you all gotten together to run through the Baroness catalog? Or, are you doing it all at home, each of you brushing up on your own parts?

It’s both. We spent a lot of time working stuff out and gaining our band identity back. Not playing with people, it’s a totally different thing. One thing is practicing. One thing is playing in a basement with your buds. And another thing is playing on stage. The fact that we have mainly done just practicing, it definitely helps and is necessary but it’s a whole different skill to be able to play with another person. It’s the same with any human interaction. You can be a very eloquent writer but having a conversation with somebody is a totally different thing.

Did you guys see each other and spend any time together as a band in 2020?

Seb and I did. I would bike up to Green Point and we would play frisbee and stuff. Me and my wife came down [to Philadelphia] and stayed with John for a week around July 4. I live in a neighborhood called Flatbush, in Brooklyn, and there has always been fireworks and stuff. But, something was different about 2020, and I live on the 6th floor on the street and the hang was outside of my house. There was literally fireworks blowing up at my window from 11pm to 5am for two weeks straight. So we were like, “John, can we come stay at your house?” We would stay in the apartment for 7 to 9 days straight, leaving for groceries, but we don’t have a fucking yard. We’re just in there. We came down [to John’s] and were able to hang, saw Gina. We didn’t start getting together until we started working on what will be the new record in the fall. And then we really spent a lot of time together over the winter working on music.

You got an album out in 2019 and got to do some touring before things shut down. I know a number of artists who either put out albums in March or April of 2020 or had albums done that were scheduled to come out in 2020 but were pushed to 2021 since they couldn’t properly tour and promote a new release.

I think our timing worked out in an interesting way. We still haven’t really toured Gold & Grey in America. This will also be part of this tour for us, finally getting to play that on our own stage across the States.

You were supposed to tour with Against Me, right?

Yes. Damn. I had kind of forgotten about that and all the shit we had planned. That would have been sick. That would have been really cool to do that.

After this run of dates, will you pick back up in the new year and do more touring or will you put your head down and get back to work on a new album?

We’re in a pretty good spot with the next record. We’re going to be touring. We did a lot of work already. If you’ve followed us at all, it takes us a while to do things. I can’t say when that next album could be out but we’re still working on it and working on new stuff all the time. We had a good work flow, we would do every Friday, everybody had to have a new idea over 2020. We would hang every Friday on Zoom and talk about the stuff that people had sent and do the file sharing thing. It was like internet jamming for us.

Baroness’s sound tends to evolve from record to record. Is the stuff you’re working on now a dramatic shift in any certain direction or will people be like, “Yep, this sounds like Baroness”?

I like to think that our records have both. Through Purple and Gold & Grey, Gold & Grey was definitely a response to Purple. Purple was so direct, concise and Gold & Grey is the exact opposite. It’s expansive. It’s like some psychedelic nautical journey somehow. I think the things that came out of us ended up being a little bit more direct. And, it’s definitely heavier. A lot of the things that we ended up doing, they just have a different kind of heaviness than anything on Gold & Grey. We had full sessions with [Dave] Fridmann, who produced Gold & Grey and engineered and recorded it. On the second session, we went in with five ideas that we had never really played as a band and then had to write the second half of the album in two weeks and record it. It turned into a psychedelic journey because of that.

You mentioned doing a jazz thing during the pandemic. Do you ever secretly bring any of that stuff into Baroness and reinterpret it so it fits into the band’s sound?

I don’t know [laughs]. I think we all influence one another in some intangible way. How I try to present ideas to the band is something simple that will play to the strengths of the guitar players. I do open chord progressions that have a lead line in it. Then, we just play stuff ad nauseum. There’s a thing for the new record, an idea that I had, that I knew would be a good foundation for a chorus, we played it for like 8 hours a day for 3 days in a row and then it was something completely different at the other end of it. It turned into something cooler, something better. Doing that together turns into a group sound.

Columbus is the third date on this tour. Typically, when you tour, does it take a couple of shows to get into the groove?

I have no fucking idea [laughs]. Florida felt great. We’re all consummate professionals. We’re in really good shape as a band, playing together, personally and musically. I don’t think there’s going to be a week of figuring out what the hell we’re doing and trying to get our legs back. I think what’s going to be interesting, and what’s going to be fun to watch for us and for people that come to the shows, is that this is just us. We’re going to stretch a little bit. We’re going to take some chances and see how things land. I think people that bought tickets to these shows, they also understand that about us at this point. We’re capable of going off script when everything is feeling good so I think that’s going to be part of this.

Not like you guys aren’t fan friendly, but this tour seems really fan friendly and like it’ll be special for everyone who attends.

I love John’s art and the fact that there’s a different print for every night, I think that’s huge. It’s so cool. We got the first week’s worth of posters a couple of days ago and just opening up those boxes, I got really excited about that. They look so good. I plan on stealing one from every night!

I like to close interviews by asking people what their Ohio story is. So, what’s your Ohio story?

I had a great friend who moved to Columbus. I would stop and stay with her every time I’d make the trek from New York to St. Louis, which is where I’m from. I went on a little tour, just a trip to Nashville and back, and we ended up staying with my friend Brittany in German Village and Hurricane Sandy hit when we were out there. I ended up staying 4 days in Columbus with this band I was in. It was around Halloween and we went out to see a band that plays every Monday night – the Hoodoo Soul Band. We saw this fucking amazing band, I was blown away. I was like, “This is happening on a Monday night in Columbus, Ohio. What the hell?” I came back with a band I’m in called Wilder Maker and we played this little club that’s also a brewery …

Is it Brothers Drake?

Yes! The band that opened up for us happened to be this girl, Maddy, and her dad is the bass player in the Hoodoo Soul Band. It was like, “Oh my God!” And she was like, “They are playing tonight. Let’s go see them.” I was like, “Hell yeah! I want to go hang out with you and your dad!” It was great.