Vacancy is one of Bayside’s best releases in years, and that’s saying a lot as their seven-album discography is filled with hits and every distinctive album gives fans a reason to love each one individually.
We caught up with Bayside vocalist/guitarist, Anthony Raneri to talk about the story of Vacancy and how it was written during one of the most difficult periods of his life in a secluded motel in Tennessee.
“About two years ago or so I moved out of New York to Tennessee. I was kind of only supposed to be here for a few months, but I wound up sort of getting stuck here. I’ve been here for years now and I’ll probably be here for years more. I was going through a pretty tough time with having my life taken away from me, as far as any decision making, my life was being decided for me. I was just trying to make the best of it and having a hard time doing that. The record is really about in a way being stranded in a place where I didn’t really know anybody, I didn’t really know where anything was or what I was supposed to be doing and just trying to find a new home really” Anthony explains.
Anthony found sharing the album with friends and family extremely difficult as the lyrics in Vacancy were so personal, based on true events and inspired by such dark emotions. However, Anthony believes playing the songs live is a different experience.
“There’s something about playing songs live where there’s always a disconnect for me as far as where the songs came from emotionally when I wrote them. A lot of the songs we play live now are 10 or 12-year old break up songs, and when I play those songs I don’t think about the person I wrote them about 12 years ago. When we’re on stage it’s more about the connection between the audience and me, I’m not really in my head that way standing on stage exploring emotions in my head. It’s more about having fun and connecting with the audience.”
Bayside – Pretty Vacant – Vacancy
“There are a lot of people who have read the interviews about the record and know in detail what it’s about and they have gone through or are going through exactly the same thing. Then there are people who kind of just feel like strangers wherever they are. I think that a lot of people can relate to that” Anthony says.
Vacancy is an album you can listen to from start to finish all the through without skipping a song. The band has started playing songs live but finding the perfect set list is always a challenge.
“We just finished up the US tour that was about 6 weeks long. Usually what we do is we decided how many a night we want to play on that tour. We were just rotating them in and out, finding what was sticking and paying attention to what the fans were asking for. Seeing what was going over well and what people wanted to hear. That’s what it’s been since the record came out, switching things in and out and figuring out what works. It’s funny because when you make a record you have a different emotional attachment to it than other people. So we know what our favourite songs on the record are but it’s not up to us what the highlights of the record are, we have to wait and see what other people decide. I really like playing ‘Mary’ a lot and ‘I’ve Been Dead All Day’. That one [I’ve Been Dead All Day] is one of the real big standouts with the fans it seems that will be a staple in the set for a long time.”
Bayside – I’ve Been Dead All Day – Vacancy
Bayside recently released an acoustic addition to the full album Vacany, featuring an acoustic rendition of the song ‘The Ghost’ with Chris Conley from scene favourites Saves The Day. This pairing is an amazing crossover for fans of the genre.
“That’s actually how I wrote the song, I was on a solo tour last summer and I was in a hotel room in Dallas, by myself with my guitar, watching TV. I wrote that song on an acoustic guitar in the hotel in the way that the acoustic version is. Then when I took it to the band we had about 3 or 4 different versions of it and tried to decide how it should live on the record. We decided on the version that made the record obviously. But I thought it would be really cool for the way it was originally written to see the light of day. So I recorded that and Chris just happened to be in town the day I was going in to do it. I called him and we just jammed all night, we hung out, drank wine and we sort of came up with more ideas to add on to that [The Ghost].”
Bayside – The Ghost (Full Band Version) – Vacancy
Bayside perform amazing acoustic renditions of their songs. Successfully enough that they’ll be touring the US to do a special acoustic tour at the end of this year. Anthony is no stranger to performing acoustically.
“I grew up in New York City in an apartment building and it wasn’t always that easy to play with a full band. I’ve had neighbors, shared walls, it was hard to be able to play with an amp even, yet alone a full band with drums. I think I just got really used to writing songs on acoustic guitar and I’d say 90% of Bayside songs are written on acoustic guitar and later adapted to be rock songs. They’re almost never written as rock songs, later on, they get transposed. Now I’m not tied to that anymore, I don’t have to write that way anymore, I’m a lot more active with studios and stuff like that. However, I learned that, if a song is good with one acoustic guitar and one vocal then it’s a really good song. You can’t hide behind distortion you can’t hide behind technical things, production and extra background vocals. It really keeps me honest in the sense that if I write everything on acoustic guitar I can’t do any tricks, I can’t hide behind anything. It has to be a good chord progression with a good melody over it and good lyrics or it’s not going to stand out” Anthony explains.
Anthony brings a unique set of vocals to Bayside, making the band have a distinctive sound filled with unmatched melodies and brutally honest lyrics complemented by a lead guitar shadowing him every step of the way. Although to the average listener Anthony may sound like a perfect fit for the band, however, he wasn’t always as confident as he is now.
“I mean I never sang in a band before Bayside. We started a band and I by default became the singer. I just sort of had to figure it out, we toured for years and years and I was trying my best not to lose my voice. I was just messing around with different techniques and it was trial and error for a really long time. Right around Killing Time was when I went in to start seeing a singing coach and I’ve been with her ever since. That’s when I really really started taking it seriously. I’ve always been a big fan of singers, Michael Buble is absolutely my favourite singer, absolute favourite singer. Before that growing up, my dad was a really big Frank Sinatra fan, so I grew up listening to him and Dean Martin.”
Bayside – Sick, Sick, Sick – Killing Time
“It’s funny when we were first starting and just trying to develop sound when we didn’t know what Bayside sounded like yet. Thursday was popular, it was a little screamier and a little more aggressive. That’s what was going on around us for the first five years of the band. It’s funny, there would be points or I would think yelling would be cool here or a scream, it seems like a screaming part. I just couldn’t do it. It’s not in my bag of tricks, that screaming voice I don’t know how people do it” Anthony laughs.
“It’s something else I really tried to do a lot with my voice over the years. The main thing was I really wanted to have a lot of control. I’ve gotten to a point where I almost think I can do anything I think of. I’ve developed a bravado in the last few years, I really concentrated on my pitch and technique so I never had to hold back and I could dig in when I wanted to and my voice would never get fatigued. So the technique has gotten really important but as far as the style I always want to try to develop different characters. That’s kind of what I do, I have these grunts and growls and sometimes I just go real smooth and sometimes I go real deep sometimes I yell.”
During the recording process, Bayside had unexpected problems with their recording studio and had to change. Unexpectedly, Bayside fans can thank the band Kings Of Leon for potentially saving Vacancy from not getting recorded in time.
“A really good friend of ours plays guitar with Kings Of Leon. We were in the studio for the first week of making the record and we just hated it and had to get out. We were in a pinch because we didn’t want to lose any time, so we started calling around town and seeing if anyone knew a place that was available the next day for 5 weeks. It so happened that Kings Of Leon had their space here and it was really beautiful but they were in LA making their new record in a different studio. So there place was just going to be vacant. It just all worked out. It was really lucky because they had never rented it out to anyone before but they were considering starting to do it, they wanted to test it out and see if it was something they wanted to do more often. We had a connection to them so they saw it as a good opportunity to try it with somebody they kind of know.”
“We were really lucky, to find a place that has 5 empty weeks immediately, we shouldn’t have been able to do that, we were really lucky.”
Vacancy on iTunes: http://smarturl.it/Vacancy
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Bayside Vacancy Australian Tour