“We still have a little bit of a way to go but we’re in good shape, man,” Adams says of the long road back from the crash. “Everyone is excited and you’ve gotta harness that while it lasts. It’s so hard to get four people on the same page so enjoy it while it lasts, I say. I’m totally happy with where we’re at with the album. I’m excited and relieved. I’m always relieved when an album is finished and completed. It’s kind of a weight off, but not in a bad way: it just means we can move on to the next thing, that next thing being performing the songs live and touring our asses off.”
Baroness is not one of those bands who constantly write on the road. “It never happens accidentally,” Adams says. “We have to sit down and make it happen. When we’re in full-on tour mode we’re not writing unless there’s something you’re feeling too good about to let slide.” But because all of the band members live so far apart from each other, rehearsal time is considered somewhat sacred, reserved for tightening existing songs for the stage and honing more tracks than are required so Baroness can vary their setlist from night to night. So when it’s time to write, that’s all they do.
Adams’s gear choices have been more or less consistent from one record to the next. He’s a long-time Gibson guy, relying on a number of Les Pauls with stock pickups. One has Gibson Burstbucker humbuckers, which are inspired by original PAFs right down to the mismatched coils for a rawer, more reactive sound. The other guitar has 57 Classics, again PAF-inspired pickups but with matched coils and a little more smoothness. “There are two different amps I like to record through,” Adams says. “One is a Matamp GTO 120 for that beautiful booming clean. And of course I’ll use a number of pedals with that. I also use a Budda 40 watt Super Drive head also because it has some really cool cleans but also a breakup that I really like. I like the breakup a little bit more because it’s a little bit wetter than the Matamp when it starts to break up. But John is a pedal connoisseur so we run the gamut. Every song has a list of pedals on it. John may actually have written that down, now that I think about it!”
Adams’s ‘around the house’ guitars are predominantly acoustics. “I save my ears and don’t even play at a soft volume, really. But I have a couple of acoustics that I love to play. One is a ’74 Gibson J-40 and the other is a Martin dreadnaught. The tag on the inside plate of the neck says “Martin Custom” but I don’t know what that means. I got it for a sweet deal, something like seven hundred bucks, and it plays really sweet. If I ever do plug in at home I’ve got a little Marshall practice amp but that doesn’t happen often.”
The Adams/Baizley guitar team is one that has worked symbiotically for over two decades now, and they’ve got it down to a fine art. “John and I have been doing the guitar duo thing for 22 years. We started playing guitars together when we were really young so we’re really comfortable together. Both of us just come up with stuff and bring these ideas to each other and leave the second guitar part open for the other guitarist. Let’s say he writes a cool verse, I’ll mess around until I find something rhythmically that works under it. Or sometimes we write both guitar parts and the other guitarist has to just play it their way. We do have a tendency to rip each other’s guitar parts apart though. But it works! We haven’t killed each other yet so that’s a start.”