BARONESS
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BARONESS

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“We’ve been touring now for about a year, off and on doing a lot of fly dates – a few out of town trips – a couple of days here and there,” he says. “That comes after about eight months of steady touring. Honestly, I’m just excited to be playing shows, more or less everyday of the week again, because the routine you get into when you’re doing the on again off again thing is kind of brutal.”

 

Within minutes, our conversation turns to his live setup. In an interview with Mixdown earlier this year, fellow axeman Pete Adams spoke of Baizley’s love for pedals, going as far to call him a ‘connoisseur’, but his pedal knowledge is only the half of it. Unlike the metal guitarist stereotype, Baizley steers clear of monster-sized amps – in both size and wattage – opting for combos, and wattages that are more common in bedrooms than the big stage.

 

“It’s weird, over the years my pedal board has grown but my amps just keep getting smaller and smaller. In the last three or four years, I’ve made the switch from huge high wattage amps with lots of speakers, to two very small, very low wattage amps, which in theory sounds kind of weird, because Baroness is effectively a loud band. I find that these two smaller amps have had more of an impact and are more flexible as amplifiers than bigger ones of yesteryear.

 

“I’m not listening for volume, because that can go up and down, what I’m listening for is a certain kind of characteristic. I find that the smaller combos have a better character for my playing. They feel more expressive and more dynamic than the bigger guys,” says Baizley. “On top of that, I find the standard rock gear for guitar players are Marshalls and Les Pauls. While I have no major qualms with that equipment, it can run the risk of sounding like everyone else’s gear. Whenever possible, I favour something that’s unique and a setup that’s probably not good for someone else, because I want something that works just for me.”

 

It was a decade ago that Baizley got over his arsenal of stacks and high wattage amps. Each of the band’s guitarists toured with three full stacks apiece, a move that Baizley feels was “pointless.” “It was very difficult for our sound guy to handle, what we were doing and ultimately, I felt like I was just watering down my tone by turning the volume up,” he says.

 

Not one to conform, Baizley found inspiration in an unlikely place. “I remember reading something about how Ryan Adams was playing the Fender Princeton combos a lot, and he loved them. His sound has nothing to do with mine, but I read that and looked into it. I haven’t looked back since.”

 

When the subject of effects pedals arises, it becomes apparent why Baizley’s pedal board is so big – it is a rotating roster of delays and custom made fuzz pedals. It is only a matter of time before Australia’s very own Tym Guitars – an institution revered nationwide and abroad for custom made gear, in particular effect pedals – makes its way into the conversation. “I’ve been collecting his pedals since I first played them, every time he’s got something new out, I’m just dying to get my hands on it,” says Baizley. “He made a double distortion pedal for me a while back. I love the way he emulates, but sort of updates some of the classic stomp boxes of all time like the DOD 250, and all the Big Muff’s he re-imagined. I never go to Brisbane without saying hi to him.

 

“There’s a little scene of dedicated, boutique pedal makers all over the place who are making pedals by hand. In the past two years I’ve started making my own fuzz pedals with a few friends of mine. It’s a company that’s called Philly Fuzz,” he says. “We started out trying to make a germanium and silicon based fuzz pedal that wasn’t too over the top. I like subtlety; I like to blend things in.

 

“Obviously every fuzz pedal can scream when you turn them up, but what I was looking for was something that could be playable in a variety of situations. That inherently became the Heretic Fuzz pedal. I used it heavily on our album Purple and it sounded great, so we decided to make a couple of them, and I sold them on tour.

 

“The whole point was to keep it DIY and punk rock. When we’re selling them, it’s generally me putting the stomp box in somebody else’s hand, and because of that I’ve met so many other pedal enthusiasts, and I’m forever trading fuzz pedals with people. That’s what that scene is all about.”

 

Baroness will tour Australia in early December, tickets are available via www.livenation.com.au. Purple is out now via Abraxan Hymns/Cooking Vinyl.