On Sunday, March 8 at 7:45 p.m. PT/10:45 p.m. ET, Yahoo Live will live stream Bayside's concert from the House of Blues Houston. Tune in HERE to watch!
Most of the songs Bayside frontman Anthony Raneri wrote for the band’s latest pop-punk record Cult were penned during sessions specifically designated for the album. The surprise exception was “Time Has Come,” which became the first single.
If the upbeat tune about unrequited love and unfulfilled expectations doesn’t sound prototypically Bayside, it might have something to do with the fact that Raneri wrote it for Avril Lavigne.
“I write songs all the time and some of them end up going on other people’s records,” Raneri says. “I did ‘Time Has Come’ in a session for Avril’s last record. She didn’t wind up using it, so I said, ‘I think we could make this work as a Bayside song if we speed it up and add a few different punk elements.’ So that’s what I did, and it worked out great.”
For those who think writing for Avril makes Raneri a sell-out, it doesn’t. It’s a totally punk-rock move. It’s not like Raneri is making celebrity appearances with Kanye West. He’s just writing what he’s feeling without worrying about what anyone else thinks, and using any cash it generates to support his band and family.
In addition to penning a tune for Lavigne, Raneri has written songs for various other rock and punk bands who generally don’t like to advertise their originals aren’t entirely original. Plus, Raneri writes for country acts.
“I have a house in Nashville and I like to go there and write country songs,” says the melodic rocker, who has written songs for Bayside since he was 19. “I love all kinds of music and I spend all my spare time writing. Every song varies drastically, and anything that doesn’t work as a Bayside song goes into the solo pot. Before Bayside went to Australia to tour I had four months off and I spent a lot of that time working on my solo stuff. So during the last couple months I recorded my second solo record.”
Raneri released his first solo effort, the New Cathedrals EP, in January 2012. The release quickly reached #7 on the iTunes Store Top 10 Alternative Albums chart. The multifaceted singer hopes his upcoming album will be just as well-received, but emphasizes that it’s far removed from what Bayside fans might expect.
“I know when something I’ve written is a Bayside song,” he says. “My solo records are for all my other stuff. The new record has two country songs, a folk singer/songwriter song, one complete piano and string ballad that sounds like something Adele would do, and a fully electronic pop song. If I write something and I love it I’m going to release it; and I hope people like it, too. But if they don’t and they just want to listen to Bayside, that’s perfectly fine.”
Enough people still like Bayside to make Raneri’s side project a labor of love. The band just released a special version of Cult called Cult White Edition, which is available on vinyl and iTunes and features four previously unreleased songs: “Call Me,” “Indiana,” a piano-and-string remix of “Transitive Property,” and the pointed and controversial “Dancing Like an Idiot,” a call-out to all the punk and metalcore bands that celebrate their decadence and depravity.
“We like to challenge our listeners musically and lyrically, but also we like to challenge them to be better people,” Raneri says. “That’s really what we stand for and to me, that’s what punk rock is. It’s not about telling people to f--k off for the sake of telling people to f--k off. We’re about social awareness and just being a good person, making yourself proud. So that song is about all the bands who are not doing that, and who are not taking their role as role models seriously.”
For those who argue that rock 'n' roll is about living dangerously, breaking taboos, and rebelling like Lindsay Lohan, Raneri, who grew up with an alcoholic father, says bands should inspire listeners without encouraging them to misbehave.
“You just can’t get onstage and preach to impressionable 14-year-old kids to not care about anything,” he says. “It’s irresponsible to encourage them to not care about what they grow up to be, to not care about other people, to be misogynistic. That’s just wrong. It’s more important for me not to be a bad role model. I don’t have it all figured out, so I’m not going to tell people they need to think what I think. I’m going to tell them what’s wrong, but it’s not my place to tell them what’s right.”
Raneri understands that Bayside’s style of catchy, melodic punk is commercial enough to draw both kids that grew up during the prime years of the Warped Tour and fans of more mainstream artists like Imagine Dragons, The Killers, and Muse.
“At the heart of it, we are a punk rock band that makes strong use of melody, but our scene is still more of a way of life than radio rock is. When you’re talking about community, the punk kids care about their fellow music fans. They care about young, new bands and they care about going to small shows and supporting local bands. You don’t have radio rock people going to VFW halls to go and see a band only them and three of their friends have ever heard of. It’s a different vibe. If you’re into Imagine Dragons and the Lumineers, that’s fine, but you’re probably not starving to find new bands all the time and be the first one of your friends to get turned onto it.”
The members of Bayside are currently celebrating their 15-year anniversary with a tour that includes their friends in Senses Fail, Man Overboard, and Seaway. As a kid, Raneri grew up listening to bands like Bad Religion and Minor Threat and took their social and political messages to heart. They became role models who encouraged acceptance, kinship and common motivations.
“Those bands taught me that punk could be about rebellion for a purpose,” Raneri says. “One of my favorite bands was always Nirvana. They used to call out their own fans. Once they got popular, and they had these meathead guys coming to their show mistreating women and being all about getting wasted and finding a girl to use for the night, Nirvana were saying, ‘No, this is not what we’re here for. We don’t agree with what you’re doing.’ I always thought that was really cool and I still find it inspiring.”
Now that Bayside are playing large clubs like the House of Blues in Houston, where they’ll stream their March 8 show on Yahoo Live, Raneri has come to the realization that maybe he can’t pick his fans... but hopefully he and his band can serve as a gateway for new audiences to discover motivational punk bands like Anti Flag and Stick to Your Guns, as well as classic groups such as Fugazi, Dead Kennedys, and Bad Brains.
“It’s cool to think that a large part of what we’re doing is trying to reach new crowds and alienate the bad seeds by writing songs like ‘Dancing Like an Idiot,’ Raneri says. “We don’t want to be just a catchy song to people, we want to be more than that.”