All About Bayside

See you in the pit...

All About Bayside

By Ben Tipple

Jan 8, 2014 18:34

In the first of a brand new series of articles titled ‘All About’, we’ll be exploring the history of various bands in depth. In our first article, Rob Barbour puts a keen eye over how Bayside got to where they are today.

Who are they?

In a brief, explaining it to your mate who ‘mainly likes Trap but thought that one All Time Low song was pretty sick’ sort of way, Bayside are a rock band from Queens, New York City with some huge choruses. In a somewhat more detailed ‘you’re reading Punktastic so that clearly isn’t going to cut the mustard’ way, Bayside are a pop punk band who fuse immediate, ear-worm pop song writing and the generic tenets of pop punk with dark lyrical matter and the riffs and instrumental prowess more traditionally associated with the metal genre.

Current Line-Up

Anthony Raneri – Vocals & Guitar
Jack O’Shea – Lead Guitar
Nick Ghanbarian – Bass
Chris Guglielmo – Drums



Despite forming four years previously, the band’s first notable release was their 2004 Victory Records debut ‘Sirens & Condolences’. Although it showcased Anthony Raneri’s recurring lyrical themes of alcoholism, self-loathing and heartbreak, the album has a darker and heavier sound to almost everything they subsequently released.

Whether a product of youth and inexperience (Raneri was around 20 years old at the time) or simply a reflection of the singer’s mental state, it wasn’t until their 2005 follow-up ‘Bayside’ that what’s become the band’s signature sound began to emerge. Clearly the product of a band who’d spent the last year honing their songwriting, the album also brought Jack O’Shea’s metal-inflected riffs to the fore.

Bayside was one of the best pop punk albums of 2005 but there’s a good chance you never heard it. You certainly wouldn’t have had a chance to catch the band on tour in the UK because within two months of the album’s release the band’s tour van was involved in an horrific crash whilst on tour with Silverstein and The Sleeping. Although Raneri and O’Shea were relatively unharmed, the accident tragically claimed the life of drummer John ‘Beatz’ Holohan.

Raneri and O’Shea battled on, playing the rest of the tour without a rhythm section and recording an album, ‘Acoustic’¸ specifically to raise funds for the late Holohan’s family. It’s by no means an essential piece of the band’s back catalogue but it’s worth downloading the track ‘Winter’, written about Holohan, and the band’s cover version of Elliot Smith’s ‘Baby Britain’.

Such trauma can be the father of either disintegration or renewal. In Bayside’s case, their reinvigoration came in the form of drummer Chris Guglielmo. It’s often said that a band is as tight as its rhythm section and as good as its drummer and from the first blast of the band’s 2007 album ‘The Walking Wounded’ it’s clear that the man is a percussive machine.

Building on the sound crafted by the previous line-up, the addition of Guglielmo arguably allowed Bayside to realise their full potential. ‘The Walking Wounded’ also displays O’Shea coming into his own as the kind of guitar hero missing from most contemporary pop punk bands and Raneri’s choruses come on like honey-soaked juggernauts. It’s a case study in how to overcome adversity and to this day remains many fans’ favourite album.

2008’s ‘Shudder’ is a different beast; laden with songs which, absent the Victory Records logo and the distorted guitars, wouldn’t sound out of place on daytime Radio 1.

It’s unashamedly pop, Raneri transforming into some unholy hybrid of Rivers Cuomo and Matt Skiba; layering lyrics about heartbreak, outsiderness and even legendary recluse Howard Hughes over music that in places makes New Found Glory sound like Hatebreed. The album alienated some fans who felt they’d moved too far towards a more traditional ‘poppy’ sound; lead single ‘No-One Understands’ being a prime example of a song which, while still lyrically introspective, is essentially a straight-up pop punk banger.

The band’s performance prowess is demonstrated on the 2008 live album ‘Live At The Bayside Social Club’, the kind of album one can put on after not listening to a band for several months and be violently jolted back into near-obsessive fandom. Live albums aren’t for everyone but as well as being tremendously well recorded, the tracklist acts as a superb primer for the band. Beyond the incredible quality of the band’s playing, Guglielmo’s powerhouse drumming takes the band’s older material such as ‘Blame It On Bad Luck’ and ‘Masterpiece’, both of which sound absolutely vital here, and doesn’t so much breathe new life into it as turbocharge it with a Tony Stark-style arc reactor.

In October 2010, the band announced they had signed to Sony/Universal-affiliated label Wind-Up Records. Perhaps most famous for releases by considerably different acts such as Creed and Evanescence, it seemed like some to be an odd move for a band still considered to be relatively niche; indeed, Bayside’s “slogan” (if a band can have such a thing) has always been ‘Bayside Is A Cult’.


Despite the well-documented drama generated by Victory Records (and more specifically its founder and CEO, Tony Brummel) Bayside are one of the few bands who have bridged the gap between Victory and more financially upholstered labels without feeling the need to promptly torch that bridge.

Indeed, in a 2012 interview Raneri was quoted as saying ‘Victory was great, and they worked really hard to help get our band where it is…if you’re having a problem with something, or you have an idea you want to see happen, you call the owner on his cell phone, and then you guys talk about it… he knows all the lyrics to every record he’s ever put out. You don’t get that at Wind-Up, or a major label. But at the same time, you also can’t just call Victory and say, “We want Gil Norton [Foo Fighters, Feeder, Jimmy Eat World] to produce our record, it’s going to cost $150 grand.” That’s what you get at Wind-Up.’

What the band got at Wind-Up was 2011’s ‘Killing Time’. Boasting a production predictably glossier than everything that came before it, the album kicks off with two of the best songs the band have ever written – ‘Already Gone and Sick, Sick Sick’ – which come roaring out of the starting gates like a Grand National contender with roid-rage and barely lets up save for ‘On Love, On Life’.

Raneri’s one of those songwriters who feels the need to squeeze ‘a slow one’ onto almost every album and even the most sympathetic fan would have to admit that this isn’t what the band does best. Sat amongst material of this quality, though, it’s impossible not to forgive them and in the world of iPhones, Spotify and Playlists it’s possible to simply pretend that songs like this and ‘Moceanu’ (from ‘Shudder’) don’t exist.

Will I Like Them?

Bayside draw frequent comparisons to Alkaline Trio, not least of all because Anthony Raneri’s voice bears more than a passing resemblance to that of Dan Adriano but also due to their frequent use of minor chord progressions into ‘upbeat’ major choruses as well as lyrical themes of depression, degradation and addiction. Musically, though, the unusually complex bass and drum work and luxuriously layered harmonies are more like Punchline and, in both bands’ earlier years, Saves The Day.

Freshly signed to Hopeless Records – fast becoming the 21st century equivalent of the Victories, Epitaphs and Drive-Thrus of the late 90s and early 00s – and with a new album, ‘Cult’, due in February, there couldn’t be a better time to discover Bayside. They’ll be supporting Alkaline Trio on their UK tour in April – see you in the pit.

Key Releases

'Sirens & Condolences' (Victory Records, 2004)
‘Sirens & Condolences’ (Victory Records, 2004)

'Bayside' (Victory Records, 2005)
‘Bayside’ (Victory Records, 2005)

'Walking Wounded' (Victory Records, 2007)
‘Walking Wounded’ (Victory Records, 2007)

'Shudder' (Victory Records, 2008)
‘Shudder’ (Victory Records, 2008)

'Killing Time' (Wind-Up Records, 2010)
‘Killing Time’ (Wind-Up Records, 2010)

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