INTERVIEW: Broadside

“Do you have 36 minutes to listen to this album?”

INTERVIEW: Broadside

By Ellie Odurny

Jul 23, 2020 11:14

Broadside have been through quite a few changes in their time, most recently moving from Victory Records to SharpTone amid the sale of Victory to Concord. With another line up change since the last release, the future wasn’t looking certain and nobody quite knew what Broadside’s plan was, least of all the band themselves. Thankfully, the past three years have seen the band gel together as a four-piece and their third studio album ‘Into the Raging Sea’ is set for release on 24th July. We spoke to vocalist Ollie Baxxter about the song writing process, self-development and being remembered.

‘Into the Raging Sea’ has a darker edge than Broadside’s previous releases, with more of an emo sound compared to the pop punk releases of the past decade. When asked if the writing process felt any different this time around, Baxxter says “the songs as they appear on the record came out the most organically that we’ve ever written as a band.”  He jokes how the usual process of song writing involves a lot of sending emails back and forth, as opposed to the big budget movie depiction of a band going to some isolated, expensive studio in a barn and emerging with all this fantastic new material.

This time around however, Baxxter describes how he and drummer Jeff Nichols spent two months of the winter at his flat in Richmond, writing and recording as ideas came to them. They called these demos at the time, though he tells us that ultimately these tracks hardly changed between that initial concept to the final versions we hear on the album. In that sense, writing ‘Into the Raging Sea’ did come about in a way that’s more like those movie documentaries, with Baxxter declaring that during this process he realised “I genuinely enjoy music, not just the image or doing what I have to do or what’s expected”.

In addition to writing for Broadside, Baxxter has also released a book of poetry entitled ‘You, Me and The Moon’ with the tagline “A touring musician looking for comfort in the written word”. That comfort came, in part, from getting into reading and writing at a young age, when Baxxter’s background wasn’t full of people with the same interests. He describes how it felt punk and exciting, because it’s not what his family or peers were doing. He also talks about how he has always been impressed with short stories and the structure and bones of their story arcs.

With ‘Into the Raging Sea,’ he began writing the choruses first, trying to reach the tip of the story arc then fill in the rest. Baxxter describes how he found that strange, starting with a chorus, then writing the beginning, middle and end, but that writing this way meant he was able to crank out songs more quickly. He explains how this writing pattern has helped every chorus on the record to feel big and obvious, painting a whole picture. The album is almost written like a story, with an outline, a climax and a resolution through each track.

Baxxter has also been writing a book of short stories about his childhood for the past two and a half years, so when it came to writing the songs for this album he found them much easier to complete because they’re only 3 minutes long. Going from the process of writing stories to sitting down and working on the album, he describes how he was in a different headspace completely, realising “I want to write an album that’s about things and not about myself”.

This sense of self is something that Baxxter has been quite vocal about throughout his career. He has been very open about his struggles growing up in a trailer park and feeling lost and full of self-doubt. Even into adult life, he was experiencing feelings of guilt and shame following the breakdown of the band dynamic after the previous tour, and the difficulties with the label, saying “I was feeling abandonment from myself”. Interesting, then, that after some time off to reconfigure, the big announcement hinting at Broadside’s comeback was a tweet with only the words “I just want to be remembered”.

When asked what he wanted to be remembered for, Baxxter’s answer is both moving and inspiring in equal measure. He says he always has a fear of being anything like he was as a child. Describing himself as a grimy “desert kid,” living along the Las Vegas Strip in poverty, he believes he wasn’t held to certain standards, and looking back this makes him reassess his adult life.  As a result, he says he feels “this great desire to be incredible, to make a lot of money, to paint myself in a way that’s like I can pull myself out of this”. He describes this desire “like lowering a bucket into an overflowing well. You can just get your bucket of water and drink it and be fine for the moment or you could keep going and maybe there’s gold there too”. Baxxter says he doesn’t necessarily want to be famous but he does want to feel accomplished, believing that “being remembered is the first step to being accomplished in life…being deemed worthy…and I hope that I can reach that at some point”.

This poignant reflection on self-worth and achievement ties in with Baxxter’s views on online personas, something else he has spoken about previously. “There’s a crazy hierarchy on display online,” he says, pondering how “more people feel connected to one another and in that sense they feel more friendly with one another which is often taking place of people knowing one another”.

It’s a valid social commentary, and also links into his role as someone in a band who fans will look up to and idolise. Rather than present this intense image of being a pretty vocalist living this perfect band life, Baxxter wants to be open and promote values of perseverance and finding hope from within, however corny that may sound, saying there’s something really charming about the simplicity of that honesty. He questions the authenticity of marketing that kind of perfect image asking, “If that bubble bursts, what’s left of the person? We destroyed one another because we learned how to market to one another”.

Baxxter talks about how his favourite artists and idols have suffered from learning about themselves, and he thinks it is very valuable to carry yourself with meaning and passion, asking,  “What are you giving people if you don’t make them feel good about themselves? Embrace your flaws. Rewire yourself to your best ability”.

Talking of inspirations, Baxxter tells us the story of how he and guitarist Domenic Reid came to shoot their Acoustic Summer Sessions from a college campus in Florida. He was visiting the state to film some videos and talk about junket ideas with the band when he spotted the building down the street and was immediately intrigued. His friends took him around the back of the art building on the campus where he saw a statue that had been donated by Allen Ginsberg, who happens to be one of his favourite poets. This strange discovery, combined with the beauty of the sunset after the punishing daytime heat made the campus hallways the perfect place to shoot the videos the next day.

Along with the acoustic sessions, Broadside have partnered with local news networks, a company that makes bracelets from old symbols, and a music mentoring program in lieu of their postponed plans for a European tour with Set It Off. They’ve also worked with The Trevor Project, a company providing support for LGBTQ youth, in the run up to the album’s release. Bringing the discussion back to that feeling of needing to be constantly present online, Baxxter describes how the internet is currently flooded with a lot of nothing. There are a lot of people just talking about how bored they are, so with what feels like one voice in a billion, he wants to ask you, “Do you have 36 minutes to listen to this album?” He thinks that you do.

‘Into the Raging Sea’ is out on 24th July and is available to preorder now on SharpTone Records.