Music and art often go hand-in-hand.
Take IRON MAIDEN’s album covers painted by Derek Riggs, YES’ surreal landscapes by Roger Dean, PINK FLOYD’s The Wall illustrations by Gerald Scarfe, RUSH’s conceptual photo illustrations by Hugh Syme and BARONESS’ easily recognizable ink renderings by John Baizley.
What’s even more intriguing is that Baizley also happens to be the band’s guitarist/vocalist. As with every Baroness release, Yellow & Green’s 18 track 2CD cover artwork was handled by Baizley.
Besides Baizley’s artwork, the band’s color-themed album title names are Baroness trademarks. The symbolism of Yellow & Green’s cover artwork is also meant to be subjective to the viewers. And since Baizley created the artwork, it’s symbolic to him and his band.
“We feel that our music, themes and lyrics can be dense,” Baizley said. “As a result of that density, with all our visual aesthetic, we like to offer something simple as the open door to the record as the access point. Much like LED ZEPPELIN called their first albums Roman numerals, we’ve done the colors. It works specifically well for me because I do all the album covers and it’s sort of an interesting starting point.”
“The symbolism that we use is meant to graze over the reality and the specifics of things. It’s not meant to be linear or overly narrative. (The new cover) is about implication; that calm before the storm. That moment before an act of violence is committed. And I’ll leave the rest up to the viewers and the listeners.”
Since the band’s inception in 2003, Baroness has been lumped into the so-called Savannah sludge metal genre along with fellow brethren BLACK TUSK and KYLESA. However, Baroness has steadily climbed outside that classification in the past few years by utilizing more of a progressive sound.
“I don’t think that any one of the three of our bands ... we don’t see the similarities. We’re aware of the public perception, but I think the three of us, we consider ourselves three separate bands. And as such, there’s no guide books to what we do. In some ways, I identify with them because they’re my friends. Those are the people that came up with us. Those are the bands we shared our first tours with; cut our teeth with in the musical world. But beyond that, to categorize our band as a sludge metal band is an underselling of what we do. We never made any claims to belong to any one part of a scene, trend or fad.”
“We designed our music to be difficult. Whether it’s physically, mentally or technically, we think our music is our art. It comes from that passion that’s in us. As art, it’s meant to confront. It’s meant to confront us and meant to confront our audience. It’s meant to question what we’ve done in the past and try to look at what we’re doing in the future.”
As stated at the beginning of this article, music and art go hand-in-hand, and for Baizley, this absolutely rings true. Furthermore, he’s as meticulous and detailed with his songwriting as he is with his artwork.
“The artwork and music is what remains when you’re gone. It is the recorded history of who we are as a band and to some extent, who we are as people. I think we’re obliged to be meticulous. If we want to represent ourselves in any historical context, then we better hit the nail on the head,” Baizley retorted.
As Baroness continue to make CDs and tour relentlessly, Baizley hopes his music and his artwork endures the test of time.
“I want to be as excited in ten years to make music and art as I am today as I was ten years ago when I first started doing it.”