For years, Anthony Raneri has been stowing away songs for a solo release. But because of his priorities to Bayside, the tracks were forever without a proper home. Recently, though, things suddenly changed. Not long after the release of Bayside’s fifth studio album, ‘Killing Time,’ the singer/guitarist realized that he actually had some time of his own to kill. Instead of focusing on a multitude of other projects, Raneri hit the studio, bringing along some tunes that he knew wouldn’t work with the punk rock act he’s fronted for 11 years. The result: ‘New Cathedrals,’ a 5-song EP released last month via Raneri’s label, Gumshoe Records. The tracks are all over the map, but not in an off-putting way. Showing strains of country, reggae, and folk influence, ‘New Cathedrals’ continues to have what every other release of his has — catchy melodies and heartfelt lyrics.
As Raneri explains in our interview below, he didn’t want his solo songs to pigeonhole him in any way, and they don’t. Isn’t it nice to see a musician branch out and not be afraid of the result? With the help of Steve Choi (RX Bandits), Jarrod Alexander (My Chemical Romance), and Davey Warsop (Beat Union), ‘New Cathedrals’ is an expressive platter full of ear candy. And it can easily be appreciated by both Bayside and non-Bayside fans alike — assuming meaningful songs are something they find enjoyable.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it to your show in NYC. For anyone else who isn’t able to see you and the rest of the guys on the Where’s the Band? Tour, what kind of excitement are we missing?
It’s an excellent show. I think most people show up not knowing what to expect and then hopefully leave thinking it was one of the coolest shows they’ve ever been to. It’s special and very different from just seeing the bands that you get to see all the time.
Absolutely. And this is the longest Where’s the Band? Tour ever, right?
Yeah. The longest one we had ever done [before] was nine or ten days. This one is about twenty days.
It’s great that you’ve been able to hit more cities this time around. I know you do quite a few covers on the tour. Does everyone else do covers, or is that something only you do?
I think everyone dabbles in it. The cool thing about these shows is that everyone gets on stage and just goes with the flow. Sometimes people do covers, sometimes they do their band’s songs, and sometimes they do their solo songs.
You’ve been touring for many years, not only with Bayside, but also by yourself. Many bands have struggled and continue to struggle trying to keep it together on the road. Is touring difficult for you still, or has it become routine at this point?
It’s certainly routine. It gets tough missing home and not getting much rest — it’s a lot of work, so that’s rough. I wouldn’t say that it’s necessarily difficult. I’ve been doing it for my entire adult life at this point.
And I’m sure you’ve seen a few bands over the years who weren’t exactly built for the road.
Yeah, there are definitely some bands who handle things better than others.
So, for anyone who hasn’t been keeping up with the fast-paced music world, your debut solo EP ‘New Cathedrals’ is out now. The songs are all quite different from one another and from Bayside material. Some might consider it risky to put songs of essentially different genres in one package. You weren’t concerned about that?
I was actually more concerned with selecting one genre and sticking to that. I had this whole world in front of me where I could have made a country record or a reggae record or a rock record, but I didn’t want to select a genre and be stuck to that forever. It was a pretty conscious decision to mix up the styles and make sure it couldn’t be classified as “this style of record.”
Right, that makes sense. Otherwise people might go, “Oh, yeah, Anthony’s in that punk rock band Bayside, but he also has that country side project.”
Right. And then when I do the next recording, if I decide I want to do a different type of song, I don’t want it to be like, “Well, this doesn’t sound like the last one.”
Totally. Because, as you know, people love comparing new releases to previous releases.
Davey Warsop recorded and mixed the EP. After all these years of being in and out of studios, how involved are you in the recording and mixing process? Do you leave it to the people that know the most about it?
No, I don’t really leave anything to anyone. I’m very hands-on in all aspects. I played most of the instruments on the record, I obviously wrote everything, and everything is co-produced.
In February, Bayside has some dates lined up with The Sidekicks. I don’t have a question, I just feel like they’re perfectly named to open for bands.
I love that band. I’ve been into them for a few years. They’re on Red Scare Records, and Toby from Red Scare had sent me a bunch of albums that he was releasing three years ago or so. I had first heard them when they were 18 or 19 at the time. I was just blown away by their music. I’ve been a fan for years. I’m glad that we’re able to do some shows together.
You’ll be on the road with them for a very short time. Of course, you have Warped Tour later on this year, so this is just a little something until then.
Yeah, really we’re just waiting for Warped Tour. The band is laying low until Warped Tour gets started. The only reason we’re doing those shows is because we don’t like to go too long without playing shows, and by the time those shows come it’ll have been two months since the last Bayside shows and then three months until Warped Tour, so we don’t wanna go five whole months without doing anything.
I heard a rumor that you might go to Australia after Warped Tour. Is that true?
We’re talking about going to Australia and Europe. After Warped Tour, we’re probably going to start concentrating on making the next Bayside record, which we’re hoping to have out for 2013.
Nice. And speaking of Bayside, you guys have been working on a documentary of sorts about the band for a while. Is this something that will be released in the long-term?
Yeah, I think it’s a long-term thing. It’s going to cover everything. The filmmaker is going to go back and interview people who used to be in the band and people who used to have things to do with the band, so it’s definitely going to be a pretty long process. I think it’s going to be something very interesting.
Awesome. Bayside is a band that people are still just finding out about. This documentary sounds like it’ll be perfect for the new and old fans. It’s interesting how you guys get a bunch of new fans all the time.
Yeah, it’s true.
Before I let you go, I want to talk about your radio show with Nick [Ghanbarian, bassist], Gumshoe Radio. For anyone who doesn’t know, what kind of stuff do you and Nick talk about and play on there?
It’s a two-hour show, and about an hour of it is us talking and about an hour is music. We play whatever we feel like. We just play music that we like, and we also have a new music segment where we play two or three new bands that we’re into at the moment. We talk about anything interesting, anything entertainment-based. We’ve had big half-hour segments on the in’s and out’s of Ticketmaster and Live Nation. It seems like the culture of music fans these days, especially when you look at different websites and message boards, kids really wanna know the behind-the-scenes of record deals and how people get paid on Spotify. People are so interested in all these things in a way that they weren’t. When I was growing up, I just listened to music. It’s a really cool show in the sense that it gives you the inside scoop that we have on all the industry stuff.
I agree. I think a lot of kids are quite interested in this stuff. Many of the deals that go down in the industry are complex in the eyes of your average music listener. Also, nowadays, people are arguably more concerned when it comes to signing a deal with a record label, for example. They want to know what they’re getting into.
It’s interesting to me because some of these people don’t even play music. Some of them are interested in the information not for themselves, but just out of sheer curiosity. Victory is re-releasing all our records on vinyl and people commonly ask me, “Do you get paid for that? Do they even ask you?” I’m like, “Why do you care? Do you like the record? If you want it on vinyl, you should buy it.” Who cares about the conversations we have with Victory?[laughs] That’s understandable. On a similar subject, I recently learned that record labels didn’t typically put out greatest hits albums until after the artist died. Elton John’s greatest hits album did so well, though, that labels decided to start releasing them while the artist was still alive. That’s why everyone has that in their contracts today.
I think the Eagles’ greatest hits album is the third best-selling album of all time.
Yeah, it’s up there.
I mean, I think greatest hits are great when a band’s been around for a long time. I own tons of greatest hits albums from other artists. When a band has five or six or ten albums out, a nice little collection or best-of is a way for people to get into new artists.
Yeah, definitely. I own many myself. Because of those albums, I was introduced to a lot of older bands that aren’t around anymore or just don’t play anymore.
Exactly, especially the older bands where it’s too much of an undertaking to sift through ten records and find what you like.
Totally. Now, I don’t know if you’re one for resolutions, but I assume you might have some things you want to accomplish in 2012. What are you looking forward to the most this year?
I work on so many things at so many different times: the radio show, Bayside albums, Bayside touring, solo albums, solo touring, I produce records a lot, I write for other people a lot, and I own a merch company. I stay extremely busy. I’m always working on something. To be honest, I’ve surpassed so much of my expectations from when I was a kid — anything else is a cherry on top.
Pick up Anthony’s new solo EP, New Cathedrals.
For Anthony’s upcoming tour dates, check out his official website.