Interview with Nick Ghanbarian of Bayside

For their Wind-up Records debut, Bayside have pushed their songwriting boundaries once more. Their new album, entitled ‘Killing Time,’ features the Queens-based quartet’s latest helping of killer hooks and cathartic riffs. Under the guidance of producer Gil Norton (Foo Fighters, Pixies, Echo & the Bunnymen, Jimmy Eat World, Twin Atlantic), the band have unleashed one of their most accomplished albums to date. Bayside are clearly still on top of their game.

While Bayside was in North Carolina, bassist Nick Ghanbarian was able to take a few minutes to chat with Rock Edition about the band’s new album and tour. Check out what he had to say below.

You guys just kicked off this year’s Take Action Tour a few days ago.

Yep. We’ve got five or six weeks to go on this tour, which is awesome. We haven’t done an American tour in about six or seven months. It’s cool to get back out here, especially with our new album out. We’re stoked. We’ve never done a tour before that had anything to do with any type of charity or social awareness. Hopefully there are people coming to the shows and reading about the organization, Sex, etc. It’s mostly — I’ll try and put it in my own words — about sexual awareness and being a responsible person and getting yourself tested. It’s kind of good for younger people to be open to talking about those things.

Absolutely. The other bands on the tour are Silverstein, Polar Bear Club, The Swellers, and Texas In July. Have you played with any of them before? I know you’re all friends with Silverstein.

Yeah, the only band we’ve played with before is Silverstein, but it’s been a long time since we did a tour with them. We recently met Polar Bear Club in Australia at the Soundwave Festival a couple of months ago. We brought them on this tour because we like their band. We enjoy The Swellers. Texas In July I didn’t know too much about, but Silverstein liked them and put them on the tour. It’s kind of diverse. There’s some pop punk and some heavier bands, which I think people enjoy. If you go to a show and every band sounds the same it can get a little monotonous and boring. We usually try to mix it up. We want our fans to have an open mind, as far as music goes. These things aren’t random; we pick the bands because we like them and think that our fans will like them. I definitely would like people to know that. Sometimes we see messages that are like, “Why are you touring with these people? Who books your tours?” We do. [laughs] We like these bands and we figure that you would like these bands too. We hope so anyway.

With your latest album ‘Killing Time’ now in stores, you’ve been playing a few new tracks live. How are the crowds responding to the new songs?

It’s been great. I think the good thing about this album is that we really kept our live show in mind when writing. We want to make sure that the songs are going to be good for us to play live because we tour on these songs and play these songs for years. We want to make sure that they’re good for crowd reaction and energy-wise. We’ve debuted a couple more songs on this tour. On our last tour we did “Already Gone” and “Sick, Sick, Sick.” A lot of people have the album already, which is exciting. The energy for the new songs is pretty up there with some of the older songs. It makes us feel good because we definitely don’t want to feel like we’re not progressing, as far as our songs or shows go. I’m proud of our old stuff, but it’s great to have our new stuff accepted too.

Let’s talk a little about touring. What do you need to do before you’re ready to get on stage?

For me, personally, one thing that I do is just relax. I probably look like I’m about to fall asleep until we’re on stage. [laughs] But that just happens naturally. I just like to chill before we go on. There’s normal stuff like just warming up and stuff too. As far as our days go, we all drink coffee so we usually go for a walk to find coffee somewhere. When we’re in the Southern states, like we are right now, we try and find a Chick-fil-A because we don’t have those up North. Depending on what type of area we’re in, we’ll go for a walk and see what’s around. A lot of these cities we’ve been to, so sometimes we’re familiar with the city and know places to go. Then again, it’s kind of cool when we don’t know the city.

Totally. Who doesn’t like a nice walk? They’re fantastic. What kind of gear did you bring on tour, the same old stuff? Are you using Ampeg amps?

Actually, I’ve been using all Mesa Boogie stuff. Ever since I’ve been in the band, Anthony [Raneri] and Jack [O’Shea] have had a really good relationship with Mesa. But I came into the band using all that Ampeg stuff. For about a year or two, I’ve been using the Mesa Boogie 400+ through a Mesa 8×10 cabinet. I think it sounds good. I was really not familiar with their bass stuff at all until I started using it. It’s awesome. I love working with our representative over there. He’s extremely helpful and fun, and he comes to hang out when we’re in town. It’s good to not only be able to use their products but also to have a face and someone to talk to there. That means a lot to us.

What about your bass? Do you have a few or are you only using the one?

I’m a one bass guy. When we recorded ‘Shudder,’ that was the first time I used a [Fender] P Bass on an album. Since then, I’ve been rocking the P Bass.

That’s all you need. Never turn back.

Yeah. I’m still on that and I don’t do any switches or anything. I only have one other bass on tour, and I never use it.

A really cool thing that you all tend to do is make some custom guitar picks for each tour. What kind of picks does the band have this time?

[laughs] Yeah. I have Bender from Futurama on one side of mine. Jack has a Lego spaceman. Anthony has the Fred Perry logo, I think. It’s kind of like this laurel leaf type of thing. I don’t think they’re worth anything, but it’s a cool collector’s item if you get your hands on them. And they’re fun for us. I had my two dogs on my last one a couple of tours ago. It’s just fun to be on stage and pick up a new pick and see my dogs. Think about that for a second.

[laughs] Awesome. What’s running through your mind while on stage? You always appear to be completely immersed in the moment.

For me, it’s all about the people that paid to see our band. That’s where the energy comes from, that’s where the motivation comes from. People spend their money to buy the records, t-shirts, come to see the shows, all this stuff. They work for their money and then spend it on our band. That really means a lot to us. We have to make sure we’re worth it. On stage, actually playing my bass isn’t the main goal. If I wanted to just play my bass perfectly, I would actually stand still and stare at my bass and play, which sounds like the worst thing in the world to me. That’s why I’m out there jumping around and trying to interact with the crowd. The most important people in the room at that point are the people watching the show. Afterward, I usually go hang out at the merch table because I want to meet people. The whole experience for me is great because of the people who come to the show. I think our fans are pretty special. Some of them have been with us for ten years. It’s definitely appreciated.

Right before Bayside released ‘Killing Time’ you were free agents. Obviously, the band ended up signing with Wind-up Records, but what was going on during that period?

From the very beginning of us being able to talk to labels, Wind-up was the most excited the whole time. We knew what they’re capable of. We talked to a couple of other labels, but no one ever seemed to be as excited and accepting of what we were. We are who we are. We have five albums out and have been a band forever. Things aren’t going to change for us really. We do want to make some new fans though, and that’s where a label like Wind-up comes in. The free agency period was kind of cool. We were really just out there touring, and that’s all we worried about. It was nice to start writing and let all that other stuff kind of come to us. As a band, when we finished our contract with Victory [Records], we were the most successful we had been up to that point. It’s kind of like if you’re an athlete and you have a career year right before you’re going into free agency. We haven’t yet started to falter or not grow as a band. We’re trying to constantly get better at writing songs and just be a better band. Going into free agency at our peak kept us confident that a label was going to come to us, and one that we were going to be able to work with. Wind-up was excited with what we had accomplished so far and didn’t want to mess with that at all, just embrace it. That meant a lot to us.

Let’s pretend Bayside decided to do a cover album. What song would you like to see on the album?

It would be pretty easy because I know Anthony already covers it when he does some solo shows: “Sorrow” by Bad Religion. It’s one of my favorite songs. I’ve got a tattoo of it. Just hearing him play it once in a while, it suits his voice so well.

Great choice. Is the whole band really into Bad Religion?

Yeah, I think everybody likes them. They’re definitely my favorite band ever.

My last question is a little strange. I was wondering if you or the band have a certain overall goal in mind?

I guess we’re striving for something. Until we’re there, we’re not totally happy. I guess that point exists, but I don’t really know what it is. I don’t know if that’s a good enough answer. I’m sure there will be a point where everything is worth it and all the hard work and hours and time we put into it have finally come back to us. Not that I’m not appreciative. I don’t want to sound like that. Where we are right now is amazing. I think we’re all striving to make new fans and meet new people and having experiences with all these people. Our main goal is just to do this as long as we can and for as many people as we can. We’re living our dream right now.

Pick up Bayside’s new album Killing Time.

For the band’s upcoming tour dates, check out their official website.

  • jd

    wish you were coming to Albuquerque this tour. Next one you guys better schedule us.

  • Mom

    Great job Nick I love to read your interviews you make me so proud…