Interview: Baptists

We're a noisey punk band, and we'll stay that way. And, yeah, I feel like 'Beacon' is a little bit more angry than the last record. It's also mixed to feel a little more wild that the other records, so I feel like that brings the intensity up a bit.

Combining hardcore and crust punk with more metallic influences, Vancouver’s Baptists have been punishing and enthralling listeners with their bruising music since their inception eight years ago. Their recently released third album Beacon Of Faith is their heaviest offering yet and is a relentless and vital listen.

Gavin Brown had a chat with the band’s guitarist Danny Marshall all about Beacon Of Faith and working with Kurt Ballou of Converge on the album, touring with All Pigs Must Die, the many bands the members of Baptists are in, hooking up Southern Lord Records, their incendiary live show, the Vancouver punk and hardcore scene and working on underground movie Compulsion.

E&D: Your new album Beacon Of Faith is out now. How did the recording of the album go?

Danny: It went great.  We love going out to Salem and hanging out in the studio, and getting to spend a few days together focusing on the project. We didn’t collectively know the songs as well as we did when recording past albums, so there was a bit of uncertainty there, but that was kind of fun. We had a blast.

E&D: You worked on the album with Kurt Ballou again. Having worked with him before, did it feel natural to have him involved in the process again? 

Danny: Oh, for sure – he’s the obvious choice! It’s really nice to be able to just show up there and basically get going right away. We don’t have to go over every little detail of the album and just cross our fingers that the guy recording “gets it”. He gets it. On top of that, we have fun spending a few days with Kurt. At this point, if being in this band and recording wasn’t fun then we wouldn’t do it, so it’s important to us to work with someone we enjoy being around.

E&D: What would you say that he brings to the recording process and the Baptists sound? 

Danny: I mean, he’s recorded and written some of my favourite albums, so there’s that! As far as the recording process goes, he’s got a perfect collection of gear for the songs we’re after, and understands what we’re going for. He’s honest and will tell you right away if he thinks something’s overkill or if you played something shitty or if a part needs something extra. We’d love to have enough time one day to have him truly “produce” an album with us. Although he says we never listen to his suggestions anyway, haha! Aside from that, his guitar playing has had a big influence on me since I was in high school, so that has had a hand in shaping Baptists’ overall sound, too.

E&D: Is Beacon Of Faith in a similar style to your last album Bloodmines and is it even angrier with the new record? 

Danny: Yeah, it’s a similar style. We don’t intend to drift too far from the trajectory of our previous records. We’re a noisey punk band, and we’ll stay that way. And, yeah, I feel like Beacon is a little bit more angry than the last record. It’s also mixed to feel a little more wild that the other records, so I feel like that brings the intensity up a bit.

E&D: What subjects do you deal with in Beacon Of Faith

Danny: Without speaking for Andrew too much, he drew a lot from his experiences in a series of intense jobs – working with at-risk youth, foster parenting for a few years, working with repeat offenders in the court system – and how that has affected him, as well as how he sees people affected by suffering/failing systems and circumstance. There’s more to the lyrical content than just that, but I feel that those are kind of the reoccurring subjects throughout the album. And, you know – religion sucks, people are the worst, etc, haha!

E&D: What inspires you to make such crushing music? 

Danny: Making high-strung music helps me to not be a high-strung person. And it’s fun to play.

E&D: Do you feel that making and playing the music of Baptists is a cathartic experience? 

Danny: Yeah, for sure.  More so when we were able to play together more often, but yeah, it feels great to get in a room and play these songs with those guys.

E&D: You are signed to the mighty Southern Lord Records. How did the signing come about and who are some of your favourite artists on the Southern Lord roster?

Danny: We had posted some songs on a Myspace band page, and Greg sent us a message on there about putting releasing those songs. We thought it was a joke or something at first. We had just recorded those songs with our friend Stu before Nick left on a tour so we wouldn’t forget them, and they turned out better than we had anticipated, I guess. Those songs ended up being our first release – a 7″ on Southern Lord. Our friend Sam Velde told me he clicked on our myspace page because I was wearing a Coliseum shirt and those were friends of his, and then he sent it over to Greg. Southern Lord has done so many cool releases. Trap Them, Black Breath, High on Fire, APMD, Halshug, Obliterations, fucking Power Trip, those are a few that I really connect with.

E&D: What are your touring plans once the album is released?

Danny: We’re planning to get over to Europe FINALLY with this record, as well as whatever else we can sort out. We’ve only ever played in Toronto as far as Eastern Canada goes, so we’d like to check that off of the list, as well. Our schedules don’t allow for a lot of touring, so we plan to make the most of the time we have to get away.

E&D: How did your West Coast tour with All Pigs Must Die go earlier in the year? 

Danny: It was awesome. I wish it would have been longer. We got along really well with those dudes and I feel like it was a cool pairing of bands. I watched their set every night of the trip, and as a band that doesn’t tour as much as we’d like to, it’s important to me to go out with bands that we enjoy watching. I’d love to do something with them again in the future.

E&D: Have you been playing any new material at recent shows and how did it go down? 

Danny: Yeah, we played 3 new songs on that tour, and we’ve been playing a couple of those at local shows for the last while. They’ve been received really well. I mean, let’s be honest here, the crowd generally loses some momentum when you’re playing songs they don’t know yet, but the feedback after the sets has been really positive.

E&D: Who have you enjoyed touring with the most in the past and  who would you love to tour with in the future? 

Danny: We’ve had fun with everyone we’ve toured with. APMD was a blast, Obliterations and Torch Runner was a fun trip, we love the guys in Griever and Lewd Acts and have had a lot of fun with them. If we’re talking wish lists for future tours. Disfear!? Hot Snakes, Converge, Neurosis, Jesus Lizard or Shellac!? Just some little ones haha! Sumac would be really fun, for everyone but Nick. I personally would love to tour with Impalers or Ajax or fucking Mammoth Grinder, but I really don’t think they’d be interested!

E&D: In your opinion, what makes a great live show and how do you deliver this with Baptists? 

Danny: The energy of a live show is really important, but there’s nothing worse than seeing a band that has rehearsed “moves” or that you can tell is putting it on with phoney intensity. I do feel like live shows are the real measure of a good band. It’s easier than ever to make a band sound good in a studio, but you can’t hide behind anything in a live setting, and I like that. We just play our songs and have a good time at shows, I have no idea if we “deliver”! I hope so!

E&D: What was the Vancouver punk and hardcore scene like when you first got into it and what is it like now? 

Danny: I don’t know, the Vancouver scene, to me, is all over the place, in a good way. There are a bunch of really good bands, and there’s a healthy amount of people who go to shows and make music. I moved to Vancouver in 2005, and I don’t think things have really changed. Different venues and promoters, people “aging out” and new waves of show-goers appearing, sure, but there have always been great bands and fun shows.

E&D: What bands are you listening to at the moment and a their any new bands that you could recommend to us? 

Danny: Mammoth Grinder, Power Trip, and Impalers all putting out albums in the recent past has been pretty stoking! The Texas Three!  haha. Nick and Andrew got me way into the last Necrot album, as well. The new Hot Snakes rips. There is so much cool shit coming out these days. There’s a new Mass Grave album that’s out, it’s really fucking good, surprise surprise!

E&D: How did you get into punk and hardcore in the first place?

Danny: I got way into Nirvana, just like anyone else that was a kid in the 90s, and my uncle Greg showed me a power chord and how to play ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, so that probably kicked things off. He also owned a used CD store and would let me use it like a library, and would recommend albums that he thought I might dig. He gave me my first drum kit, too – his old kicked on kit. That was huge to me. Later in my teenage years I worked at a skate shop for my friend Kirk, and he’s really responsible for getting me into a lot of what I still listen to today. I’m really grateful to have had him around force-feeding me music.

E&D: What is the best punk or hardcore show that you have ever been to? 

Danny: The first show that I ever went out of town to see was the final Botch show in Seattle when I was in high school. We drove 7 hours to see it, and it was unreal. They were HUGE to me at that time. They changed everything about how I wanted to play music, so it was huge to see them, especially because it was the last chance. There have been lots of amazing shows, but that one was really important to me.

E&D: What are the three albums that have had the biggest effect on you as a musician? 

Danny: Hot Snakes – Audit in Progress, Converge – You Fail Me and Neurosis – Times of Grace.  Nirvana – In Utero as a close 4th. I could probably live with just those four albums and not get bored of them. I think those are all pretty obvious influences in our songs, on the guitar side, anyway.

E&D: Members of the band are also in Sumac and Vaults, are there any other bands you are involved with and does band members other musical commitments ever become a problem? 

Danny: Yeah, there are a bunch more… haha. Nick, Andrew and I are in a band called Erosion, Sean plays in Slow Learners, I play in Total Isolation, Drag in Kelowna, as well. And yeah, bands get in the way of other bands, for sure. Really just Sumac’s schedule, ha! I mean, we don’t hold it against him or Sumac, they’re just a pretty active band that has great opportunities, and are really good at booking things far in advance like a real band! We are NOT good at that, so we can’t really hold it against them. Also, all of the other bands we’re involved in are pretty casual, so they wouldn’t really ever take precedence over a Baptists thing.

E&D: Last year, the band were involved with the movie Compulsion. How did that come about and how was the experience?

Danny: Our friend Brian made the movie and cast Andrew as the lead. Brian and Nick are really close and they got together and wrote and recorded the score for it as well. I wasn’t involved at all, but I know that all parties had a blast working on that project. The finished product is really rad, and Sige even released the soundtrack earlier this year.  Look it up!

E&D: What have been some of the highlights of your career with Baptists so far?

Danny: A big highlight for all of us was our first trip down to LA and back for the Power Of The Riff shows. The shows were so fun, and we got to see a bunch of bands that we were into. We played with Trap Them and APMD in a record store, played with Pentagram in SF, it was pretty wild! Also being able to get out to Salem and work with Kurt has been really important to me personally, as he has had a hand in making so many of the albums that have stoked me out over the years.

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