It’s been a decade since Bayside released The Walking Wounded and proved that a serious car crash couldn’t stop them. The accident took the life of drummer John Holohan and broke the back of bassist Nick Ghanbarian, but it also brought about arguably the most important record in the New York band’s catalog — and likely one of the best albums of the late-2000s punk scene. Over the last couple of months, the rocking quartet has returned to that period of their lives to celebrate the iconic record’s big anniversary.
“Even though it’s our third record, it’s the first one we’ve done a 10-year anniversary for,” says vocalist Anthony Raneri. “That time in our lives was a big struggle for us because we’d just lost John and we weren’t sure how or if we’d be able to continue as a band. Making The Walking Wounded was us proving to ourselves how strong we were as people.
“It’s been fun just getting together and doing these old songs we haven’t played in a while — and just kind of remembering that time,” Raneri continues. “This wasn’t about celebrating a record for us, it’s about celebrating a time in our lives, and it was that time when we proved to ourselves as people that we could get through a whole lot more than we might’ve thought we could before.”
But while the events leading up to The Walking Wounded may have been a struggle in every sense of the word, the positive reviews and commercial success of the record created enough interest and income for the guys to make Bayside a full-time career. Since then, the group has done nothing but play a steady stream of shows while releasing new records every few years (sometimes with an EP or two in between) and continue building their fan base the old fashioned way. Rather than worrying about social media followings or YouTube channels, Raneri and the rest of the band know that creating great music is a band’s best marketing tool.
“When it comes to the band, the music is really all that matters to us,” Raneri says. “We’ve never cared about an image or marketing or anything like that. We’ve always let the music drive everything, and we’ve always been of the school that if the music is there then everything else will fall into place. The advice I always give to young bands is if you’re spending one hour a day making music and the other 23 trying to promote that music, then you’re not doing it right.
“I admittedly take for granted sometimes how fun it is to have a life like this,” Raneri continues. “It’s always been music first for us, so we always put our heads down and try to make great music and play good shows. We don’t think about the rest of it really. When we’re on tour, I don’t go out before shows or after shows, it’s just six weeks of thinking about nothing but that night’s shows.”
That drive to perform at their very best night after night is exactly what will have fans packed into the Observatory on Saturday night for the conclusion of the American leg of The Walking Wounded’s birthday tour. Well, that and the chance to see Bayside finally play some of the deeper cuts off what many consider to be their finest record.
“It’s a blast to play The Walking Wounded, because there are a couple of songs on there that we never played live before doing these shows,” Raneri says. “I think it’s exciting for the fans too, because if some of the deeper cuts on that album are their favorites, then this is their chance to hear it. Nobody’s ever heard us play ‘Thankfully’ or ‘A Rite of Passage’ or ‘Head on a Plate,’ so for people who like those songs, 10 years later they finally get to hear them.”
Bayside will be at the Observatory on Saturday, November 4. Tickets cost $23 and are available through the venue.