Set in Stone: An Interview with Nick Jost of Baroness
On September 15, Baroness released a kraken of an album into the world. The Georgia-based metal band is back on tour with a bold, bombastic new record titled Stone. Since the last time SLUG spoke with Baroness in 2013, they have left behind years of color-themed album titles to find firm footing on a solid new foundation. I recently spoke with bassist Nick Jost about their brilliant new album, the current state of Baroness, the importance of indie record stores and playing Salt Lake City.
Stone is a beast of a record that contains multitudes of metal, dark folk, spoken word, math rock and prog rock. “Every record is a new beginning,” Jost explains. “We were going to make a record that was exciting to us no matter what, whether the colors were still happening or not. A new path felt heavy, felt important. I think ‘Stone’ is the perfect title.”
John Baizley is the sole remaining member of the original Baroness formed in 2003; lead guitarist Gina Gleason joined on their last album, Gold & Gray, while Jost and drummer Sebastian Thomson are seasoned vets. Stone marks the first time in years that the band has recorded an album with a consistent lineup. “It was interesting because we had more experience of all four of us playing and working on ideas at the same time,” Jost says. “With John and Gina, their vocals as a duo continue to grow.”
“There is so much variety and really, really cool shit happening in heavy music in general. I think it’s a great moment to be a metal fan.”
Baroness has never been a niche band or a peg in a hole. This isn’t always the case with heavy music—some fans find a genre and pour all their passion into it like a favorite football team. Jost says, “There is so much variety and really, really cool shit happening in heavy music in general. I think it’s a great moment to be a metal fan.” I pressed Jost further on how Baroness seems to transcend genres: “We’re four people that have very different opinions on music—opinions on how music should feel, the context we’d like our band to be in [and] the music we play. We get to take chances on doing something that feels new to us,” he says.
One thing that Baroness has committed to on this tour is visiting local indie music stores. “This relationship between bands and independent sellers is just crucial,” Jost told me. “It is a relationship [where] we really can’t survive without each other.” With hard media slowly disappearing, the physical element of consuming art is now more important than ever. “If you want to see a painting—I mean, yes, you can look at it online—but the experience of going to a museum or gallery [and] actually seeing the physical thing? You can’t replace that,” Jost says. He believes there is “something in our blood as humans to have that connection with material pieces of art.” Baroness will visit Graywhale Entertainment in Taylorsville for a free acoustic performance on November 9.
“This relationship between bands and independent sellers is just crucial. It is a relationship [where] we really can’t survive without each other.”
Baroness has always been Salt Lake City–friendly. Jost says, “We’ve always had a good time in Salt Lake. [There’s] definitely an energy about it, a perfect party vibe that’s particular.” He goes on to explain, “It’s kind of a kickback from being in a conservative place. It breeds a particular energy when a rock ’n’ roll band comes through.” Apparently Salt Lake is not immune to rock ‘n’ roll cliches. Jost confesses, “My first show in SLC, a girl got naked and ran across the stage.” I promised Jost not to tell the folks at Temple Square, but I’m telling everyone else that the best place to worship rock ’n’ roll is at a Baroness show.
With Baizley’s deep, blistering lyrics and scorching vocals, matched with Gleason’s insane guitar playing, pedal exploration and unique soundscapes, held together by the best rhythm section in hard music composed of Jost and Thomson, Baroness will never go gentle into that good night. And thank God for that. Baroness will play The Depot on November 9. I encourage everyone to visit Graywhale and get to this show.
Read more interviews with national acts in the heavy music scene:
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From Doom Metal to Gothic Folk: An Interview with The Keening