Building a band from the ground up is never an easy task. Rebuilding a band from the ground up? Well, that’s a whole other story.
The morning of October 31, 2005, Manhattan-based alt/punk quartet Bayside faced one of the most difficult ordeals of their entire 17-year existence as a band. When traveling to Salt Lake City, Utah that night on their tour with Hawthorne Heights, Silverstein, and Aiden, their van was involved in a crash after hitting a patch of ice, sadly resulting in the loss of a life as their drummer John “Beatz” Holohan was killed. Additionally, the band’s bassist Nick Ghanbarian was injured, breaking a vertebra in his back and leaving him out of commission for six months. Vocalist Anthony Raneri and guitarist Jack O’Shea both escaped the accident with no major injuries.
Two years after the tragic crash, the band would soldier on and put out of one of the most important and revered releases in their discography: The Walking Wounded. The record was written by the band with the intention of staying positive and finding clarity when times are at their lowest. Ten years later, the album’s message and sentiment still ring true.
Raneri recently spoke with Substream to discuss the record’s impact and how Bayside has only gotten stronger ever since.
How do you feel about The Walking Wounded today, looking back on it 10 years later?
ANTHONY RANERI: I still love it. I think a lot of the fans still agree, and I would definitely agree with our fans that it was a very defining record for us, especially when it came to establishing the sound for Bayside. When we talk about making records now, we definitely try to keep our sound in the same vein of what we feel Bayside is supposed to sound like, and our self-titled (2005) and The Walking Wounded are the two albums that helped define what our sound was going to be forever.
A lot of the record’s themes revolve around the van accident from 2005. How did going through the accident mold what would eventually become The Walking Wounded, and how were you able to write so positively after it?
We really came to the conclusion while we were making the record that we were going to be survivors and not victims. We didn’t want to make a sad record about what had happened to us; we wanted to make a record of how we got through it. The title ‘The Walking Wounded’ came from something Nick had overheard our paramedics say when we were talking about what we could call the record. Nick said that he heard the paramedics call him and I “walking wounded,” which, to me, meant that we were okay.
[For John], we always decided to handle his death as a personal issue, and as a personal loss of a friend and bandmate. It just seemed so trivial in the scope of who John was and what had happened. We always just decided as a band that this was going to make us stronger. As for the record, Sirens & Condolences is a very depressing record, and the self-titled is a little less, but it’s still really a breakup record. It’s funny that that’s what started the train of more positive lyrics for us, which especially now has really become our theme to be more empowering and to find the strength in the bad moments. That was all born with The Walking Wounded.
And it’s amazing that, ten years later, “Duality” is still one of our most popular songs. It was a huge step for us as a band, as far as adding the new sort of whimsical elements for what would become of the band, having all of the sweeping changes and experimenting with different genre, key changes, tempo changes, time signature changes, and all of the proggy elements of what we do now. “The Walking Wounded” was the first time we thought, “Let’s just do something weird and hope people will like it,” and it’s still one of our bigger songs.
Looking back on your time with John in the band, what do you remember about him as a person that really sticks out to you?
Mainly his enthusiasm. I still miss his enthusiasm all the time. He was a really nice guy, and when it came to music and the band, he was so excited and enthusiastic. He fought for everything for our band. I remember an email that he sent out to everybody the day of the accident—within a couple of days of the self-titled record’s release—and us talking about ways that we could get the album out to more and more people and get them to hear it. I remember that morning of the accident, he sent out an email, referring to it as “life and death,” which always stood out to me as something that was definitive of his personality—that we could talk about music to the point where it was a life and death thing, related to the band. His enthusiasm and his need to make the band work were really inspiring.
2017 not only marks the 10th anniversary of The Walking Wounded, but also the 10th anniversary of Bayside’s current lineup being together. What do you feel has been the secret of having been together for that long?
I think that we all have a common goal. We still have struggles, just like any band, and it can be difficult to work and live with other people, but we all want the same thing and it’s something we have to remind each other of. We’re disagreeing on the means and ends of the journey, but we all want what’s best for the band and we have to remind ourselves of that. It’s like a relationship, where there are ups and downs, but you have to remind yourself that there’s a common goal that has to get you through. S