Eighteen years, thousands of shows, seven studio albums, a live album, a handful of splits and EPs: what hasn’t Bayside done? Their latest effort: a brand new acoustic album, Acoustic Volume 2. Bayside’s first acoustic EP came in 2006, which guitarist Jack O’Shea says “was born out of a tragedy.” Following the accident that resulted in the death of drummer John “Beatz” Holohan, “we were all anxious to recover.” O’Shea and vocalist / guitarist Anthony Raneri soon returned to the road, guitars in hand, and recorded it following “a huge outpouring of support from our fans” as “a re-creation of what that tour meant for us and for me personally, it sort of acts as a memorial to that period of our lives and what had happened.”

Throughout the years, O’Shea and Raneri have continued to do acoustic performances, and the band has included acoustic tracks as B-sides on other albums. Currently in between album cycles, they decided to bring bassist Nick Ghanbarian and drummer Chris Guglielmo “into the acoustic fold and let them participate and give some of these songs a new life.” After releasing and touring in support of Vacancy, “we’re kind of in the process of writing our next record and we really wanted to take our time and have the next record be something developed [with] more of a concise, focused vision.” After recording with John Howard in Franklin, TN, Bayside contacted their label, Hopeless Records, who were immediately interested in putting out Acoustic Volume 2. Feedback from fans has been positive, and the band is “ecstatic about the way that it came out.”

When asked how Bayside maintain their core sound while doing acoustic material, O’Shea stresses that it’s not about genre labels, but about the quality of the songs that Bayside writes. “We’ve always said… [that] a good song is a good song, and a good song can be dressed up in as many different ways as you want,” he says. It doesn’t have to be an aggressive punk rock song, a straight rock song, or a ballad; “If the bones are good, you can treat it however you want.” Acoustic Volume 2 is “a testament to our ability to play together and our ability to adapt our material to become a different thing”; translating the songs to an acoustic setting “was almost like we were covering a Bayside record and doing it as a different act.” O’Shea feels fortunate to be in a band “with three other people who are all competent musicians and are open-minded and are willing and wanting to do something like this, to treat our stuff differently.”

Acoustic (2006) was just O’Shea and Raneri and was recorded the day after the tour ended. That release wasn’t as thought-out; it “was basically those songs that we had been performing, it was our set that we were playing.” Two songs from Acoustic, “Blame It On Bad Luck” and “Devotion and Desire”, were also included on Acoustic Volume 2 as “a more developed version.” O’Shea adds that they’re “two of our more popular songs”, and mentions that “If you listen to [the three different versions of] either of those songs, you’re getting three very different versions of the song. So it is the same, but it’s also a little bit different, and we thought it might be fun to put out another version that is gonna feel developed in a different way.”

In addition to new versions of past material, Bayside wanted to put an original song on Acoustic Volume 2. When it comes time to write, Raneri will share voice memos – he’ll play a chord progression and sing or hum a melody along with it – with his bandmates, who will then contribute and flesh out the songs. Of the ideas that were brought to the table, “It Don’t Exist” “resonated with us the most, and it seemed like it would translate the best into the medium that we were going for.” Some of the ideas brought to the table will end up on the next Bayside album, but now that the acoustic record is complete, “this is clearly the choice… It was the most obvious choice for the treatment that we wanted to give it.”

Some tracks on Acoustic Volume 2, like “Howard”, “I Can’t Go On”, and “Talking of Michelangelo” are deeper cuts in Bayside’s catalog: tracks that they love but that have rarely, if ever, been played live. “I Can’t Go On” is one of O’Shea’s favorite songs on Shudder, but when they tried to rehearse it, it didn’t translate well, and didn’t come across in a live setting the way it did on the album. Discussing the track listing, O’Shea says, “when we were coming up with a list of songs for this, we were talking about songs that we really liked, that we felt like might be overlooked.” For these deeper cuts, “We threw a lot of songs against the wall and whatever stuck [out as] most obvious or felt like it was gonna be the most effective as an acoustic song were the ones that we ended up going with.” Originally a reggae / ska-influenced track, “Howard” became “almost an island-themed song.” This creativity in approach is “a testament to my bandmates and their ability to try to completely take themselves out of the box and put it in a different light…. I’m happy to be in a band with other people who are able to make those kind of changes and perform them effectively.”

On November 24, Bayside will begin a full-band acoustic tour in Chicago. Ghanbarian and Guglielmo, who both live in Orange County, California, will fly to Nashville the week prior to the holiday to rehearse. After celebrating together, they’ll hit the road. With this tour, “we’re also lucky in the sense that the album kinda defines a lot of what those songs are going to be – so at that point it becomes more, ‘everyone learn your parts, we’ll get together and we’ll work it out and we’ll make sure that it sounds right before we leave.'”

Although they live far apart, the members of Bayside are now getting into rooms together to write, rehearse, and record more than when they were all living in New York. Typically, O’Shea and Raneri will head to Bakersfield, California to meet their bandmates in the studio and develop ideas. Bayside has had a consistent lineup since 2006, and “just by virtue of us all playing together for as long as we have, as we’re playing, parts start morphing into what they’re supposed to be. Or we’ll stop and talk about what we’re doing – ‘I really like this, but maybe if this beat would shuffle a little bit more, or maybe if we departed from what it was on the record and we brought it into this thing.'” Technology has made the distance easier, giving the band the chance to remotely send files back and forth, but there’s no substitute for being in a room together and “actually creating something that’s to some degree living and growing and developing in front of us.”

The tour will stretch through December; after a holiday break, it will resume in January, finally concluding on February 2 in Nashville. Whether you’ve seen Bayside before or not, the full band acoustic tour will be something special; for longtime fans who have seen them a million times, “this is gonna be a show that will be different from anything you’ve seen.” They’ll be joined on the road by Kayleigh Goldsworthy, who performs under the name GOLDS; Goldsworthy will be opening the tour as well as adding keys and additional instrumentation and vocals to Bayside’s sets. Bayside are striving to recreate the album as is, and O’Shea hints that some of their techs will join to add percussion and “potentially some extra acoustic guitars as well.”

While a timeline hasn’t been set (though O’Shea is hoping for a 2019 release), Bayside are actively developing new material for their eighth studio album. “We’ve gotten together a handful of times. We’ve written a lot of stuff that we’re all very happy about right now, and I love that,” he says. They’re all on the same page for the album, which O’Shea “might be a little bit heavier” and is “feeling aggressive”; it’ll be true to Bayside’s sound and reminiscent of The Walking Wounded and self-titled. But this release won’t be a re-creation of the band’s prior material; O’Shea offers, “Your new records are never gonna be what your old records are; everyone develops, everyone grows.” Lyrically, Raneri has developed and is in a much different place in life than he was when those records were written. Growth is a good thing, though, and “I think that if your band is kind of repeating the same stuff over and over again, it does get stale.”

The past few years have seen Bayside spending a lot of time looking back at their career and celebrating their legacy, with a tour in 2015 to celebrate 15 years as a band, a tour in 2017 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of The Walking Wounded, and the current acoustic album. O’Shea feels “really fortunate” to have hit these milestones, and shares that “All I can say is that the four of us are devoted to this band, and I feel like we’re all working with the notion that we’re gonna do this as long as we’re allowed to.” There’s never any certainty in the future, but when asked what he hopes the future holds, O’Shea responds, “I’m really hoping that I can be doing an interview like this in ten years, talking about our 25th anniversary as a band…. I don’t think any of us would do this if nobody cared, but there’s so many people that still do, so we are glad to accomplish that. All I can hope for is longevity and doing it for as long as we’re allowed to.”

Bayside will hit the road for a full-band acoustic tour this winter; visit baysidebayside.com to see the full list of tour dates. Acoustic Volume 2 is now available.