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Baroness' John Baizley on Communicating Through His Guitar

The metal master gets more than just twang out of his Telecaster.

John Baizley looks at the guitar in different ways than most, as he endeavors to make his Telecaster do things that others might not when fronting his metal band, Baroness.

As he puts it, a Telecaster is a “tool of precision and expression,” no matter what music you’re playing.

“When I began to play Telecasters, it was like the glove that fits, and I realize now the expression that that flows through me into my fingertips, and then somehow finds life on this fret board is clearer,” he said. “It is more articulate, and it is more nuanced. I can make loud parts feel loud, I can make heavy parts feel heavy, and I can make delicate, delicate parts feel incredibly delicate.”

For nearly a decade, Baizley has made his case through Baroness’ colorful and heavy hitting records, Red Album, Blue Record, Yellow & Green, and 2015’s Purple, all of which have garnered critical and commercial success, not to mention established the band on the forefront of the metal scene.

Baizley recently checked in with Fender to talk about his approach to the guitar and how it helps him communicate with the audience when he’s wearing his Tele in front of fans nearly every night.


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"When Nevermind dropped, it struck me that I had a love for playing music, and I could do it."

"It was mixed with the absolute absence of talent that I had. But with seeing and hearing those loud guitars, it seemed like everybody was having a blast. Itt spoke to me. When grunge was really big, and we discovered a way to get music that only we would like, and we knew nobody else would like it."


"We didn't know anything about instruments or effects pedals or all the expensive stuff."

"We had to borrow our parents and our friends' parents old gear from the '70s when they were into rock. We'd get these just massive walls of beat-up, busted speakers and plug in to everything and just see how loud you could get without many loud amps. So, it would just be a lot of these like small practice amps that we could kind of stumble across, in pawn shops and whatnot. We just figured out ways to plug into everything and make a racket."


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"Where were so few of us that we would learn all of the songs that we were interested in, but everybody had to know the drums, the bass, the guitar, the vocals … "

"We had to make up a lot of the rules. If the drummer didn't show up, you had to be the drummer. If the bass player didn't show up, you had to be the bass player. That period of my life was all about loving the fact that we had no idea what we were doing."


"I learned quite a bit of theory, but it wasn't looking for it."

"It just kind of happened onto my plate. Theory's a tool. It's a language. It allows us to speak fluently with other musicians in other bands and from other cultures. There's still room to discover music on these instruments."


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"I think in the music industry, there were people saying, "Rock's dead.'"

"I think that was just as a method to say, 'Look, electronic is taking over. Your cute little six-string instruments are becoming more and more like toys. But I'm a huge Queen fan, and Brian May, if nothing else, taught me that you can make your guitar sound wildly different.

"It will enrich and embolden the music that you make. So, a lot of times in a recording studio or in rehearsal and oftentimes on stage, my whole objective is to make this instrument sound anything other than what it actually is."


"Being in front of lots of people isn't that easy for me. But when I have this guitar in front of me, it becomes far simpler."

"I know my place in the universe, musically speaking. It's a tool for me to emote and to communicate with people without having to verbalize it, without trying to figure out some articulate way of taking this very nebulous idea. Music a communal thing, and when we play on stage, the more energetic the crowd is, the more energetic we are, and the better the show is. This is just this bizarre instrument that allows me to say things that I would probably be very uncomfortable saying to huge crowds of people."

"I think if you're going to find your personality in an instrument, these are the instruments that exhibit the most personality. For me, that's the goal."


Click here for more information about Baroness.

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