The broad rounds of musical inspiration throughout recent history have sparked a cascade of ideas, styles, and forms of expression. Some threads in that tapestry stretch back decades at this point — and the Vancouver based band Baptists is firmly attached to one such thread.
The band operates under a broad heading of noise rock; they make intentionally thick, heavy music. With three full length albums to their name after the May 2018 release on Southern Lord of Beacon Of Faith, that’s the band’s niche at this point, and they’re happy to carve it out.
Guitarist and principal songwriter for the band Danny Marshall explains the thought process going into his craftsmanship as loose but tied together by a common thread — wanting to function within certain specific long established trends.
He says: “The only thing that I really think about is that I don’t want these records to sound drastically different from each other. I like that the artwork has all been similar; it’s all been shot by our friend Jill; it all has the same feel. The albums themselves have the same feel. That to me is a consistency that I like and that’s purposeful. I think that it all being cohesive as a catalog is really important to me.”
That “cohesive” nature rests upon the musical theme that Marshall himself describes as “noise rock.” He explains his perception of his band as something that’s a “a mix between a punk band and a noise rock band.”
“If anything, maybe I’ve been on a bit more of a noise rock kick than usual, especially when I was writing the songs for Beacon Of Faith,” he explains. “I think that side of things bled in a little more than on the last records. It may be because I’ve been writing the songs on my own basically, in my basement, and I haven’t had the other dudes there as much to push things.”
He’s been fond of the broad heading he works under for awhile. Way back when, as a teenager, a boss named Kirk introduced him to bands like Converge and Botch — thanks Kirk — and Marshall has been into the style ever since.
He explains: “In that style of music, I like that the guitars are a little janglier. You’ve got a bunch of open strings just ringing out over the riffs. The guitar playing has a fullness to it that I really like where it’s a single guitar player that maybe is trying to sound like more than a single guitar player. Making as much sound as you can with your one instrument — I like that approach.”
The band hanging onto and growing from solidly founded trends puts them in a naturally bright position, you might say. That brightness hasn’t taken Baptists to as many live settings as Marshall might have liked for this point in their career, but the band is aiming to make it to Europe, both western and eastern Canada, and hopefully even the eastern part of the United States too in coming seasons.
“When we do get to go traveling together, it’s the best,” Marshall says. “It’s like going on vacation — it rules. I would have liked to have toured more than we have at this point for sure. So we’ll see if we can turn that around a bit.”
No matter his band’s own presence on the live circuit, Marshall is happy with the direction of the music community as a whole, quipping that there are just “a lot of people making a lot of good music right now” all across the spectrum, so there’s no need for worry.
Listening to Baptists, you certainly get the idea that they’re doing their part to tie the various strands of the music community together. They take themes that have been expressed for decades and keep them alive through sharing original and yet familiar albums that fit right in.
Their latest album, Beacon Of Faith, runs through thirteen at times compact and yet full tracks. Lyrics are handled by front man Andrew Drury, and he and Marshall are joined in Baptists by bassist Sean Hawryluk and drummer Nick Yacyshyn.
Yacyshyn actually plays with longtime musician Aaron Turner in Sumac, one of the latest projects to involve the artist, and that outfit is one of many that Marshall is fond of out there. Others in the so-called noise rock community include Sweet Cobra and Young Widows; outside of that field, bands like Power Trip and Mammoth Grinder intrigue Marshall.
Listening to Marshall talk about his take on music, you can sense that he’s interested in going with and understanding the flow of the music community as much as he’s interested in redirecting it as a member of Baptists. The community itself is an outgrowth of the people involved with it, so his approach might let you understand them better too — although he’s clear on that he doesn’t approach his songwriting with some broad metaphysical plan.
Even still, the music hits hard in an intentional feeling and memorable way.
Check it out on Spotify below.