Deciblog Q&A: Baroness frontman John Dyer Baizley elaborates on U.K. bus crash (PART II)

By: andrew Posted in: featured On: Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

baizley guitar

You’ve used the words “six months” a few times [regarding touring again]. Is that when you anticipate everybody should be ready to go?
I see six months as the longest possible period of time that I can be held down. Honestly, it’ll be sooner than that, but I don’t wanna…

How did you come to that specific number?
No real reason. No real way. [Laughs]

I’m just curious if the time period correlates for [recovery time for] you and everyone else.
No, the prognosis for everybody was really different, and the physical rehabilitation time takes a certain amount of time. Then it’s about rebuilding strength, and who knows how long that takes. I’m just saying, if I don’t have a timeline on this that’s ambitious, I’m not gonna be motivated. Maybe it is a little too ambitious. But I’d rather have that than, you know, feel like I’m being too conservative, and… you know, how I go out the next two years of my life, I’d like to get back to it soon. Or else the terrorists really have won, Andrew. [Laughs]

But that cheeseball thing, there’s some of that that rings true. I don’t want to let the pain of this and the immobility and the trauma of this prevent me from doing something that I was happy to do before, and had no regrets doing. It’s just that simple. I don’t see our accident as being a direct result of what we do. Being on tour all the time means you’re on the road a lot, blah blah blah. The more time you spend physically on the road…

The more likely you’ll have an accident.
Sure. That’s fine. I get that part. I’m not an idiot. But we could have just as easily been door-to-door salesmen or lawyers or firemen or… chimney sweeps. Anybody, you know? We’ve been touring for 10 years, we love doing it. Even before it was professional, it’s a pursuit of passion. There’s adventure, you move around, you satisfy and push back all of those midlife crisis tendencies, and it doesn’t sate your palate at all–it just whets it, and you’re hungry for more travel, more adventure. I’m totally satisfied with that. One of my favorite parts about the amount of travel that we do is that things go haywire constantly. And you constantly have to deal with tests. This’ll be the big test.

And the point of it seems to be, if I wanna get into that manner of thinking where “there’s gotta be a reason”–which I don’t, by the way; i don’t believe in any of that–in those moments where I have to start to justify things, I’m saying the severity of this accident can only be matched by my resolution to gain through it, and come back something better, not something worse. That just seems to me like the only option that I’ve got. I think that my duty here and my goal is to prove to myself that this isn’t a show-stopper. It isn’t a deal-breaker. It’s not even close.

I feel like I’m out of the woods with a lot of the real heavy stuff, but we’ll see. Something like that leaves its mark on you so permanently and in so many ways, it’s just crazy. For the first two weeks after the accident, as our different injuries are sort of healing… for instance, as my arm gets a surgery on it and then it’s sort of in the clear, then all of a sudden little pieces of glass are popping out of my skin, and I can all of a sudden feel all the splinters from glass that was embedded in me. And once I get that all out, then I start to feel the bruises a couple days later. And then after all the bruises kind of die off, you start to feel where your tendons are tight. And then a couple days after that… you know, it’s this weird process where as you move down the hierarchy of painful things to happen, new things will pop up that you haven’t been aware of before. I believe that at then end of it, once the corporeal pain has essentially died off, then you’re left to contend with yourself and whatever’s happening up in your noodle. It’ll be interesting to see what that is. But as I’ve said many times before this, the best thing about this band and being a creative person and being an artist, or whatever we are: we’ve got an outlet for it. We can make music and through the healing process listen to music to help us.

bness overcast

Yeah, being a visual artist, is that something you can do with your hand right now, as an outlet?
Yeah. Most people that know me know me as fairly high-stress/high-energy. I actually can play music now, and I’ve started writing a couple songs already. Fortunately, this is an injury to my left side. I’m a right-handed guy, so I’ve taken on some new [visual art] projects just to keep me busy and keep me creative.

There’s the rub: the weird thing that I’ve never felt before is a shot to my creativity, which i guess is to be expected from something like this. But I couldn’t anticipate it. About two weeks after the accident, I tried to put some music on and just relax, because i was stuck in the hospital and really bumming on that. So I just wanted to tune out a little bit in a room with six other guys all in varying degrees of severe pain. My wife had loaded up the iPod with very relaxed music. And it all sounded… it just sounded awful. Just the most mellow music on the planet was like a Big Black record backwards at maximum volume. Just totally dissonant, totally grating, really harshly abrasive. And that freaked me out. Then i tried messing around drawing something, and it was kind of that same feeling. It was meant to reduce my stress or allow me relaxation.

But in the past week or two, I’ve begun to hear things again and begun to access that side of me again. I hope that it wasn’t damaged up too bad. It’s a very weird thing to contend with.

It’s probably like what you were saying about the physical healing process of splinters of glass coming out and bruises developing: now the gradual shedding is happening on more of an abstract level.
Absolutely. That’s the thing. I’m entering the abstract phase of this because I’m so… what’s happening with my body has slowed down. I’m not walking for another two months. I’m not able to do anything that severe pain won’t stop me from doing with my arm. It’s all pretty clear. What’s happening inside my head is like a completely different thing. It’s hard to put your finger on and articulate. The way I’ve been able to explain it so far is: something got knocked loose. I do understand the need to find it again and reintegrate it into who I am. Just making an estimated guess, I think it’s gonna be my creativity and the art and music that i make that allows me to find it. So, I’m just doubling down on that. I’ve really got no other options anyway. It’s not like I’m gonna Run for the Cure. [Laughs]

It’s really fortunate that you’re in a situation with your bandmates and family and the people you work with where the environment is there to come out intact on the other side.
Yeah. And that’s one thing that’s really starting to shake me now–how, if any of the variables that exist in my life didn’t exist, this would’ve been much much harder. What would happen if this had happened to us and we weren’t in a band? What would happen if there wasn’t that kind of support from press, fans, friends around the globe, people that we work with, clubs, management, agents? Everybody came correct. Everybody we knew pitched in, because we were kind of up the creek with that thing. We could’ve been in a non-English-speaking country and we would’ve been much more confused. Fortunately, the hospital and EMT response was insanely fast. They did such a good job of not prolonging what was extremely bad for us. It’s hard to figure out exactly how to thank everybody that’s pitched in. I’m not gonna take that for granted. But, yeah, just change one variable and this thing could’ve been infinitely more difficult.

  • Doogs

    John Baizley is one tough and inspiring son of a bitch.