Melody meets atrophy in Baylies Band

Living the dream
By CHRIS CONTI  |  August 30, 2011

Baylies_main
ARCANE CUSTODIAN Baylies.
"Seventeen years ago this band was started with a sheet of acid, an ounce of weed, and a dream . . . the acid and weed are long gone, but the dream remains. Thank you."
_Eric Baylies's acceptance speech for Best Genre-Defying Act at the 2011 Providence Phoenix Best Music Poll Awards

"It's nice to win but that doesn't mean the big clubs want us any more than they did before," acknowledged Eric Baylies, longtime ringleader behind New Bedford-based noise-rock outfit Baylies Band, which recently downsized to a trio (with guitarist Joel Jason and drummer James Picardi) prior to recording their latest EP, All Clowns No Lions (75orLess Records). Bur fear not, those who are pining for more Fort Thunder flashbacks, as Baylies and friends ratchet up the dense, eerie sonic collages and improv instrumentals, this time all condensed on one 53-minute track.

" 'All clowns no lions' was something I misheard at a bar but wished someone really said it," Baylies said of the title. "It's kinda like 'all hat no cattle' or 'lipstick on a pig,' but it's all mine."

The extensive Baylies Band catalog (a handful are available at 75orlessrecords.com) includes the three-track, 69-minute sprawler Man Ray & Vague Knitting (dedicated to John Cage and composer Terry Riley); the appropriately-titled Fort Thunder Flashback; a 39-minute improv piece dubbed Custodian of Arcane Knowledge (Baylies is a substitute school teacher in New Bedford); and Risibility & Discourse, a must for fans of early Sonic Youth and Melvins (check out "Pissing On a Drowning Man"). The latest EP springs to life in spurts, all held together by the ongoing rumble of Picardi's kit.

Since 1994, Baylies has enlisted more than 40 musicians to perform and record with him under the collective band name.

"Baylies Band played CBGBs 10 times, more than all other New Bedford bands combined, and we're probably the only band to play both Fort Thunder and the Station.

"Three years ago we had six keyboard players, bass, drums, and trumpet, but I think our new lineup is gonna be around for awhile," Baylies declared.

"When we started, Six Finger Satellite was just about the only band in town playing a Moog onstage besides me, and I was the only theremin player around."

Mark MacDougall, founder of Warren-based imprint 75orLess Records and bassist/vocalist for Six Star General, stumbled upon Baylies' music in the early '90s while spinning records at WSMU (91.1-FM, UMass Dartmouth).

"Eric was cranking out weird music back then around the time of Glazed Baby and Holy Cow," MacDougall recalled.

"Years later, he was helping me gather bands for the label compilations. It was through him that I was later able to connect with [South Coast-based] bands like Nature/Nurture, the Blood Moons, and Mike Mountain," he said.

75orLess labelmates Six Star General and Vertical Twin share a bill with Baylies Band at the Apartment next weekend.

Baylies has toured the country and abroad with Philly/NJ friends Temple of Bon Matin and, most recently, Bad Mother-fucker. When Bad MoFo headed to Cali to record their debut (at Studio D, birthplace of Soundgarden's Badmotorfinger and Faith No More's The Real Thing), Baylies looked up old friend and saxophonist Steve Mackay of the Stooges to record on a few tracks. But Baylies Band is his top priority right now, as the band nears completion of their next full-length, cut at Machines With Magnets.

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