Philadelphia painter, singer, and guitarist John Dyer Baizley is the hoarse-voiced singer and impressionist songwriter for the psychedelic, nu-metal combo Baroness. They are to appear Saturday at Johnny Brenda's for the release of their new album,
. Baizley is the cover artist for each of Baroness' brutal, beautiful albums, as well as those from like-sounding friends Black Tusk, Skeletonwitch, and Coliseum.
Visually inspired by Czech painter Alphonse Mucha and 1970s rock-poster art, Baizley paints as a form of self-expression.
"I can work out things on paper or record that are more subtle, difficult, obtuse than I can deal with - articulate - on a purely verbal level," he says.
Born of necessity (the band needed album art after forming in 2003), Baizley's ornate, densely lined visual style is in league with what Baroness has executed sonically as an ensemble - check out their new single, "Chlorine & Wine" - as well as what his comrades-in-nu-metal play.
When "bands . . . have a strong visual-aesthetic benefit, that allows their listeners to go into their music in a different, deeper way" he says. "I'm trying to offer an entry point to people, something that is richly textured."
Richly textured also describes the harsh, complex brand of metal Baroness has played on lushly appointed albums such as 2007's The Red Album, 2009's Blue Record, and 2012's Yellow & Green.
But it's fortunate that Baroness and Baizley are around at all, to make any form of art. On a tour after the Yellow & Green release, their bus went over the side of a road in England. Several band members were hospitalized with severe injuries. Baizley sustained a broken arm and leg.
"I don't think there was an either/or as to how recovery affected me as a musician or as a painter," he says. "There were physical restrictions playing guitar that I didn't have making art, but restrictions were there, period. When I began playing again, it had to be slowly."
Material for Purple began to emerge last year. Baizley says the album's producer, Dave Fridmann, has a work ethic and dreamlike sound (something like the Flaming Lips) that was exactly what Baroness needed. Baizley, who doesn't seem the type to throw this word around, uses it proudly to describe Fridmann: "genius."
Baroness and Baizley's Purple lightbulb moment came during the writing of the gorgeously corrosive "Kerosene," when "sugary anticipation" met what he calls "a synchronization of energy."
"I would usually be stressed and anxious about this, but this time I wasn't," he says. "Our thrill level and our skill level converged - that's when you can mine new territory, just running as fast as we could to hit the studio. Being that excited was huge.
"Look, we all grew up in the '90s. We hold ourselves to the Fugazi standard of integrity and humility, being cautious about being good. Yet, when we came to realize that we as a four-piece was greater together than the sum of its parts . . . then, it was awesome."