"I don’t know what’s going to happen next but I do know that I’ve fought really fought fucking hard." - Ollie Baxxter
Broadside have just released their third album 'Into The Raging Sea' via SharpTone Records. A brilliant combination of gorgeously passionate love songs and devastatingly honest accounts of mental turmoil, it's a record of immeasurable depth and fine craft that in another world may not have even seen the light of day.
We caught up with vocalist Ollie Baxxter to chat about the timeline of forging the album and what it represents for him both within the band but also in his life away from it as well..
There’s something different about this record to how Broadside albums have felt in the past. Does it feel like that for you too?
"Yeah it does. I’ve been uncertain in the past, and I’m still uncertain now, but it truly feels like THE Broadside album. It’s also an album that couldn’t have been made without the nuances and the obstacles we have overcome. It’s unfortunate but the best things come out of people when they are put in a corner and it’s literally fight or flight."
So, where did this record start life? Let’s go back to the tail end of the ‘Paradise’ cycle and how you were feeling...
"So, the first two albums. ‘Old Bones’, I love it. It’s like my baby. But ‘Paradise’, it had some hits on it but I’d just moved out to LA at the time and was trying to replicate my surroundings. The other thing about that time was how the religion of the band was flawed. We weren’t tight. We were hardly friends and we weren’t communicating. When we were communicating it was having the uncomfortable conversations you have to have which come with the business. We had a love for the music we were playing, but we didn’t really have love for one another.
"So the ego of the band shifted after the release of that album. We did some huge tours with Real Friends and Silverstein and the last Warped Tour and Slam Dunk, so we thought ‘This is it, the ball is rolling’. It probably went to our heads a little bit how quickly everything was happening. Though when you get to a place before you’re meant to get there, it’s going to crumble from underneath you.
"So there was a moment when we were doing a co-headliner with With Confidence across the States where Dorian [Cooke, ex-guitarist] pulled me aside and said ‘I’m leaving after this tour’. So through that entire tour there was a comfort because I’m fine with taking on challenges and I’ve bounced back from worse but I also didn’t want the tour to go bad with it being our last one together. Like we’ve slept on vans and on floors together over the years. All that stuff we had been through just came back to me like a hammer to the face. The whole tour was really difficult on me, especially being on stage and seeing people hyped up and me thinking ‘Is this going to be my last tour as well? Is this the end?’ I just lost the feeling."
It must be difficult to be out playing a show but not feeling a single thing, especially when it looked like things were falling into place. You’re present but your heart and mind is elsewhere…
“You’re right. I was just going through the motions. Putting on my shirt, doing my hair, walking out and singing the songs that at one time meant everything to me but in that moment meant nothing. There were moments that really broke me on that tour. To hear people singing my lyrics broke my heart. It would really hit me. I knew I needed to get back on track to actually enjoying this band. I needed to get back to treating the band like medicine rather than a business otherwise I would go fucking insane.”
So how did you set about writing a new record with so much changing around you?
“Well at this point I was pretty depressed and pretty stressed, but after putting out my second book of poems I suddenly felt more comfortable with my ability to express my feelings in a way that was no longer just black and white. It became more digestible as people could consume it as art rather than it being gospel. We also made a lot of money from those tours so I was able to take six months to spend with my girlfriend and just play video games and drink and come back down to being human again. Before that, for the past five years, we had spent maybe two months together at one time.
“Though all the while I was thinking ‘What’s actually going on with Broadside?’ I was seeing all these kids online asking what was going on and saying that things weren’t the same without Dorian. It was a proper blow to the ego. So from there, I thought I’m just going to write this big old Fuck You album about everything. So we made sure we stayed away from LA and went into the studio with Seth Henderson. We went to his house and chilled and started writing. I still felt uneasy but songs were just flowing.
Prior to that when I was just chilling at home for those six months, Jeff [Nichols, drummer] came down to hang. We had never written anything together before but in that moment we did. Six of those songs we wrote then are the exact same as they are on the record now. I’d never had that before. Then Seth was so supportive in the studio, it really eased me back into the flow of ‘This will be fine."
It’s interesting how the doubt you had on that With Confidence tour was washed away once you were back at it and finding your footing again. It’s like stripping away all of the drama and business and just focusing on the music and letting that flow remind you why you do this. Broadside was no longer a weight on your shoulders…
“Yeah absolutely. I was at a point where Broadside was mine to carry or to bury in the sand. There is so much dumb fucking politics that goes into the music scene, that I realised this was my chance to say ‘This is what we are all about'. Broadside doesn’t have a genre, we just have things that we like. There is no pretty polish on us and one of the hardest things to watch is bands who are so pretty and polished get the numbers that the big picture wants. It sucks when you're a wicker basket in the water and the water is just pouring out of it. Every song we put out, every picture we get taken, every tour we did, it felt the same.
“There was just a moment where I realised that for as long as the water had been pouring out, there was also a garden blooming at my feet. When I finally collapsed, I realised it wasn’t so bad down here. That’s where we are now.”
When you’ve lived with the songs that inhabited ‘Paradise’, for so long and then compare them to how you’ve been writing on this record, you can tell that you've fully immersed yourself in how you were feeling and that has reaped so many rewards in terms of how the songs have come out…
“When I listen to parts of this album and I hear the confessions that are going on where I’ve basically gone ‘Yeah there are a couple of love songs in here but I’m still silently suffering’. Being able to go in a booth and shine a flashlight on the things that were going on in my head, where I’m asking ‘Who am I?’”
How does it feel knowing that people are seeing this side of you more vividly than before?
“I feel like we are in a place where there are people who are experiencing Broadside for the very first time. We get to be one of those bands where people are able to backtrack and go ‘Oh wow, they’ve changed’. That feels pretty good.”
With that in mind, how do you feel the philosophy of this album compares to the other two?
“I think that ‘Old Bones’ was me searching for self-worth but also trying to say ‘I’m here and I want to show you guys that I’m a fucking scrapper’. I came out swinging but I’m vulnerable.
“With ‘Paradise’ the ego got to me a little bit and I said ‘We need to show people that we’re not just going to fizzle out’. So that’s why we wrote some sad ass songs but put a glossy pop-rock sheen on it. As not bad as an idea as it was, if we had more budget it might have come out a bit more crisp. We were just battling out what songs should be on that album, which is why there’s so much going on there. It was basically saying that there’s room for growth but there’s a little bit of forced flattery there.
“With ‘Into The Raging Sea’, the idea is that you’re in this vast ocean that could collapse your lungs and bury your dreams and swallow you whole for you never to be seen again. Or you could learn to swim and float and build a raft and see just how far it can take you. That’s really how this album feels within my life right now. I don’t know what’s going to happen next but I do know that I’ve fought really fucking hard. Broadside is a very real band and I hope that people understand that. I think this record gives them the opportunity to understand that.”
Reaching that point comes from you learning what this band is truly capable of as you try and make your way through the world. You can only create a clearer mindset by going out into the world and testing yourself…
“That’s exactly it. It goes so much bigger than music. Even approaching ‘Old Bones’ I knew that I wanted to take all of the pain and loneliness that I was feeling and share it in a way that starts a dialogue. I’m not here to save people’s lives and I’m not saying that I’m capable of doing so, but I do think that the most empowering thing you can do for someone is inspire them. I say that wholeheartedly.”
Finally, what song do you feel acts as the central point of this record?
“There’s a song called ‘Clarity’ and it’s about how in my family there’s a long line of bi-polar. It teeters between small amounts and bursts and moments. It’s such a harsh and heavy word to say, you know? The song is a confession, with me saying ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with me and I don’t know who I’m asking but I’m begging for my sanity’. I understand that there’s something wrong with me and that eases the pain, but then when it flares up I feel empty again.
“There’s another song on the record as well called ‘Seasons’ which is also about bipolar. My mum heavily faces it and I've seen signs of it in myself in the past year or two. I realise that with having such a good relationship with my mum I can understand what normal coping looks like, but I still feel like at the end of that rope there’s a hook and I’m constantly swinging between self-doubt and wanting to do so much in life. It’s the pain that you can fall on either side and, you feel like you have a body made of glass. People see right through you and you feel like you could shatter. That’s such a scary feeling knowing that it teeters in such a way.
“Those two moments were where I realised I was able to talk about it in a way that’s poetic and not corny. The ability to put that on an album confidently is the voice in my head telling me ‘Hey you’re doing that thing all your idols have done’.”
You can pick up 'Into The Raging Sea' from our mates over at Impericon from right HERE