In between albums, Bayside felt like it should “still spend that time doing something productive.” The result is Acoustic Volume 2, a set of 10 favorites and deep tracks done in, as the title suggests, an unplugged fashion, with a lone new song “It Don’t Exist.” But frontman Anthony Raneri tells Billboard that the set — whose version of “Sick Sick Sick” premieres exclusively below — is more than a mere sequel to the 2006 EP Acoustic.
“Much more so than (Acoustic), we really wanted to try to reimagine these songs,” Raneri explains. “We decided that nothing has to be on this record. Let’s mess around with a bunch of our songs throughout the catalog. If something sounds cool, it’s on the record, even if it’s not the most popular songs. That was one of the rules we set for ourselves.” Raneri also acknowledges some “vanity” in Bayside’s approach this time. “We wanted this record to say, ‘Look what we can do. We’re not just an aggressive punk band. We can take away the speed, take away the aggression, take away the volume and still play and sound really good.'”
Some of Acoustic Volume 2‘s songs have never been played live before by Bayside, in fact — including “Howard” and “I Think I’ll Be OK,” according to Raneri. And most were treated with new approaches and flavors markedly different than the original studio versions. “‘Howard’ is probably the biggest departure from its original,” Raneri says. “We went into a style we don’t mess around with much, a kind of reggae, islandy thing. And on ‘Sick Sick Sick’ we put a shuffle in there, which is a pretty significant musical change to make to a song that wasn’t written with a shuffle in it.
“We think these are great songs at their core and maybe we missed the mark on them the first time,” Raneri adds. “What if we were to break them back down and take the chords and melody and lyrics and dress them up differently? Maybe somebody would hear something different and they’ll get a second chance.”
To complement Acoustic Volume 2, which comes out Sept. 28, Bayside is setting off on an acoustic tour on Nov. 24 of small, intimate rooms that rolls into February. The group is bolstering its instrumentation with an auxiliary piano player and percussionist, and Raneri promises some of Bayside’s other material will get the same kind of “reimagining” as the Acoustic Volume 2 tracks. “It’s not gonna be just playing our songs on acoustic guitars,” he says. “For people who have seen us 30 and 40 times, it’s gonna be something they’ve never seen before.”
The next order of business, meanwhile, will be the next standard Bayside album, following up 2016’s Vacancy. Writing has already begun for a hoped-for 2019 release, and Raneri predicts “what we think the fans want next. I’m feeling like it’ll be the hardest, heaviest most aggressive album we’ve ever made. I wouldn’t call (Vacancy) our softest record, but it wasn’t on the aggressive side, really. So after that and this acoustic record, I think we’re looking at doing something really heavy for sure.”