Not many lead singers will bring their guard down long enough to allow themselves to be so candid and exposed that their fans can see beyond the rock persona to the inner workings of the creators themselves. In a day and age where so much of how people present themselves is based on how they are perceived on social media, it is refreshing to see someone in the public spotlight question the very spotlight itself. In fact, much like the literary greats of the past, Broadside frontman Ollie Baxxter seems to question everything, an attribute that often leads to complete artistic freedom.
We recently sat down with Baxxter to discuss the band’s latest album, touring a new Europe, and why he wants the universe to believe in him as much as he believes in himself.
TrunkSpace: “Paradise” has been out for about a week now. With all the buzz that was circulating the album prior to its release, did you guys feel any extra pressure to deliver in a particular way with the material?
Baxxter: Yeah. I was a little scared because I knew it was a little poppy and a little less… slightly aggressive, if you want to call it that. I was afraid that we were going to lose the core pop punk kids, but at the end of the day, we are a band that has kind of always driven home the same kind of energy at our live shows and the same kind of lyrical content. And they always knew that we’ve been weirdos, so I think they could have just expected an album like “Paradise.” Keeping that in mind, I was less scared to put it out towards the end and it was just more nurturing towards the idea of, “Hey, guys… I know you’re not closed-minded assholes.”
TrunkSpace: Well, and your own personal influences are so diverse in terms of the style of music you enjoy, so why wouldn’t Broadside show some sonic diversity?
Baxxter: Exactly. I don’t appreciate the corruption of the idea of the pop industry, but I love the idea of a formula of sound and being able to dress something up a certain way. But the true artists… the Michael Jacksons and the Boys II Mens of the world… they can incorporate those testaments of things that actually matter like human to human contact, but dressing them up as something else so that the world will actually listen. Because we’re all distracted these days, so it’s nice to be able to provide an outlet on both sides of the frame.
TrunkSpace: So was the move towards a more pop-friendly sound a conscious one or did it just kind of happen organically?
Baxxter: We consciously set out to do it, but we didn’t know how deep or how far we would take it. We wanted to be more marketable, but keep the things that matter to us like the consistency of the lyrical content. There’s a guitar solo on the album for Niles. We just wanted to make sure that everyone was happy, and at the same time, we also wanted to let the industry know that we were a band that was consistent and that we were looking for growth. We wanted to show people that we could grow and that people would grow with us.
TrunkSpace: How did you guys approach recording the album given the new direction?
Baxxter: We went with the same producer, Kyle Black. We did our last album and then the State Champs album came out and that kind of peaked our interest because we were like, “This is kind of a poppy sound for sure, but it’s still got the grit of a rock album.” And that was the thing… we didn’t want to go full on bubblegum pop. We still play our instruments and still perform, so we kept that in mind. We just liked his (Kyle’s) overall sound and thought sonically that he killed it. We wanted to keep that little bit of grit of what we were putting out to the world.
TrunkSpace: It can take a long time for songs to be written and for the songs themselves to be recorded and released. With that being said, have you guys already moved on creatively from where your heads were at when you put together “Paradise” to where you are now?
Baxxter: We have this good balance within the band. We’re all different creators, so we’re all doing something as an outlet on the outside. Our guitarist Niles is into photography. Dorian is into producing and writing with other bands. And I’m a writer so I write a lot of stuff on the side. I get a lot of my outlet stuff through there and then when it comes to Broadside, we like to give the material the allotted time that it deserves to fully get the record out there.
If it were up to me and my ADHD ass, I would just be like, “Yeah, let’s write a new record tomorrow.” But, apparently you can’t do that if you play an instrument. (Laughter)
This record isn’t a forever type of record. I knew this record was going to be a summer 2017 stamp on music and knowing that going in, I kept that in mind when writing the lyrics. I really wanted to focus on things that were going on right now for the people of right now.
TrunkSpace: Your own personal creative outlet is writing. Do you find that you’re able to do a lot of that internal creating when the band is on the road?
Baxxter: Absolutely. I’m the guy that always has a journal. If you want to call it a diary, that’s fine. (Laughter) I have a journal with me and I’m always writing. I’m a big reading snob, so on tour one of my favorite things to do is to go into old bookstores. Even in the UK, because I romanticize everything, just being in the UK and being able to write in bookshops and shit like that… I’m really inspired by the ambiance of things. It can be tough in the van sometimes because the guys never shut the hell up, so in times like that it’s difficult, but when I get to the venue I try to challenge myself and write something, even if it’s pointless.
TrunkSpace: Being on the road has so much structure to it, so it must be nice because then you can at least know when you’ll be free to get lost in your own head. When you’re home, sometimes life just gets in the way.
Baxxter: For sure. With the last tour, it was with a bigger band and it was considered “A market” so we had to load in a lot earlier, which allowed me a lot of time throughout the day. I don’t like to write when I’m particularly emotional about anything. I don’t like to write when I’m too upset or I’m too excited because it just comes out as chaos, so I like to try and write at the end of the day because then I can represent the entire day. It’s tough, but I do like the fact that there was a schedule on this last tour. Plus I’m a big fan of going out and eating food too. That’s one of my things. That’s one of everybody’s things, but I love to find some good Asian cuisine wherever we are because I’m a sucker for it. I could eat noodles every day all day.
So, those two things are the me things that I make sure get done. I’ll announce to the band, “Yo, guys, I’m going to go write” or “I’m going to go find some noodles.” They’re usually on board with the noodles.
TrunkSpace: And you guys are scheduled to head back over to Europe soon, right?
Baxxter: Oh yeah. In September. I’m so excited.
TrunkSpace: Knowing about everything that been going on over there and with the heightened level of awareness around possible future attacks, does the band have to approach this tour in a different way?
Baxxter: It’s definitely a scary scenario, but I would hate to treat any situation as if things were to come. I think the venues are taking a step with their security and their handling of that scenario. It’s unfortunate, but you really just can’t control those awful acts. I don’t want to go into it being afraid because I would hate for someone watching or even a passerby to feel that energy. At the same time, it’s almost necessary at this point to kind of think that it is at least a realistic possibility.
TrunkSpace: We saw something interesting on your Twitter feed a few days ago. You wrote, “Dear Universe, believe in me as much as I believe in me.” What was your inspiration for writing that?
Baxxter: As much as I want to believe that I am climbing this ladder of success, which I am because I’m doing interviews like this and all sorts of things, it’s all just material. In the back of my mind, I can’t help but question what the fuck am I doing. What is my purpose and what is my value? I often get caught up in this idea of material possessions and it’s a financial situation. Like, if I had more money, then I’d be happier. And I hate that because it’s not necessarily true, though it would change a lot of stuff. But I feel like I’m giving so much of myself to the world and that sounds so diva-ish because I choose to do it, but I’m putting out a lot and I’m really trying to inspire people. People tell me all of these crazy stories and I don’t respond to all of them because I can’t or because they’re too intense. All I can say is that if you’re feeling this way, you’ve got to speak to a professional doctor or your parents need to get help. I carry this weight around and I raise my baby brother and my baby sister and I think, what is my worth? What is my value? And I really just want to be able to turn the noise off for a day and write consistently enough where I can get the first chapter of my book done or more of my poetry written. It’s not a financial situation. It’s just the world is so burdened and sometimes I carry it around with me. I feel like because I’m a weirdo hippy, I ask the universe to just silence all of the stuff around me so I can focus because a lot of this is so distracting.
TrunkSpace: We certainly live in a day and age where there is so much white noise and negativity swirling about. It’s hard to escape.
Baxxter: Yeah. And that’s the thing, even when I’m on the Internet and I’ll post something that has value to me… it will get half the amount of attention as a fucking photo of me. And you’re like, “I’m flattered, but it hurts to know that I have to grab your attention in three seconds for you to find value in me at all.” As an artist, it’s the worst thing ever because I don’t feel like I should be competing with a certain type of person. I don’t want to compete. I want to create freely in my own head knowing that it will be read and received. It’s frustrating because you’re right, there’s so much white noise and everybody is like, “Look this way. Look that way. Look this way.” It even hurts when I’m like, “Hey, vote for us for Best Underground Band on Alt Press Award.” That’s a big ass accomplishment and we’re going to be on the TV and shit like that, but I still feel bad asking people to do that.
“Paradise” is available now on Victory Records.