This week RPM Discoveries uncovers the eclectic indie rock band, Bailiff. Once I came across “What I Was” from their first EP, Mm Hmm, I was captivated by their distinct bluesy rock with a contemporary twist sound and I had to know more. I sat down with Bailiff before their gig at Cincinnati’s very own MOTR Pub on Feb. 12 to further tap into their sound. As a lover of music and all things a little different, I feel it is my responsibility to inform music fans everywhere of Chicago’s best kept secret...
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Sometimes we have dreams that take us on alternative and unorthodox paths. For Josh Siegel (vocals, guitar), his dream of forming a band led him straight to the Berklee College of Music registrar’s office. Dressed for the occasion in a three piece suit, Siegel marched to the beat of his own drum as he officially withdrew from school, moved back home to Chicago and formed what is Bailiff.
“It was scary, but my intuition was telling me that I needed to spend my twenties forming a band and playing shows. I thought that would happen in music school, but it wasn’t really happening and I couldn’t really afford to live in Boston so a couple forces pushed me to that decision,” explained Siegel.
With the help of some Craiglist ads, Siegel was introduced to Ren Mathew (drums). A couple years later, Siegel and Mathew enlisted Owen O’Malley (bass) officially making Bailiff a layered and expansive trio. The three have been playing together for four years and the result is an all-embracing discography that includes the influences of Robert Johnson, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Muddy Waters and Radiohead.
“We all listen to lots of different kinds of music. Our collective tastes overlap and then also branch off. I think since we’ve been in a band we’ve been introducing each other to more contemporary music. I wouldn’t know of Jamaican Queens if Josh hadn’t heard them in a Knoxville bar. Sharing music as a band is kind of what brings all of our past influences into focus together,” said O’Malley.
The culmination of Bailiff’s influences and talent is delivered in three beautiful sonic baby’s that will have you feelin’ the groove. Mm Hmm (2008), the band’s first EP, presents the heavy and raw sound of American blues twisted slightly with the poppy airiness found in creative masterpieces by bands like The Beatles. Red Balloon (2011) carries on the thread of blues woven through its upbeat and contemporary riffs. Remise (2014) is a perfect reflection of Bailiff’s maturation and sound evolution that the band feels was a pretty natural process to undergo.
“There is a certain type of music we realized we all liked. Radiohead have some really pretty songs. There’s a guy named Richard Thompson who really influenced my writing. He’s got some really great ballads. I think it’s a matter of you get older and you fall in love with more kinds of music and you just want to make something that stimulates the same things of your favorite slower, lighter songs too,” said Siegel.
Helping guide the band through the creative process during Remise were two producers, Dan Smart and Jon Alvin. The band wanted Smart and Alvin to keep “the sound melody based so the groove and riffs were supporting it rather than leaning too heavily on the instrumentation thinking that would be the hook.” On titles like “Lookin’ Away” and “Out of the Blue” you’ll get a dose of Bailiff’s catchiness that’ll hit you with a refreshing wave of sound.
Aside from releasing a new album, Bailiff has had a successful 2014. They were nominated for Best Emerging Artist of 2014 by The Deli Chicago, have toured the country in their beloved brown conversion van currently named Jackie Van (they’re working on a couple ideas), and were part of music festival lineups like Cincy’s MidPoint Music Fest. Keeping the momentum flowing, Bailiff started the year off right with a winter tour appropriately named “Wheels of Winter”. Despite these successes, however, the band remains humble and appreciates the positive feedback it has experienced from the loyal fans Bailiff has attracted. What started out as a project led by the intuitive gut has become a mesmerizing package of sound that any fan of music will enjoy.
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