Finding light in the darkness.
That's what the members of punk-emo act Bayside had to do in 2005 when a van accident killed drummer John "Beatz" Holohan and seriously injured bassist Nick Ghanbarian.
A few years later, the New York City outfit isn't so much moving on from the incident as much as coming to terms with it, as well as the future of the band as it's comprised today. After releasing an acoustic tribute to Holohan in 2006, Bayside went right back to work.
The foursome's latest studio album, aptly titled The Walking Wounded, takes a mature approach to a serious subject. Still, the band's wounds are dressed in cathartic angst and menacing riffs.
"Everything that happened to us, really, we tried to control it and keep it on a personal level," says Ghanbarian, calling from his New York home. "We certainly didn't want to be known solely for the fact of what we went through.
"I don't think it necessarily affected the way we write a song. You value life a little bit more, so that shows through. It's easier to dwell in bad things than make something positive out of things. I think that's what we try to preach and practice."
The more common struggles facing new millennium American punk-emo bands are well-documented. Pigeonholed with creative shackles and critical aversion, groups such as My Chemical Romance and Alkaline Trio have moved into rock and pop arenas.
In talking to Ghanbarian, it's clear that jumping ship is not an option for Bayside, which includes vocalist-guitarist Anthony Raneri, drummer Chris Guglielmo and guitarist Jack O'Shea. In fact, Ghanbarian feels any discernible differences from the band's 2004 debut, Sirens and Condolences, to The Walking Wounded are based more on songwriting maturity than any calculated attempts to parlay Vans Warped credibility into mainstream consideration.
"I feel that is a mistake people make," Ghanbarian says. "That they have a little bit of success doing what they did when they first started out and then they feel pressure, mostly from themselves, to kind of write a more polished song, something a little bit more radio-friendly or something the critics are going to like, which isn't the point to start a band in the first place.
"You start a band to do something you love and write songs you want to write, and if you're not writing something that represents you well in the first place, then you're doing things for the wrong reason. If we, for whatever reason, throw a Backstreet Boys song on our next album, it's not being true to yourself and who we are. So I think our sound is always going to remain the same."
Whether discussing the way the group handled Holohan's death or how it flies the emo flag with impunity, you can't deny the resilience of Bayside.
"I think early on in our career, people thought we were just an Alkaline Trio cover band," Ghanbarian says. "Also, a lot of people know we're on Victory Records, and that's like a hardcore metal label, so people might not even give us a chance."
After a brief pause, Ghanbarian quips, "It could be worse. I'm not complaining at all."
Bayside, with Straylight Run, Four Year Strong and The Status
The Black Sheep,
2106 E. Platte Ave.
Friday, Feb. 8, 7 p.m.
Tickets: $13 in advance, $15 day-of-show, all ages; visit ticketweb.com or call 866/468-7621.