The release of Baroness’ Purple on December 18th was a long time coming. They’re essentially starting over, given that this is on their own label (Abraxan Hymns), their first album with a new rhythm section, and most importantly, the first album since a 2012 bus crash almost ended the band’s career. In an interview with Rolling Stone, singer/guitarist John Baizley talks about the long road to recovery, which he says was helped by a phone call from Metallica’s James Hetfield as he lay in the hospital following the accident. He tells the magazine:
His call was [as] important as every other call I got that week. I have since come to learn that, while I was in the hospital — roughly two and a half weeks, which felt like two and a half decades for me at the time — there were a lot of people who were nervous or somewhat reticent to call me; they didn’t know what condition I was in, or they were concerned that I needed time or space. I really didn’t. In fact, each time somebody called me from the States, it was a huge relief for me; it was a reminder that there was still a world out there moving on, and that in turn led me to believe that there was a place for me to work towards after my immediate situation was over.
But it was very hilarious the way he called. It was late at night in the trauma ward; most of the people I was in the room with were elderly, and they’d gone to bed early. I wasn’t going to bed at all, for some obvious reasons; it was very difficult for me to sleep. The nurse was an older lady, and she said, “Somebody just called you — a Jim Hatfield or John Hartfield, something like that. I told him I wasn’t sure if you were awake or taking calls.” I said, “I don’t know anybody by either of those names, but I don’t care if they’re trying to sell me a dishwasher or life insurance — bring me the number, because I need somebody to talk to, desperately!” So she handed me the little slip of paper with James Hetfield’s name and cell-phone number on it [laughs].
So I called him up, and I had one of the most realistic and honest conversations that I had that week. He gave me obvious but very good advice. Coming from Hetfield, who’d been through a tragic bus-related incident, and things that were more severe than what I went through, his words had a little bit of weight to them. When he said, “Don’t worry; things will get better,” I thought, well, if it got better for him, it will get better for me. And I had many other conversations that weren’t with Metallica members, where people were telling me things I needed to hear, because I wasn’t quite believing them myself at the time.
Hetfield has indeed been through a bus accident before, but unlike Baroness’, not everyone made it out of that one. Purple is out on December 18th, and can be preordered here.