For fledgling bands looking to take the next step, the cliche “big break” is always sought after. Grizzled punk veterans Bayside may not buy into the romanticized concept, but they’re looking to offer underground acts a crucial step in the pursuit of musical greatness.

While choosing openers for their upcoming tour, popular support was tossed to the wayside. Instead, the band are offering local groups the opportunity to hit the big stage as a one-time opener.

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Despite the concept seeming like a callback to your favorite band’s underdog story, the idea was anything but planned. A small suggestion by one of the members quickly took flight. 

“We were in the studio actually, and Chris [Guglielmo], our drummer, just threw it out there,” vocalist Anthony Raneri recalls.

Once management and Hopeless Records were on board and the “nonfun parts” of the process were completed, it was set. Bayside would be hosting local openers on their Interrobang tour.

With an open-door policy to groups of all genres, they established only two rules for their “Battle Of The Bands.” Potential openers can’t be signed or touring, ensuring only local acts will be included in the pool to create a one-of-a-kind experience for both fans and Bayside themselves. 

Read more: Bayside announce ‘Interrobang’ album along with title track’s video

“It's going to be an adventure for us every day,” Raneri says. “We don't know who's going to [be] playing every day. I'm hoping it's going to be all over the board. That will keep the tour fresh for us to get to see something completely different every day.” 

While he rejects the notion of a big break, he knows firsthand about the struggle of aspiring artists. Although the band are fast approaching their 20-year anniversary, the vocalist remembers the exhaustion well.

“A lot of times when you're starting out as a band and a lot of your shows aren't that well attended, you start to feel like you're spinning your tires and not going anywhere and all this sacrifice isn't paying off,” he says. “But then you get in front of a bunch of people and you play your music, and [if] they like it, that tells you as a band you're doing the right thing—that spark is really important for young bands just to keep going.”

In the midst of lightly attended venues and a seemingly endless grind, one good set can make all the difference. This is what Bayside hope to provide for their potential openers.

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“More than anything, we want to stoke out the bands because that's what we needed when we were younger,” Raneri explains. “It wasn't so much opportunities. It wasn't so much a big break as it was we needed to keep going. We needed to keep trying. We needed to keep working. Sometimes you just need a really rad day to remind you that this is all worth it.”

Don’t confuse the inclusion of local artists as a half-hearted act of charity, though. The only thing separating the voted-in openers from a scheduled support band is the method that got them on the bill.

“We're actually going to be paying the bands to play,” Raneri says. “They're going to be paid as the opener as if they were on the tour for the day. They'll get to use the dressing room and get to set up merch and talk to us, hang out. They're legitimately going to be on the show for the day.”

While Raneri trusts the band’s fans to provide fitting openers, he hopes the contest will also lead them on their own path of discovery and even assist the bands who don’t ultimately make it on the tour.

Read more: Bayside unleash “Prayers” in heavy, riff-filled single

“What better way to figure out how to make the largest majority happy than by democracy, right?” he says. “Every band who submits, we're going to have a link to listen to their music, to check out their social media. There will be exposure in it for the winners, but also for anybody who's there, we're going to be encouraging our fans to go and listen to the bands in their city.”

Through an energetic onstage presence and consistent professionalism, Bayside have become a familiar, seasoned face of the genre. With this responsibility, they hope to inspire bands who look up to them just as their heroes did during their own journey. 

“I think we're shuffling into old age gracefully, and we're recognizing we've been a band for 20 years, and we've been touring for 20 years, and our eighth record is coming out,” Raneri says. “There was a Warped Tour in particular that I remember [where] Bad Religion came over to us—they showed us the ropes.

“They showed us how to do Warped Tour and how to survive and how to be a band, how to become a bigger band but also maintain your punk ethos,” he continues. “That was 10 years ago at least, maybe more, so we recognize that we're that now. We're Bad Religion at Warped Tour who need to go over to some band and say ‘follow me.’”

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With album No. 8 on the way, Bayside aren’t looking to mellow out in their “old age.” Instead, they’re pushing the tempo and pulling from metal influences for a hard-hitting experience with one main goal: excitement.

“I think Bayside have always been a mashup of a lot of different influences and a lot of different genres,” Raneri explains. “We just wanted to make this record very exciting. That was our goal. It's got to be exciting, never boring.”

Interrobang drops Oct. 4, and preorders are available here. You can catch the two latest singles “Prayers” and “Interrobang” here and here respectively. The band will hit the road in November with tickets and dates available here.