When Josh Siegel confided to one of his Berklee professors that he was dropping out to move home and start a band, that professor had one response: “don’t procrastinate.” A Craigslist ad went up immediately upon Siegel’s return to Chicago:
Do you consider Radiohead to be soul music?
Do you hear Muddy Waters in between the notes on the White Album?
Drummer Ren Mathew, newly liberated from a dissolving power-pop outfit, answered the ad. The two ambled through Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue,” talked about their shared love of Bernard Purdie, and Bailiff was born.
The band’s earliest musical efforts borrowed heavily from American blues and the British Invasion – snippets of John Lee Hooker and John Bonham swirling in and out of a foreboding rock miasma. The A.V. Club described their debut EP Mm Hmm as “a hybrid of sludge-rock and polished swaggering pop,” while also describing the band’s live show as “awe inspiring.” Almost before they had songs, Bailiff had hardcore fans, including Evan Sult; the ex-Harvey Danger drummer first heard the band rehearsing in an adjoining practice space and was inspired by what he heard to knock on Bailiff’s door and introduce himself.
Bailiff’s debut full-length, 2011’s Red Balloon, blew the band’s blues-rock-rooted sound wide open. Elements of Indian raga, new wave reggae, art funk, and Native American chant nestled themselves into perfect pop constructions replete with head-nodding grooves and radio-ready hooks. WXRT’s Richard Milne described the album’s ten tracks as “the strongest collection of songs I’ve heard out a Chicago band this year.” Red Balloon helped Bailiff land their first national tours and begin building a dedicated fan base outside of their hometown. A testament to their diverse musical influences, the band found themselves invited to open for acts as distinct as The Lumineers, Nada Surf, Dinosaur Jr, Dawes, and Jeff the Brotherhood.
After years of collaborating with a rotating cast of supporting sidemen, in 2012 Mathew and Siegel recruited NYC transplant and multi-instrumentalist Owen O’Malley to the official roster. Fast forward through eight months of songwriting boot camp (with mentors Dan Smart and Jon Alvin) and a $16k-raising Kickstarter campaign, Bailiff kicked off production on their second LP – entitled Remise – in April of 2013. Bunkered in a sub-suburban studio with engineering wunderkind Beau Sorenson (Death Cab for Cutie, Superchunk, Bob Mould), the band spent two weeks forging their most eclectic work to date. Remise is imbued with flourishes of West African blues, Celtic folk, and jagged electro-pop, while reaffirming Bailiff’s knack for writing a durable hook.
Like a Queens Of The Stone Age of Motown, Bailiff has the staggering ability to blend upbeat pop elements with heavy rock undertones to create a new kind of “dark pop.” The Chicago three piece are gearing up to release a follow-up to their EP, Remise, which caught the likes of Impose Magazine, American Songwriter, and WXRT.
Remise II is imbued with flourishes of West African blues, Celtic folk, and jagged electro-pop, while reaffirming Bailiff’s knack for writing a durable hook. The EP was recorded with engineering wunderkind, Beau Sorenson (Death Cab for Cutie, Superchunk, Bob Mould) and have opened for the likes of Dinosaur Jr, Nada Surf, The Lumineers, JEFF The Brotherhood and Murder By Death.