In the interest of making sense of the terrible–but, fortunately, non-fatal–accident Baroness suffered Tuesday in the U.K., we consulted former Candiria guitarist John LaMacchia, whose van was decimated on the road nearly a decade ago.
As a fellow crash survivor, what was your gut reaction when you first heard about the Baroness accident?
Shock. It brought back a rush of bad memories from what had happened to Candiria when we were rear-ended by the tractor-trailer in 2002.
You famously put Candiria’s totaled van on the cover of What Doesn’t Kill You… in 2004. Do you think the innate black humor that a lot of extreme music guys possess might help as a coping mechanism?
Absolutely. We needed to write about it. We needed to share our experience with the people that cared the most about us, our fans, friends and peers. Although the band was never the same and consequently broke up due to that one horrific event. We were trying to overcome and persevere, and it was a very effective way of coping with it as a band and on a personal level. It’s actually quite strange that this is happening now. The 10-year anniversary of the Candiria crash is just around the corner, September 9th.
Candiria’s recovery process was painful and prolonged on multiple levels: hospitalization, therapy, lawsuits, etc. What do people who haven’t been involved in a situation like this most take for granted about the aftermath?
All of it. It’s easy to compare what we went through to the suffering that happens day to day in some parts of the world. It’s the shittiest feeling when someone shrugs off all that I and my brothers endured, and are still recovering from to this day due to that accident. Especially since there was a lawsuit and rumors that we are all millionaires now. Which is completely ridiculous.
What was it like getting back on the road to tour for the first time afterwards?
I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m pretty sure everyone else was as scared as I was. No one wanted to get back in a van, so our answer was an RV. For some reason, we felt a little safer in a bigger vehicle. As for myself, between post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction to prescription drugs at that point and differences in the artistic vision of the band, [all of that] led to me leaving the band temporarily. Looking back, though, I know I just needed to get off the road. It’s just what I needed at that time for my sanity.
What can fans do to help?
That’s a tough one because the highways and roads of this country are just extremely dangerous, and there is not much anyone can do. We are driving these vehicles that weigh thousands of pounds at speeds that are just way too dangerous. At any moment something can go wrong. It can be the tiniest thing: an animal runs across the highway, some form of debris is in the middle of the road or even just a bit oil leaked from another car and that’s it, that’s all it takes. You are no longer in car, but in a death trap that has spun completely out of control and is headed straight for a tree or something to that effect. The impact is unimaginable. It’s not like the movies at all. The force of gravity traveling at 60 MPH is enough to pull a person from the back seat, through the front windshield and about 25 to 30 feet from the vehicle. I should know, I’ve been there. Well, I went out the side window, not the front, according to the police report.