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Monday, May 15

Interview with Matt from Anathallo!

This is my first interview for this site and I couldn't have been happier to do it with Matt, the lead singer/songwriter/guitarist/pianist of Anathallo. Their CD, Floating World, has grown on me much more and I'm very excited about the band right now. We covered a ton of topics in the interview, so make sure you read through the whole thing and follow the jump for the MP3's.

Me: What's in heavy rotation on your iPod right now?

Matt: Let’s see, the Zombies is definitely on heavy rotation. The Zombies record… Odyssey and Oracle. It’s so good, it’s crazy. Every single song is amazing, there’s not one song I’m so-so on, I love them all. (Matt later says he only likes one line of “Time of the Season” and sings that line for me--an MP3 of this is at the bottom)

Brief Candles is one I like and Care of Cell 44 is great also.

Yeah those songs are really good. Care of Cell 44, we’ve been contemplating covering that song actually. That’d be really fun. Other than that, the new Aloha record, Some Echoes, is really great. I’ve been listening to Antony and the Johnsons, I know it’s outdated now and it was like the cool record 5 months back but I just got it a little while ago, I like it a lot. Gillian Welch is really popular among a couple of us, we listen to her all the time. Her record, Time the Revelator, just love it, there’s something about her music that I can’t put my finger on. I bought the new Bruce Springsteen record, the Segeer sessions, and I’m excited about that. I also just bought the new Danielson record, Ships. There’s a song I don’t know what its called but it’s about going to the library and getting books (Bloodbook On The Half Shell). It’s a great song. Yeah, that’s the very current revelation I would say.

Top Five Albums of all time?

Oh my gosh, no way. I listen to music like it’s my job, I love it. I don’t know if I can pick 5, because whenever I’m listening to something I say ‘this is one of my favorite records of all time’ but really I just have a ton of records that I love and listen to a lot. I’d say some of the most influential ones on me, or influential artists on me, would probably be Simon and Garfunkel and Beach Boys, those are two that my dad would listen to all the time, and Beach Boys was the first concert I ever went to also. I remember people playing electric guitars for the first time, thinking it was really amazing.

I would probably say OK Computer was the first record where I thought the guitar was alive and not an instrument, something about the way it was played just blew me away, I had never experienced that before while listening to the guitar. But then mostly just a lot of folk music, has probably had the biggest influence on me. But for my favorite record, I’m not very good at categorizing them, making lists.

Let's say you were doing a 192 countries project and Floating World was Japan, what would be your next country?

Wow, uhh probably another country I don’t know anything about. Part of the selfish fun of writing Floating World was researching literature from the country and learning about it and just realizing that I know so little about it, and contrasting our culture with Japanese culture and lifestyles; things like that. So next country… the most obscure country I can think of, I’m not too sure, maybe Kazakhstan.

Yeah, or like East Timor or maybe one of those Indonesian countries.

Yea, something like that.

What do you think of the response your getting from your latest album on the blogosphere?

We’re definitely surprised, I don’t know if we ever expected to be a “buzz band” or something you know, so that’s sort-of weird because we’ve been playing for a while now so it’s not like we just emerged. It’s been really nice and people have said really nice things about us; just anyone showing an interest in what we’re doing is… surprising to us and exciting. We’ve been very appreciative that the thought of our music is something they would want to share with other people. That world is so interesting to me, all the information that they find, you know, or information that isn’t true that they post which I think is really fascinating.

What’s the weirdest thing you found posted of yourself that wasn’t true?

There’s a couple of things posted that weren’t really true. Just people missing details of our story and then other people will read their blogs and post similar information, it’s like telephone that game where one person says ‘car’ and it turns into ‘Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich’ somehow. I’ve read that the band was so big that we had to travel in two vans and I’ve read that we were Sufjan Steven’s back-up band. I’ve read some other funny stuff, those are the only two I can think of off the top of my head.

What's the most underrated instrument ever?

I would say the African embira (picture here). I think we’re going to use it on our next record. I love it, I think it sounds so amazing. Its like this little thumb-harp thing, it has these different length keys, you’ve probably seen one before in one of those hilarious world culture stores with the fake stuff from all over the world. It’s got these little thumb keys that are different lengths and they project different pitches through this little resonator, I think that thing is beautiful. I want to get a bunch of those and use them in a song.

What is the weirdest or most unusual instrument that you use on the CD, Floating World?

We used a bike tire on the song "Dokkoise House" and we used a deck of cars and ratchets. We stomped a lot but I guess that’s not really an instrument, well it sort of is. But I’d say the bike tire was the weirdest one because we bought this little child size bike and we did the classic pin the baseball card to the wheel. Then we cranked the wheel and recorded that for the song "Dokkoise House". We wanted a sense of the song picking up pace and to feel the texture of someone riding a bicycle faster and faster. Trying to figure out how to mic it was fun.

What's the most interesting tour experience so far for you?

Well we had a crazy thing last night, our friend Andy was with us, he’s from a band called Manchester Orchestra. So last night after the show —we think someone slipped some sort of sedative into his drink we’re not exactly sure— but after the show we went back to this girl’s house that we were going to stay at and they have this pier, its like a dock. We woke up in the morning and Andy wasn’t in bed, he was out on a raft that was tied with a rope to this havanna thing that’s by their house and he didn’t have any clothes on and no one knows how he got there. I guess that’s probably pretty crazy

I read another story, where you there was another naked man experience at a skate park.

That always seems to be a part of our craziest experiences. That stories funny, It was at the dirty bearings skate park experience and we played on a halfpipe and some guy revealed himself during our set.

Hopefully that theme won’t continue while your touring very much longer.
How does it feel to be playing Lollapalooza, who are you most excited to see there?

It’s very surprising, I think when we got the call to let us know that we were playing we were shocked, we didn’t ever expect to be able to do anything like that. I’m excited to see a couple people, I’m excited to see Kayne West to be honest, and I’m mostly excited to see Jeremy Enigk from Sunny Day Real Estate. He’s playing two bands after us so I’m very excited to be on the same stage so that should be really great, there’s a lot of bands I’m excited to see there its hard to say, I was surprised when I saw the lineup of how many great bands there are playing.

Do you think artists like Danielson, Sufjan Stevens, and Page France paved away for Christian artists to succeed in the independent music scene?

I don’t know, I would hope our main goal is to just be a good band, and to make the best music and the best art that we can and to explore creativity. It’s a weird place to have faith and art and not want to prostitute the faith side of things, so I don’t even feel too comfortable with the idea of there being this faith-art community. I would hope that we wouldn’t be separate from the rest of the world. We’re just making art and if people like it than they like it. Hopefully people are mature enough to be open to hearing a different worldview and open to hear the narrative standpoint of each other. I don’t like the idea of there being a separate little community or world of Christian art and that the whole point is they’re trying to break into the real world. We are in the real world and we’re just making music like everyone else. I think that (Christianity) inspires a lot of our work sort of naturally through its effect on our worldview but I don’t want it to be something that separates us from other people. I definitely love all those bands and I feel there is sort of a similar ideology between all the artists.

Talking about Page France, is there anything you can tell me about the upcoming collaboration with the band?

(ha ha) Well its not done yet, that’s one thing I can tell you, we have more work to do on it still, but what have so far is really fun. The way the whole project came about is sort-of fascinating, we didn’t know them at all, but we really like their record, Hello, Dear Wind, so we became friends over the internet actually
we met on eharmony, no just kiddingWe started just communicating back and forth and we asked them if they wanted to play our CD release shows but we couldn't get the details worked out, so we were like 'hey, what if we just try to record some music and see what comes of it'. So we got together and started playing and writing some songs and I think we’re all pretty excited with how they turned out. I don’t want to give too much about it, but it will hopefully be out sometime this year. And we’re both excited about it, I know.

Is it a split EP or more of a collaboration?

It’s a full collaboration, we all recorded together on the songs. there will be two songs one on each side, it’ll be a seven inch.

How has your music progressed from when you first started to right now?

It’s hard to say being in the band but I think in a couple ways its changed pretty significantly. First off, we came out of the punk scene so our very first recordings are very aggressive and there’s lots of distortion and loudness. I think at the same time they’re simpler in concept and execution, if that makes sense. As we kept growing as artists we became more interested in a wider variety of styles of music. Much of our classical music and jazz influences keep emerging more and more as we figure out how to incorporate them without them being hokey. It’s a little difficult with seven people with different ideas coming together to write music together, so basically the main changes that have happened is with us as a group figuring out how to pull from all of our influences in a way that’s cohesive. In the beginning the songs were not only very jagged and poorly constructed, but they were also very limited in their scope of influence. I think now, we’re hopefully just going to keep opening up the writing process to new forms of music, new instrumentation; different influences from different people will hopefully start to take more dominance.

I would say we’re learning how to declutter ourselves. The earlier songs we wrote for Floating World I think are slightly more cluttered then the later songs that we wrote. We’re still learning; we’re not there yet and we probably never will be but we’re trying different things out and sometimes it works out well and sometimes the songs are a disaster (laughter).

What can we expect to hear in Anathallo's future?

We’re going home after this tour in about a week and then we’re going to start writing already for a new record. We’ll spend some time writing all of June and then we’re going to take off again and tour with the Format from the beginning of July to September 4th. Then we have Lollapallooza and the Purple Door Festival. We were just asked to play the Austin City Limits festival, we’re going to play that mid-September. When we come home from that we’ll probably write some more and do some international touring. Then we’ll hopefully come home and record the new music so it will be ready to put out sometime next year.

MP3 Time of the Season (one-line cover, taken from the interview, :06)
MP3 Dokkoise House (With Face Covered)
MP3 Hanasakajijii (Four: A Great Wind, More Ash)
MP3 Hoodwink

Read the rest of the interview...
posted by Taylor, 5/15/2006 12:00:00 AM | link 4 comments

4 Comments:

HELL YES! i loves me some anathallo!

michigan represent as well (mt. pleasant! though i'm from lansing, i have much love for my mt. pleasant bands!)
It's actually called Hoodwink.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 5/15/2006 02:51:00 PM  
The ipod question is a great icebreaker!!!
Great interview. Look forward to more
commented by Anonymous Mart, 5/16/2006 06:47:00 AM  
there's only one Indonesian country which is...Indonesia. East Timor used to be apart of Indonesia until a few years ago.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 5/17/2006 07:19:00 AM  

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