Since 2000, Anathallo has been traveling the world, delivering tunes to many a diverse audience. Band dynamics and direction have shifted over the course of their career, accurate since their name means to renew or bloom again, but their aesthetic has maintained a powerful balance of light and dark throughout. This time around they return with a new album under their belts, called Canopy Glow, and like good troubadours, they're back on the road (even before its release). Catch them this Friday and Saturday at Mercury Lounge and Union Hall, respectively, opening for Dosh.
Where did the band name originate? The name is a greek word meaning "To renew, cause to grow, or bloom again." I think, for the most part, we see our band as a means of exploring different ways of writing songs. We're not expert song writers by any means... most of it is trial and error, intuitive inclination, and a little bit of theory. To me, the name implies a constant thing that transforms. I hope that's what we are anyway...
Is it true that if a venue spells your name wrong they owe you money? Yeah, when you're headlining a show and the marquee reads "Othello," "Ann's Hallow," "Anna Tello," etc. it starts to feel a little inconsiderate and careless. We're not trying to actually get the money, we're trying to make a point about paying attention. I don't really know anyone in a band who wants to perform at a venue that doesn't even know their name... there is already such a weird void of humanity in most clubs... by day 40 of a tour when you start sliding into a Sinclair-worthy mental black hole, it's the little things that keep you human, even just a name.
When will your new album, Canopy Glow, get released? Where did the name come from? We're shooting for 2012, but it's likely to get pushed back (you know how that goes, press, distribution time). No, but seriously - we're hoping for this fall. We're working out label stuff right now. The name came from a song on the record called "The River." It's a story (part fiction) about Erica's mom nearly being killed by a river current while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. She told us that she just accepted the unalterable situation and found a sense of peace, watching the canopy of leaves overhead, illuminated by the sun. We're hoping that the title signifies being fully present, to face everything unflinchingly.
Your last album was based on a Japanese folktale, is the new one based on anything or conceptual? It definitely wasn't as intentionally conceptual as Floating World. But since the songs were written within a much smaller time frame, so they speak to one another by default.
How has the band changed, if at all, since Andrew Dost left? I think it has changed in the ways that we expected, but outside of that, our process hasn't really taken any strange turns. James (founding member) finished school and rejoined Anathallo just before Andrew left (we were playing as an 8 piece). The transition was tough, because Andrew is a really great friend and musician. But instead of "better" or "worse" it was just different, because James is also a really great friend and musician who brings great/different strengths to the group.
You have a blog and a Flickr account -- things that weren't really around when you formed the band -- how has the music scene, relating to fans, etc changed since you started out? When I was young... ok no... won't go there. Things have definitely changed. When I booked our first 10 tours, before all the social networking sites emerged, many of the DIY venues didn't have any sort of e-presence. It was really difficult to get shows. We generally played shows with mostly hardcore and punk bands, because that community of people had a really organized/enthusiastic circle of places to play/crash around the country. We've always hoped to be completely human and transparent with the people that come to see us (mostly because we probably couldn't pull it off if we tried to be iconic or cool), and the advent of these different outlets has given us tons of ways to include people in the everyday of life. The blog has been a quick way to notify people about last minute potlucks at our apartment, or events, etc. It has created a really nice dialogue.
In the past you've toured with bands like Dashboard Confessional, Brand New, Saves the Day; Dosh seems more of a fitting tourmate, how has the experience been so far? The last two tours have been really great (Aloha, and now Dosh.) It's not that the other people that we've toured with aren't incredibly nice, gracious, and fun to tour with, they definitely are. The size of the shows have just been way more approachable and engaging. It's hard to connect with 3000 people, but 300 makes a little more sense. Brand New and the Format have really awesome fans that, for the most part, were really into what we are doing, even though it is completely different.
How did the Vicks commercial come about? We were sitting around in our practice space, lamenting our financial woes, contemplating how we were going to pay for the studio time that we had booked at Engine... we were talking about major debt and the general feeling in the room was a little dower and intense. During that conversation, we received a phone call asking to use the song. The director of the commercial had somehow come across "Yuki! Yuki! Yuki!" while working in New Zealand, and decided to give us a call. Needless to say, it sort of saved our lives, and we were able to really concentrate on making "Canopy Glow."
Please share your strangest "only in New York" story. Honestly, for all the times that we've been to NYC, nothing too strange has happened. Maybe this trip will be the lucky charm. Most of the weirdest things that have happened to Anathallo occur in tiny towns. Attention all NYC freaks - please feel free to use our set time at the Mercury Lounge as a chance to expose your hidden talent (unless graphic or obscene).
Which New Yorker do you most admire? Dorothy Day (rest in peace).
What's your current soundtrack?
Arthur Russell - World of Echo
Why? - Alopecia
Lykki Li - Youth Novels
Talking Heads - Remain in Light
Mummyz Daddy - (new record, unreleased)
Thomas Mapfumo - Shumba
Ecstatic Sunshine - Way
Lucky Dragons - everything
Best New York venue to play/see music. Hmm... we just debated this for about 15 minutes, and everyone agrees that we haven't really hit a dud yet. There are advantages to each. Cop out!