Friday, March 07, 2008

Band of the Week

Death to Anders

In the year 2008, does a band need to be on a label? With all of the options available to the musician is self-releasing an album such a bad thing? The artist would retain complete control, but they would also have to control their own PR, their own tour, their own distribution. It is all about choices, and as technology advances and new services pop up, the true independent musicians becomes increasingly viable.

Los Angeles' Death to Anders release their music independently, and have recently put together an incredible sophomore album, Ficitious Business. Through the ten tracks on this album, Death to Anders (guitarists and vocalists Rob Danson and Nick Ceglio, bassist Peter DiBiasio, and drummer John Broeckel), have managed to pack in all of the goodness and grit of '90's era rock while advancing the sound to a new level.

Recently, Rob Danson of Death to Anders was kind enough to answer a few my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): What is the significance behind the name "Death to Anders"?
Rob Danson (RD): Anders is a wonderful fellow. We wish him no harm. He was our first drummer who can be heard on our first album "Punctuate the Calamities." Between becoming engaged, going back to school for his Masters Degree and being quite sick of Los Angeles, he left the band on good terms. At the time, we were still throwing around band names, and we came up with "Death to Anders" as a sarcastic way to say "The Loss of a great drummer."
His mom wears our t-shirt, which I find amusing.

OA: Your latest album, Fictitious Business, explores a number of themes, but perhaps the most interesting is the exploration of "human dominance through expansion of unwasted space". Do you feel that this album makes a broader statement beyond the music?
RD: Not beyond the music, necessarily. But within it we try to represent the flawed element that exists in everyone and that more times than not gets left out of most conventional music. It's easy to fall into the trap of wanting your musical creations to have that glossy sheen of spotlessness & perfection. We prefer to turn the stone over and inspect the blemishes.

OA: You released this album independently. Do you feel being an independent band allows for more freedoms musically and artistically? Does a band need o be on a label for distribution and pr purposes, or is it unnecessary?
RD: Being independent definitely gives an artist a significant amount of freedom. As DIY artists, we are free to write what we want, and at our own leisure. There are no stressful thoughts about what "the suits" on the top floor will think of our new recording, our experimental sound, or anything else that may not instantly sell millions of copies and become an overnight sensation. For us, it's much more exciting to write what is truly uncomfortable - to put ourselves on a ledge in danger of falling. Labels, especially the majors need instant gratification and positive calculations. Also, the albums of our influences, as well as our own, are not exactly meant to be taken in all at once, upon the first listen. It might take a few. In regards to distribution, I don't really see the point in the "standard" type of distribution anymore (ie- placing your albums in CD stores across the nation). Our album is for sale on our website and our Myspace site.We just signed up for digital distribution with CD Baby. Through CD Baby, we now have worldwide distribution through iTunes, Napster, E Music, Rhapsody, and about 20 other legal online digital download sites. For me, the future will have machines that look like ATMs or vending machines. They will be everywhere: in Malls, Grocery Stores, etc. and you will be able to connect your iPod to it and download your songs. This might replace CD stores and thus eliminate the need for labels to control distribution. I believe that the future role of labels will be strictly financial. There's so many avenues of promotion in which labels can help bands with. They can provide the finances and the contacts for PR, Tour Support, Radio Promotion, etc. When you add all this up, you're looking at10's or 100's of thousands of dollars. In this sense, a label is merely nothing but a bank, loaning its services out to the ones in need.

OA: What are your thoughts on "new media" (i.e. blogs, youtube,myspace,etc) as it relates to the promotion of the independent musician?
RD: The internet has definitely raised the bar and has allowed any band to create a Myspace page, youtube video, etc.. The barriers to entry are so low that there is an over-saturation
In the music market. The downside to this is that great bands will be buried in the shit that surrounds them. Its tough because it levels the playing field. On the other hand, its hard to see a world without internet and Myspace. There are so many bands that flourish due to these tools. Blogs have really helped us out lately as well. We've been so fortunate to have recent write -ups and reviews from blogs and online review sites. Also, if it weren't for blogs, we wouldn't be exposing our thoughts and music to your readers.

OA: I don't see any dates scheduled, but are there plans to tour in support of the album?
RD: We are currently at the point where we're attempting to play outside of Los Angeles. Instead of going all out and doing a national tour, we find it would be more efficient to start out small - to set up 4-5 day mini tours, all within a days drive. This way, we can re-visit the places we play 2 months later. If we did a national tour, we would go broke and we wouldn't be able to go back to the east coast, or anywhere else, for another year. The hurdle we currently have is that venues that don't know us (which is any venue outside of LA) doesn't even return our emails, phone calls, etc.. So we're still getting our sea-legs with regards to putting together our own tours.

OA: What's next for Death to Anders?
RD: Aside from the mini tours, we'll eventually go North from there, hitting up Oregon, Washington, etc. Bottom line, we just want our music to be heard! We're researching
College radio promotion and we're also seeking management,

Bonus Questions:
OA: I've heard Pavement referenced as a influence on the bands sound, but a band I haven't mentioned in the Dead Milkmen? What is it about 90's indie rock that Death to Anders finds so appealing?
RD: What's so appealing about 90's indie rock is that musically and lyrically, these artists had no aspirations to be perfect. The lyrics don't have to mean anything, the vocals aren't always in tune, there's a rawness and quirkiness evoked throughout the songs. What replaces the "American Idol" pitch perfect mediocrity is a true and real form of emotion. If musical art is a sonic representation of human emotions, and human emotions are
Constantly filled with imperfections, then shouldn't music reflect this?

OA: What was the last great book you read?
RD: Great question!! You did not say what was the last book you read. You asked What was the last GREAT book you read. Currently, I’m reading SEXUS by Henry Miller. I’m about 85 pages into it and loving every word. If there was one author that has an impact on my lyrics, it would be Henry Miller. His views on writers, art-form and the everyday struggles in life have such a profound impact on me. Whenever I read his books, I always have a pen in my hand. I underline small phrases and sentences that no one, but Mr. Miller could have ever come up with. To titillate your senses, here are some that I have recently underlined:

1. I was at the bottom rung of the ladder, a failure at every sense of the word
2. she expected nothing more of me disappointments and postponements
3. Like a man under an anesthetic who has managed to slip away from the operating table.
4. the machines are left idle
5. In the next life, I will be vulture feeding on rich carrion
6. a sweet chewing gum haze
7. swimming in powdered sapphire
8. Here I am. Take me or stab me to death.
9. Planetary Conjunctions
10. If I could come down off my perch and lend an ear.
11. In the eyes of God, speed has no particular significance
12. little episodes out of my telegraphic life
13. You’ll always find a way out, even if it happens to let you down.
14. When the millennium has been ushered in.
15. On a sullen day in February
16. You admire the revolutionaries of Yesterday.
17. the X Ray World of Statistics

Fictitious Business
Fictitious Business/Ghost Rock/Swig Shift/Great Plains States/Man of 1,000 Regrets/Mooney Stegg/Doll/Untitled/Dark Bathrooms/Camera Lens (mp3)

For more information on Death to Anders please visit their website and you can also purchase a copy of Fictitious Business there.

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