As soon as I heard the opening minute of You Are the Devil by Vancouver noise duo Aanthems, I was hooked.
The gruff vocals, buzzing bass guitar, huge drums and giant hooks – kind of like if Bachman Turner Overdrive ate some Hot Snakes and chased it all down with a little Gaslight Anthem. The two brothers play music that sounds as big as the towering mountains and limitless ocean that surrounds their beautiful city.
Aanthems have just released their second EP – the four track Die Every Night, to go along with 2015’s Old Dogs and it’s an impressive output. If you ask me, it won’t be long before Aanthems hits the airwaves.
We connected with bassist/vocalist Ryan to get the lowdown.
Ryan (bass and shouting) and Geof (drums and howling)
How did you become AANTHEMS and what’s the story behind the name?
We are brothers and we’ve been playing together for a long time. AANTHEMS is a new direction with a badly needed focus. The name describes our intention and is easy to remember. The double A is to aid in searches, with the accidental bonus of sitting at the top of your music player’s artist list.
Tell us about your hometown scene…
Vancouver is home to so many incredible bands, and a few great promoters, but venue-wise it can be pretty inhospitable. The “scene” seems to be a bit too fractured for a city this size so a lot of shows tend to be really small, and there are lots of “secret” venues that pop up, and disappear just as quickly. It’s hard to keep track of but it seems like some random kid or washed up veteran is doing something amazing all the time.
Describe your sound as a cocktail – what’s it called and what’s in it?
Blood and guts, heart and soul, Rock’n’roll.
It’s unapologetic 80’s style stadium rock filtered through a foundation of early 90’s punk and hardcore with a twist of math, art and classic indie rock.
Tell us about your live show…
we play as fast and as hard as we can without dying. Sometimes we get close, because we’re very old.
How does your songwriting process work?
Everything is by feel. If it’s not something we’re really excited about right out of the gate we let it go. Once there’s a riff or two that make us want to smash stuff, it gets carved and cut up into something that can hold our attention all the way through. Initially, vocals will just be random lines or shouts until a form feels right, then we figure out what it’s about and write words to fit.
What influences the band lyrically?
Self empowerment is a big one. Struggle and hope. Overcoming great odds. Striving to be better in all ways. We’re basically punk rock Oprah.
If you could pick any time to travel back to for music, where would you go and what year would it be….
I really like now. We have lived through and seen most of what we loved already. I don’t feel like I’ve missed out. We’re happy to look forward, though maybe I’d like to see early career Bryan Adams and Ride the Lightning era Metallica. Early Motown would be incredible. I really like music when it’s fresh, so none of this victory lap touring please…
What tunes are currently on heavy rotation for you…
Anchoress, Waingro, Dead End Drive-in, Baptists, Cheap High, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, G.L.O.S.S.
If you could tour with any band right now who would that be and why?
The Bronx. With PUP. They both have the kind of energy and muscle we aspire to, and both write such great songs. A lot of times songwriting is secondary to style or genre, but a good song will transcend.
If you could only bring ONE record in the tour van/bus/plane what would it be?
I think each of these modes of transport deserves its own record. Subject to change without notice:
van – Songs: Ohia – Magnolia Electric Co.
bus – Cursive – The Ugly Organ
plane – Andrew W.K – I Get Wet
When you’re not playing and have some time off, where could we find you…
somewhere near water watching our kids love the world, or at Geof’s place singing karaoke.
What’s up for the rest of 2016?
Die Every Night ep(free/pwyc) will be out any minute, available at all online vendors and streaming services. Shows sprinkled through summer and fall, more videos soon, and recording the next ep over the winter which is killing us because we are really impatient.