Interview: Anamanaguchi

Last Thursday, Anamanaguchi, a chiptune rock band from New York City, rocked UTD’s Art Barn and everyone in it. Anamanaguchi is famous for both the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game soundtrack and for their own work on their two studio albums, Dawn Metropolis and Endless Fantasy. I had an opportunity to sit down with the band’s four members: Lead songwriter and guitarist Peter Berkman, bassist James DeVito, guitarist Ary Warnaar, and drummer Luke Silas, before their show on Thursday and ask them questions in what could be loosely called an “interview.” As much as the interview was off-topic (we talked about candy for several minutes before the questions started), we had a lot of fun.

RADIO UTD: If you had a secret room in your house, accessible by a bookshelf, which book would be the key to open it?
Peter: First of all, definitely want a secret room. As soon as I get a house someday, secret room definitely happening. The book? That’s a good question dude.. I’ll go last. I bet Luke knows, Luke has thought about this.
Luke: So it can’t be the book you’d least expect, cause obviously that’s going to make it the one you most expect; it can’t just be labeled ‘Secret Door’. Let’s go with “Our Man in Havana” by Graham Green.
P: I’ve got my answer!
L: You picked last, dude.
James: Let’s go with “The Polar Express.”
Ary: I’d go with “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.”
P: I’d go with a DVD, because it would be a DVD shelf. It would be Ace Ventura.. The reason being, if you pick that movie out of my DVD collection, you can come in my secret room and we’ll watch it.
[Interview devolves into the possibility of a Fast and the Furious novelization]

RADIO UTD: What are each of your guys’ favorite video game, if you had to pick one?
P: Dark Souls II because that’s what I’m playing right now and now I want to go home and play it.
L: Super Smash Bros 64.
J: Current, I’m going to go with Banjo-Kazooie.
L: This is all just kind of “What are you playing right now?” Because we have no attention span and we always like whatever’s in front of us.

RADIO UTD: If you could have any musical instrument in the world, what would it be?
P: Some kind of brain-wave thing. Sometimes I’ll be dreaming and thinking man, this is a really good Lionel Richie song. You know how you can hear songs perfectly? Stereo in your head?
A: Like a thought translator? That’s honestly the perfect instrument.
P: Yeah, exactly, there’s a lot of good songs that get lost because I suck.
A: If you’re handing out free real world instruments, I’d take a reactable, they’re pretty.
L: Wasn’t there some crazy lemur controlled thing?
All: We’ll take something expensive and sell it.

RADIO UTD: How long have you guys known each other?
P: I’ve known James since high school, I’ve known Ary since college, and I’ve known Luke since.. college!
L: I’ve known them since they were in college and Ary since we were in high school.
P: So we’ve got a east coast, west coast thing going on.

RADIO UTD: What size venues do you guys like playing the most?
L: They’re all fun for different reasons. There are some nights where it’s fun to play a tiny room like the size of this classroom and everyone is sweaty and packed all over the place and sometimes it’s fun to play a massive sounding room with everyone packed and sweaty all over the place but there’s more of them.
J: It comes down to the audience having a good time, and as long as they are, we are.

RADIO UTD: Do you guys think the hokey pokey is really what it’s all about?
L: Barely
P: That’s pretty much what it’s all about. I learned that at a very early age and it not been disproven yet. Not yet been disproven, sorry. Is that a preposition? Is that what you’d call it?
L: Yee… uh yes?

RADIO UTD: Do you guys think you’ll ever veer away from the chiptune sound?
P: Even the very beginning, we’ve never done pure chiptune because of the guitars and drums, but we’ve started blending in a bunch of different sounds. It’s pretty much whatever we like. We have, like I said, no attention span at all so we’ll do what we like and it’ll probably be a little chippy.
L: Ideally, you’d always be able to tell what an Anamanaguchi song is whether or not its chip or not because, while it’s an important thing, that’s not what makes us…us.

RADIO UTD:You guys had a lot of success on Kickstarter with Endless Fantasy, are you thinking of doing Kickstarter again to fund the next album?
P: No, I don’t think so. I feel like it doesn’t feel right.
L: Yeah, to keep returning to that seems pretty unfair and weird in a way.
A: It wasn’t really album specific; it was more like.. at this point in time the correct way to fund what we were doing, what projects we were working on. It’s by no means a replacement for album releases. I don’t think that’s a viable alternative.
P: It worked out amazingly and surprised us with how many people supported what we were doing.
RADIO UTD: Yeah, you guys got funding really quick.
P: Yeah, it was a day, less than a day, like 12 hours. Whacky stuff.

RADIO UTD: What do you guys have coming up this year?
P: Gmail Fest is coming up.
L: Hotdog Hootenanny 2014, but it’s the 2015 edition so..
P: We’re playing at the Nestle Crunch Bar Arena with Shaq live DJing as Kazzam. We have that Shark Tank this that we’re doing.
L: We’re going to be on an upcoming episode of Shark Tank.
P: We’re going to come up with a new idea for us being the new sharks, and that’s what we’re pitching them.
L: We have it.. we’re kind of allowed to talk about this. We have it worked out so we have a Shark Tank style show coming up and this is kind of the prelude.
P: It’s going to be our own spin-off. Then we have Austin Powers 4 coming up. Me and Luke have been working a lot on that. Yeah, a lot of stuff in the pipeline.
L: Austin Powers 4 is going to be the biggest thing that happens to us this year.

RADIO UTD: There are conflicting reports as to why you guys are called “Anamanaguchi.” What is the real story?
P: The real story is that we are all from different fashion houses: Armani, Prada, and Gucci. We sort of just jumbled them all together and made it blow up together.

[Band then identifies their individual talents: James throws hat from foot to his head. Pete says his is finding funny YouTube videos, though he admits that he has some brushing up to do.]

RADIO UTD: Any last words?
P: You’re listening to Radio UTD! Right now, check it out, oh yeah.. Nickleback!
A: Support the scene.
A: Stick it to the man.
P: Be yourself, get good grades.
L: If you want other people to care about your work, you need to care about it most of all.
P: Eat your own carrots.
A: Don’t take it too seriously.
J: Don’t take any wooden nickels.
P: Don’t plan too much, it might not come out right.
A: Don’t look back, the future goes on.
P: Never take chances, unless you know.
A: To better times
J: Don’t be a planet, be a universe.
L: Did you make that up James?
J: Yeah.
RADIO UTD: That’s his secret talent.
J: A cut is days away from a scar.
RADIO UTD: Dropping proverbs over here..
A: Find serenity in darkness.
P: A million is a whole lot less than infinity.
J: Fear is the dark room where negativity is created.