We recently got to ask Alex from Australian noise rock / doom band No Anchor a few questions. No Anchor is a band that is comprised of 2 bass guitarists and a drummer which equals a pretty intense and noisy sounding combination with influences including Boris and MELVINS you know you’re in for a pretty violent and loud ride when going to one of their shows or listening to any one of their albums.
How did No Anchor form, and what inspired you to forgo having a guitarist and just have two bass guitars and a drummer?
No Anchor formed from Ian and I ending up late one night at a social event surrounded by people we didn’t like or want to talk with. When we both realised we equally loved Helmet, Unsane and The Jesus Lizard – we made a time to get together a few weeks later and start something. The guitarist thing was easy and really not much of a debate. We wanted to try something that would sound different and we know and love lots of bands with a drum/bass line-up so we just started experimenting.
There did come a time in 2009 when after taking three months off, we knew something “else” was needed to make things really interesting. That’s when Ian suggested a second bass player. We knew right away that it was a good idea and that’s when Donnie entered the picture.
How do you come up with new material? Is it more of a play random frets until something sticks or is there a particular science or formula when writing a No Anchor song?
Everything comes from someone simply throwing out a riff. Never once has No Anchor stood in a room together and a song not started to form after 5 or 10 min. It comes from nothing being off limits. While I’d like to say that there is no formula, as the years pass, there are certain sounds and structures that we love and can’t help coming back to but none of us ever know what weird dynamic the next song we write is going to be. Maybe someone’s been drunk on Striborg that week and a one-minute blinder will come out. Maybe a little to much Wu-Tang has been on the stereo and something with a deep groove will be written or sometimes all we want to hear is the engulfing warmth of 120dbs of pure distortion.
Are there any issues being a band consisting of two bassists and a drummer, especially when playing live?
No. Never. Sometimes it takes more effort to get more bass amps on stage but it’s not an issue. The only challenge has to do with the volume we love to play at and that’s not unique to our lineup. Physical volume can be really cathartic and not all venues or sound engineers consider volume to be a positive contribution. Everyone wants everything to be turned down for that “perfect mix” but we’re not playing friggin’ Albert Hall! We’re playing shitty rooms that fit 100-200 people and as Sunn O))) say “Maximum volume yields maximum results!”
What inspires No Anchor?
Contrast and difference! Opposites seem to fuel the band in many ways. I don’t mean something petty like how we do or don’t get along as friends. For all our common tastes in music, we are really really different people with polarising ideological standpoints and this fuels what we want from the music. It’s fun being an intelligent group of
people creating what to outsiders sounds like barbaric mess of sound.
You released your latest effort “Real Pain Supernova” a few months ago, does the name mean have any special meaning and what can you tell us about the recording process?
Ha! If only you’d seen the list of potential album names, you’d realise that the one we chose was the least bizarre.
The album name was also a song name but the song didn’t turn out right and the name was too good to lose.
You’ve got to mess with people and mess with their heads whenever possible.
It was Tom Waits that said… “Real pain for my sham friends and champagne for my real friends” That and Ian’s
haircuts sometimes make him look like Liam Gallagher.
If No Anchor was an animal, which would it be and why?
Something mythical like a Griffin or a Hydra. Some kind of Frankenstein monster that was part chicken, part
dolphin, part three-toes sloth. Why? Cause it doesn’t need to make sense to be real!
How would you describe No Anchor in one sentence to someone who has never heard any of your material before?
Usually I wouldn’t. I tell cab drivers that I’ve mistakenly started a conversation with that it’s Jazz cause the terms
Noise Rock or Doom or Heavy Psych just doesn’t make sense to the uninitiated. It you really wanted something
concise then it could very well be the aural soundtrack to a really, really bad acid trip but with a happy ending.
What is the bands stance on piracy? Do you think it helps or hinders your band?
It’s of no concern to us in regards to the bands opinion. As for how much it’s helped or hindered. I’ll say this much. We’ve sold a couple of hundred physical copies of our album where as we have had over 6000 downloads from our American distributor alone.
It’s up as a free download because for most people, they will have never heard of us before and it’s fair that they want to hear the music before they fork out their money. The trick is to offer
the music at the best bit rate possible. So rather than people hearing shitty Mp3’s they can come and hear good quality Flac files. We want people to hear what we made and the only thing that makes me angry about piracy is that after putting so much effort into making the music sound just so, the first thing people hear is an over-compressed shitty mpeg.
Piracy comes down to intellectual property and we would hope that no one out there is profiting off what we made without us knowing it. As for people hearing our music, piracy is nothing more than free promotion. We’ve recently had people from as far as New York and Ireland download the album off some random blog or torrent website only to turn around a few days later and buy a physical LP off us cause they like the album so much. Now that’s awesome!
Do you guys have a favourite venue you like to play?
We are yet to actually play in our favourite venues. They would probably be out in the middle of Australia, out in the middle of nowhere like in the desert or maybe up on top of a mountainous rocky outcrop. We would love to do some kind of Pink Floyd Pompeii type set. That would blow minds.
You probably mean pubs or clubs though. Anywhere that lets us do our thing unhindered is good for us. The Old Bar in Fitzroy Melbourne is pretty great and run by amazingly good people!
What is the crappiest venue you guys have ever played at, and why was it so crappy?
Don’t know the answer to that. I know some venues have contributed to us playing hellishly crappy shows. One local bar let us play on a Sunday night but we could not be over 85db. So we tried a ‘quiet’ set and it sucked so badly. Crap venues are just bars where music is a poorly executed afterthought. That’s probably about 50% of places around.
I’m thinking of a number between 1 and 100, what’s the number?
Where do you see No Anchor in 2 years from now?
Probably on the shelf with band members living in different cities or continents. It’s good to be in this band right now. We’ve just hit our stride. Our songs are good and interesting and our next album will burn real bright. What happens after that? It depends on whether life gets in the way. Two thirds of the band are closer to 40 than are 30 so we want to have fun with it while we can. It’s never going to pay the bills.
Batman or Superman?
You can keep your fake superheroes, made to reinforce tired, worn-out ideologies and fairytales. No one is coming to save us. Any of us! If you want heroes, pick some real life ones. You’ll learn more.
What advice do you have for other aspiring bands out there? It can be positive or negative advice
It’s all been done so just relax. Have some fun with it. If your friends that you respect and your boyfriend/girlfriend think your band is great and come along to see you play then it won’t ever get any better than that.
Anything else you guys want to say before we wrap this up?
I’ll leave you with two quotes. Make of them what you will…
“Just as you must come through a woman’s womb to attain physical birth, so must you come through Wisdom to achieve mental birth. And like childbirth, Wisdom often comes with pain. Pain, joy, fear – all have borne in me wisdom, which, like water, is an ever flowing spring from a bottomless ocean, a flow of life that takes the shape of any vessel, that reveals itself in all bodies and all moments. For Wisdom is the Way.”
“Only Deaf is Real”
Thanks for answering our onslaught of questions and surviving.
Thanks for asking.