Interviews

“The distances you want to cross” – ANCHOR discuss new album “Distance & Devotion”

“Being one of Europe’s most outstanding tour machines, ANCHOR have played over 450 shows on five continents and closing in to 40 countries.” The official press release for their new album “Distance & Devotion” hits the point. It’s hard to keep a certain level of repetitiveness out of hardcore, but somehow this band’s reputation has grown and ANCHOR never got boring. The vegan warriors are back with more melodic and well-arranged record and I am proud to give you my newest interview with their spokesman in the shape of guitarist/vocalist Mattias (also of PAINTED WOLVES)!

Teased by the single “Survive“, “Distance & Devotion” will be released on April 6th via Gaphals. Vinyl-version in Black, White, Blue and Gold colours. All LP´s comes with digital download and CD. All Cd´s in digipack. All versions can be grabbed at Bengans Skivbutik.

ANCHOR have announced a European tour with CROOKED LETTER in May, wish a lot more dates follow-up dates to be announced soon! They also got a collaboration shirt with Hardcore Help Foundation in benefit for Nake Gluke of ENSIGN to help him fight his cancer  (go here to find out more details on that).

Photo by Mqvist MEDIA.

How does it feel for the band to be back into the recording groove again after a couple years of “silence*”?

* not to be confused with absence on the road, hiatus, etc. ;)

“Distance & Devotion” was recorded more than a year ago. In the fall of 2013. We had basically taken one year off for writing since we didn’t wanna rush it or force any part of the process. “Recovery” was written and recorded during a very short period of time. Since we wanted this record to be a little different we decided to take on a different approach to making it. The studio session was probably the most relaxed and inspiring one I’ve had. No prestige, no ego, but also no compromises.

Where did you record this new effort? What outside-the-band parties were involved in the process?

It was recorded at our drummer Fred’s Fvck Life Studios in Trollhättan, Sweden. Small and cosy. Aram of BETRAYED / CHAMPION / THE FIRST STEP, Rory of SOUL CONTROL / ACHILLES and Julian of ORBIT THE EARTH / RITUAL are all contributing with their voices. Very very thankful for that!

ANCHOR promo shot

Photo by Mqvist MEDIA.

You stated in your recent message that the energy and determination is the same and the minds are set. After all these years, how different is the band today?

I’d say there’s two ways to answer that. On one hand it’s not really different at all. Our motives, ideas and ambitions are still the same as eight years ago. On the other hand I’d say we’re a completely different band now. The music we make, how we present our ideas and the way we execute our plans. We’ve all grown and evolved as individuals and therefor also as a group. I take great pride in that.

I also know for a fact that I personally don’t take the band or my band mates for granted as much now as I might have done before. It makes a huge difference. We’ve been through so much together. So many good times and so many tough times. So many trials and so many triumphs. We rarely get to talk about it though. But still, it’s always there. Always a part of all of us. I feel like we’re both a bit more laid back and a bit more serious at the same time nowadays. We all know this won’t last forever so we can only do our best and live every moment.

And how different is the world and the musical environment around you on the verge of 2015? I’ve seen that you’ve hit the streaming services direction when it comes to an idea for distribution. Will there be some DIY labels involved in the process?

We had that kind of distribution for the last record too actually, so it’s not really new to us. Maybe it’s on another level this time though. I’m curious to find out! The label releasing “Distance & Devotion”, Gaphals, are long time punks, deeply rooted in the same DIY-scene as us. They know what kind of band we are and where we come from. They’ll be working allover the field and we’re super excited about that.

Can I ask you about your previous collaborations with labels like Refuse and Catalyst Records? Why did you part your ways?

We’ve always been super happy with Refuse and Catalyst. Robert and Kurt are fantastic people doing cool things. We love those guys. They’re family forever. Going with Gaphals this time was strictly a matter of doing things differently. They approached us at the right time and they had some really interesting ideas so we didn’t hesitate.

ANCHOR live by StageLoad

Photo by StageLoad.

Ok, so let’s dive a bit deeper into the new effort and its message. Is there a core concept we can explore within “Distance & Devotion”?

I guess there is sort of a concept going through the whole record, yeah!

In short it’s about the distances you want to cross, the person you want to become, the goals you want to achieve. The obstacles you face and the pain you’re put through. If you’re not willing to learn and show true devotion you might never become what you aspire to be.

We’ve all been put through different sorts of hell and I know for myself I’ve learned a lot through my struggles in life. I’ve been lucky to have good people around me and at the end of the day I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything. Instead I appreciate and do my best to be a positive person.

I can’t wait to see the final effect of your attempt to visualize these thoughts in your upcoming music video! I mean, the cover art and those pictures you’ve been sharing online come from a video shoot, right? Tell me more about this project.

Yes, those photos are taken from the video shoot. We’ve been working with our fantastic friend Erik. He was one of the guys behind the “This heart still beats” documentary and he’s been a supporter of our band ever since. The video for “Survive” was shot in the Stockholm archipelago some time ago and I’m really excited to see the end result too! The plan is for Erik to make one or maybe two more videos for “Distance & Devotion” but he’s a very busy man so we’ll see what happens!

ANCHOR! video

ANCHOR video shoot

What’s the release date for both the video and the full length?

The video is gonna be up some time very soon. No exact date set. The album is coming out in april as far as I know!

ANCHOR teasing

Matt, recently you summed up your touring experience and stated that you played 500 shows in about 40 countries on 5 continents. This sounds sick! What were some of the most memorable moments while being on the road? Any exceptional places you’d like to come back to as soon as possible?

So many places. Having seen parts of South America, Asia, Australia and eastern Europe feels unreal. But more than anything I feel privileged to have seen the non-touristy places and met the real people. Staying at someone’s place and learn about his/her day to day life is nothing short of a gift. Going for a swim in the Brazilian rainforest, body surfing at beaches most locals don’t even know about in Australia, and seeing the backstreets of Jakarta are some of the memories I’ll carry with me forever.

Any places that you’ve never visited on tour, but would like a lot to go to?

Oh yes! We haven’t yet toured Central America, South Africa, Iceland, New Zealand and parts of Asia. We’d love to do that of course!

ANCHOR live

Are you already thinking beyond the upcoming May tour with CROOKED LETTER?. By the way, how did you team up with these dudes for this short run?

Yes, we’ll be doing some summer festivals and already have ideas and offers for tours in the fall. I can unfortunately not tell you about it at the moment. But I’ll be out there soon! We’ve been friends with CROOKED LETTER for many years. They’re some of the most genuine people I know and one of my favourite current bands. I’ve roadied for them and also filled in on bass for them. Super excited to take them out! I’m sure it’ll be an amazing time!

No doubt! How do you feel about using shows to spread your message and interact with the audience after doing it for so many years? What do you try to preach and teach between songs? :)

I think hardcore shows can be a great forum for information and inspiration. All of the members of ANCHOR are proof of that. We’ve educated ourselves through this music, through this scene. I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit over the years though. I love it when bands share stories and such, but I sometimes also feel like it’s a good idea for the songs to speak for themselves. Our music is our statement, our art, our message. We’re honest and passionate about what we’re doing. It’s all right there and most of the time it really doesn’t need to be explained. More than anything it needs to be felt. I’ll be super happy to sit down with everyone who wants to chat after the show. Let’s talk about straight edge or football or skateboarding or tofu or whatever. Let’s share some life! That’s why most of us are here, isn’t it? When I was a kid book tables at shows blew my mind, and they still do. To me that’s a great way of keeping hardcore meaningful, informative and motivational. It encourages participation and thought. We’ve done co-labs with a variety of organizations over the years and I think that rules too. We’ll definitely keep doing that when possible!

Is there any particular story from the recent political or sociological news that you’ve been following and would like to bring up here?

I’ll have to say last year’s election and the current situation here in Sweden. It’s too big of a subject to go into here, but I guess you could say we’re facing more or less the same thing as many other European countries. It’s just sad.

Sure you don’t want to explain just a bit what are some of the most annoying issues in today’s politics of Sweden? It seems that you’ve been active in the antifascist movement for quite some time. Can you expound a bit more on that? What would you like to change in modern Sweden?

It’s the same old story really. The system’s failing. A lot of people are being left behind. The frustration is rising and instead of trying to find the roots of the problems a lot of people tend to ask for oversimplified answers and scapegoats. In addition to that all of the parties across the board have been moving towards the centre in order to win votes for as long as I can remember. Erasing the already minimal differences between them. This leaves us with a neo-liberal mess where everything basically is the same.

The way I see it all of these factors make it easy for an extreme right wing party, like Sverigedemokraterna, to be successful. The other parties have basically done the job for them already. They shoud be high five:ing each other. Coming up as an alternative is easy when everything else essentially is the same. We’ve seen all before. The whole situation is a mess and there’s no real concensus on how to approach them.

I honestly don’t know what to expect from the future but I have a feeling it’s not gonna be all sunny. I can only hope for a strong left to rise in reaction to all of this madness.

Ok, Mattias. Thanks so much for your time! Would you like to finish off with something I missed? Any additional thoughts on veganism? How have you evolved as vegans throughout all these years? Are you all advocating for veganism?

Yes, we’re all vegan. I personally took that step at the age of 16 and mostly so from an animal rights standpoint. It evolved from there and as I’ve lived I’ve learned. There’s enough death and destruction as it is in this world. I want to give more than I take and do what I can to minimize harm to animals, the environment and myself.

Check out our new album “Distance & Devotion” coming out in April. We’re super excited to let everyone hear this! We’ll be doing a bunch of touring of course. Including a European record release tour with our friends CROOKED LETTER and a bunch of festivals this summer. Come out and say hi. Let’s make it count! Thank you so much, Karol for supporting our band. Keep up the excellent work!

Thanks a lot! Have an amazing year!

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We started ANCHOR 8 years ago. We had a mission.
We wanted to say something, hit the road, inspire and get inspired.
We wanted to do something meaningful and hopefully contribute to our community.
We’d like to think we’ve done all of that.

Still, it feels like we’ve only gotten started.
The energy and determination is the same and our minds are set.
We welcome another 8 years with open arms.
Love & Struggle / ANCHOR

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