Anamanaguchi just released their excellent sophomore LP Endless Fantasy, more than quadrupled their Kickstarter goal and performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon making them by far the most visible, successful chiptune act of late. Endless Fantasy finds Anamanaguchi infusing even more modern pop sensibility into their already infectious songs and now they’re touring to support the album. On July 20th the band will hit The Drunken Unicorn with Kitty and we were lucky enough to chat with drummer Luke Silas about appreciative moms, god-awful vans and their sprawling new album.
You guys have gotten a fair bit of attention from your Kickstarter for Endless Fantasy. Tell us a little bit about that.
The first thing I can say is that I’m pretty blown away by the response that we’ve gotten for it. Before we put it up online we were having meetings and being like, “Ok, if we don’t make it to our goal what are we going to do?” and we had no clue how it was all going to end up. To have such an immediately overwhelming response really surprised us. There’s been a lot of comments and messages on there and from there that I really would have never expected. Just like how much this band means to them. A mom hit us up, we have a reward on there that’s School of Chiptune where we teach people how to use the software that we use and the hardware that we use. There’s a mom who wrote in that was like, “I really want to get this for my son, you guys are so much more than like a passing thing in his life, and I think it’s going to mean a lot to him to be close to people who are role models to him.” I was like…losing. my. shit.
School of Chiptune is just one of your Kickstarter rewards. What are some of the other ones? Could you tell us a bit about that cool NES cartridge?
Yeah we’ve been working with a couple different people to put that together. A couple of fantastic programmer friends of ours, as well as…I believe it’s Retro USB, who are helping us put the cartridges themselves together. After that we’re going to take them all back to one of our apartments and paint them. Get them all nice and good lookin’. It’s gonna be a lot of fun I think.
We also have the record itself…the vinyl is not out yet. It’s going into production very, very soon. Our biggest selling thing was this USB drive that is going to have on it the record, all of our old stuff, special art files for the album and music videos for “Meow” and “Endless Fantasy.” We got the final mock-ups of it back and they are beautiful.
And obviously there’s our van that you can buy for $10,000…which no one really went for, we don’t know why that is.
Our van, our god-awful E350 Econoline with almost 400,000 miles on it. No one bought it. I have the Kickstarter app on my phone, every day I will get push notifications for every time someone backs. I feel like so many times I got the notification I’d be like, “Please be the van, please be someone who bought the van.” Not because we need that money, just because like “I really hope someone actually bought our fucking van” you know? If only because it would be that crazy.
Earlier you mentioned your fantastic “Meow” video, what was the filming of that like?
We did it in three different spots. We had originally had this place in mind in Connecticut and it ended up closing down before we could shoot it. We went there a few months before and it turns out by the time we were there to shoot this video it had turned into…the description used was “meth lab.” I don’t know, I didn’t see it with my own eyes but I feel like people usually know a meth lab when they see it. We decided to shoot around a few places in New York. A couple of them were full overnight shoots, like 8pm – 8am of us and everyone from the arcade palling around. It was an amazing time to shoot. Everyone in the video were good friends of ours, so it’s about as much fun as you can have in that kind of shooting context all things considered.
You worked with Bryan Lee O’Malley on a new shirt. How did you guys start collaborating?
After the Scott Pilgrim thing happened* we obviously started talking a lot and we really enjoyed his stuff and it turns out he really enjoyed our stuff.We got to hang out whenever we were in LA and we wanted to have something special for this Kickstarter so we reached out to him. It was actually a collaboration between him and another awesome friend of ours, Maré Odomo. They worked together on the design and it came out super awesome. We’re all really psyched on it.
*the band composed the soundtrack to the Scott Pilgrim video game
It’s been three years since your last release, what was the recording of Endless Fantasy like?
It was pretty spread out, plenty of the songs were written at the time we were working on Scott Pilgrim. A lot of the tracks on here have existed in one form or another for a few years now. There’s this process of fleshing out and taking everything to what we thought would be the most logical and perfect stopping points for songs. So we finished everything up and started recording. We took our time on some stuff. Because it was so on and off it’s hard to say exactly where we started. For the past year before the album came out, we were all pretty hyped working on it.
What were some of the early songs you guys worked on?
The song “John Hughes” – that’s one that Pete has had different versions of on his computer since 2008 maybe. Also “Pastel Flags,” “In The Basement,” “U n Me” and “Space Wax America.” But then for everything that’s old we have a lot of stuff that is brand. ass. new. I’ve said this in other interviews but I remember reading this little blurb about the reissue of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness that came out again last year. Don’t get me wrong, I recognize that I am 100% NOT comparing this album to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness because that is so far beyond presumptuous. There’s a part in the review where the reviewer is saying it might be considered pompous, or arrogant or straight-up passé to release a huge epic record like that but the fact of the matter is that was really the only way to document all the fantastic songwriting that Billy Corgan had been doing in the time between that album and Siamese Dream. Peter and Ary have been doing so much work figuring out exactly what they wanted to make. I mean there are a lot of songs that are NOT on the album. There’s plenty of stuff we cut for one reason or another. If nothing else it’s just a document of how we’ve been spending our time honing our profession and getting stronger. That’s how I like to think of it anyway.
What can we expect from an Anamanaguchi live show?
They’re getting stronger. We’re still working on stuff as we’re on the road. We’re still building stuff on the road like James has a toolbox and soldering kit with him. Before every show I’m programming stuff in the car. We’re all writing all the time. You can expect our live show to just be loud, ridiculous…you’ll have a good time. I wish there was a more poetic way to put that but why muddle the message?
Get your tickets to Anamanaguchi’s show at The Drunken Unicorn on July 20th below!