I can admit that when I heard The Anytime‘s EP, Crave, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I didn’t even know who they were before I was offered a copy of it. But I quickly learned that these four buddies out of Ames, Iowa are dedicated to making their special brand of hip-hop inspired rock big. Andrew Gates, Matt Dery, Caleb Wiggins and Tyler Higdon are The Anytime, and they will do anything to gain your loyalty.
I got to speak to vocalist Andrew about his relatively young band (they began playing in 2009), his musical inspirations, the lyrical content of the new EP and The Anytime’s desire to go wherever they have to go to gain respect and new fans.
Kristina Villarini: I listened to your EP, Crave and the first thing I thought was that there are some obvious nods to hip-hop. Intentional?
Andrew Gates: That’s so crazy that you noticed that, people usually take longer. But, it definitely was. When we first started the band, that wasn’t where we were at all. I grew up on R&B and hip-hop, and I eventually realized it’s okay to draw from that place. It’s kind of like, just growing up. When I started listening to music, I was in the suburbs of Minneapolis, and the things that I heard listening to music wasn’t really where I was at, but it was what I was feeling. I wanted to tap into it.
KV: Some artists prefer to shy away from that, though.
AG: I can see why, but that’s not me. I would LOVE to bring more of a hip-hop sound into our music. If I could have Ludacris come in and rap on all of our tunes, that would be great!
KV: Besides for the hip-hop influences, where else did you get the idea for your sound?
AG: I have to say Usher was a big one. I loved Usher. I forgot that until right now. I really try to listen to relevant music because we want to be a relevant band. It’s like “you are what you eat,” as a songwriter. We slow down the BPM to our songs. We hear a lot of slower songs in mainstream music. So, we try to slow it down and still make it feel listenable. As a musician, I technically don’t listen to a lot of new bands. I tend to get attached to one band and just think how to get to that level. For example, Shiny Toy Guns‘ We Are Pilots changed my life.
KV: People can hate on that record all they want, but it was awesome. Did you know the original lineup is back together?
AG: Really? Oh my god. That makes me so happy.
KV: The Anytime’s lyrical content is kind of sexy for a kind of punk rock band. Do you think it sets you apart from other bands?
AG: It’s not an accident. That’s what we’re going for: sexy rock band. That’s where we all are in our lives. I read a lot of fiction novels, so I once tried to write lyrics like that, and it was the worst idea I ever had, so I got to a place where I could just talk about the present.
KV: Your songs seem very much “in the moment.”
AG: Yeah, they are. I tend to write very “in the moment.” And the other guys do, too. We tend to paint a portrait in each song.
KV: Are you comfortable with Crave‘s sound?
AG: When I look back at our old EP (The Anytime-EP), Crave is a good idea of what I want to go for. It’s catchy and big. We want to add more synth in the future. Our guitar player is very soulful. He grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, and he’s so integral to our sound that we’re always going to have that rock center.
I would love to be our version of Shiny Toy Guns or even like Justin Timberlake. As I said, I love R&B.
KV: Is performance as integral for an unsigned band as the music?
AG: It’s as important, absolutely. We write songs that we know we can throw down on, when we perform live. Performance is huge. Some of my best moments have come from being on stage. If you can’t do it live, people wont give you their respect. It’s very important to us. I like to dance. I like to sing. I like people to believe it.
KV: How important is the energy from an audience?
AG: It’s an amazing part of what we do. We just played our EP release show on Saturday (2/19/11), and everyone we knew was there. Our friends did so much to support us, and that energy makes you perform better. It makes you more outgoing, and it validates what you do. It’s almost indescribable. The losing my voice, walking offstage being covered in sweat.
KV: Tell me about your non-musical inspirations?
AG: My parents got divorced when I was very young, and I’m the youngest of five kids. My mom was a single mom, you know, and I can’t imagine working all day and coming home to a house of crazy kids. I have nieces and nephews now, so I understand it can be crazy. But I come from a religious family, so she didn’t want me to pursue music originally because, music is sex, drugs and rock’n roll. It wasn’t until my old band won a “Battle of the Bands” contest in the Twin Cities, that I think she realized something was there.
KV: Do you feel like right now is the evolution of The Anytime?
AG: All of the stuff on Crave, is where I am right now, but I don’t write everything. Our drummer writes a lot of songs. We’re a band of four songwriters, and it sounds crazy but we actually like making music with one another.
KV: Does music still move you in a way it did before you became a performer?
AG: It’s definitely difficult to get out of that thinking. You have to be conscious in this industry. When you fall in love with something, though, after you’ve written or listened to tons of music, it validates the artist maybe even more. It still moves me, but in a different way. If you can still appreciate it, I think it will continue to move you.
KV: True or false… The Internet has turned music industry into the “Wild, Wild West.”
AG: That’s true, which kind of sucks. It’s awesome to have the power to just connect with anyone anywhere but it over-saturates the market. Someone can buy a drum machine and cut a record in his basement, and people will listen to that instead of maybe buying something else. The sharing of ideas and knowledge within the Internet is amazing, but you need help sifting through all of the crap.
Then you have those “music blogs” that people are just loyal to…
KV: It sucks just as hard on the journalistic side! So how do you legitimize what you’re doing in these market? Who is an authority?
AG: It is SO hard. A young band wouldn’t know where to start.
KV: Are you guys big on social media?
AG: I like hanging out with actual people. We are trying to get better at tweeting and becoming more aware to people. I’m good at meeting people and talking to people. We are all very social guys. When we’re not playing music, we run a bar. We all live together, we’re in a band together and we all work together. I was in an indie band with a violin player and stuff like that before this, and I was just feeling done with it. Tyler, our keyboard player called me when their singer quit, and they asked me to come to Iowa, and here we are.
KV: Do you listen to your own music?
AG: I’m a perfectionist. So yeah, I listen to us all the time. It’s kind of practice for me as a vocalist. ‘How is the tone of my voice? Am I being a good rapper?’ I feel like most artists should listen to themselves more often. It’s pretty easy when you’re only creating a three or four minute song. I’m not ashamed of liking our music.
KV: What’s the ideal?
AG: I just want to be able to do this for a living and hang out with other musicians. Wherever this takes me in my life, I have no idea, but I know I want to do this. I’m lucky that I found something that I absolutely love doing. As an artist, it sucks, it’s either “feast or famine.” You’re either huge or you’re trying to make it. So I feel like if we get an opportunity, we can show people what we’re made of.
You can stream all of The Anytime’s new EP Crave on Purevolume.com for free through HERE.