Interview with Andrew Gates of The Anytime

You guys released your new EP, ‘Crave,’ about a month ago. How’s the response been?

It’s been better than I expected. We put a lot of work into these songs. It’s nice to hear that people actually think it’s good. I’m kind of sick of listening to them because we really beat them into the ground.

[Laughs] If you’re tired of your own songs now, imagine how the huge acts feel. They have to play their one or two hits every single night on tour.

Yeah. At least you can party with people and rock out on stage. That’s a little bit of a trade-off.

True. I guess you’ll have to just party enough to forget the songs exist until the next night.

[Chuckles] Exactly.

The Anytime are described as a club rock act. Expand upon that idea a little for us.

I guess I’m the one who kind of coined that genre. With the new album, it’s been a complete transformation from what the band used to be on our previous EP. We decided what we all liked and what we thought the world was missing. We like pop songs, we like rock, we like house music — we all have different influences. I love listening to hardcore and metal, classical, and even Taylor Swift. We want to be an upbeat, grab-you-by-the-balls, sexy rock band. We want to incorporate a modern vibe, but still have an organic and timeless rock feel. Also, I feel like dance music will always be out there.

Definitely. I hear that most people like dancing [laughs]. So how did the songs come together?

Photo: Jules Ameel

We would maybe start out with a big riff and try to write a song around that — which is actually how the song “Crave” was written. I came up with this synth bass riff, and our keyboard player Tyler [Higdon] helped me develop the riff even more. We still feel like we’re in the [beginning stages] of this sound that we’re going for. Our [new] EP is not the definitive sound of what we’re going for, but it’s definitely a large leap in that direction.

Did you write all the music before heading into the studio with producer Jordan Schmidt?

We wrote everything before we went in. We were actually recording with another producer and he just never finished the product, so we had to redo it. We wasted about three or four thousand dollars with that. Not to mention almost a year of our lives. Time is the thing you can’t get back. We literally lost a year in the progression of our band. But, you know what, everything happens for a reason. It’s fine because we never would have been writing the music that we’re writing now, which is gaining way more attention. I feel like we’ve just grown as songwriters. We now have an actual sound and a niche we’re trying to appeal to.

Nice.

Yeah, and girls like it, which are our number one demographic.

Well, if anyone is going to like your music…

Most of our lyrics are about girls in some way because that’s what’s relevant to us right now. We’re at a point where it’s like, “I’m going to write a song about the girl that I can’t get.” Also, we want to move on to bigger and better things and grow as musicians and where we’re located with our lives.

I hear that California has some strip clubs. I reckon they would like some dance rock.

[Laughs] Oh, yeah. I completely agree with that.

Do you guys have any strip joints around your neighborhood?

Actually, one of the songs off our old EP was written with that in mind — that a stripper might dance to it at a strip club. And it actually happened — a girl currently strips to our song “The Fire” at a strip club.

Well done. Back to working with Jordan — how did that all come about?

We did one of our songs off our old EP with him before. I’m actually from Indianapolis, which is where he’s based out of. We have many mutual friends. After we didn’t get our EP done by the other guy, we asked Jordan. He’s like a wizard with vocals, which is good for me because he makes me sound good. His type of bands are the scene pop rock bands, which is what we used to be. We wanted to see what would happen if we brought what we had to him. He made it sound really big and powerful, which is exactly what we wanted from him. He really came through with it.

Tell us about the song “Killer.”

That song is actually about the same girl that the song “Crave” is about. The song is about wanting something you can’t have, more or less. It’s my ultimate downfall. I tend to want everything that I don’t have. The song just started out with me coming up with the vocal line [starts to sing the intro vocal line]. I think I was in the shower and it just popped into my head. My drummer [Matthew Dery] and I wrote the chorus together and it formed into this big sounding rock song. Then, in the bridge, I actually rap. When we were in the studio, I told the guys, “I wrote this rap for the bridge. Let me try this.” They all had this weird look on their face [laughs]. We ended up keeping it.

I’m very influenced by rap and R&B. Growing up, I listened to more rock — Dashboard [Confessional], Sublime, Led Zeppelin, Smashing Pumpkins, Jimmy Eat World. From there, I started listening to more Top 40 radio because we want to write songs that could possibly get to that level. Dissecting those songs and listening to them helps us write more like that. But it would be also nice to have the edge that the subcultures look for too. If we can somehow pull all that off, that would be ideal.

How are the songs usually sculpted within the band?

Our drummer does a lot of lyrics, I’m good with melodies, our keyboard player is really good with structure and theory — he’s a musical genius, as far as that comes. I’m like an autodidact; I just started doing music and didn’t realize I could sing until I was seventeen. Our guitar player [Caleb Wiggins] has been playing since he was six or so and he just shreds, which is nice to have. It varies from song to song how much we contribute. With the song “Femme Fatale,” everybody wrote a part of that. Then there’s also other songs where I’ll write all the lyrics and vocals and some of the structure. With “Can You Feel It,” I didn’t write anything on that song. I feel like we’re less likely to get into a crazy writer’s block because we have stimulus from all parts of the band.

Being an unsigned band is still tough, but it has become in some sense a little bit easier with the advent of the Internet. How are you guys using the web to your advantage?

Photo: Jules Ameel

I guess it’s just about finding where kids are going and then tapping into that subculture. People will get attached to websites or certain blogs and that’s where they’ll get all their information from. Most of our fans are gained face-to-face. It’s difficult to hard sell somebody online. Of course, ultimately, your music speaks for itself. The hardest part is getting people to give it a listen. As a new band, it’s impossible. Looking cool and having sweet pictures helps, I guess. Anyway, when it comes to promoting ourselves online, I’d say we’re not very good at that. Luckily, our manager and publicist are good at it. We’re too wrapped up in trying to write music and meet new people.

Word of mouth is still the best.

Absolutely. If your buddy tells you about a band, you’re going to be much more likely to listen to it then if you get a random message in your email.

What other plans do you have for 2011?

I guess just getting people to know who we are, creating a buzz. We plan on touring soon. In late April or early May we’ll hopefully be hitting the road. We’d also like to get picked up by somebody so that they can pay for us to record more songs instead of it coming out of our pockets. We’re going to also try to associate ourselves with more and more professional people in the music industry, as well as growing as writers, musicians, and performers. Our main goal is really touring and getting our songs out there. I’ve been eating a lot of Chinese food lately and the past three fortune cookies have been the most specific things. 2011 is hopefully going to be a great year for me and The Anytime. [laughs]

Good luck, Andrew. Thanks for the talk.

Thank you very much.

Pick up The Anytime’s new EP Crave.