Let’s start off by stating your name and what you do in the band, Anathallo.
My name is Matt Joynt and I play guitar and sing.
What's the writing process for your songs?
The process always changes with the movement of our lives. Making music through the progression of your 20s is an interesting thing… it’s a time of rapid transition, so the process necessarily changes with that progression. For instance, Danny lives in Pittsburgh now and most of us have a lot going on outside of the band, so the way in which we work on music for Anathallo is undergoing a shift. With Canopy Glow, we were able to concentrate our time over the course of a Summer – working pretty much every day for hours and hours. Now we’re experimenting with different writing processes that allow for us to develop more holistic approaches to living. Sometimes that means passing around Ableton Live files or working within smaller groups face-to-face. The main point of it all (for me) is to create work from a lifestyle that is trustworthy. What I mean by that is this: I am really suspicious of the narrative voice coming from people who are rooted in nothing, living in total transience. It’s not that I don’t think that transience and the idea of rootlessness are interesting things to write about, but I’m leery of projecting a sentiment that enshrines transient living. I had that life for 3 years and it was terrible. It seems so directly linked to unhealthy ways of living that surfaced through modernism. People need community and the influence of multiple generations – wisdom from a broader scope and time-frame than the quarter century that we’ve been alive. I trust the voice that I to be most honest when I’m living in close proximity to my local community.
Why did Andrew Dost leave the band?
After touring on Floating World the majority of the band wanted to leave Mount Pleasant and move to a city with more inter-connectedness…. The potential to meet other artists and be influenced by their work was really appealing and we already had friends/artists that we knew in Chicago, so it seemed like the most natural option. We knew it was the right time when we were offered the residency at Berry UMC. It was a consensus move, but Andrew was really connected to Beulah, MI and wanted to continue living there and working from home. At the time, he intuitively knew that he needed to be there to be influenced by that space and the beauty of that environment. But on the converse, it was a tough thing, because the life of the band was shifting in a totally different direction. Because of the distance between Beulah and Chicago, he couldn’t come very often to writing sessions for Canopy Glow, and we all intended to keep moving forward. It got to the point where it wasn’t working. We had a very structured process for creating the record, and he had a very structured process for his personal work. I won’t lie and say that it was an amicable split. It was really hard with a lot of emotions flying on all sides. He and I hadn’t been seeing eye to eye on many things both musical and personal and there were a lot of negative feelings in the environment. It was not a safe or nurturing environment for positive communication. Though that time was hard, the split definitely gave a sense of clarity and focus to the record and his work as well (both as a solo artist and with Fun). We are all still learning and growing.
Did losing him change the dynamics of the band?
Yes. Any time that someone comes or goes from the band the dynamic shifts (both musically and personally).
How did you guys sign to Anticon?
While we were working on Floating World we played a show with Why? I noticed our friend John Ringhofer (Half-Handed Cloud) in a picture on the back of their record, so we got to talking with Doug and Yoni about Oakland and SF connections. We played terribly at the show, but I completely flipped for Why? I felt awful about our performance, so the next time that we were in SF I called Yoni and invited him to the show. He started telling people about us and brought Shaun (label manager) to another show after Coachella and the rest just sort of fell into place when we sent them the first mix of Canopy Glow.
Are you guys going to stay on the label for future releases?
As long as it makes sense for them and for us.
What happened with the big stylistic shift from "Holiday at the Sea" to "Floating World"?
It was just a combination of people introducing us to different music, getting into creative writing and a lot of reading, member changes within the group, and a first glance at the idea that music can be simultaneously funny and utterly serious.
Where do you believe Anathallo is taking you all? What are your plans for the band? Big, small?
Anathallo has taken us to some pretty amazing places. The obvious ones involve traveling all over the world, but the most memorable times still involve one busted microphone and an overcrowded basement in Kentucky where some guy is drunk trying to show everyone that he can do the splits or a living room show with a grand piano in Seattle. The idea of rock grandeur is something that I don’t think we’ve ever aspired toward. Once you see the lives of those living in rock grandeur (or even indie rock grandeur), you start finding value in the life of the grocery bagger. It’s all a make-believe construct to forward a capitalistic hoax.
Since you have such a different sound than the majority of the bands out there how, do you find that this helps distinguish yourself from the rest or does this hurt you trying to find new fans?
That’s an interesting question. I don’t really feel like we have a different sound. There are a lot of bands with many members now. Maybe 8 years ago there was a little bit more of a distinction. I’m not even sure if we’re on a mission to get a ton of fans either. It’s really nice when people find out about our music and enjoy it. We should hire a marketing analyst to answer this question.
How did the Vicks commercial come about?
Completely random. We were literally sitting in our practice space at Berry having a sorrowful conversation about how we were going to pay for the recording of Canopy Glow. Just as we had decided to take out a ton of personal credit cards, we got a phone call from Nettwerk saying that this director had requested to use “Yuki! Yuki! Yuki!” in a sync. It was wild.
How do you feel you've evolved as a band?
We’ve always approached our music as an entity that we’re constantly discovering. Hopefully each record will reflect that and we’ll never come across as definitively this or that. Maybe our next record will be all electronic arrangements? Maybe it will be influenced more heavily by bluegrass? Hopefully we retain our core essence as a group… whatever that indefinable space where we all co-exist is called.
What have been some of your favorite experiences on the road?
The spaces of quiet uninterrupted conversation with people at shows or after shows… the strange network of lifelong friends that you never talk to or keep in touch with, but carry everywhere you go.
Any plans to release Floating World or Canopy Glow on vinyl?
Yes! Both within the next 2 months. Floating World will come out via Carrot Top and Canopy Glow will come out via Anticon! We are beyond excited.
What is a typical day for you like?
Today I will do the following:
Shovel my fiancés car out of the snow so she can go to work.
Drop off books for my sister and brother at the coffee shop.
Develop a flyer for Anne Elizabeth Moore’s event series during her residency at InCUBATE.
Print said flyers.
Upload “stems” from the mixes for Canopy Glow to an FTP site so that unnamed artists can remix the songs.
Read more of Wendell Berry’s “Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community”
Work at a coffee shop where I previously dropped off the books during activity #2 from 2 PM to 10 PM.
What are some bands you are currently listening to?
Cains and Abels
Antony and the Johnsons
Ribbons of Song
Excited about any upcoming releases?
Antony and the Johnsons “The Crying Light”
Anything else you would like to add?
Sure… A semi-random plucking from Wendell Berry.
Read this yesterday. It’s really thoughtful and challenging!
“The dilemma of private economic responsibility, as I have said, is that we have allowed our suppliers to enlarge our economic boundaries so far that we cannot be responsible for our effects on the world. The only remedy for this that I can see is to draw in our economic boundaries, shorten our supply lines, so as to permit us literally to know where we are economically. The closer we live to the ground that we live from, the more we know about our economic life, the more able we will be to take responsibility for it. The way to bring discipline into one’s personal or household or community economy is to limit one’s economic geography.”
" I am really suspicious of the narrative voice coming from people who are rooted in nothing, living in total transience. It’s not that I don’t think that transience and the idea of rootlessness are interesting things to write about, but I’m leery of projecting a sentiment that enshrines transient living. I had that life for 3 years and it was terrible."
I understand his reasoning, but also point that while many of those songs and narrative tones are set, or rather not set in any one state of physical being, or lifestyles, the fact is that many of those songs are written relating back to the original reason for being in said state of travel, the uprooting of ones self to find something that had been missing. I fully agree with the mistrust in the sense that many of these songs come from a travel with ulterior motives, but the true songs of heart are often aided due to this lifestyle. I think that lifestyle was essential even for him and Anathallo. The new record is wonderful though, I love the moments where I think of Wall-E. Great questions.