Monday, October 13, 2008

This weekend: The Anabolics, "Bastard child of The Clash and The Shangri-Las"

There's nothing quite like a genuine New York City rock 'n' roll band. You know, the kind that can be both completely trashy and completely charming in the course of a single three-minute power pop song. The kind that can make the ghost of Joey Ramone sit up and take notice. Boys and girls, meet The Anabolics.

The Anabolics are a two girl, one guy band from Brooklyn that will be in town Sunday, October 19 to play Abbey Pub (more info and tickets). They describe themselves as what would happen if The Clash and The Shangri-Las had a cheap one night stand and produced offspring, and I can't disagree.

In anticipation of the show, guitarist and co-vocalist Anna Blumenthal took the time to answer some questions about the origins and antics of The Anabolics, as well as the band's latest LP, "Anabolically Correct."

First off, give us some background on The Anabolics. When and how did you come together?

Marcelo (drummer) and I have been friends for ages. We used to always hang out and listen to records and play music together, and we have the same taste in music. As in, we both worship at the altar of Cheap Trick. Then the bands we had each been playing in kind of fell apart at the same time so we decided to start a band.

This was a few years ago. We had a few different people we were playing with for a while - we used to play with a keyboard player at first, but we met Christina (bass) a little over a year ago, and when she started finishing our
sentences and rolling her eyes at our jokes instead of being repulsed, we knew she was a keeper.

You recently released your second LP, "Anabolically Correct." What did you set out to accomplish with the record and how would you describe it to someone who has never heard the band?

Someone once said we sound like the bastard child of The Clash and The Shangri-Las, and I think that's a pretty apt description so I just ripped that off as my own words. Just kidding. We all love both those bands so we thought that was a cool way to describe our music.

We write catchy rock 'n' roll tunes with a kick and we always strive for lots of harmonies. All three of us sing so we try to have three voices singing as much as possible. I don't think we set out do anything different with this record musically - we never try to write a certain type of song, we just sit down and write whatever comes naturally to us. But sound-wise, I think we worked a lot harder on finding our sound, in terms of the drums, guitars and vocals. And we added way more hand claps than on the first record.

What are your favorite tracks on "Anabolically Correct" and why?

I like "Stick By Me" a lot because that's the first song - and only, so far - that me and Marcelo have written together. (Note - Christina joined the band after we recorded this CD, which is why she doesn't have any songs on it, but she will have a bunch on the next record). We usually just write songs on our own and then bring them to the band, but that one we wrote together in practice one day.

I like "Strychnine" a lot, and "Tonight Tonight," too. I feel like those are really upbeat pop songs and always fun to play live. And I've always dug "Burnin' Headlights." That one started off as a short instrumental song we used to play as an intro to "Careena Collins" from the first record, and for this album we made it a lot longer, added vocals and some new parts and made it into our most metal song, definitely inspired by the Nuge.

The album includes a cover of "Fox in the Snow" by Belle and Sebastian. Unlikely choice, but it works really well done in Anabolics style. How did you come to cover that song?

Actually our old keyboard player, Anne Kadet, suggested we cover that. Anne is awesome - still a good friend of ours - and introduced us to Belle and Sebastian who we weren't really familiar with before, but now we really like them. We love covering songs that aren't obvious choices, and making them our own.

I see you have a video up on YouTube for "Tonight," the opening track on the record. Any others in the works? I read you had one planned for "(I'm Gonna) Leave It Up to You."

That project unfortunately got aborted a while ago due to various things, but we definitely want to make another video soon. It's just a matter of fitting it all in. After our midwest tour we're going to focus on recording our third album, booking a spring tour - probably the south - and we'd love to do another video.

Being from New York City, what do you think about the current music scene there? Any favorite bands to listen to or play with?

My favorite band in NY, as everyone who knows me knows, is the Bamboo Kids. Mary Weiss, from The Shangri-Las, who made a new album last year and is performing again, is just amazing. And The Fleshtones put on the best show on earth. There are a million bands here - lots of good ones, but inevitably, a lot of crap too - like anywhere, I guess. The good thing about the music scene here is there's always some awesome show going on because there are just so many bands and so many venues. The only bad thing is usually there's more than one thing a night so you can't do everything you want to do. But I'll take that over lack of good music any day.

Have you played Chicago before? If so, where'd you play and how was it? If not, what are you expecting from your Abbey Pub show on October 19?

We have not, and have always wanted to. I just hope people come out to the show, and we're psyched to have the opportunity to rock their asses off!

What can people expect from an Anabolics show?

Silver hot pants, go-go boots and fishnets. And that's just our drummer, Marcelo.

Strangest or most memorable experience as a band so far?

Playing the Empress Ballroom in Danbury, CT. It's an all ages venue, which is great. But the bands we were playing with - and the audience - were literally comprised of all 15-year-olds. All their parents were driving them there in their SUVs and setting up their drum kits. It was the cutest thing I've ever seen, but we also felt kinda weird being closer in age to their parents. Also, we had left our cymbals at a gig in Boston the night before, so our drummer had to go up to this 15-year-old kid with a green mohawk and ask to borrow his cymbals. Hilarious. It was awesome, though, because the kids weren't jaded at all so literally had their chins on the stage during the show. Once when we messed up the intro to a song and had to start over, one kid screamed out, "YOU MESSED UP! HAHA!" And they all came up to us after and bought CDs and t-shirts with their allowance. It was awesome.

You cite a lot of classic bands such as Cheap Trick, Ramones, The Shangri-Las, The Go-Go's and The Clash as influences. If The Anabolics could play a show with one band, past or present, who would it be and why?

For me, it would be The Clash because I just love them beyond words. Song writing, performance - they were just the best. Period. As long as the show wasn't in England where the audience used to spit huge gobs of phlegm at the band.

In a sentence, what's the one thing you most want the world to know about The Anabolics?

All I can tell you is to come to a show and see for yourself!

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