Now You Know: AnariaMonday, 9th February 2015
Location: Pelham, NH
Style: Symphonic metal with a bevy of outside movie soundtrack, pop, and digital influences.
Personnel: Jessica Mercy (vocals); Dan Spinney (guitar); Chad Niles (guitar); Kevin H. Brady (bass); Zac Paquette (drums)
Latest release: Seasons of the Mind Volume One: Inception, 2015 (Self Released)
Establishing a sound that has gained quite a foothold from another continent can be a tough proposition. Thanks to the broad appeal of European acts like Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, symphonic-oriented metal has a multi-layered approach that seems to provide wider audience appeal, thanks to the sonic openness of influences and word pictures that often transport the listener to another time, another land, and another scene. Now that many of these artists are selling out theater size venues in North America, the inevitable fuel of inspiration would start to strike younger musicians from the USA as well.
Anaria hail from New Hampshire, and after recently taking in a live set in early January at Sammy’s Patio in Revere, MA (during winter’s lovely precipitation mess) I was immediately hooked by their approach to the genre. Unafraid to look at all sides of the field – being aggressive when called for, tempering things with melody, plus the one of a kind massive vocal abilities of Jessica Mercy – Anaria has a multi-faceted approach that can hook people inside of metal as well as on various fringes. Their video work is also gaining social media buzz – their cover of Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire” gaining 340,000 plus views on YouTube.
Putting the finishing touches on their latest full-length album Seasons of the Mind Volume One: Inception (which should be out in the spring), I felt the time was ripe for this quintet to tell us a little more about their style, their sound, and their outlook. Answering these questions is guitarist Dan Spinney- and be sure to catch this band live if they come close to your territory, as this is high quality material for certain.
Dead Rhetoric: Please inform the readers about the early formative years of Anaria – as this new act formed out of the ashes of Evince Ethos. What necessitated the name change (if anything), and how would you say your style has changed through the years?
Dan Spinney: Well there’s a hell of an opening question ha ha. The evolution of this band has been a tremendous journey of peaks and valleys. Anaria, was in a sense a new band with a jumpstart from an old project. Jess and I met on a website where local musicians can locate one another and spoke of starting a project with similar ideas pulling from the old and being inspired by the new. Jess had contacted several members of the old project (Evince Ethos) to garner their interest in a new project. Several were on board, but we were all in agreement that the new project would take on its own identity and thus needed a new name. After short deliberation, we landed upon the name “Anaria”. When broken down it is a simple phrase derived from “an aria” which means any expressive melody. Being that we’re all open minded musicians with no concrete direction in mind we felt this was more than an appropriate name. Through the years the music has undergone numerous directional changes. Initially, the inspiration was heavily that of European metal, dragons, and other such sorcery. Through member turnover, personal growth as musicians, and feeling the need to bring something new to the table, Anaria is now heavily influenced by modern American metal, movie sound tracks, and even a little pop or digital here and there. This album will be a thorough demonstration of where we are at now as opposed to where we’ve been. We couldn’t be happier about that change and look forward to evolving as an entity.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve been gaining a lot of traction in the New England scene for your live performances as well as visual presentation through social media in terms of videos. Do you find it an easy or arduous process to stand out in the symphonic metal world – especially considering a majority of the popular acts hail from European soil?
Spinney: Well, we see ourselves breaking from that mold in the near future. Female fronted rock, metal, etc is something with a wide variety of definitions and being pigeonholed into just “symphonic metal” does not sufficiently represent our current state. Although, we do still have heavy riffs, classical orchestration, and serious lyrical content that we feel will be strongly appreciated in Europe as we bring a little bit something different to the table.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you consider the major strengths of each band member that they bring to the table to make Anaria unique and special?
Spinney: Each band member brings forth a level of passion and commitment that we’re all feeding off of in order to continue seeking our dreams. There’s humor, creativity, and an incredible amount of talent that each member utilizes in order to make Anaria a better unit.
Dead Rhetoric: During the summer of 2014 you gained a special chance to perform at Dragoncon in Atlanta, GA. What memories do you have surrounding that weekend – and does the band feel a special connection through comics, animation, and gaming endeavors?
Spinney: Our lead singer is a huge nerd, as are Chad and Kevin. Playing Dragoncon was a huge honor, particularly to our lead singer who has been attending since 2005 as a cosplayer. The band does come from a widespread background that includes a love of comic books, movies, Magic the Gathering and miniatures. We could spend hours telling you about what happened that weekend in Atlanta, but let’s just say it involved no shortage of whiskey, costumes, some very dedicated fans, and light sabers.
Dead Rhetoric: You are currently putting the finishing touches on a new album, planned to be released in the spring. What can you tell us about the songwriting and recording process, and how would you compare this set of tracks against your previous discography?
Spinney: We touched on it a little before, but thanks to the efforts of our producer Drew Thompson Hooke, we can easily say that this collection is by far our most proud, complete, and epic collection of music. It’s much more organized and will have a cohesive sound even though the songs will have their own identity.
Dead Rhetoric: Where would you like to see yourself within the next couple of years in terms of establishing a fan base? Is being on a record label important to Anaria or do you believe that through crowd funding activities you’ll be able to circumvent the industry and keep your ideas/ music pure through a direct to consumer model?
Spinney: Ideally, we would like to be on top of the world within the coming years touring it regularly. Crowd funding has been a great help and we cannot thank our contributors enough, but simply without the support and networking of a label the industry is too difficult. We would like to find a label that both caters to getting our music heard as well as allowing us to be creative and keep our integrity. It’s a delicate balance, but one that many bands have been able to establish as they grow with their label.