Melbourne boys, Anchors are keeping the energy and the passion of the local music scene alive and well with their sporadic live show and punk rock aesthetic. The band are gearing up to play the annual Tape Deck festival this September so we had a candid chat with lead vocalist Brett Horsely about the festival, the recent cancellation of The Wonder Years tour and the unpredictable beast that is pop-punk.
How’s Anchors feeling about things in the lead up to Tape Deck Festival?
Well it was one of those things man, we really wanted to play obviously but it was right in the middle of The Wonder Years tour. We thought we were going to have to play that tour in Adelaide and then drive back [to Melbourne] kind of overnight for Tape Deck on the Sunday. Like man, we were worried because we really wanted to play it and I was just hoping that we weren’t going to suck because we’d be so tired after a bunch of shows. Then in a way the [tour being cancelled] has kind of worked out alright because we get to play Tape Deck and it’s like the only thing we have on before the States. We can actually afford to out a lot into our set and we’ll be really keen to play!
So in light of that, how’d you feel when The Wonder Years tour got cancelled?
Well, dude it’s kind of strange because you sent me a text about it as I was about to go to sleep and I’m lying there and I get your text and it’s like, “Bummed about The Wonder Years tour.” And that’s how I found out, I just thought, “What the fuck?” And then at the exact same time I got a screenshot from my friend of the Facebook post saying it was cancelled and it was so weird man! I messaged the other guys about it and at twelve thirty a.m. or something and I woke them up. I was like “Dudes, have a look!” and the response was just a “holy shit!” It was kind of a surreal moment, like, was it a practical joke or something?
I never got my ticket and two weeks out from the first show I was mad and I made the conclusion it was Hook Turn. But I mean, I was just angry and wanted to point the finger at someone.
Exactly. And here’s the thing, if I hadn’t been in direct contact with Brad and Hook Turn and had just been a punter, I would’ve done the exact same thing. I would’ve just blamed somebody as you said. But it’s nobody’s fault, it really is just a genuinely fucking bizarre situation. We had this whole tour lined up and now we have practically nothing! (Laughs) Like holy shit, what do we do? Start a fight club and beat each other up because we have all this energy to use!?
My next question was actually about the Forever Came Calling tour.
Yeah, a lot of similar shit came with that. When you look at it from our perspective though; we were fucking stoked for that FCC tour and then we get this offer with The Wonder Years and I mean, it was not an easy decision to make. To take this tour we were stoked about and then say, “Sorry, we actually can’t do this” we felt like flakes. Yet a main support slot on a band that means so much to every member of Anchors was something we felt like we had to do; it was a once in a lifetime thing, but it didn’t work out, and that happens. If we can take one positive from this, it’s that we will be so fucking amped to play on that Sunday at Tape Deck.
It’s still unfortunate as it had worked out so well with the support slot. My brother and I were looking at The Wonder Years tour announcement and we were thinking that Anchors should be on it. Then what happened? You guys got announced…
It was so crazy! We said the same thing, we were sitting around and there was no national band announced or anything and we thought, “It would be really cool if they asked us” then literally the next day we got a call from Hook Turn and they were like, “So uh, how do you guys feel about touring with The Wonder Years?” It was the weirdest thing!
It must be. I remember the first time I met you at The Story So Far gig two years ago I commented on your Wonder Years shirt you were wearing. You told me you should’ve thrown it away years ago but you just couldn’t; so obviously they hold a special place in your heart.
Oh yeah man. I was shitting myself because they are the kind of band that were just coming out here a few years ago and were considered just a standard pop-punk band. I had my shirt and it’s all cracked and faded now but I put it on for an Anchors show once thinking, why not. And a few people were coming up and saying like, “What do you listen to that band for? They’re just a pop-punk band!” Like, no! Dude, they are so much more, they are so cool! I think it was on The Greatest Generation they proved themselves a bit more and appealed to a wider audience. I’m still kind of holding onto that part of me trying to convince people to listen to them and that they’re not singing about ice-cream and best friends.
People came up to me and were like, “You guys are on The Wonder Years tour?” and I was ready to cop a bunch of shit but they ended up saying “That’s gnarly man, I’m stoked!” It goes the other way too like, what if we got up there and people just wanted to see a pop-punk band and not solos or me trying to scream and stuff like that. That was as far as nerves went from hoping they liked us… Obviously that won’t be a problem now. (Laughs) You would’ve heard the story about The Wonder Years getting booed at Parkway Drive, yeah??
Oh God yes! I missed out on that tour and I would’ve gone just for The Wonder Years and I got so mad when I heard people booed them. Like no. Just no!
You idiots! (Laughs) What are you doing?! In my mind I’m a bit of a pessimist and I was worried we were going to get booed on their tour.
I’m sure if you wore some khaki shorts, a flannel and talked about pizza you would have been fine.
(Laughs) Maybe a t-shirt with a cat on it or something.
It is such a weird genre. On the one hand bands are saying they’re pop-punk and they sound like 5 Seconds of Summer yet on the other bands are calling themselves pop-punk and they could play shows with Stick To Your Guns or something ridiculous.
I once had a friend tell me that The Story So Far was too heavy for them.
What the fuck!?
I know! So how would you classify the genre?
Pop-punk is such a weird genre. When it first started your bands were your standard ones like New Found Glory and Blink and they were just starting to get some momentum. Yellowcard and shit like that was exactly what it was: POP. PUNK. It’s so weird like you said with bands like 5 Seconds of Summer and bands being called alternative or punk yet they’re just mainstream shit on the radio. Am I getting old or did I miss something? (Laughs) Do I just not know what’s good anymore? I think it’s good though as its maybe opening people’s eyes a bit more. Like they hear the mainstream stuff and dig a bit deeper and find out where that stuff came from… It could be good but a lot of the time I hear this “pop-punk” or “punk” and it’s just trash.
Yeah exactly, as soon as you try and put a name on it, it gets muddled. Like when we were playing with The Story So Far in Japan, I was wearing that same Wonder Years top. Will said, “Uh, you listen to The Wonder Years, you listen to pop-punk? That’s a bit different” I mean, I don’t really but I would’ve classified them as a pop-punk band and thought they’d play shows together and he was so shocked. I asked him how he would and he just said, “I’ve never really thought about it but all we listen to is hardcore and hip-hop and combined the two with melody.” (Laughs) I thought I had made a mortal enemy because the look on his face!
That’s so weird ‘cause they just announced an American tour with The Wonder Years, Gnarwolves and Modern Baseball! They also toured New Zealand with Terror. Pop-punk is such a diverse genre.
Exactly. That’s what I was saying before. People who may have never heard Terror before, may go to a Story So Far gig and see them and think they’re great. Look past what they normally listen to. With a bit of luck that’s how it’s working. Maybe I’m being too nice.
Or too cynical.
(Laughs) I’m a terrible combination of overly cynical or overly pessimistic and then being overly hopeful too.
Well when all my friends started getting into 5 Seconds of Summer, I was praying they’d look into Mayday Parade and The Wonder Year or All Time Low and they never did. I had to show them those bands and they ended up not liking them.
(Laughs) Well let’s say that in two years, The Wonder Years have gotten massive and huge and they’re on the radio, the same people will come back to you and be like, “Hey have you heard this band called The Wonder Years?” and you’ll just grit your teeth and say “You son of a bitch!” (Laughs) Like I get people coming up to me all the time and asking if I like a band called The Gaslight Anthem. Oh please! I was seeing them at The Arthouse when nobody was there; well it was full but compared to now. Man it’s so weird that people who are into Nickelback are getting into Gaslight and asking me if I like them.
It’s like when I spoke with you in January and we chatted about liking Taylor Swift. It’s a bit annoying how people put you in boxes. If I liked Suicide Silence, I can’t for some reason not like Taylor Swift or One Direction of even Terror.
Yeah, and if you do, people think you’re a poser or being ironic.
Until I actually went to the Swift concert people still thought I was joking. If I liked one genre, life would be pretty boring.
Yeah, well if that was the case then what’s the point in listening to music!?
So we probably better talk about Anchors.
Oh God yeah! Alright, let’s go! (Laughs)
What’s been happening in the world of Anchors since we last spoke in January?
Oh dude, a lot’s been going down! I don’t even know where to begin. We had our guitarist Pat, quit. It’s the classic thing where you move in different directions. We basically sat down as a band and talked about where we wanted to go with it and we were happy to keep doing what we’re doing; Pat wanted to branch off in a different direction and it wasn’t really working. We tried to write songs and it just wasn’t flowing, it was a bit stilted. One of the great things about us is that we’ve always had a sort of similar vision as to where we wanted to go. The fact that we were coming to practice and someone would have a riff and no one would like it. It was getting really tense and Pat just sort of jumped ship and started his own band; The Gretz. It’s more the style of what he wanted to do, bit more laid back, Tigers Jaw stuff.
We’ve now got Jim Morris from Union Pacific and regrets and pretty much every band in Melbourne on board playing bass and our bass player Tony moved to guitar. We’re knuckling down and trying to write as much as we can before we head to the States. It’s gonna be chaotic but I’m stoked for it.
So this experience has kind of taught you that it’s best to sit down and suss it out if something isn’t working?
Absolutely! It’s a hard call, we’ve spoken about the reasons behind why you make the music you do and it’s like I said, for us we found ourselves writing the types of songs we didn’t want to play. I think that’s always going to be an issue for many reasons. For Anchors, we’ve always focused on a goal; a finish line so to speak as to what we’re doing. I think as long as you’re all working to the same thing and you work well, you can go about it in a lot of different ways, as long as you know what the end result is going to be. Bands I have been in have gone through shit because you just simply rock up, know you wanna be a hardcore band and that bits solid. But the part where you write songs and how you’re going to get there, it’s a bit of an alien concept to some. A lot of the times it can be better to just call it quits when it’s rough and save yourself the time and the money to release something you don’t like.
I always see a band as bad relationship however. You kind of get sick of each other and it gets boring but if you spend some time away from each other you can find yourself really missing it. That’s another thing that we did, Anchors had some time off. We still talked to each other as dudes but we didn’t do anything with the band, didn’t jam or play shows or even talk about it. When we came back from that, we were so hungry and we were losing our minds about not doing anything. We came back with so much to explore. That’s always an option, giving it a breather as oppose to breaking up.
Unless you’re in a band where playing is your wage, you have the luxury of actually being able to say you’re taking a break. It seems like the end of the world to you at the time but you’ll come back and realise that no one really noticed. It was like “hey, we just came back from a really big break” and everyone was just like, “Oh what, uh okay then?” (Laughs) When we saw it as a massive speed bump in the road, we also saw at shows that the people who listened to us it didn’t really affect.
I asked you this last time we spoke but to sort of get an update on things, how is the new material sounding?
Well see, last time we spoke that’s when we were working on the direction for it and we’re trying to incorporate more of the softer side of us with the thrashier side and try and create a balance. That was kind of a diplomatic way of saying it was a cluster-fuck! We didn’t really know what we were doing but I was trying to be as positive as possible. With Jim in the band, we haven’t written a full song yet with this line up. Yet the vibe we’re getting from the shows and jamming is that it going to head more to the thrashier side of things. That’s where we’re getting the most energy from the crowd we’re finding. Gonna sit down and try and crank some of those out and then when we do that and see what’s best.
Anchors play Tape Deck Festival at the Lilydale Showgrounds this Sunday September 7th.