4 to Watch: Anathallo
Creation in Isolation
Hometown: Mount Pleasant, Mich.
Members [l-r]: Greg Leppert, Danny Bracken, Jeremiah Johnson, Seth Walker, Matt Joynt, Andrew Dost, Erica Froman and (foreground) Bret Wallin
Fun fact: During a Chicago stop, the members of Anathallo got into a karaoke battle with a group of roller-derby girls. “They were making fun of us because we were indie kids, and we were making fun of them because they were roller-derby girls,” recalls Bracken.
Why they’re worth watching: Anathallo recently signed to Nettwerk but, even without label backing, they caught the ears of critics and fellow musicians—including alt-folkster Sufjan Stevens.
For fans of: Sufjan Stevens, Animal Collective, Elephant 6 bands
Years ago in Mount Pleasant, Mich., a group of boys created a holiday—Nature Day. Mother Nature was celebrated with bicycle parades, snowball fights, raft-building contests and brutal river races. These boys would grow up to be members of indie collective Anathallo. “You had to make your own fun if you wanted to stay alive,” says guitarist Daniel Bracken of their small-town upbringing. “We were able to make our youth exciting in a town that’s not that exciting.”
As the young men grew older, music seeped into their tree-climbing culture. “But if we wanted to see a show we had to drive three hours to Detroit,” says Bracken. “Our influences were limited.” While other bands were going to concerts every night, Bracken and his friends were developing a sound unique to their background. After years of experimenting, Anathallo emerged, its name a Greek word meaning “to renew, refresh or bloom again.” The band’s symphonic sound is inspired by Biblical stories and Japanese folk tales alike, and it’s characterized by isolated vocals that explode into choral recitals, instrumentation ranging from piano and horns to handclaps and Velcro, and innovative arrangements that call for patience as they blossom into grandiose epics.
With fifth release (and label debut) Floating World, Anathallo continues expanding its sound, drawing influence from the boldness of the punk and avant garde camps, the extravagance of the high-school marching band, and the chill of the Michigan snow.