"We will drive our shitty van to your house, hang out, play a show, and then leave the shitty van at your house and literally transfer the title to you." If you wanted to be the lucky fan who pledged $7,000 to Anamanaguchi's Kickstarter campaign to release its 2013 album Endless Fantasy, that was the perk. Nobody went for it.
"I don't want to give the wrong impression, like 'Oh, it would've been sick if we got that money,'" says drummer Luke Silas. "I got that Kickstarter app on my phone for a while, and every time I saw someone made a donation, I'd get push notifications. I'd be like, 'Please be the van, please be the van, please be the van' — just for that screenshot of someone buying the van. But no, we still have it, and it still really sucks."
Despite not receiving that fat chunk of change, the Kickstarter campaign was a success, raking in nearly $300,000 — well over the $50,000 goal stated on the website. The result: a hyperactive, maximal pop opus combining the ultra-clean overdrive of 1980s butt rock with instantly nostalgic 8-bit Nintendo riffs. Anamanaguchi meticulously composes its computer-driven melodies from hacked gaming consoles, a romance between man and machine that makes massive dance-pop from 30-year-old antiques. "You take this tiny box and make it sound huge," Silas says. "At the same time you are using the most absolutely minimal plain-ass sounds. It's about as nasty as you can get."
Silas attended the Academy of Music at Hamilton High School in Los Angeles, where electronic music classes were part of his curriculum. By his junior year, he was cracking open game consoles and exploring the 8-bit and chiptune scenes. Guitarist Peter Berkman formed Anamanaguchi after building punk rock tracks with 8-bit Nintendo parts. Guitarist and Los Angeles native Ary Warnaar and New York University music technology program grad James DeVito round out the self-described "boy band," with Silas, who also performs his solo low-tech raves as Knife City. All members compose via email, creating an online chain of tracking that begins as a goofball video game hook and ends in frantic dance-pop, a sort of Internet 2013 soundtrack.
"We all played games when we were younger. Let's face it: We're the same age as a lot of stuff we're using. The hardware has grown up. It has matured with the people using it," Silas says. "A lot of people start with this because of that nostalgia factor, but fewer and fewer people will stay with it because of the nostalgia factor. They find something in it beyond that. Whether it's the melody they love, or the new sound they found within it that they think is current and relevant to them now."
Video games are still on rotation (current band jam: Grand Theft Auto V). Anamanaguchi's live show brings that video game immersion experience to life — nonstop pacing, light cubes, hyper-saturated color projections — and Voodoo is no exception.
"This one I think we need to step our game up somehow," Silas says. "It'll be an Anamanaguchi show — really loud, hectic, fun, sweaty, but louder. That's not to say it's more of the same. It's different, but it's us."