If you’ve heard of a little North Carolinian band named Annuals, chances are you’ve heard their annoying, yet infectious, short single “Brother.” Last week at Subterranean, Annuals rocked the house with their single and plenty of other experimental pop gems in an almost religious fashion.
Lead singer Adam Baker stretched his vocal cords as far as they would go for every song; at times there were two full drum sets blaring with Baker banging on a lone tom and lead guitarist Kenny Florence wailed all night long.
Opening with “Nah Keseyi” from their recently released B-sides compilation, Frelen Mas, Annuals maintained their energy from song to song despite an unresponsive and/or unfamiliar crowd. “Brother” turned into an even bigger epic in the live setting, and “Ease My Mind” packed an electric fervor that is absent on the studio cut.
Overall, Annuals sounded tight and in tune, but with a set that was less than an hour, they felt rushed. The fact that most of their songs are three and a half minutes or less didn’t help. So far, Annuals have shown themselves to be a short, fiery burst of emotion on stage, but they still need to refine their set into longer, more consistent surges to really prove themselves.
After the show I caught up with Baker and Jonny Tunnell from The Never. The two have been friends since they were kids.
Yusuf Siddiquee: How long have you been touring with The Never and Manchester Orchestra?
Adam Baker: We’re actually dating. Our band and Johnny’s. He asked us out about a year ago. Actually I’m gonna ask him this time. Johnny, will you go out with us?
Jonny Tunnell: Of course.
YS: I saw your bands play last year, so this means at least another year together?
JT: Actually, this is the first time we’ve done a full tour with Annuals; before, we would just play a few shows.
AB: With a band of our size, there’s usually not much choice about who to play with. We didn’t know Manchester Orchestra before, but after touring so much I feel like I know them so well and it’s only been what, maybe three or four months?
YS: Annuals were recently signed to Sony’s Canvasback label. Is life any different on the big label?
AB: So far, no.
YS: That’s always good to hear. How is the new Annuals album coming along? What will it sound like? Also, I got your first album from a friend. Is there any legal way to get it?
AB: [The new one] is all written and already recorded; just needs to be finished. We haven’t had much time but this is pretty much the end of the tour; we’re done until SXSW, I think. It’s pretty hard to say what it will sound like since it’s always changing.
JT: I’d say alt-country-ish.
AB: That’s how you’re supposed to get [the old one]; three songs from it are actually on the new CD. The Sedona record is also completely done and should come out in the summer. Sedona is a band with all the same members as Annuals but with me on drums and Kenny singing. It’s really nice to just sit back and play my instrument.
YS: I feel like the crowd wasn’t into it tonight, or maybe they just didn’t know you guys?
AB: Well, some of that is just that the Manchester fans are nice enough to stick around, and I guess it’s Tuesday night.
JT: Yeah, the most frustrating thing is to be up there singing your heart out and have nobody moving or reacting to it.
YS: Adam, did you feel anything particularly different when you wrote the single “Brother?”
AB: [Shakes head] Nah, it wasn’t special at all at the moment. I was sitting on the side of my bed playing around with harmonics and a new tuning and thought it sounded kind of cool. You never know how people are gonna react. The recording process also changes everything.
YS: Why do you think you make music?
AB: Uhh…hmm…that’s kind of like asking why we eat breakfast.
JT: Yeah, I mean, well, since I was 13, I always wanted to play because there were people out there who weren’t doing what I could do. I love traveling and meeting people—and not to sound pretentious, but I hope to educate through my art.
AB: We don’t know what else to do, we’ve been doing it for so long. I could never stand a desk job.
YS: You shout or scream during most of your songs—how do you keep up your voice? Do you do anything special for it?
AB: It seems like I do everything wrong for it. I just drink and everybody tells me to do this and that…not that I’m an alcoholic or anything. I was originally a drummer.
YS: Do you have any goals for the year?
JT: Tour to make enough another album. Our whole label actually travels with us, I think we’re missing one or two.
AB: I’ve got to start affording my bills and being able not to live in Mike’s mom’s house—I’m living in my bassist’s mom’s house!