Josh Berwanger talks Anniversary reunion, possible new music, new solo album (watch a video)
The Anniversary are officially reunited this year, and played their first show since 2004 at the Taste of Chaos show in California in July (with Quicksand, The Get Up Kids, The Early November, Hot Rod Circuit, Taking Back Sunday, and more). They played "All Things Ordinary," "Sweet Marie," "Tu-Whitt Tu-Whoo," "The D in Detroit," and more (check out the full setlist). Here are a couple videos:
The band's headlining tour begins in September and hits NYC on September 10 at Bowery Ballroom (tickets) and September 11 at The Bell House (tickets), both of which are with Laura Stevenson (who opens a few other dates on this tour). They also play Riot Fest Chicago. All tour dates are listed at the bottom of this post.
So far there's no official word on The Anniversary releasing new music, but the members have passed demos back and forth ("they sound like a mix between both of the albums with a little ELO/ABBA influence," co-frontman Josh Berwanger tells us). Meanwhile, Josh does have new music coming with his solo band, Berwanger, who will release Exorcism Rock on November 4 via Doghouse (pre-order). It's his first full length since 2013's Strange Stains (which he put out as Josh Berwanger). The album's got two songs featuring vocals by Josh's Anniversary partner Adrianne Verhoeven, which is the first time they've sang together on record since that band broke up. The Berwanger record is a little more classic rock-inspired than The Anniversary were, but it's also got enough similarities for Anniversary fans to get very excited about. You can download the song "Slutty Skin" from the album in exchange for your email address HERE. Another song, "I Want You Bad," has a video premiering right here:
I also caught up with Josh to talk about the new album and The Anniversary reunion. Here's our conversation:
BV: So, obviously a big thing this year is the Anniversary reunion. Your first show back was the Taste of Chaos show, right?
Josh Berwanger: Yes, about a month ago.
BV: How was that, playing those old songs you hadn’t played in years / seeing the crowd react to them?
JB: The crowd was amazing. However I would not recommend to any band their first show in 13 years be to 12 thousand plus people.
BV: What made you realize that you wanted to do this again, and/or that there'd be such a demand for it?
JB: The Anniversary broke up so immaturely. We were a family and we're always together, every day whether we were on tour in the studio or back home. Then we imploded, broke up and after a year everyone had gone their own way. I think we have felt an emptiness from that and finally we got on the same page and also felt we left something on the table. After our first practice a few months back I asked Jim when was the last time he saw Adrianne and he said 10 years. I just find that crazy. We were all together everyday and then everyone was gone. As in doing this again, we want to continue or finish The Anniversary chapter.
BV: Do you think you’d do another album, or just the shows?
JB: We have all talked and would love to make a new record if the right label came along. However we wouldn't force anything. I don't think I could tour for a year and not have anything new to offer to the people coming to the shows.
BV: If you had to guess, what would a new Anniversary album even sound like? Considering the two you have are so different.
JB: We have been passing a few demos back and forth. Right now they sound like a mix between both of the albums with a little ELO/ABBA influence.
BV: Have you been leaning more strongly on either album when you’re making the setlist for these shows?
JB: I think it's split pretty evenly and adding a few B-sides and one super old song that I'm not sure many people will know. We wanted to have those to change it up nightly. And an extended version of The Macarena.
BV: Ha, nice.
JB: Janko will do it solo. On just drums.
BV: So about new music that's more imminent, you've got this new Berwanger album coming.
JB: Yes! I'm really excited about it.
BV: It’s called Exorcism Rock, KISS is namedropped in the press release, I hear a little Tom Petty on “booty shake,” some harder stuff on some other songs. Was there kind of an intentional, "lets make a rock album," thing going on here?
JB: Nothing intentional going on. Just a sense of how me and the band had been living and touring the last 3 years. When recording got going we talked more about influences I have had all my life like Randy Rhodes-style solos or Slash-style solos or Mick Ronson. But to me it's taking those and channeling it into your own thing.
BV: So where did the title come from?
JB: I wrote the song "Exorcism Rock" first and felt it was a good title and representation of the entire album. The song itself is just that constant struggle as a musician, how evil and hard the industry can be. How confusing it is on what is popular and and what isn't. The title came from me thinking about how evil music was and how cool that was, not knowing about a band. And how today you see pics and updates all the time and know exactly what the band is about. I like there to be mystery.
The Anniversary -- 2016 Tour Dates
9/08 – Allston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall^*
9/09 – Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts^
9/10 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom^
9/11 – Brooklyn, NY @ The Bell House^
9/12 – Washington, DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel^#
9/13 – Columbus, OH @ Skully’s^#
9/14 – Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop^#
9/15 – Detroit, MI @ The Shelter^#
9/16 Chicago, IL @ Riot Fest
9/17 – Lawrence, KS @ The Bottleneck^
11/12 Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Bar N' Grill
^ - w/ Laura Stevenson
* - w/ Field Mouse
# - w/ Thin Lips