If there’s any band in the industry that has my full respect it’s Anarbor. This quartet from Phoenix Arizona wants to make it clear that they’re not just any other band in the scene. With brutally honest lyrics, Anarbor praises the traditional message of “being yourself;” something that does not seem so clear in the music scene these days. The pop rockers just released their debut full length “The Words You Don’t Swallow.” At the Illinois stop of the ‘Bout Damn Time Tour, I caught up with guitarist Mike Kitlas to learn what exactly makes Anarbor tick.
Cristina: The last time I talked to you about a year ago, Anarbor was wrapping up the Take Action tour. And a ton of awesome stuff has been happening since then…
Mike: Yes it has!
CC: “Free Your Mind,” your first EP wasn’t released at the time. So how did that go?
MK: The release of “Free Your Mind” went great. We used it exactly for what we needed to. We wanted to build a fan base so we could release a record. We didn’t want to just put out a full-length record from the beginning. So, we think “Free Your Mind” accomplished that.
CC: “Free Your Mind” definitely got Anarbor in the radar. “Let The Games Begin” is played on ESPN pretty often and “You and I” was featured in the Scooby Doo movie.
MK: Totally, exactly! Everything has been going great. We kept “Let The Games Begin” because we want to use it for different licensing opportunities, so there’s some cool stuff with that.
CC: Last time I talked to you, you were starting to write for “The Words You Don’t Swallow” and you mentioned you wanted to make music that didn’t conform…
MK: And that’s exactly what we tried to do. We really wanted to do a diverse set of songs. We wanted to show our audience that we don’t have just one type of sound. And that’s what we were going for with the record. There’s the faster songs, the slower songs, the jam songs, the harder songs. That’s the thing about our band. The four of us all write. You don’t see a lot of that in music today. A lot of songs sound the same and what not. Usually, that is because there’s only one person writing them. It’s kind of cool, we get a lot of diversity.
CC: Now that you guys are better known, do you feel more pressure to conform to get to that next step or do people now know what you guys are about?
MK: Not at all. It’s just the type of thing where we feel like we don’t have any boundaries. And that’s the thing with our band; there are no boundaries for us. We could put any type of song and nothing like that is going to stop us. Besides like death metal or some reggae. But people get that about us.
CC: Do most people who are just getting to learn about Anarbor might still have the misconception that you guys are just another band?
MK: Yeah, that’s honestly what we’re going through right now. We’re at that point of breaking that barrier and showing kids what we have to offer. And now with the new album, they can see that. The title is called “The Words You Don’t Swallow” and we made that title because we aren’t going to hold anything back with this record. We are going to say what we have to say, whether that may be positive or negative, to some people.
CC: I know one of my personal favorite songs from “Free Your Mind” is “Always Dirty, Never Clean” which is a very honest critique of the music industry, one of the lyrics being “music is what you hear and not what you see.” Do you get any backlash from any bands or musicians who may think you are judging them or do you feel comfortable getting your message out?
MK: We feel totally comfortable getting our message out. You should always be yourself, and stay true to yourself and be confident. If someone is not going to like you for who they are, why would you want to be around them? We are our own people. That’s what we preach on stage. That’s what we are talking about to our fans: be yourself. You don’t need to conform and fit into whatever it is. We don’t need to wear neon clothes or Glamour Kills. You can be your own person, and that’s what we want people to know. If you don’t like that, then fuck you.
CC: You guys are currently on tour with This Providence, The Audition and The Bigger Lights.
MK: We have one day left for us. Tomorrow is the last day for us and then we are flying to the UK.
CC: This is the first time you are going overseas…
MK: Yes. We are headed to the UK for twelve days and then we go to Japan for nine days.
CC: Any expectations?
MK: I’m ready to drink legally in both countries. But, we do know kids will at least be attending and we’ve been getting some feedback online. We are going with The Swellers and The Dangerous Summer to the UK and to Japan we’re going with There For Tomorrow and Valencia. It’s going to be tons of fun.
CC: Then you guys are going to be on all of Warped Tour this summer. I know you were only in it for a couple of days last couple of years?
MK: Yes. This is our first time doing the full tour. We’re super excited. I’ve been to Warped Tour my whole life growing up so this is a monumental thing for me, to be part of such a well-known and established tour. After Warped tour, we’ll continue to tour. There’s nothing solidified yet but we’ll be out.
CC: I know it was only released a couple of days ago, but how has the reception to “The Words You Don’t Swallow” been so far?
MK: So far so good. We get numbers next Wednesday so we’ll find out then. Kids are singing along and they’re singing along to it’s going well.
CC: I know you mentioned a little bit about songwriting before. I know Greg mentioned in an interview that you guys were trying to achieve an “element of space in the songs” trying to really showcase everyone’s different parts. And you mentioned that everyone in Anarbor is involved in songwriting, so can you maybe elaborate a little bit about the process behind the new record?
MK: Yeah totally. As far as songwriting goes, like I said it is the four of us. We all write. With this album we really wanted to keep in mind space. What we mean by space is within a song. A lot of bands now are filling their music with fake samples and they’re trying to do too much to make something good. We wanted to chill out and keep a good idea of space in our songs. We didn’t want it to be cluttered or covered with stuff. We’re a guitar driven band. That’s the idea behind that.
CC: I know you’ve also mention that the four of you really take your time with songwriting.
MK: A lot of bands write song after song trying to predict which one is going to be a hit or a single. We don’t do that at all. That pisses off management and our label sometimes. We don’t write a song unless we’re feeling it. Whenever we go into it, we have the intention of creating the best song possible. We finish each song the way it needs to be finished for us.
CC: As a band, I know you guys are still pretty grounded regardless of all the success you’ve been having recently. I saw this segment on your local news that shows you still practicing in the same garage….
MK: We are, and will always be a garage rock band. It’s who we are. We’re staying true to who we are as people and that’s something a lot of people in this industry aren’t doing. Everyone tries to play it off like they’re big rock stars. But what makes you different from any other person?