Recent Deli poll winners Anti-Job could very well be considered a three headed hydra of sorts - a trio of musicians whose stylistic musical sensibilities may be completely different, yet they seamlessly integrate together when they put their efforts to one specific sound. But it never sounds like a compromise. In fact, it augments an environment to explore and try new things in a supporting environment.
What caught my attention after having a chat with the trio, comprised of Amanda Jones, Martin Lopez-lu, and Lee Harcourt, at Lot One Café in Echo Park is how committed they are to one another, and how even the the most minimal achievement is a means for celebration. They’ve shown considerable growth on their latest EP, You’re Not Real, a cerebral, yet constantly playful effort that extends their streak of writing compositions in oft-kilter time signatures with a pop slant. It’s equally refined and rebellious, which finds them fleshing out their distinctive idiosyncrasies into an unpredictable mesh of jerky-jerky rhythms and quavering guitar arrangements carried by the honeyed vocal tone of singer Amanda Jones.
I was able to ask them a few questions that range from how their sound has evolved with a new drummer, the challenges that arise from home recording to working in a proper studio, and how their distinct personalities makes for a harmonious band relationship.
The Anti-Job started as a duo in New York. What caused the move to Los Angeles?
Amanda: Martin and I went to school together at Vassar College. Once I graduated in 2010 we decided to tour across the East Coast. We played many, many shows. After that I decided, “let’s keep making music”. Martin’s from LA, so I thought at the time it was the right move.
How was the process of adding a new drummer, and how did it help nurture your sound?
Lee: Well, I found a Craigslist post in which they were looking for someone who likes indie avant rock psychedelic punk…all these genres that I totally like. And I checked out and really digged their music. Then I e-mailed them and I didn’t hear from them for over a year. (laughs) So I thought that fell through.
Amanda: We needed a drummer to help us record Bloom, and in the end, ended up working with three drummers in the EP.
So I’m assuming they were all very talented, but talent doesn’t necessarily equate to efficiency. That’s why you went through the whole process of trying different drummers?
Matin: It’s one of those things where we had to try it. We had to find out how to record drums and figure out what we don’t ever want to do again.
An immediate impression i get from your latest EP is that the percussion sounds punchier, more vibrant.
Amanda: It definitely does. It’s more cohesive than Bloom. That EP was recorded with only one microphone, so we had to record the snare and the hi-hat, and then go back and record the cymbal tracks. We kinda paced it together and it sounded terrible at first. But doing it live with Lee definitely brings a new dynamic.
How did the recording go for You’re not Real?
Amanda: For the EP we rehearsed like crazy in LA. But we recorded it in Portland with Brandon Eggleston, who is amazing. He let us stay home with his family, and we would play for five days straight. We’d work for about 10-12 hours, and it was our first time properly recording in a studio.
That must’ve been a revealing experience. Traveling out of the city to record in a new place for the first time.
Amanda: It was our first time recording in a studio and we never had experienced flying to an unfamiliar area and seeing what happens. It was my first time in Portland and it was so damp. I would cry and everything, but everything turned out okay. Bloom was recorded in Martin’s house, and it was familiar. We had all this time, we can play on and on, and we can add things a week later if we had to. We had five songs in mind, and the aim was to bust it out. 5 songs in 5 days.
Martin: I think the pressure helped, or at least it helped me. When I listen to it back there’s a handful of things I don’t like, or that I would’ve liked to do differently. But that’s how it always pans out, even if you have all the time in the world to record.
Having Lee in the band, have you thought about expanding your sound?
There’s definitely that pursuit of trying new things. Lee helps a lot rhythmically. For example, there’s “9 to 5”, which is the one song with this section that goes really fast. It’s the only time when Lee is actually moving. I’d get so worried - when he started playing with us he’d look so bored, and we wasn’t moving at all.
Lee: I felt like I moved. But I’m not a showy drummer. I don’t do like to do these big jumps, or raise the cymbals really high. I was taught by a jazz percussionist, and everything’s meant to be very efficient. Don’t use more energy than you need to, so it’s not very rock n’ roll. But I’m not bored.
How do all these changes impact the evolution of the Anti-Job?
Amanda: It’s funny, because all of our backgrounds are so different. I started with Hendrix and psychedelic rock. And I love that washed out, surfy indie rock sound. Lee’s a metal head, who’s also into avant-garde jazz and all these amazing composers. And Martin really likes folk. It’s like our separate solo projects are completely different from our collective and it makes it kinda cool.
Martin: I’m always trying to put some twang.
Amanda: Yeah. And Martin taught me how to fingerpick, which I didn’t know how to do. And Lee has helped me a lot with rhythm, to work with an efficient drummer who know how to play all these different odd meters.
Martin: It’s not just that we bring different things to the band, but we also learn from each other.
You're Not Real is now available on their bandcamp page.