Without fail, the first question every interviewer lobs at Anamanaguchi guitarist Ary Warnaar is in regard to how he describes his band's music.
"I get that question every time, but I still can never answer it properly," Warnaar says with a laugh.
There's good reason why he has such a hard time trying to explain the concept behind his band: The concept behind his band likely sounds a tad insane to the outside observer. Using a hacked Nintendo Entertainment System from 1985, Anamanaguchi plays live, instrumental 8-bit rock music. Seriously. And what's more, their intricately sequenced series of repurposed NES-sourced beeps and boops blow a hell of a lot of "normal" bands out of the water in both sheer creativity and unchecked geek-punk attitude.
Beneath the shiny, pixilated surface of electronic music, however, Anamanaguchi's songs sound more or less like melodies to pretty good power-pop tunes — "Tempest, Teamwork, Triumph (at Sea)" may as well be an early-period Weezer B-side run through an Atari 2600. The biggest difference between Anamanaguchi and your average garage-pop quartet isn't so much the instruments they use or the aesthetic of their music, but rather their seemingly endless supply of digital street cred. Anamanaguchi is the kind of band that not only is almost exclusively backed by a widespread digital scene of chiptune fans and artists, but perhaps could not exist without the influence of the Web.
"I wouldn't be surprised if we somehow made something that was a far cousin of Anamanaguchi, but there's definitely an Internet thing," admits Warnaar. "[Chiptune music's] home is on the Internet. That's where there's the audience for it — everyone's connected to it that way. People are making this sort of stuff across the world. It's not like there's a certain scene in a certain area, like the punk scene in D.C. or something. It's the Internet. That's where its home is."
Chip music is inexorably linked to an undercurrent of geek culture that tumbles and tweets its way into a genuine community spread across continents. Though the rest of the world probably hasn't heard a single note by Anamanaguchi, they've managed to cultivate the kind of fanatical audience that can only come from the singularly obsessive nature of the Internet geek. The only tricky part is figuring out if all the Facebook "likes" in the world will translate to ticket sales.
"You can't really track where people are from on the Internet, so I guess you can't figure what areas are little clusters of popularity," Warnaar says. "There are definitely surprises."
Though their biggest shows have been in geek gathering places like anime conventions and gaming expos (notably PAX, hosted by the webcomic Penny Arcade, where they played alongside local geek-underground faves The Protomen in 2010), Anamanaguchi is slowly gaining an audience outside of the people within the confines of the chiptune online scene. Notorious indie tastemakers La Blogotheque and Daytrotter have already taken notice — it's only a matter of time before they break into the indie mainstream. Maybe one day, if they're lucky, they won't have to try to explain themselves to confused journalists. One day.
I'm too sexy for my human, as I do my little turn on the manwalk.
Nope, still listed on his Ticketmaster page...
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