Anacrusis
1985
United States
Music group
Hailing from Missouri, Anacrusis was one of the best bands that attempted to blend thrash and progressive metal. The debug album (Suffering Hour) featured raw thrash, bordering on death metal, but by the time of their third album (Manic Impressions) the progressive elements had been brought to the fore, resulting in an intense and unique style -- both Impressions and the fourth (Screams And Whispers) were landmarks in the progressive thrash field, thanks to excellent songwriting and the unique vocal style of Kenn Nardi. The band unfortunately disbanded some time after that fourth album, with little information as to what future plans the ex-members may have had.

(source: BNR Metal.com

Anacrusis history
Anacrusis was a word Kevin stumbled across in the glossary of a music theory book in high school. Technically, the word means "upbeat, or an unaccented beat at the beginning of a piece of music or line of poetry". This sounded to Kevin like an ideal name for what would be the band he would start later that year.

Kevin, like myself (Ken Nardi), grew up in and around St. Louis. Also like myself, he had always been a huge KISS fan. There has probably never been a group more influential than KISS when it came to producing "young fans-turned-wannabee-rock-stars". There was something about those cheesy "Mom’s eyeliner and lipstick, sister’s tights, tennis racket-wielding, food color- spitting, ‘lip-synched in front of the mirror’ KISS concerts" that made a kid feel like it could all be possible for him someday (don’t tell me I was the only one).

Eventually, most of us decided to trade the tennis rackets for a more traditional instrument. In Kevin’s case it was the trumpet, in my case the violin. Kevin continued to perform in the marching band all through high school, while my interest of the violin didn’t make it past the fourth grade. The reason? Of course, because I couldn’t play KISS songs on it (even "Beth" might have taken many years of practice).

My Dad had always been a singer/guitar player,(as was Kevin's) so growing up I had always been around music. A born showman, my dad was always entertaining the neighborhood kids, or hanging out at the local tavern playing tunes by Elvis, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Sr., or the like. He had opted early on for the domestic life, deciding to get married and raise a family rather than pursue a musical career. I often thought that he regretted not having at least tried doing something musical and seemed to resent the grind of an ordinary day-to- day job.

I was determined not to repeat this fate and decided to find out if I had what it took to "make it", or at least not grow old wondering. John was born and raised in Canada, moving to the US with his family around the age of sixteen. He is a couple of years older than the rest of the band, and though also a KISS fan, his musical influences also included other classic metal bands like Black Sabbath (Geezer was his idol), Led Zeppelin, and Rush among many others.

We had played in a few bands with friends, doing songs by everyone from Robin Trower to Santana. Mike Owen was a military brat, born in the Philippines, but also raised in St. Louis. He and Kevin were the same age (I’m a year older) and attended the same high school. Many people have thought that Kevin and I grew up together, but actually, though we had lived our whole lives about five miles apart, I had attended the 'rival' high school on the other side of town. Mike was very sociable and popular in high school. He was always very athletic and hung around with more of the 'jock' crowd. He and Kevin met at school, and after discovering a mutual love of many of the newer heavy metal bands coming out (Slayer, Metallica, etc...) decided to play music together.

I had started a band in High school with my older brother Sam, called Heaven’s Flame. Almost since the first time I had picked up the guitar, I had felt inclined to write and perform my own songs. (and due to the fact that I have a pretty terrible vocal range and nearly any song was too high for me to sing). For this reason, I had never learned to play many songs recorded by other bands.

I think this would turn out to be an asset in my song-writing later on, as I think my ignorance of the "way to write songs" would always make me approach it differently than many other writers. It was at this time that I was introduced to Chad Smith by a mutual friend.

When I met Chad, he was very much on the cutting edge of the metal scene. Though most of us were still into Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, Chad had already been into Slayer, Venom, and Metallica for a couple of years. The most impressive thing though, was that his kit featured double-bass drums, and that he definitely knew how to use them. At the time this was essential.

Just as it would later on, Chad’s ability to play anything I could imagine, opened many doors for me musically. Like everyone else at the time I had also begun moving from more 'old-school' British heavy metal to the newer, faster bands that were beginning to surface on both American coasts.

Chad, Sam and I began playing together in 1985 and continued to perform locally and record demos until about the middle of 1986. The highlight had been opening a show for my favorite band at the time, Metal Church at a local club. It was in this band that I was introduced to low-tuning. Because I had a very limited vocal range, Chad suggested tuning down a fret or so, as this was a common thing for bands to do, especially in a live situation.

This made it easier for the singer to hit the higher notes more easily. Hey, why didn’t I think of that? Well this did allow me to be more creative melodically speaking, but still was not enough. I kept tuning lower and lower, until finally going down five whole frets to 'B'. This was great for me vocally, but caused many problems with staying in tune. Anytime you drop the pitch of even one string this effects the intonation (the ability of each string to sound in tune with the others) of the whole of the guitar. Not only that but the strings go very limp, especially tuning down a whole string like we were doing. I experimented with many different string gauges and for a long time I was using bronze-wound acoustic guitar strings. I would use two low 'E' strings for 'E' and 'A', an 'A' string for my 'D' and so on (sorry non-guitarists).

This did the job pretty well and gave us a very deep, full sound. It was near the end of Heaven’s Flame that Chad introduced me to Kevin. He, John and Mike had been practicing cover songs and a few originals Kevin had written, but had never been able to get a permanent singer. They used to come and watch Heaven’s Flame play at local shows and had always liked our songs and my voice, so when Heaven’s Flame finally broke up Chad suggested that I call Kevin.

The two of us hit it off right away, having many of the same ideas musically and the same sort of sense of humor. I went over to Kevin’s house to try and 'jam' with the whole band but didn’t do very well since I couldn’t play any songs they knew. Eventually I borrowed Kevin’s Garage Days EP and figured out "Am I Evil". He also showed me how to play the couple of original songs they had ("Annihilation Complete", "Pendulum", and "Frigid Bitch"). We would stand around for hours playing these four songs. (We also eventually figured out "Motorbreath" from Kill Em All, too).

At the time I had no real interest in getting involved with another band. I was very depressed about the break-up of Heaven’s Flame and having just graduated high school, had begun to question whether I should just forget about music and look for a 'real' job. I agreed to help them record a demo to use to try and find a vocalist. I miked all the instruments through this mixing board we used at practice and we recorded "Pendulum" and "Frigid Bitch" all together straight through with no way to fix mistakes as the sound was going straight to Kevin’s jam-box (we couldn’t afford to rent a 4-track). I then ran the music back through the mixer and sang(?) over the two songs. I had to read "Frigid Bitch" off of a piece of paper to keep up with the many lyrics. Again we weren’t using a 4-track so I had to get through the whole song in one try. We then took a tape of the two songs to a local collage radio station that had a Sunday morning metal show. One of the features was called "demolition", a segment which featured demos by local bands.

Heaven’s Flame had been played a few times so we thought we would give it a try. Luckily, they did play it, and also did a short, on-air interview with us. The funny thing is he announced each band member, but didn’t say my name, but only that they were looking for a vocalist. We continued to practice together and eventually Kevin convinced me to teach him a few Heaven’s Flame songs. This was a perfect excuse to convince him and John to tune their guitars low, since these songs had to be played with my low-’B’ tuning. Well, obviously the guitars were never tuned back up, and without any 'formal' decision, I just eventually became the permanent vocalist for the band. We practiced the songs we had, wrote a few new ones, and after a few months began to get shows around St. Louis.

Our first headlining show (and second show ever) was at the local Community Center. Kevin and his friends had hung out there growing up. One of the rooms had a nice sized corner stage and could hold about 200 people. We rented the room for about $60 and hired someone to supply the sound and lights. We weren’t allowed to charge admittance since it was a public building, so we made up tickets and sold them before-hand at school and around town. The place was packed and the show went very well. It was then that we began thinking of recording a proper demo to send out to record companies. We went to a local music store that rented equipment and picked up a 4-track recorder and began working on what would become the first version of our "Annihilation Complete" demo.

After gaining the interest of a few smaller independent labels, due to the reviews of our Annihilation Complete Demo in the Fall of 1987, we decided to take our own money and record the album before we were signed. We figured we might have a better chance of being picked up by a label if we had a finished product to shop around. (this money was later reimbursed by Axis Records when we signed with them just before the actual recording began) We recorded Suffering Hour in March of 1988 for about $1,200. We did the entire album in 7 days in a small studio in Kansas City, MO. We recorded this album much differently than any of the others. All of the rhythm tracks were recorded live with the whole band playing together. We did all of these in a day or two, with a couple more for solos and vocals. Last, we mixed the whole thing in about two days. I should say our engineer did most of the mixing, as we were all in the studio for the first time and were too shy to do or say very much (except "more reverb please"). Needless to say the finished product was not exactly what we had hoped for, production-wise, but at that time we were thrilled just to have recorded an album. We ended up signing with Bernard Doe’s label Active Records (AXIS at this time) for a two album contract. Bernard was known for his magazine Metal Forces, which was one of the better metal magazines around. We had won "best demo" in the 1987 reader’s poll and he had included the songs "Annihilation Complete" and "Imprisoned" on the "Scream Your Brains Out" compilation album. Suffering Hour was a definite hodge- podge of old and new songs, and I think this is the thing that makes it a much more disjointed album than our later releases. Only four of the nine songs were written while we were together as a band, with the rest being either older songs from my As far as the material goes, previous high school band Heaven’S Flame, (which featured Chad Smith on drums) or songs Kevin had written before I joined Anacrusis. "Imprisoned" was the first song that I wrote for the band, and I think musically and especially lyrically, it would set the tone for the direction we would take in the future. The songs "Butcher’s Block", "Fighting Evil", and "the Twisted Cross" were all from my previous band and "Annihilation Complete" and "Frigid Bitch" were two songs Kevin had written before I was in the band. I think this will help to explain the lack of continuity on this album. One of my favorites, still, is "Present Tense". I would have to call this the first ‘true’ Anacrusis song, as it was the first one that we all contributed to and wrote together. I think it was also the last song written for the album (Coming up with the best material at the last minute would become a reoccurring theme for us). Another thing I should mention is that we also recorded Black Sabbath’s "N.I.B". It was a hyper-active version that we used to play live, and we intended to include it on S.H. but we weren’t exactly sure how to go about getting permission to use it, so we left it off the final pressing. Just imagine the original a little faster, with too much reverb and me singing "my name is Ken Nar-di" in place of the "my name is Lucifer" line and that’s pretty much it.


We weren’t quite sure what we wanted to use for the cover, but we knew we wanted to try and be different than all of the other metal bands around at the time. One idea I had originally was a really great picture of this huge rock with ocean waves crashing all around it. I got it out of National Geographic, I think, and I made a photocopy of it to show to Kevin. It looked really cool, all grainy and black and white from the crappy copy machine, but I don’t think anyone was too thrilled with the idea. It looked very "New-Age Doom". Then Kevin showed me a picture he had taken on a school field-trip to Washington D.C.. It was a photo of the cathedral with this eerie sunlight coming over the top and really nice colors. The only problem was he couldn’t find the negative and all we had was this little snap-shot. So we had a friend who was a photographer take a picture of the picture so we we could blow up the negative from that one. Kevin was learning Commercial Art in school so we thought we could do the lay-out ourselves and do it just how we wanted. But when we sent the finished cover to the label in England, they didn’t want to pay for a color separation for the photo or something like that, so we ended up with the cover in black and white. How ironic is that? Here we were trying to be different and we end up with this drab cover with a picture of this big scary cathedral on it. It couldn’t have turned out any more ‘metal’ looking if we had wanted it to. Needless to say, that scene from SPINAL TAP has always come to mind. A lot of people have told me they love the cover just because it is so stark and simple and I can see their point, but I have always felt that the album cover, on a subconscious level, plays a big role in how the music sounds to you. For example, when I listen to certain albums I tend to associate a certain feel or 'color' with the music. I think a lot of this is related to the look of the cover, and I think that "Suffering Hour" has always seemed very one-dimensional to me because of its cover. So, all things considered, I think for a first album it’s not all that bad. It didn’t really show the different textures and moods of our music, even as much as our demos had, but on a positive note, at least I decided to drop the the cheesy falsetto-screams just prior to recording the album (shooting for Halford, but sounding like King Diamond, never had a vocalist tried to do so much with so little). I guess it could have been worse.

Reason
Whereas Suffering Hour was a mixed bag of old and new material, Reason was us beginning to find our own identity. This album has some of my all-time favorite Anacrusis songs on it. We had originally begun with a eight song demo which contained "Quick To Doubt" and "Child Inside" (two more re-worked Heaven’s Flame songs w/new lyrics), "Terrified", "Pendulum" (a song from our Annihilation Complete demo which would later get some new music and lyrics and become the bonus track "Killing My Mind"), "Wrong", "Silent Crime", "Not Forgotten", and "Injustice" (also a leftover from the first demo). As anyone who is familiar with the album can see there is a shining absence in "Stop Me" and "Afraid To Feel". Both of these songs were written very close to the time of the album’s recording. In fact it wasn’t until we were in the studio that the other guys actually heard a finished version of either of them with vocals. These two songs were to become a blueprint for the direction we would later take lyrically and musically. I can only imagine how different an album Reason would have been without them. I had always been a huge Pink Floyd fan (especially The Wall) and wanted to try and bring some of their dynamic range to heavier music. I remember at first no one knew what to make of "Stop Me". We weren’t sure if it would come off as being too "wimpy" and had always intended to have "Terrified" be the first track on the album. One day Kevin and I were talking before band practice and we decided, "hey what if we put 'Stop Me' first?" We thought it would give the album a completely different feel, and I think it did. The sad thing is I think these songs also are two of our worst recordings. The playing is very sloppy, the mix is muddy, and ultimately, they did not turn out nearly as good as they could have. This album was also hastily recorded in a total of about ten days. It was recorded the same way our demos were usually done, with me and Mike laying down drums and a 'scratch' rhythm guitar, followed by bass, guitars, solos and vocals being added later. I think the sound of the mix can best be described as an overcompensation for the lack of effects and layers of overdubs on Suffering Hour. That, and the fact that I was constantly listening to Disintegration by the Cure at the time (still one of my favorites). Both Disintegration and Reason have the same sort of big, muddy sound, which I have come to appreciate as having given the album its distant, gloomy atmosphere. As a whole, this album was Anacrusis trying to stretch the norm of what was considered 'Metal' at the time. The ironic thing we used to often talk about was, on one hand we were trying to be different, but on the other hand, we were not quite sure why no one was catching on. I think it was always a little suicidal on our part to almost force people not to like us because we were too 'different'. I remember making a conscious effort to have the arrangements in the songs not be the usual "verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, repeat 2nd verse and chorus to the fade-out". Our writing was definitely more fragmented at this time, and would remain that way until the next album when I began to use a drum machine to arrange and record most of the demos. Up until Reason, we usually would come up with riffs at practice and then we would just stick them together without a lot of thought about transitions from one section to the next, or even one tempo to another. While this made the songs more unpredictable, I think that sometimes it also made them almost unlistenable. Later we would try and use different textures, whether vocally, lyrically, or musically, rather than unpredictability, to stand out from the crowd.

It was also at this time that a lot of changes were happening in our personal lives. When we recorded Suffering Hour, Kevin and Mike were barely out of High School, (I had only graduated the year before). All but John still lived with our parents and as the responsibilities of "real life" began to clash with our 'full -time hobby', we all began to put some serious thought into our individual futures. This was when Mike decided that touring around the country in a broken-down van, playing for no one was not exactly what he wanted to spend the next several years doing (who could blame him?) He decided to leave the band after our first tour opening for D.R.I. in the (very hot) summer of 1990, and join the Navy. This was a decision that he quickly (and admittedly) would come to regret. We always kept in touch with him and missed him being around (one of the funniest people you will ever meet), but we respected his honesty in not wanting to continue with the band half-heartedly. The strange thing is after he got out of the service he went back to the drums, playing in a few different local bands and the last I heard, he had moved to Las Vegas and now is the only one of the four original members of Anacrusis still active, musically. For anyone who doesn’t know, Reason was released with one cover in the U.S. and a different one in Europe and elsewhere. The European version is actually the one that I came up with and Kevin did the layout for. At that time we were still signed directly to Active Records and had not even secured an American distribution deal for Suffering Hour. It was just before we recorded Reason that Metal Blade picked up the fist two releases. Because Metal Blade released Suffering Hour after Reason was already being completed, this caused some confusion with U.S. fans as to when, exactly, these two albums were recorded. When we were trying to come up with ideas for the cover, we knew we wanted it to contain a 'human element', as this is what the songs always dealt with lyrically. Since Reason was very much about the confusion and apprehension associated with everyday life, we wanted the cover to reflect this mood visually. When we sent the finished artwork to Metal Blade, for some reason they did not want to use it. In fact they had some sort of technical excuse as to why the layout wouldn’t print properly (obviously Active had no problems with this) and the wanted their art department to put together a cover from our suggestions. So, after many telephone calls and much discussion, they came up with... a photo of us sitting there. Pretty creative stuff, huh? The worst part was none of us ever even saw the cover until we walked into a record shop the day it was released. Spinal Tap II. This would not be the last disappointment we would face over the next couple of years.

Manic Impressions
As we were nearing the end of the Summer of 1990, we were facing the two biggest changes in the band's history so far. One being our first line-up change, the other being our decision to sign directly with Metal Blade for the next album. When Mike decided to leave the band, the last thing we wanted or needed was someone to come into the group and upset the musical identity that we had been working so hard to establish. Chad Smith was our immediate first choice. He had gone to school with Kevin and Mike and had been the drummer in my previous band, Heaven's Flame. In was, in fact, Chad who had introduced me to Kevin after our band had broken up. He had always stayed in touch and had followed the progress of Anacrusis since its inception. We knew Chad felt we had strong material and a lot of potential. He felt he could add a lot to the band, and we agreed. Chad had always been an extremely disciplined musician, whereas the rest of us were mostly self-taught and by no means virtuosos on our instruments. Chad felt that by giving us a more solid foundation, we could concentrate more on our playing, and ultimately, the songs would come across better. This would prove to be true, especially on the newer material we had been working on. Shortly after we returned home from our three-week tour opening for D.R.I., we had begun to write for what would become the next album. It was at this time that I began using a drum machine to assist with my arranging and recording. Not only could I quickly try many different ideas, but it also made it very easy to achieve a descent drum sound and thus, good sounding demos. I also knew from working with Chad in the past that he would have no problem pulling off anything that I could come up with on the drum machine. One exception to this would however be the weird, very syncopated patterns that make up the chorus of "Idle Hours". This was one of the first things I wrote using the machine, and quickly learned that writing something that sounds interesting is one thing, but a human being actually being able to play it is another. So Chad re-worked it a little and after much practice, it became, I think, one of the coolest patterns in any of our songs. The great thing about having a drummer with Chad's abilities in the band was that it opened many doors, creatively. What Mike possessed in speed and energy, Chad more than made up for in discipline and technique. His seriousness about his instrument made us all look much more closely at our own playing. At times it was a little intimidating, but definitely made us a much tighter band in the long run. I always felt one of the best things about Anacrusis, was that musically, all the members were very much on the same level. Often with heavier bands, there would be a fantastic vocalist or guitarist, and the rest of the act would be built around showcasing one members talent. In Anacrusis, we always tried to write and arrange the songs in ways that would let each instrument stand out. Our strength would be in the songs as a whole. The first songs written for Manic Impressions were "Paint a By making the riffs themselves more complicated, this would make the musicianship stand out more than a boring ten minute guitar solo for example. We would often be referred to as a 'technical' or 'progressive' band, a title normally given to musicians of a much higher caliber, Rush or Yes for example. We had always tried to use the arrangements or instrumentation in different ways to try and make the material more interesting and varied. Picture", "Explained Away", "Idle Hours", and "Tools of Separation". Anyone familiar with "Screams and Whispers" will recognize the latter as being from that album. Actually this song was fully recorded during the "Manic" sessions, but didn't make the final cut. This was due to time constraints during the final mixing where we had to decide on finishing "Tools" or "Far Too Long". We felt that the overall 'feel' would suffer more without "Far Too Long", and waited to re-record "Tools" for the next album. Another thing we new early on was that I strongly wanted to include a song by my favorite band, New Model Army. I had recorded a demo of their song "I Love The World" from the "Thunder and Consolation" album released in 1988. NMA had been my favorite band for a few years and I wanted to pay homage to them with a cover of one of their songs. "I Love the World" seemed like a great choice due to its tempo and feel. Over the years many people (many not knowing it was a cover) have referred to this as our 'best song'. I, for one, would never disagree. We spent September and October working on new music and, figuring we usually did our best work under pressure, we went ahead and booked studio time for January. The remainder of the songs were written over the next couple of months. Manic Impressions was recorded in January - February 1991 in Lake Geneva, WI at Royal Recorders Studio. Royal Recorders was a definite step up for us. It had been used by many big artists, most recently Queensrhyche had mixed "Empire" there. By choosing to record at a time of the year when most big artists preferred Rio or some other more enjoyable climate, we were able to get a great deal on recording time. The studio was very state-of-the-art with digital machines and a computer-controlled, fully-automated mixing console. We were in Heaven, but not for long. One mistake we made was to assume that with all this great 'stuff' we were using, we couldn't possibly screw this one up. Unfortunately, we were very wrong.

The recording went pretty well at first. Chad laid down all his parts alone, playing only to special 'click' tracks he had programmed for each song. One thing we were careful about this time was keeping the tempos consistent. Where as on the first two albums it was like, "O.K. let's hurry up and get these drums done so we can start putting down guitars"(which made most of the songs on these albums MUCH faster than originally intended), this time we wanted to avoid speeding things up too much. This had a lot to do with why many people felt the album had a very mechanical or cold feel to it. Another thing we learned later was that no matter how much planning goes into the finding the 'right' tempo, until the songs are performed live, you really don't get a feel for what the best tempo is. Almost everything on the first two albums was too fast, but after playing songs from Manic on tour, a couple of tunes like "Something Real" definitely could have used a little kick in the seat. It?s like when your writing a song your thinking of it from a certain point of view, but when you are performing it, you might be concentrating on it from a completely different angle and suddenly the 'groove' you thought you heard ain't so 'groovy' anymore. Dig? After the drum tracks were finished (about a day and a half, go Chad!), I recorded my rhythm parts, then Kevin, the John, all taking about a day each. Next came the 'clean' guitar parts, solos and vocals. One of our greatest fears as a band was that someone would come in from the outside and start telling us what to do or how we should sound, so when it came to the people we worked with, we had a tendency to stick with the familiar. In this case we decided to use the same engineer from the Reason album. We had become pretty close friends and had always blamed the sound of Reason on the lack of good 'stuff' we got to use while recording it. Even though his intentions were good, his lack of experience working in the digital format caused many problems. We recorded all the basic tracks over the first ten day period, the plan being we would take a week off to get away from the repetition of hearing the tapes over and over, and return a week later to finish over-dubs and mixing. It was at this time, while running off rough mixes to take home to listen to, that we started to notice some problems. There were very noticeable 'punch-ins' (where you 'punch into' record mode while playing along with the tape to fix mistakes.) Some sections of vocals sounded like they had been recorded one word at a time over a three month period. There was digital distortion. (digital tape does not compress the sounds that peak over 0db like analog tape, and distorts instead) and many things would have to be redone. Although I was acting "producer", I, and the rest of the band, had pretty much kept quiet while the basic tracks were being laid down, leaving this task to the engineer. This is when we learned the hard way how important it is to begin with good "sounds" rather than relying on effects and processing in the mixing to fix problems. So now we were faced with a big problem. We decided to return to the studio without our engineer to complete the album. In all fairness to him, I feel the problems we had were as much to due with a lack of communication on our part as with anyone's ability. One of the best things about Manic, is that even though I still did most of the writing and arranging, it was starting to become more of a group effort. John was beginning to contribute quite a bit lyrically, and musically, and Kevin was beginning to devote more time to his solos, and also contributed many great riffs. One of my all-time favorites is "Explained Away". This song was based around a piece of music Kevin had. Add John's lyrics, my melody, and great drumming, and what resulted was a nice combination of everyone's creativity. I feel this song (and later "Driven") best sums up what we were trying to accomplish musically. From mellow vocals to screams, from intricate syncopation to thrash, this song has a little of everything we did. Lyrically, we continued to journey further inward, digging deeply into the issues that we (and most everyone else) dealt with on a day-to-day basis. As Anacrusis continued to play a greater role in each of our lives, the lyrics began to reflect this, becoming an important outlet for much of the frustration we were dealing with at that time. So, we spent the next few days after returning to the studio sorting through the songs and fixing as many of the noticeable "glitches" as time would allow. Some were smoothed over, but many were not. At one point we had considered re-tracking all of the guitar parts, as I hated the sound of them (and still do) but we decided to use the time and money remaining to complete vocals and solos and to try and salvage a decent mix of what we had. In usual Anacrusis fashion, we ended up running out of time and finished with about three songs mixed. This led to us scrounging up enough money to buy another 12 hour block of studio time, and Chad and myself making the 10 hour drive back up to Wisconsin, mixing all night (literally falling asleep at the board a couple of times) and then turning right around and driving back to St. Louis all in one shot. This was not the best way to end a recording session, but at least we had completed the album. Well, almost. Actually we had also recorded "Tools of Separation" to be included on Manic, but when our mixing time was running out it came down to "Tools" or "Far Too Long". I felt that "Far Too Long" would add more depth to the album as a whole, so "Tools" was never mixed. We did, however, record this song again in 1993, this time for our last album. All in all, I feel this album was our most technical and experimental. I personally think the final mix is much too bright, but it is also very clean sounding, overall. This was an exciting time for us, as we began to mature, both personally and musically. This would definitely continue on our next and final album, "Screams And Whispers".

Screams And Whispers
The recording went pretty well at first. Chad laid down all his parts alone, playing only to special 'click' tracks he had programmed for each song. One thing we were careful about this time was keeping the tempos consistent. Where as on the first two albums it was like, "O.K. let's hurry up and get these drums done so we can start putting down guitars"(which made most of the songs on these albums MUCH faster than originally intended), this time we wanted to avoid speeding things up too much. This had a lot to do with why many people felt the album had a very mechanical or cold feel to it. Another thing we learned later was that no matter how much planning goes into the finding the 'right' tempo, until the songs are performed live, you really don't get a feel for what the best tempo is. Almost everything on the first two albums was too fast, but after playing songs from Manic on tour, a couple of tunes like "Something Real" definitely could have used a little kick in the seat. It?s like when your writing a song your thinking of it from a certain point of view, but when you are performing it, you might be concentrating on it from a completely different angle and suddenly the 'groove' you thought you heard ain't so 'groovy' anymore. Dig? After the drum tracks were finished (about a day and a half, go Chad!), I recorded my rhythm parts, then Kevin, the John, all taking about a day each. Next came the 'clean' guitar parts, solos and vocals. One of our greatest fears as a band was that someone would come in from the outside and start telling us what to do or how we should sound, so when it came to the people we worked with, we had a tendency to stick with the familiar. In this case we decided to use the same engineer from the Reason album. We had become pretty close friends and had always blamed the sound of Reason on the lack of good 'stuff' we got to use while recording it. Even though his intentions were good, his lack of experience working in the digital format caused many problems. We recorded all the basic tracks over the first ten day period, the plan being we would take a week off to get away from the repetition of hearing the tapes over and over, and return a week later to finish over-dubs and mixing. It was at this time, while running off rough mixes to take home to listen to, that we started to notice some problems. There were very noticeable 'punch-ins' (where you 'punch into' record mode while playing along with the tape to fix mistakes.) Some sections of vocals sounded like they had been recorded one word at a time over a three month period. There was digital distortion. (digital tape does not compress the sounds that peak over 0db like analog tape, and distorts instead) and many things would have to be redone. Although I was acting "producer", I, and the rest of the band, had pretty much kept quiet while the basic tracks were being laid down, leaving this task to the engineer. This is when we learned the hard way how important it is to begin with good "sounds" rather than relying on effects and processing in the mixing to fix problems. So now we were faced with a big problem. We decided to return to the studio without our engineer to complete the album. In all fairness to him, I feel the problems we had were as much to due with a lack of communication on our part as with anyone's ability. One of the best things about Manic, is that even though I still did most of the writing and arranging, it was starting to become more of a group effort. John was beginning to contribute quite a bit lyrically, and musically, and Kevin was beginning to devote more time to his solos, and also contributed many great riffs. One of my all-time favorites is "Explained Away". This song was based around a piece of music Kevin had. Add John's lyrics, my melody, and great drumming, and what resulted was a nice combination of everyone's creativity. I feel this song (and later "Driven") best sums up what we were trying to accomplish musically. From mellow vocals to screams, from intricate syncopation to thrash, this song has a little of everything we did. Lyrically, we continued to journey further inward, digging deeply into the issues that we (and most everyone else) dealt with on a day-to-day basis. As Anacrusis continued to play a greater role in each of our lives, the lyrics began to reflect this, becoming an important outlet for much of the frustration we were dealing with at that time. So, we spent the next few days after returning to the studio sorting through the songs and fixing as many of the noticeable "glitches" as time would allow. Some were smoothed over, but many were not. At one point we had considered re-tracking all of the guitar parts, as I hated the sound of them (and still do) but we decided to use the time and money remaining to complete vocals and solos and to try and salvage a decent mix of what we had. In usual Anacrusis fashion, we ended up running out of time and finished with about three songs mixed. This led to us scrounging up enough money to buy another 12 hour block of studio time, and Chad and myself making the 10 hour drive back up to Wisconsin, mixing all night (literally falling asleep at the board a couple of times) and then turning right around and driving back to St. Louis all in one shot. This was not the best way to end a recording session, but at least we had completed the album. Well, almost. Actually we had also recorded "Tools of Separation" to be included on Manic, but when our mixing time was running out it came down to "Tools" or "Far Too Long". I felt that "Far Too Long" would add more depth to the album as a whole, so "Tools" was never mixed. We did, however, record this song again in 1993, this time for our last album. All in all, I feel this album was our most technical and experimental. I personally think the final mix is much too bright, but it is also very clean sounding, overall. This was an exciting time for us, as we began to mature, both personally and musically. This would definitely continue on our next and final album, "Screams And Whispers".

Next came the not-too-fun task of replacing Chad. This position would, of course, be filled by Paul Miles. Paul had been playing in local band around the St. Louis area for a number of years and we had actually seen him perform a couple of times. I think Chad may have actually recommended that we consider getting in touch with him. So, after contacting him and asking him to learn a couple of songs from "Manic", we had him over for an audition. After running through "Paint A Picture" and "Something Real" it was clear that Paul definitely had the musical ability we were looking for.

One thing we liked about him was that besides possessing the musicianship needed to play the newer material, he also had more of the "looseness" and "rawness" that had been lacking since Mike Owen's departure. By the time Paul joined the band, practically all of the new material was already written, and with studio time already booked, he pretty much just learned the songs as they appeared on demos recorded using a drum machine and drum parts arranged by either Chad or myself. Although Paul added a few things here and there, I sure he was more than a little disappointed by his level of input. Regardless, he understood the amount of time we had put into making this album our strongest yet.

So after rehearing with Paul for a couple of months we prepared to enter the studio again. The one thing that we were all in agreement about was that we felt it would be a more relaxed environment if we recorded in St. Louis this time. We figured this would make it more convenient for band members to continue working at their respective jobs while the album was being recorded. The other thing we agreed on was to hire Dave "Fuzzy" Dvirnak to engineer the recording. "Fuzzy" had been an engineer at Royal Recorders during the recording of "Manic" and although not officially an engineer on the album, he had lent much of his time to try and help salvage the album. During the time since then he had become a friend of the band and his easy-going personality made him enjoyable to work with. We decided to use a 24-track studio built in the basement of a sound engineer we had worked with a few times at earlier local shows. The studio seemed to have everything we would need to do the initial recording and the price was definitely right. For about the amount we paid for two weeks at Royal Recorders we were able to block out two months this time. Of course, the equipment was not of the same caliber, but we felt that much of what Royal had to offer was unnecessary for our purposes. We also wanted to take our time and make sure we could feel more relaxed during the recording. We began with the initial drum tracks, this time with John and me accompanying Paul. We thought this approach would give the songs more of a "loose" feel, as opposed to what many people had described as the "mechanical" feel of "Manic". In many ways, at the time, I think we knew that this album was what would either make or break the band. We new that if we didn't receive the much needed support of our label there might not be another Anacrusis album. With this in mind we set out to make an album that would fully define our sound by incorporating all of the elements used on our previous efforts along with the broadened sound of songs like "Grateful" and "Brotherhood?".

It didn't take long to feel a degree of tension between our new drummer and the rest of the band. Kevin, John and myself had been together since the beginning of Anacrusis and felt a strong sense of family. We also felt as though Anacrusis was our creation and were very protective of it when it came to any outside input. In retrospect, Paul was in a very difficult position, whereas even though Chad had not been with us from the beginning, his relationship with me and the band was a long one.

Paul, though familiar with Anacrusis when he joined, had never even heard our first two albums and didn't seem to have much appreciation or respect for what we had accomplished up to this point. Paul often felt like an outsider, which is very common for a new member in any band with a few years behind it. We had a lot of work ahead of us and the last thing we wanted to deal with at this point was personality problems. So, without too many problems we carried on with the recording. Another problem was the relatively short time Paul had to learn the material. There was one song in particular that we had written with Chad that featured several very intricate double bass drum patterns that Paul had a really tough time with. Before entering the studio we had expressed a concern that Paul may have some difficulty playing it and offered to change a few parts if it would make the song more comfortable for him. He insisted that he just needed to practice it and it would not be a problem. This is not to cut down Paul's ability but it was just one of those things that may feel natural to one player and extremely difficult to another player of equal ability.

Another concern was the song contained many pieces contributed by Kevin and we didn't want the song to be cut from the finished album, thus greatly diminishing Kevin's input to the songwriting. Well, as things often go, when the time came to record it, and only a couple of attempts at the first few bars it was put on hold until later in the session and eventually dropped all together. The only other incident involved the song "Brotherhood?". As I said before the bulk of the instrumental sections were written months before and the heavier sections containing the verses were actually taken from an old song from our first demo called "Vultures Prey". This was another Heaven's Flame leftover that we had never recorded. I had always liked the melody and chord progression and since it had a similar tempo and feel as the other new pieces I had come up with, I decided to combine them into one song. I completely re-wrote the lyrics and recorded a demo of it for the guys to hear. I'm not sure how popular it was with Kevin and John but I insisted that it was important that it was included on the album in order to "round out" the new element of orchestral sounds on several of the songs. I decided to place it as the last song on the album, this way if it was hated by the listener it was easy to just stop at the track before it rather than having to skip over a seven-minute song featuring "stupid keyboards". For some reason Paul seemed to keep putting off learning this song, and in the studio, ended up playing along to the demo tape one section at a time, figuring out the parts as we went along.

Next came the not-too-fun task of replacing Chad. This position would, of course, be filled by Paul Miles. Paul had been playing in local band around the St. Louis area for a number of years and we had actually seen him perform a couple of times. I think Chad may have actually recommended that we consider getting in touch with him. So, after contacting him and asking him to learn a couple of songs from "Manic", we had him over for an audition. After running through "Paint A Picture" and "Something Real" it was clear that Paul definitely had the musical ability we were looking for. One thing we liked about him was that besides possessing the musicianship needed to play the newer material, he also had more of the "looseness" and "rawness" that had been lacking since Mike Owen's departure. By the time Paul joined the band, practically all of the new material was already written, and with studio time already booked, he pretty much just learned the songs as they appeared on demos recorded using a drum machine and drum parts arranged by either Chad or myself. Although Paul added a few things here and there, I sure he was more than a little disappointed by his level of input. Regardless, he understood the amount of time we had put into making this album our strongest yet. So after rehearing with Paul for a couple of months we prepared to enter the studio again. The one thing that we were all in agreement about was that we felt it would be a more relaxed environment if we recorded in St. Louis this time. We figured this would make it more convenient for band members to continue working at their respective jobs while the album was being recorded. The other thing we agreed on was to hire Dave "Fuzzy" Dvirnak to engineer the recording. "Fuzzy" had been an engineer at Royal Recorders during the recording of "Manic" and although not officially an engineer on the album, he had lent much of his time to try and help salvage the album. During the time since then he had become a friend of the band and his easy-going personality made him enjoyable to work with. We decided to use a 24-track studio built in the basement of a sound engineer we had worked with a few times at earlier local shows. The studio seemed to have everything we would need to do the initial recording and the price was definitely right. For about the amount we paid for two weeks at Royal Recorders we were able to block out two months this time. Of course, the equipment was not of the same caliber, but we felt that much of what Royal had to offer was unnecessary for our purposes. We also wanted to take our time and make sure we could feel more relaxed during the recording.

We began with the initial drum tracks, this time with John and me accompanying Paul. We thought this approach would give the songs more of a "loose" feel, as opposed to what many people had described as the "mechanical" feel of "Manic". In many ways, at the time, I think we knew that this album was what would either make or break the band. We new that if we didn't receive the much needed support of our label there might not be another Anacrusis album. With this in mind we set out to make an album that would fully define our sound by incorporating all of the elements used on our previous efforts along with the broadened sound of songs like "Grateful" and "Brotherhood?". It didn't take long to feel a degree of tension between our new drummer and the rest of the band. Kevin, John and myself had been together since the beginning of Anacrusis and felt a strong sense of family. We also felt as though Anacrusis was our creation and were very protective of it when it came to any outside input. In retrospect, Paul was in a very difficult position, whereas even though Chad had not been with us from the beginning, his relationship with me and the band was a long one. Paul, though familiar with Anacrusis when he joined, had never even heard our first two albums and didn't seem to have much appreciation or respect for what we had accomplished up to this point. Paul often felt like an outsider, which is very common for a new member in any band with a few years behind it. We had a lot of work ahead of us and the last thing we wanted to deal with at this point was personality problems. So, without too many problems we carried on with the recording. Another problem was the relatively short time Paul had to learn the material.

There was one song in particular that we had written with Chad that featured several very intricate double bass drum patterns that Paul had a really tough time with. Before entering the studio we had expressed a concern that Paul may have some difficulty playing it and offered to change a few parts if it would make the song more comfortable for him. He insisted that he just needed to practice it and it would not be a problem. This is not to cut down Paul's ability but it was just one of those things that may feel natural to one player and extremely difficult to another player of equal ability. Another concern was the song contained many pieces contributed by Kevin and we didn't want the song to be cut from the finished album, thus greatly diminishing Kevin's input to the songwriting. Well, as things often go, when the time came to record it, and only a couple of attempts at the first few bars it was put on hold until later in the session and eventually dropped all together. The only other incident involved the song "Brotherhood?". As I said before the bulk of the instrumental sections were written months before and the heavier sections containing the verses were actually taken from an old song from our first demo called "Vultures Prey". This was another Heaven's Flame leftover that we had never recorded. I had always liked the melody and chord progression and since it had a similar tempo and feel as the other new pieces I had come up with, I decided to combine them into one song. I completely re-wrote the lyrics and recorded a demo of it for the guys to hear. I'm not sure how popular it was with Kevin and John but I insisted that it was important that it was included on the album in order to "round out" the new element of orchestral sounds on several of the songs. I decided to place it as the last song on the album, this way if it was hated by the listener it was easy to just stop at the track before it rather than having to skip over a seven-minute song featuring "stupid keyboards". For some reason Paul seemed to keep putting off learning this song, and in the studio, ended up playing along to the demo tape one section at a time, figuring out the parts as we went along.

© Ken Nardi, 1999
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