Anna's Anchor - Sound In The Signals Interview

Anna's Anchor released new album, Nautical Miles recently via Struggle Town and Never Meant Records. Marty Ryan shared a behind the scenes view of his video for "Signal Tower", a behind the scenes view of his video for "Hampton", a track by track for the album, and an artwork feature where he describes the lengths he had to go to in order to get it just right. Read on to learn more about the writing and recording process, what it was like filming a video in 200 locations, and how the music community is everything.

Anna's Anchor for the most part is Marty Ryan. Tell us more about your background and music for those who may be unfamiliar.

Hello, My name's Marty. I'm from Limerick in the South West of Ireland which is an amazingly interesting, culturally diverse place that has a bad reputation and in my opinion, is completely unjustified.

In the Summer of 2014, my old band took a break so I spent that time working in Montana, I booked some recording time there and recorded an E.P, later that year I decided to release those songs as a side project where I could record songs full band the way I wanted and tour more frequently solo since it would only be me that would be holding myself back. Around this time my old band finished up and Anna's Anchor became my sole focus. I really used the flexibility of it just being myself to be as productive as possible and do fun things such as The Islands which was a project I had done in the Summer of 2015 where I visited 8 remote islands off the coast of Ireland, played a show on each one, wrote a song on each and recorded and released that song each week. I have since gone on to record and release the debut A.A album that has been described as a cross between Jimmy Eat World and Into It. Over It. which I am both humbled and stoked on!

You recently released your debut album, Nautical Miles via Struggle Town and Never Meant Records. Tell us about the writing and recording process.

As I had said previously, despite most of the time when I tour, it's acoustic, that's not the case for the recordings and myself and my old pal Brian Scally whose an amazing drummer, was in Ireland in August 2015, I always felt Brian would be the best drummer for A.A so I asked him if he wanted to do it, and we met up as much as we could that month fleshing out and nailing down the ideas that I had. By the end of august, we had the bare bones of the record together which I had already booked to record with Bob Cooper in Manchester for January. Since it's just myself working on the instrumention and vocals, it takes much longer to write a full band effort since I can only do one instrument at a time so I spent from this period up until December demoing and writing, sending bits back and forth to Brian.

I never do things in a conventional manner and tracking the record was no different. I work full time, it's a reality despite pursuing music in a full time manner. I use my weekends and annual leave for touring, if I was to book time off to record the album, my touring would be cut in half for the year so we tracked it over 5 weekends finishing on the 31st of January. I flew out from Shannon every Saturday morning at 8 am and I'd be in the studio ready to go by 10.30 am, and bob and I would go hard at it until Sunday at 6pm when I'd hightail it back to the airport to go home for work on Monday morning. Logistically, it was all eye of the needle stuff, the flights (which were there specifically for Man Utd. fans going over for the games) were at the perfect times, and the studio was perfectly located in relation to the studio. It was a super fun way of doing it, I'd have all week to be thinking over what we did and what would be happening next week. Bob was the absolute dude in his work and for being so accommodating.

You surprised everyone and offered the album for free on Bandcamp with a 'pay what you want' option with the proceeds going to Limerick Suicide Watch (in addition to the vinyl and CD options). That's admirable. Why did you make this choice? Were you involved in making the decisions about the vinyl options and design?

Thanks very much, it was an idea I had in my head for a while. To be honest, the money I've made off of downloads in the past hasn't been all that much, the physical keeps that afloat so I thought it would be nice to give that to somewhere that really needs it. On top of that, Ireland is so small, it doesn't take too many downloads to get into the charts, and some bands use this as a false badge of honour, I'd much rather see that money go to an important cause like Limerick suicide Watch than itunes so it was no brainer for me really!

As for the physical release, yeah, I had the idea for the cover that my pal Oscar from Never Meant Records/ Long Lost Designs shot, the photo on the inside of the cover was taken by myself on tour and I chose the vinyl colours to match the design, with the input of the labels. Luckily with it being myself, I have a really clear vision of how I want things to be and its a nice way to be able to make things super cohesive.

You did something really cool for your video for "Signal Tower". You traveled to over 200 locations while filming the video. What was this experience like? Any stories you can share from that trip?

It was gas, Oscar filmed that, We took two weekends, one for the north and east coast, another for the South and West coast. We basically wanted to put as many Irish landmarks in as possible and travel the length and breadth of the country to show off how great it is! It was super fun but really tiring, we drove 1300 miles over the course of it. Too many stories to pick from but it was generally a humiliating experience as a lot of the locations were really touristy, full of americans and once you plant a camera down and start singing a song out loud, you draw a lot of attention to yourself so behind most shots are like 50 people thinking this must be a famous person or something! funny stuff.

"Big Sky State" has a great message and a great story behind why you wrote it. You've said "playing music for people, being able to travel and meet new friends who share the same ideas is one of the best parts of being part of the punk/greater music community. The album and this song is all about going to different, sometimes uncomfortable places and coming out the better for it, this video is the result of overcoming all this and some of the important and helpful people met along the way!" What does the music community offer to you and how can it help people who are going through various uncomfortable or troubling times? How can we bring positivity to the world from music and the community?

The music community is everything really. There's no better feeling than meeting like minded people and being part of a community that shares the same belief and for the most part, that's what the DIY community is. It's shaped my attitude and approach to everything outside of music and I'm certainly a better person because of it. If you're fortunate enough to find the right people, it can be very helpful because we're all people at the end of the day that have gone through similar experiences and knowing that in its own right can be enough to help pull you out of a hole.

How can we bring positivity? I think that's a case of just being honest and open to each other. As with anything, once a bit of popularity knocks about, the honesty often drains from it from certain people and areas but just doing it for yourself and for the right reasons seems to be the biggest thing for me at the moment and the only thing that truly matters.

You named the album Nautical Miles and have said "a nautical mile is a little bit longer than a mile. I find that with everything I do, be it academically, work or music related, I always have to work a little harder to get where I want to". It's clear that you put a lot of thought and effort into your music. Tell us about the process you used when deciding the concept for the album, the time and travel for the videos, and the dedication for creating the artwork that you wanted. Did the ideas come all at once or were they inspired by each other?

A bit of both really. I did approach the entire album, videos, title, artwork and physical product as one cohesive project so I did have it all planned out in advance. I had the video planned and artwork concept/album title together before we even hit the studio. I'm quite a methodical planner, which is probably why Anna's Anchor works well as a solo project. When I knew I wanted to do an album, I just knew I wanted it to start at the most trying point in my life 2/3 years ago and for it to be the journey that took me to the point that I'm at now and the tracklisting is structured in that manner too. I mentioned about being as honest as possible, so I guess getting right down to that was the best way for me to do that. Whilst writing it I was thinking, damn, I have been through quite a bit these last few years so Nautical Miles seemed like a very fitting title, and it made sense to focus on the nautical theme to keep the whole thing together. I feel it certainly is an album that warrants a listen from start to finish and time to take in the artwork and lyrics etc..

What's next for Anna's Anchor?

Immediate focus is on touring and getting out there and showing off what was created, whilst seeing friends and new cool places along the way. I know the record just came out but I've set aside some time for writing over the holidays and want to get down to work on the next chapter right away, no intention of slowing down :)

Thanks for the interview. Do you have anything else you would like to add?

Thanks for taking the time out to listen to me and spread the word of my record to your readers, I greatly appreciate it. Other than that, please check out the record and I hope you like it and keep an eye out for me on tour in the new year!

Get Nautical Miles via Bandcamp and order the album on 12" vinyl at Never Meant and Struggle Town.

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