Admittedly, it would be easy to write off Anamanaguchi as a something of a novelty act, or at least as a part of a tiny niche that’s so specific it almost doesn’t bear mentioning. Their roots are in 8-bit, a style of electronic music that utilizes the iconic sounds of outdated technology like the original Nintendo system. It’s a gimmick, obviously, if also one that lends itself to the occasional moment of transcendence. What Anamanaguchi have done, though, is to incorporate those same sounds while also flashing some of the more impressive guitar and drum parts you’re likely to hear anywhere in the city. It’s an absolute aural assault, with blistering speed and impossible-to-follow time signatures, but there’s also an undeniable pop sensibility at play, which is precisely what makes them a band that should be heard by everyone, and not just devotees of a micro-genre. Basically, everyone should listen to Anamanaguchi more and Girl Talk far less.
Where was your first NYC show?
We technically played our first show in early 2005 but I [Peter Berkman] don’t want to talk about it. We played our first real show at the Cake Shop in January of 2006 when I was 17.
What’s the most/least you’ve ever been paid for a local show? Venues not necessary, but you’re encouraged to share.
A grand in New Jersey, and nothing for a show in Brooklyn where we were having a bad time and just left early.
For what NYC band would you sacrifice your spot on this list? Must name one, lest you seem selfish.
Starscream, Lionshare, Fiasco, Ninjasonik, Graffiti Monsters.
Is there a current trend in the NYC music scene which you find particularly irritating? One you find inspiring or meaningful?
I’d say the decentralization of the Todd P. empire. A lot of promoters are coming up now in Brooklyn and shit’s getting pretty exciting.
Assuming you all work day jobs, how does it affect the band?
We’re all in school, but it doesn’t really affect us. We’re awesome multi-taskers. We haven’t had any seriously conflicting dates so far. On the plus side of being in school, we have access to studios to record whenever we want.
Do you ever consider moving the band to another city?
No way! New York rules. We have yet to visit a more musically active city.
Using outdated computer hardware isn’t a gimmick at all, much less “obviously” so. I think that people choose their instruments based on the sounds they get. Writing off an entire genre because you don’t happen to be familiar with the tools they use to make it seems like pretty shoddy music writing. Anamanaguchi are terrific, but there are other fantastic 8 bit musicians like Nullsleep, Bit Shifter, Glomag, and Bubblyfish to name just a few in New York City.
One would hope that music journalism would have something to do with an appraisal of the actual music and not a mere dismissal of it on the basis of the manner in which it was created.
Was using turntables a gimmick?
I heard of this band way before this. Don’t be so elitist, guy.
chiptune is going to be the new punk.
Chiptune is going to be the new punk. Check out The Protomen.