Guitarist Anthony Anzaldo says Ceremony is just as punk as ever
When theStraight talks to Anthony Anzaldo, he’s out on tour. Actually, he’s sort of on two tours at once. His band, Ceremony, is on the road as Bloc Party’s opening act, playing to audiences of upwards of 2,000, but the guitarist and his colleagues are also picking up smaller gigs of their own when the British headliner has a night off.
“It’s an interesting dynamic,” Anzaldo says, reached at a Chicago tour stop. “On the Bloc Party shows, we play mostly new songs, and to crowds that are way bigger than we’ve ever played in front of. But nobody knows us. And then at our own punk shows, there’s, like, 150 people, and all of them know us, and we play a mixture of stuff. It’s a pretty big contrast. But both are fun, both are a challenge, and we dig it.”
The “new songs” Anzaldo is referring to are the ones featured on Zoo, the Bay Area–based Ceremony’s fourth full-length album and its first for Matador Records. A razor-edged exercise in postpunk, Zoo seems worlds away from Ceremony’s 2006 debut, Violence Violence—13 corrosive bursts of hardcore fury, many clocking in at under one minute—and some fans have been vocal in their resistance to the group’s changing sound. Anzaldo doesn’t seem fazed by that, opining that some of them just aren’t ready for Zoo.
“I think that the majority of the people who are in the hardcore scene these days and are paying attention to new music are really young people, and mostly teenagers,” he says. “And I think that a lot of them don’t have a frame of reference for this thing that we’re doing now. They have never heard or aren’t familiar with Wire or the Cramps or the Fall or Joy Division—all these bands that have always influenced us and now are just a little bit more prominent.
“I think that this record is just as punk as anything else we’ve ever done,” the guitarist continues. “And I think that a lot of them, once they grow older and their taste in music expands and evolves, they’ll recognize that what we’re doing is cool.”
It shouldn’t take much maturing for the hardcore kids to get behind the bumptious crash-and-bash of “Citizen” and “Ordinary People”. One of those tracks could easily be the gateway drug that leads to the Manchester-’79 mope-punk of “Repeating the Circle”, or the spectral deathrock of “Hotel”, which checks into the suite formerly occupied by the Gun Club and blows away the cobwebs. Again, though, Anzaldo doesn’t seem overly concerned with winning over the naysayers.
“The fact of the matter is that you can’t please everybody,” he states simply. “If we stayed on the same path that we started on, there would be people who would be saying, ‘This is the same-old, same-old. Why don’t they try something different?’ We’re going to disappoint people no matter what we do. So we may as well do the thing that we want to do.”
Ceremony opens for Bloc Party at the Vogue Theatre on Saturday (September 29).