On Sunday, May 26, 2013, the worlds of music and video games collided at the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with a performance by the chiprock group Anamanaguchi. After a fantastic set that included flashing colored lights, crazy 8-bit videos projected onto a screen behind the band, and the obligatory encore, I had a chance to talk with bassist James DeVito and drummer Luke Silas.
For the record, I did offer to buy them each a drink at the bar, but they had just finished paying for theirs when I approached them, so that didn’t end up happening. Still, we had a great chat about Kickstarter, space pizza, fake missing teeth, and even the origin of the name Anamanaguchi.
I began the conversation on the most logical of topics: the band’s 2013 stunt of launching a slice of pizza into space. James explained:
Well, we did it for our music video. We wanted to send something into space. At the time, we thought it’d be super cheap. It wasn’t as cheap as we thought it’d be… We saw a bunch of other people had launched stuff into space; we thought it’d be extra cool to launch pizza into space.
Since pizza and space are both awesome, we have to agree that combining the two has launched the band to a new level of badassitude. Of course, that stunt almost ended up causing a bomb panic, as James mentioned in an interview with Grantland, but it all worked out in the end and the music video got made.
This was all a part of a Kickstarter campaign Anamanaguchi ran to fund the distribution of their record, Endless Fantasy. I asked James to comment on that project, which, at the time of our chat, had raised over four times the $50,000 they were initially hoping for with six days still left. Here’s what he told me:
It’s unbelievable, really. I mean, if anything, it’s a lot of pressure now to prove our worth, essentially, because it’s very public knowledge about how much [money the project has earned]. We definitely have plans to use it for sweet stuff. We launched pizza into space with that money, and there’s even sweeter shit to come.
Yes, Kickstarter backers, Anamanaguchi has used your money to make plain ol’ pizza into epic space pizza. It’s like the band’s personal Midas touch. (I mean Midas the dude who turned things into gold, not Midas the auto repair shop.)
We moved on to a topic that related specifically to the Triple Rock show. There was a guy in the crowd that night who had claimed to have lost three teeth, sparking a bit of hilarious banter with frontman Peter Berkman during Anamanaguchi’s performance. I asked the guys if they thought he really lost those teeth at that very show, or if he had lost them at some point before that.
After we threw around a few hockey player jokes (this is Minnesota, after all), James said, “Did he prove it? Did anyone ask him to prove it? I always ask people to prove it when I don’t believe them.”
We then argued about whether or not there was any blood before Luke pointed out: “It was a retainer. It was like a retainer that had false teeth on it.”
“So he was a faker,” said James.
“Well, he’s a faker now.”
“He was always a faker. He had fake teeth.”
“He didn’t always have fake teeth.”
“You don’t know that.”
But don’t worry. Before this teeth-related altercation got too heated, Luke brought the conversation back down to Earth. “I hope that guy found his teeth, however long he did or didn’t have them.”
After that distraction, we got back onto the topic of music. Since the band had already done the soundtrack for the fantastic Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World: The Game, I had to ask if we should expect to hear them on any other videogame soundtracks in the near future. Luke commented:
We got offered to do the new Head Fucker Fantasy. That’s going to be good. We’re in talks about it. It’s on Xbox Live. Don’t worry about it.
Something tells me he was making that up.
Before we finished up the conversation, my photographer Saleem asked about the origin of the band’s name. Apparently, it was an inside joke spawned from the band members’ internships in the fashion industry. Luke went on:
James and Pete were both at Armani, I was at Gucci, Ary [Warnaar, guitarist] was at Prada. And we kind of knew each other, so we’d go to parties and stuff together. We got to be kind of a real tight clique, and at parties, people would be like, “Oh, it’s the ArmaniPradaGucci boys! What’s up?”
(I must mention that this version of the story is slightly different than the version Peter had told in an interview with 34th Street. In the 34st version, Peter was at Prada and Ary was at Armani.)
Saleem mentioned that it sounded Japanese, and Luke joked, “No, it’s Italian,” before continuing:
There were a few times where people would be really fucked up at these parties and just be like, “Alright, Anamanaguchi boys…” And we thought it was so funny; it became like an inside joke. We were like, “Well, we’re going to start this band. Why not Anamanaguchi?” So we left our internships and hit the road.
That’s way more interesting than Wikipedia’s explanation, which states, “The name ‘Anamanaguchi’ came about from a member in one of Berkman’s former bands pronouncing gibberish in the style of Jabba the Hutt.”
Be sure to catch up with all things Anamanaguchi at their official site.
Photo credit: All photos in this article were taken by Saleem Husain and Muhammad Akhtar.