[Welcome to Hitzgallery]
Pre-order Anxious’ debut album ‘Little Green House’ on limited “cream inside green” vinyl.
Back in 2019, Connecticut’s Anxious made noise in the punk underground with Never Better, an excellent hardcore-infused EP released on the trusty hardcore label Triple B Records, and in the time since then, they expanded their sound with an acoustic 7″ and an Elliott Smith cover, signed to Run For Cover, and hit the studio with TWIABP’s Chris Teti to record their much-anticipated debut album Little Green House, a massive step up from anything they’d done prior and one of the best emo albums in recent memory.
With Never Better, Anxious found themselves among a group of “next Title Fight” contenders (alongside related band One Step Closer, Long Island emo torch-carriers Koyo, and others), but with Little Green House, it feels like Anxious’ sites are set on next Jimmy Eat World. That might sound like hyperbole, but this record really earns it. It’s an emo album that’s in touch with the genre’s gritty hardcore roots but also full of sparkly clean production, gorgeous harmonies, layered arrangements, and forays outside of punk entirely. The harmony-fueled acoustic ballad “Wayne” and the dream pop-inspired “You When You’re Gone” (with guest vocals by Stella Branstool) are among the prettiest guitar pop songs you’ll hear this year, and just when you think Anxious have gone soft, they’ll break out a Title Fight/Movielife-esque ripper like “Speechless” or “Let Me” to remind you where they came from. The best parts, though, fall somewhere in between. The soaring tracks at the top half of the album (“Your One Way Street,” “In April,” “Growing Up Song,” “More Than A Letter”) are when Anxious sound like a band that could’ve ruled the airwaves in the era of Bleed American and Stay What You Are.
Anxious’ knack for immediate, enduring hooks makes Little Green House an album that rivals the greats of early 2000s emo, and they escape coming off like a revival band because they aren’t just looking to early 2000s emo for influences. They instead look to many of the bands that those bands were influenced by — bands like Texas Is The Reason, Sense Field, Penfold, and Farside — and they combine it with some of the poppier stuff that was happening adjacent to the early 2000s emo explosion: bands like Fountains of Wayne and Death Cab for Cutie. They also take inspiration from influences as disparate as blink-182’s untitled album and The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and Smile. It makes for an album whose DNA is definitely similar to the stuff you’ll hear at Emo Nite, yet distinctly different.
With an ethos that comes from hardcore and hooks that come from the pop canon, Anxious are also distinctly different from the Very Online fifth wave of emo that’s been taking shape over the past few years. They’ve come up the old fashioned way, playing as many shows as they can and releasing 7″s until their vision for a cohesive debut album was fully realized. That’s why, even though this is their first album, Anxious don’t necessarily feel like rookies anymore. Their moment’s been a long time coming; now it’s finally here, and with Little Green House, they’ve exceeded expectations.
Little Green House arrives next week (1/21) via Run For Cover (pre-order it on limited-to-300 “cream inside green” vinyl), and they’ve just shared one more song ahead of its release: the aforementioned, hard-edged “Let Me” (which features Pat Flynn of Fiddlehead/Have Heart). I also caught up with two of the band’s core songwriters, lead singer Grady Allen and guitarist/backing vocalist Dante Melucci, to discuss the making of this album, working with Chris Teti, musical influences, and more. Read on for our chat…
What was different writing and recording Little Green House compared to your previous work?
Grady: I think, from the get go, it was the first time that we really took our time, and were afforded the time to write. And I just think we took this, like, really meticulous and holistic approach to writing the record where really no stone was left unturned. I would say the writing process was a lot different too, it was a lot more collaborative. Dante wrote a great deal of it; it was me, Dante, and [drummer] Jonny [Camner] all hunkered down in Jonny’s dad’s basement, really chipping away at it.
Dante: I think we also really grinded to get exactly what we wanted out of every song. We had a good handful of ideas for pieces of songs or potential songs that we ditched at certain points because we felt like it wasn’t working towards the full record.
Grady: Yeah, I mean, from the get go, we weren’t just writing songs. From the very beginning, it was “we’re writing an LP.” These songs all have the goal of creating a complete narrative of the LP, so it wasn’t just vaguely stringing together ideas. It was a cohesive narrative that we were trying to create.
On this album, it seems like you do more dual vocals and harmonies than in the past. Was that an intentional thing to do more of that, and what was the songwriting process like for that aspect?
Dante: I think when it came to dual vocals, it kind of came to: when we were making the demos for the songs, maybe I’d have a melody for Grady for the chorus or something, and then I’d be like, “What if it had this harmony and then this harmony?” And then it kind of naturally fell to, “What if I do this one part so that you can get to this next line?” I think especially when it came to “In April” — originally, Grady I think when you brought that song to the table, you wanted to sing that high part but it was a little out of your range, so we thought, what if you do this smooth low vocal in the front and then I do the heavier part up high since I’ve got this slightly higher register, and it kind of fell to that.
Grady: Do not be fooled: literally all the vocal mastermind stuff, the beautiful harmonies, and like the arrangements and stuff are 100% Dante. That’s all “hey I’ve got this song,” and then Dante comes back two days later and he’s like “I have this totally crazy melody and harmony and chorus” that there’s no way anybody else could have thought of.
Dante: [Laughs] You’re flattering me, Grady.
Grady: I would say a certain amount of it was collaborative; there were times where I was bringing some melodies to the table — I would say actually a good number of times where me and Dante were sitting at a desk and looking at the lyrics and kind of like, breaking things down and moving forward on it. But a lot of the really beautiful overlapping sections and intense harmonies are all from the deep, weird recesses of Dante’s brain.
What made you want to work with Chris Teti, and what was that like? What did Chris bring to the table?
Grady: So we had this complete record demoed, so the idea was totally there, and then we began poking around to see what would be some options to record it, and Chris Teti and [his studio] Silver Bullet kept coming up. All of us are obviously massive fans of the stuff Chris has done with TWIABP, both as a musician on those records and as the engineer and producer, so we were drawn to that and it just sounded like a really cool opportunity. I also, on a sentimental level, enjoyed the idea of us recording it in Connecticut. But that was definitely a later benefit.
Working with Chris is really cool. I don’t even know how to describe it; he’s meticulous but not intense… I don’t know, Dante how would you describe it? The way he gets a million takes from you but doesn’t feel like he’s disappointed in you.
Dante: Don’t get me wrong, we had so much fun with Chris, but also he was able to create a really professional atmosphere where I was never worried about us falling behind. He had us get everything done, and it felt like he was really trying to get the very best out of each of our takes, all the while being pretty diplomatic about it. He just made us feel really comfortable the whole process.
Grady: Yeah, I think that’s a good point. He’s an awesome, funny guy — super funny to shoot the shit with — but when it came down to recording, it was like, the guy is super professional and kind of like no bullshit, just moves through it in a really elegant, professional way. For lack of a better term, he really gives a shit, and clearly has a passion for the work that he’s doing, and that kind of pervades every single thing that he’s working on, whether it’s the guitars or drums or vocals or bass — it’s very clear that he’s wholeheartedly engaged and thinking incredibly hard about every piece of it.
Can you talk about some of the major musical influences on the album?
Dante: In the process of writing this, I was in this kind of period where I was looking back on a lot of music I grew up listening to — my dad would play me a lot of early aughts power pop/indie music, and I was really looking to stuff like Fountains of Wayne and Death Cab for Cutie. But I was also listening to Pianos Become the Teeth — I was really wanting to take these really poppy influences with a lot of catchy parts, because I know we all love good hooks and sugary sweet melodies, and I wanted to take what we were already turning into with Anxious, and apply that sugar-coating over the songs. For me, that really was the primary influence for the writing process.
Grady: I would agree with that; I think the sugar-coating analogy for a lot of the songs is a good one. I think the energy that we were leading with was trying to be fearless, and, while being influenced by stuff, trying not to be pigeonholed into one type of style or trying to replicate or emulate anything, and not be like, “It’s specifically this one thing and it’s nothing more than this one thing, it’s worship of this one thing.” It was a real melting pot, and — not throwing the playbook out the window in trying to be so avant-garde or anything like that, but trying not to be restricted by any rules. So yeah, I think there’s a lot of the initial Anxious influences on a lot of the pieces, which is a lot of ’90s emo stuff, from Texas Is The Reason to Sense Field to Penfold to stuff like Farside, and then it does move forward into that early 2000s stuff that Dante was talking about — both musically and lyrically but also from an attitude point of view too, of trying to just embrace that style and not being afraid to enter this uncharted territory for us.
Dante: It’s always gonna be super hard to convince everyone of this, but a mindset that Grady and I were exchanging was: we don’t want this to be this genre or that genre, we want it to be a rock record. We didn’t want it to be restrained by any phases of our musical taste.
Grady: I totally echo that. If someone asked me what it is, I’d say it’s a rock record; I wouldn’t say it’s post-hardcore or pop punk or melodic hardcore or anything like that. We didn’t want it to be pigeonholed into any one sort of thing.
I do think people are already convinced of that! When you read articles about the singles — and I’m guilty of this too — it’s like, “Anxious is a hardcore band but this is an emo song,” or something.
Grady: Yeah, I think, in how we operate, Anxious probably is a hardcore band, but musically it’s totally different. I honestly really enjoy getting to have a blend of those two things; how we’re operating and how the band is conveying itself is definitely of a hardcore ilk, but the music is distinctly different.
When we were talking on the Vans show, we were talking about the untitled blink-182 record, and I feel like that kind of applies to this too, how it’s not really a pop punk record and they weren’t afraid to embrace like, everything…
Dante: I remember the first time I heard that record. When I was first getting into blink, I heard Enema, I heard Take Off Your Pants, and when I started getting into [the untitled record], I felt the same way I wanted to feel about Little Green House, where I was like, I can’t see this as being this early 2000s Malcolm in the Middle style pop punk record, but it also still feels like blink all the way, it feels like the same guys, just they’re freer than they were before.
Grady: Yeah, it’s a total unashamed expression of self. It’s not blink trying to be anything or anyone, and not continuing on the, I don’t know, “I fucked your dad” stuff. It was, “This is truly who we are, in this moment, right here now.” That record is a big influence, definitely – I would say musically, but also just the attitude, the ideas, the conception behind it. Those are all factors that I think everyone in Anxious would go, “Yeah, that’s definitely something we are trying to do.”
While we’re on the influences topic: Dante, I know you’re a big Beach Boys fan. I just wanna ask, how did your interest in that band inspire what you wrote for this record?
Dante: I really truly got into The Beach Boys near the very end of the writing process, but it definitely still impacted it a lot, especially in the studio. Everything I love about Pet Sounds and Smile — the layers of different sounds, the great harmonies… I was trying to really channel that spirit of busy instrumentation that doesn’t feel busy; it still feels accessible and listenable but there’s so much more going on than you might realize. I think also the influence of records like Pet Sounds kind of fell into sequence with the other stuff I was pulling from to try and make the sound of Little Green House.
What would you say are some of the themes lyrically that you’re trying to get across on the album?
Grady: I think lyrically it kind of runs the gamut, but all of it kind of comes down to coming-of-age conversations and experiences. I think there’s a lot of focus on relationships of different contexts. It talks about losing friends — both directly and indirectly — more subtly growing apart from somebody and also disagreeing and being unable to understand somebody anymore so you just have to leave. There’s conversations about romance, both in bloom and falling apart. There’s two songs about familial relationships with parents, one distinctly celebratory and the other distinctly not.
Dante: I think me and Grady found that both of our lyrics kind of dealt with the same adolescent experiences that we both were going through, and I think that kind of played into how we went about coming up with the name of the record and the song names. And to me, it’s also just about feeling like everything around me is changing, people around me are changing, but also realizing that I’m also changing and it’s all part of life — especially at this point in our lives when we’re young adults and we’re transitioning into the person we’re gonna become from the person we were before, and understanding that, in a lot of ways, that’s the same person we always were, it’s just a new stage of that.
So, the last song on the record has guest vocals by Stella Branstool. Tell us a little bit about Stella. How did you link up with her?
Dante: So I actually went to high school with the lead singer of Hello Marry, Helena [Straight] — she plays in that band with Stella. I didn’t know her directly, but I really liked her band, I’d seen them for their record release, and I heard a lot of Stella’s stuff on Bandcamp, and I just thought she had a really good voice. And we were thinking the song “You When You’re Gone” would be suited for having a female vocal on it, so I hit her up on Instagram, I talked to her about it, I sent her a demo, and we had her come in to record the vocals.
Anxious are opening Knuckle Puck’s tour alongside Hot Mulligan and Meet Me @ The Altar. All dates (including NYC’s Irving Plaza on March 13) are listed below.
Pick up Little Green House on limited “cream inside green” vinyl here.
Anxious — 2022 Tour Dates
02/10 Cincinnati, OH @ Bogart’s *
02/11 Bloomington, IL @ Castle Theatre *
02/12 Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity *
02/13 Kansas City, KS @ Granada *
02/15 Denver, CO @ Gothic *
02/16 Salt Lake City, UT @ Complex *
02/18 Vancouver, BC @ Imperial *
02/19 Seattle, WA @ Crocodile *
02/20 Portland, OR @ Hawthorne *
02/22 Sacramento, CA @ Ace Of Spades *
02/23 Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory *
02/24 Los Angeles, CA @ The Regent Theater *
02/25 San Diego, CA @ The Observatory North Park *
02/26 Mesa, AZ @ The Nile *
02/28 Austin, TX @ Empire Garage *
03/1 San Antonio, TX @ Paper Tiger *
03/3 Atlanta, GA @ Center Stage *
03/4 Orlando, FL @ The Abbey *
03/5 Tampa, Florida @ Orpheum *
03/6 Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle *
03/8 Boston, MA @ Big Night Live *
03/9 Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre Of Living Arts *
03/10 Baltimore, MD @ Soundstage *
03/11 New York, NY @ Irving Plaza *
03/13 Cleveland, OH @ House Of Blues Cleveland *
03/14 Toronto, ON @ The Opera House *
03/16 Detroit, MI @ Saint Andrew’s Hall *
03/17 Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Smalls Theatre *
03/18 Chicago, IL @ Concord Music Hall *
* w/ Knuckle Puck, Hot Mulligan, Meet Me @ The Altar
[Click On The Download Button below.]
Download Mp3 Now