Junior high: a time for first dances, first crushes, first dreams. It's a time when what you realized the future you couldn't wait for - whether it be high school aspirations or beyond - is within your reach more than you knew. Who knew that in eighth grade, a group of friends would embark on a first dream that sees no end in sight - their first band.
Anarbor is living proof that sometimes lofty childhood aspirations work out to be not so lofty after all. Since the fateful onset of the grade-school friendship between vocalist/bassist Slade Echeverria and guitarist Mike Kitlas, the band has been an actuality that has not only survived beyond the pitfalls of high school, but is thriving more than ever. "When we were in eighth grade, calling it a 'career' wasn't even in the picture. The shows we played were mainly to just our friends and classmates," the band says. "We weren't very good at first but we stuck with it cause we loved playing music and playing together." Seven years after their initiation, Anarbor is releasing their first full-length, The Words You Don't Swallow, this spring on Hopeless Records.
Armed with the familiar soulful pop-rock that defined their breakthrough EP, Free Your Mind, a year ago, the new record ups the ante with more confidence, wit and sheen. When you consider that Anarbor signed a record deal while still in high school, and recorded this LP at the ripe age of 19, it's imperative to know these are artists who have still only begun to scratch the surface. A band who have grown up together not only in their band roles and as young adults, but have grown with their fans as well.
"We write about what its like becoming an adult, the temptations we face, the fact that we all have problems and habits, but at the end of the day we are all human beings and we are all flawed," the band says. "With this record, we have the chance to get our music out to a whole new audience, so we're going to say exactly what we want to say. We all are going through such different stuff as we're getting older, so we all contribute to the lyric writing."
Boldly going where they've tread before (clever and defiant tracks such as "Drugstore Diet" and wayward relationship tales such as "Contagious" and first single "Gypsy Woman") and where they haven't (foraying into ballad territory on the retrospective "Useless"), the LP is the ideal format for Anarbor to display all areas of their expertise. Producer Mike Green (Paramore, Set Your Goals, The Spill Canvas) once again coaxed the best from this foursome, working to keep the patented chemistry intact but evolving. Including guitarist Adam Juwig and drummer Greg Garrity, the band is comprised of four individual songwriters working in sync. Using each other as sounding boards to their melodies and lyrics, the number of influences and tastes coursing through each of the record's 11 tracks is reflective of that unity.
Anarbor will get the chance to show the nation (and the world) the extent of their growth when they embark on their first full Vans Warped Tour this summer, as well as a debut venture overseas to the UK and Japan. As the band says, "We signed right out of high school. All throughout high school, we had to play with tons of older bands, and kind of got looked at as just a bunch of kids. Now we're traveling the world with our best friends." Beginning as a garage band, just a group of friends who wanted to create music together, it seems their junior high ambitions have come full circle after all.