They describe themselves as “Charlotte’s favorite sons”, Anchor Detail is a quartet composed of Jeff Tatu (vocals & songwriter), Travis Brown (guitar & production), Christian Loebs (drums & samples) and Seth Telles (bass). Their sound blends the riffy swagger of grunge with the austerity of post-punk. Learn more about the history of the band and who made the artwork for their new single ‘Machines’ in this interview.
How and when did you meet?
Seth: “I’ve known Jeff (Tatu/Tat) from the local bar scene for 20 years. I’m also in IT and worked with Travis at a software company in town for several years. About eight years ago, I had tickets to Surfer Blood and The Drums at Local 506 in Chapel Hill and I took Tat and Travis. This was the first time they hung out. Not long after, Travis was teaching Tat guitar and they twisted my arm into jamming with them. I “played” bass since I was 16, but hadn’t actually touched one in about a decade. First jam we wrote a song that ended up on ‘Tiki Dreams‘. It was ‘Blue Sky Wish’, if I’m not mistaken.”
“Long story short, we acquired a drummer, Rob Goldshmidt, played our first show and became hooked. A couple years passed and Rob wanted to go do other things. We had been playing shows with Hey Zeus Chrysler and I had known Chris’s sister for several years. One thing led to another (wink wink) and Chris joined on. ‘Enabler‘ is actually a product of remnants from earlier post-Tiki Dreams stuff and what Chris brought to the table. Chris has extensive band experience and is himself a music instructor. His contributions to the band have stepped up greatly and our music is just going to get crazier.”
What’s the story behind the band name?
Seth: “We actually had a list of band names we really liked for various reasons. Rob came up with Small Tribes. I really liked that one, but there’s already a band in the DC area with that name. Travis usually has a more avant garde approach to everything, so the names he added were probably more unusual. One of them was Anchor Detail. We asked what that meant and he said something about crewman on a ship having to hoist a large anchor. A lot of the lyrical content of our music carries some emotional heft. They’re often sad, self-deprecating emo songs… so it just happened to win the vote. You can call us Anger Dental if you want.”
What bands have influenced your sound?
Seth: “Protomartyr is still my current favorite and a big influence, Megadeth, The Cure… Peter Hook. Hard techno.”
Tatu: “U2, The Cure, The Smiths.”
Speaking for Travis: “STP, Diarrhea Planet, The Chats.”
Speaking for Chris: “Sunny Day Real Estate… I know this is like at least one of his top three absolute biggest influences. He also teaches multiple instruments and has been interested in jazz lately. If you go listen to his Hey Zeus Chrysler record, you might get a better understanding. I figure he has circus music playing in his head constantly.”
What song represents who you are best and why?
Tatu: “I think ‘Enabler‘ is a great snapshot of the band from a sound and songwriting aspect. It seems to encapsulate the band at the time.”
Seth: “and a good indicator of our future direction…”
Tatu: “But I’m very proud of ‘Machines‘, because I feel it really shows our growth as a band.”
Seth: “Honestly, no. The pandemic didn’t help with our typical songwriting processes. However, our goal is still to release a proper full length and we’re optimistic for early/mid 2022. We’ll also be doing things a little different this time, so there will be a few single releases and a video or two leading up to it.”
What can you tell me about your latest single ‘Machines’?
Tatu: “Lyrically, it was just kind of about the idea of being trapped in the “machine” of daily life, having to conform and wanting to break free but not really being sure how to do it.”
Seth: “We also kind of intentionally wrote at least a few lines of nonsense in there. A lot of our songs tend to be pretty direct, but we also love certain artists who write these insanely provocative lines that could be interpreted a number of ways. Musically, this was an interesting production, because live we play this song pretty aggressive, but on paper, it truly is a ballad. It’s fun and I think evokes multiple moods as it progresses.”
The artwork for ‘Machines’ really fits the song. Who did the artwork for ‘Machines’?
Seth: “Aidan Lynch (IG: stunnyfuff). He lives in Ireland. We googled like “best fake album covers” or something like that and of course there was some Reddit contest or something. We sifted through some artists. This one record he did really popped. So much color… I loved it! So I emailed him and we started up a dialog.”
“We’ve always done our own artwork and this time we wanted to approach a lot of things differently. I asked Aidan to listen to our song and interpret it completely on his own. And boy did he. Hot dang! Am I right?!”
What inspires your lyrics?
Tatu: “Without sounding too corny here, the lyrics really are inspired by what I see as the day to day struggles of the human condition, from love and loss, to addictions and the daily grind of just keeping the bills paid. They may seem a little dark at times. (Seth laughs) But I think in the end they convey a bit of hope and the somewhat tortured journey to happiness that this life can be.”
Seth: “That’s actually the coolest thing you ever said.”
I’m always curious to hear about the creative process of bands. What can you tell me about yours?
Seth: “From my perspective, it’s mostly been “here’s a neat riff!” and we’ve gotten pretty good at extrapolating on one simple piece into an arrangement. But things have been evolving the last couple of years and I’m not totally sure how to answer this. I’ll just say this, we have two trained musicians in the band and two that started off pretty fresh, yet each person manages to contribute fairly equally. This is my first band and it’s organic as hell. I’ve recently joined another project and I’m more or less just a follower to the main songwriter, which is totally different and a little refreshing at times.”
Tatu: “Sometimes it starts with a lyric, sometimes it’s just a good riff or a jam at practice but no matter what, it always seems to happen very organically and real and we seem to have equal contributions.”
What are you working on at the moment?
Seth: “We’re probably getting ready to record, perhaps, our next single ‘Best of The Worst’. This song is considerably heavier, faster and shorter than ‘Machines’. It’s pretty rowdy for Anchor Detail. It’s got some insane switches in it and is a challenge for us to play. It’s gonna be good.”
“We’re also almost done writing the final little interlude piece for another song about all our friends – we might get a little gushy in parts on this one. To my ears, it’s almost a follow up to ‘You Through Me‘, but happier lyrically and darker sonically. And we have at least a few others we’ve made progress on. We’re kinda slow and meticulous.”
Where would you like to be in 10 years?
Tatu: “Making music with the people I love, all else will be icing on the cake.”
Seth: “Alive, bills paid, still have my hearing. My priorities suck as a musician. Listen to Tat.”
What’s your favourite song to perform live?
Tatu: “At the moment, I would say ‘Machines’. The newest one is always the one you seem to be most excited about. It’s still fresh and tends to be more focused in its meaning, whereas older songs seem to morph in meaning for me over time.”
Seth: “Machines is a good one, because we play its “intro”, which is heavy af. Songs I really get off on playing: ‘Enabler’, ‘Rapture‘, ‘Machines’… I really have fun with the newer ones. The only song off ‘Tiki Dreams’ I still like to play is ‘Traces‘, because we more or less turned it into a metal song over the years. We may one day revisit a song or two. Who knows?”
What artists are getting you excited at the moment?
Tatu: “Affleck’s Palace (Manchester), Floodhounds (Sheffield), Twenty6Hundred (Toronto)…”
Seth: “I’m so weird these days. I could care less about national/international commercial music. Our local peers excite the f*** outta me. I don’t care what kind of music they’re playing. I’m so proud of them and I can really feel them. I think Charlotte is gonna appear on the map a lot more going forward. You will see. Might as well list some: Stormwatchers, Cosmic Reaper, Duckbeak, Hey Richard, Amigo, Hold Fire, Whaleboat, Mercury Dimes, My Blue Hope, Uncle Buck, The Donner Deads, that’s just a sample. All of them have new music coming and are coming out of this post-pandemic *lockdown* gate swinging.”
What’s your favourite song from the Cool Top 20?
“At the moment my favorite song is ‘Hangman‘ by Van Tastik, love it! So bluesy and haunting.”
What song would you like to add as a bonus track and why?
“I would like to add ‘Something Primeval‘ by the FloodHounds. They are from Sheffield they are an amazing band and are awesome people, keep your eyes on this band I really feel like they are going to be big.”
More about Anchor Detail: