Photo by ETHAN MORRIS
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Anonymous are a four-piece hard rock band from Uttoxeter, a small Midlands town best known for being the birthplace of the world-famous JCB digger.
They may only be in their late teens and early twenties, but they have already evolved from a rock covers band to playing original material with a heavy, mature sound that appeals to rockers of all ages.
I caught up with them just before their sell-out gig in Derby.
Firstly, how did the band form?
LUKE LAWLEY (BASS): Me, Hayden and Rob were all mates at school.
I was in a band that wasn’t getting off the ground, so I left and asked Hayden and Rob if they fancied getting together at all.
At the same time, a mate of ours, Charlie Kellitt, who would become our first lead singer, was looking for someone to play with her for her uncle’s birthday party.
She approached us and we agreed to play, despite the fact we were just starting out, and we didn’t have a drummer.
Herbie heard about us from a mutual friend, and he was a keen drummer, so he approached us, played a bit, and we liked what we saw. We accepted him into the band there and then.
How did ‘Anonymous’ come to be the band’s name?
ROB BAYNES (VOCALS/RHYTHM GUITAR): It was coming closer to the birthday party, and we were really struggling to come up with a name, so we put ourselves down as ‘Anonymous’ and it stuck.
What are the band’s musical influences?
HAYDEN KIRK (LEAD GUITAR): We have a broad range of influences, both classic and modern.
We all like Guns ‘n’ Roses, Black Stone Cherry, Led Zeppelin, Herbie’s into Breaking Benjamin, more avant-garde stuff, Rob’s a fan of modern metal, post-hardcore, and me and Luke love classic rock.
ROB: I think as a band, these influences bring a lot of individual aspects to our playing style.
LUKE: I base my style on Muse, Led Zeppelin, whereas the others are more soul, blues, funk-oriented.
As a bassist, I think I need to have a broader range from which to play from.
It’s a vast spectrum, but we use elements from all these influences to make our music as good as we know it can be.
You come from a small town. Do you think that makes it much harder for the band to succeed, than if you were from a large city, where they are more opportunities?
HAYDEN: It is a disadvantage, definitely. It makes it much more difficult to break through, because all the big promoters and the important contacts are mostly in large cities, therefore, they seem to prioritise bands that are on their doorstep.
LUKE: An advantage that a band from a large city has is that they can build a bigger fanbase more quickly, therefore, they are going to appeal more to promoters and venue owners.
STEVEN ‘HERBIE’ HERBERT (DRUMS): If anything, it makes us work harder, because if we play a gig in say, Birmingham, we have to be more professional, if we’re aren’t, they won’t want us back and we would have lost a big opportunity.
You mentioned professionalism just then. Some bands around your age seem to play music just for fun. Are you different to that?
HERBIE: We do try to keep it as fun as possible, but it’s a job at the end of the day. We have to maintain an element of professionalism, so we can show people that playing music is what we want to do, and how serious we are about it.
The band has an EP out. How was the experience of recording that?
HAYDEN: It was awesome, a great learning curve. To take the songs that we had written into the studio, give them a few tweaks, it altered our whole perspective on songwriting.
HERBIE: We realised that despite everyone wanting to put their own creative stamp on the record, the most important elements are the songs and how they are written.
LUKE: Matt Ball, our producer, gave us a lot of ideas that helped us in the production. He got us to see our music from more of a listener’s point of view, to try and create something that everyone can listen to.
The band has quite a good live reputation locally. Is it difficult to keep that up?
ROB: We always get nervous before a gig, especially if the last one we did went very well.
It’s good to have that though, because it enables us to remain focused, and that helps us when we get out on the stage and start playing. Once we get into it, the nerves just go.
LUKE: It’s good to learn from the live experience, because it’s so unpredictable, anything can happen, so if we suffer any setbacks, we have to find a way to soldier on.
It is well-known that some bands clash over creative control. Does your band have any problems like that at all?
LUKE: Not really. There’s Andy Hartshorne, our manager, who has helped us out tremendously over the years, but we all try to do our own bit, share the load as it were.
HAYDEN: We try to be diplomatic, which works most of the time. We do have some petty squabbles sometimes, over some tiny thing that doesn’t really matter, but I suppose most bands do it in some way.
Finally, what are the band’s hopes for the future?
HAYDEN: To be a touring band, hopefully. We will try our hardest to achieve this, but if it doesn’t work out, then so be it. It would be fantastic to get further though.
LUKE: Fame and fortune would be great, but if we can just make a proper living out of it, just to keep ourselves going, to not rely on getting other jobs to make ends meet. Our ultimate dream is to turn this into a full-time career.
‘ANONYMOUS’, THE BAND’S SELF-TITLED DEBUT EP, IS AVALIABLE TO DOWNLOAD FROM THEIR OFFICIAL WEBSITE http://anonymousofficialuk.bandcamp.com/