Photo | Courtesy of Analog Missionary
Band: Analog Missionary
Date: Friday, May 25 at 8 p.m.
Venue: The Listening Room of Mobile, 78 St. Francis St., www.thelisteningroommobile.com
Tickets: $25 at the door (Call 367-4599 for reservations)
Many years have passed since the Azalea City has witnessed Analog Missionary in a live setting. When this quartet first started performing, Analog Missionary brought a progressive alt. rock sound mixed with classic goth rock that was a rarity in the local scene.
A unique instrumental line-up that included a Chapman Stick and a Theremin cushioned lead singer Anstrom’s hypnotic vocals as they flowed into the crowd. The group was also known for their unforgettable live show that included providing a soundtrack for the classic silent horror film “Nosferatu.”
Analog Missionary is back and ready to once again bring its eclectic sound to the masses. Drummer Mark Christianson (aka M) gave Lagniappe Weekly’s Steve Centanni some insight on where the band has been and where they are going.
Centanni: It’s kinda coincidental that this show is happening. A friend of mine and I were talking about past bands in the local scene, and we both were like, “Whatever happened to Analog Missionary?” Then, there you were.
Christianson: Yeah! That’s pretty weird!
Centanni: My first question is what happened to Analog Missionary?
Christianson: Well, kids is pretty much what happened to Analog Missionary. Everybody kinda had a little family expansion at the same time. So, that took us off the road for a while. Everybody has juniors now. We’re training up the next batch to take over when we can’t do it anymore.
Centanni: For you, what did you miss most about getting out and performing with Analog Missionary?
Christianson: For me, personally, it was a chance to work with musicians of a caliber where I enjoyed getting to play music that I never have before. That progressive type of stuff isn’t super popular around here. So, that was kinda fun to do. Finding a unit that works together cohesively is always nice. It’s a combination of personality and all those things that make for a good band.
Centanni: So, what finally made y’all want to start doing it again and getting out?
Christianson: I would say that Jim (Pennington) at The Listening Room was a big part of that. For years, he’s been hounding us, since he started that place. We just didn’t feel like we were ready to get back to it. We’ve kept recording the whole time. We have our own studio. So, we were still piecing things together and working a little bit. He got us thinking about doing it and, with the way he’s got things set up there, presenting it in a way that sounded interesting to us. It got us thinking about how we would do it again. We’ve rethought our whole set-up and how we used to do things. So, we’re doing it a little differently this time out, but I would mostly blame him.
Centanni: What’s it been like getting ready for The Listening Room show?
Christianson: Well, it’s been different, because we’re taking a little different approach now. We have some different instrumentation now. Where we were pretty technology happy in the past and hauled tons of gear, we’re trying to get away from that. We’re shooting more for an organic/acoustic/raw thing. That took a little studying as far as how to make it all work based on what we used to know. We reworked a few things, and we have some different styles of music that we want to bring in. So, it’s been pretty intense. Over the past few months, we’ve had rehearsals that have been more intense than in the past.
Centanni: With that said, what’s been the biggest challenge with the new instrumentation and sound?
Christianson: I’d say that it’s just getting familiar with doing our thing. We’re really excited about some of the new music. Her (Anstrom) interests have gone to more world and folk type stuff. So, incorporating those types of things into our repertoire has been a challenge, but it’s been fun too. It’s definitely worked to make us think about all the little glitches and stuff.
Centanni: What’s the line-up like this time around?
Christianson: As far as the line-up, it’s pretty much the same personnel this time around. Anstrom is singing, and she’ll probably bring the Theremin out eventually. I don’t know if she’ll have it at The Listening Room, but she’ll have her cello, which she’s never done before. She’s also singing in a few different languages this time out. Then, Tony (Novak) is on bass and keyboards. Kevin (Kaiser) is on guitars. It’s the same that it was ten years ago and ten before that.
Centanni: What would you say is your favorite aspect of where your music is going these days?
Christianson: I think what has changed has us exploring new styles and different genres and flavors than we really had gotten into before. Last time, it was pretty straight-ahead rock and progressive art type stuff. Now, we are stepping a little more outside of that and getting a little broader. That’s pretty exciting, as far as making you wanting to learn more and pushing yourself as a musician. It’s more exploratory. It’s the fun part.
Centanni: With the new world aspect of it, is it allowing you to bring new percussive instruments into the mix?
Christianson: It is. We’re working a few things along those lines. We’re not quite ready yet. I won’t be debuting the whole thing at The Listening Room just yet. I do a hybrid set-up. So, I’m playing other instruments besides the drums with other limbs. I have pedals where I can play keyboards, and I use patches for world percussion and stuff. There will be world instruments coming the future that I hope to use while I’m drumming too.
Centanni: Is this a one-off live show, or are you back in action?
Christianson: We are back in action. We have another one lined up in Ocean Springs in July. We might not be at the full-force of doing several (shows) a month like we used to do, but we’re going to keep it going if we can, which we intend to do.
Centanni: How about a new album?
Christianson: Yeah! Sure! We took way too long on the last one, but it is done and will be available when we travel. A lot of the stuff that we’ll be playing is new, even since that last album. I’d say we’re 50 percent there on the next one.
Centanni: What can we expect from the upcoming show? Will it be some of the old school hits or totally new music?
Christianson: We’re planning on playing at least something off of each album that we have. One of those is the soundtrack to “Nosferatu.” We’ll try to have a couple from each album and then some of the new ones that will go on the next album. We also like to throw in a little something as homage to our influences or maybe something that covers some ground that we didn’t in our original stuff for the night. It will be a lot of stuff that we haven’t performed before but also a couple of what you called the hits.
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