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Band Interviews Features Interviews

An Interview with Zak Denham of Anagnorisis

Photograph by: Emily May

Louisville, Kentucky based Anagnorisis just released their newest album, Peripeteia, in October. They play a particularly passionate brand of black metal, and their recent album puts a lot of focus on personal life events and emotions, including a unique set of samples that give the listener a more intimate perspective on the life of vocalist Zach Kerr.

Indy Metal Shows got a chance to speak with Zak Denham, lead and rhythm guitarist, about the meaning behind the lyrics, music and what’s to come for the band before they make their way to Kuma’s Corner on November 15th.

Indy Metal Shows: Before we dig into the music, tell me a little history about the band?

Zak Denham: We released Overton Trees, a full-length record in 2007. We were a band before that based in Louisville, Kentucky. At that point, out of the five members we have three of those original members are still in the band. Myself, Zach Kerr and Sam Hartman. When we released Overton Trees we had another guy in the band, Austin Lunn [now of Panopticon – ed. note] who was writing at the time. We toured off of that. We were on a label for a while just trying to figure out our identity as a band. Then we parted ways with Austin, the main lyricist and writer. And then we got another vocalist who did our 3 song EP Alpha and Omega. Toured off of that for a while. If you listen to those releases you can kind of hear that we were trying to find our fitting as a band. Then we had some member issues where we went through some drummers and eventually released an EP called Ghost of Our Fathers and that EP is what started everything that we’re doing now. Sam’s stepdad died and Zach Kerr’s dad died within a relatively short window and we wrote that EP as a theme to both of them. That was the first domino that fell with these themes that we’re still talking about now. Beyond All Light was a lot about Zach Kerr’s history growing up and Peripeteia continues and completed that story. Peripeteia is kind of a prequel and sequel to Beyond All Light. It kind of all works together as one piece so now we feel like we have a pretty solid identity as a band. We have great core members and we’ve been doing some touring and promoting for this new record.

Photograph by: Emily May

IMS: Anagnorisis is Greek for discovery. Tell me a little more about how it was chosen.

ZD: Anagnorisis was actually chosen by the original lyricist and founding member, Austin Lunn. He started Anagnorisis as a solo thing then he moved to Louisville and wanted to form a band. It took a while for all of it to happen as far as the original writing of Anagnorisis. We as a band, even after Overton Trees, took a while to find our identity. Pre Overton Trees was even more kind of searching around for different influences and trying to put things together to form a cohesive band. So Austin came up with that name. And if you Google Anagnorisis, Peripeteia is often something that comes up as an inversion of Anagnorisis. It’s a literary term used frequently with Anagnorisis. We thought that since these terms were associated, we could integrate it into a theme and it actually worked really well.

IMS: Peripeteia and the band in general are very personal and emotional. How did the band choose to go this route when making music vs. something like lore?

ZD:We have talked a lot, especially in the years prior to Beyond All Light and Ghost of Our Fathers, about what the theme of our band would be. We have a very wide variety of influences like a lot of bands do. Are we going to talk about political topics? Are we going to talk about personal things? Are we going to talk about some type of fiction-based things? History? When it comes down to it, if we remove the lyrics the music should be passionate. If we’re writing passionate music then it would make sense to write passionate lyrics. And the question is, who is the vocalist and what does the vocalist want to sing about. What do they feel passionate about? Before Ghost of Our Fathers we had a different vocalist. They had different opinions of what they were passionate about so they would write lyrics based on a variety of things. And when we discovered that Zach Kerr was more than capable of doing vocals for us we had the discussion of, what are we going to sing about? What are we going to write about? And the thing that came natural was what is going to move him to write music. So there was a personal thing that was happening to him at the time and things that you encounter in life. There’s a lot of talk in black metal about true music. We’re atheist, we’re politically active, but the personal side of things hits us harder than all of that. And I think that is a little bit more important to us than writing about some sort of fictional, anti-religious sort of thing, talking about Satan or something. We don’t believe in the devil, we’re not going to talk about that. It’s not really going to do much for the world. I’m not sure that’s really going to move somebody. When people listen to our stuff, we want them to feel it as equally as we do. And I’m not sure if we could do that with lyrics about Satan or politics. It’s just something that came naturally to us. We want to keep things very real, very honest based on our beliefs and what we feel passionate about.

Photograph by: Emily May

IMS: I’ve heard that some or all of the recordings throughout the album are from Zach’s childhood. How did he find these recordings and what made you all add them into your music?

ZD: Yeah. Throughout Peripeteia you will hear a variety of different sound clips and the sound clips are basically from two sources. The primary source is from two cassette tapes that Zach Kerr’s mother found. They were from his childhood where his family would interview him and would record things on this little cassette tape. A little like home videos but audio form. We found these tapes and it started as a favor. I’m the audio guy for the band and he gave me tapes just to transfer into a digital format so he could listen to them and archive them. We listened to them and there was some really deep, heavy material and we thought it would be really cool to integrate this into the music. We grew up in that hardcore and metalcore scene and there was a lot of sample based stuff in that music whether it was from a movie, TV show, newscast or whatever. We thought, let’s put some of these sound clips into the material and not only will it sound cool but it will further legitimize the material that we’re talking about. There’s another source that sounds like it may be from a film but actually Zach Kerr’s dad had a radio voice as you can kind of hear on some of the clips. He was also a writer and there’s a clip from a science-fiction story that his dad narrated and we’ve used that for live performances. All of those clips are real. They’re all Zach, his dad or his mom. They’re all very honest, real events of the writer himself in the past at 4, 5, 6 and 7, responding to questions that his past is responding to now, if that makes sense. All of that is family archive.

IMS: What was the reason behind making “Disgust and Remorse” into two parts?

ZD: That requires a little bit of historical background to explain that. Ghost of Our Fathers was just 2 songs and we ran into an issue of how do we release it. An EP is normally 3-5 songs but its only 2 songs. A single is just 1 song. When we write, we have to think about the actual format it’s going to be released on. When we wrote Beyond All Light, I sat it up before we started writing so we could write for a record. A record has a certain amount of time. Well we pushed those time limits on Beyond All Light. Its about twenty minutes on both sides and that’s not typically ideal. So for Peripeteia we knew that we wanted a record that was full length and because of a variety of technical considerations we knew it was probably going to be a double LP so that’s how we wrote it. We actually, as a band, refer to Peripeteia as four pieces. Side A, B, C and D, just how it fits on a vinyl record. Side A is actually 3 tracks on the CD, which is “Transparent -,” “Disgust & Remorse, Pt I” and “Disgust & Remorse, Pt II.” The reason that those three tracks are three separate entities now is because if we release a digital format, how do we release it as a digital format? As one fourteen minute side? We could do that, but there would be some pretty obvious breaks for instance with “Transparent -.” So lets just put a track marker there so someone with a CD can go from track 1 to track 2. The other consideration is the lyrics. It’s a very designed record.

Photograph by: Matt Simpson

IMS: You’ve been on tour since the 3rd of November promoting Peripeteia. How’s the road been for you and what are you all looking forward to?

ZD: The goal of this tour is to play some of the places we have in the past. To keep some of those fires lit. We have friends in a lot of these cities, fans talking to us about wanting to play. We wanted to play in familiar cities with familiar venues and we’re playing with our friends Cryptic Hymn who have some connections as well. So they helped us out with booking. Our goal was to do a run this year while the record was still fresh and everything is going pretty well so far. We’re playing relatively smaller venues. The crowds every night seem to give a lot of compliments after the show, which is great. Even the crowds that aren’t very big still seem to be into it. People are really liking the record. After they’ve seen the live performance, from the comments that we’re getting, they seem to feel like the passion of the record translates live. That’s a big thing for us. We don’t want to be a band that’s just good on the record. We want to be a band that has good music whether that is live form or recorded form. And that seems to be happening.

Want to check out Anagnorisis? Click here to go to their website and here to follow them on Facebook.

Anagnorisis’ next Indy show will be Tuesday, November 15 at the Kuma’s Corner with Cryptic Hymn and Blood Chasm

Check out the event page here.

Show starts at 7 p.m.

Free / All-Ages

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