An Interview With NYC…
Deathrock Band ANASAZI
by Oliver Sheppard
Anasazi: A little bit Virgin Prunes and a strong helping of Southern Death Cult — add in liberal amounts of Christian Death, nuke it all in a microwave for a few minutes, and the finished result might look something like this New York City cult-punk-cum-deathrock outfit. The brainchild of urban warrior/poet/necromancer Chi Orengo, Anasazi’s discography (two 7-inch releases, two demo cassettes, and one split cassette with the band Survival) and song titles like “Horror at the Mass,” “Desecration,” “Bone Collector,” and “Mausoleum” tell the tale of Anasazi’s gloomier sonic inclinations. Recently I interviewed Chi about the band’s output and what inspires it.
NYC, of course, has been a natural hotbed of dark music since the days of Velvet Underground. Follow that lineage through to the late 70s punk and no wave scenes that produced everyone from The Cramps, to The Mad, to Lydia Lunch, to DNA, to Klaus Nomi, on through to the 80s NYC deathrock and goth scene that included bands like the Naked and the Dead, Of a Mesh, and Scarecrow (all ably documented in the excellent Dark New York compilation I reviewed earlier for CVLT Nation here), on through to current bands like Rosenkopf, and Anasazi doesn’t seem so out of place. Anasazi’s latest release is a 7-song demo on Inflammable Material.
Photo by Darryl Reid
Interview conducted by Oliver in July, 2013.
Oliver: Chi, let’s some get some basic information out of the way first for readers. How long has Anasazi been around, and who is currently in the band?
Chi: Well, Mr. Oliver, Ansazi was started in 2010 originally with the darkest rain storms and the howling of many trees. It was with myself, current geetarist, and creator Keegan and our friend Mikkey C. on bass, and Eddie from Psychic TV on drums. We jammmed awhile but that didn’t work out due to bears eating them in Jellystone Park.
2011 came around and we got new members. I got the talented Bread Barrely on drums, Jasper on bass, and Christian on synth — members of The Hunt. This began our journey. It was a perfect fit, like OJ’s glove. We started playing shows in summer 2011. Magic moons and whisps of violent ways were in hand, potions were boiled and 420 smoke in basements were in full effect. I KID! We recorded our self-titled demo in the famous weird night basement where the ghost of a lil’ girl roamed. Then Jasper and Christian passed on. RIP. Then the wonderful Haydne from Dream Affair stepped in on bass, then stepped off a ledge. Also RIP. Now we have the great Jess from Survival on bass, who is a delight and a awesome friend. AND DAT IS DE LINE UP NOW! (“SHHH” — MY MOM.)
Oliver: Did you choose the name of the band? I’m guessing it’s a reference to the Native American tribe. What made you choose this as the name for a dark music band?
Chi: Originally we had so many different names, but Keegan was like, “I got it!’Anasazi’!” And we were like, “Yooooo..werd…fukkkkk ..yeshhh.” Even though I found out later that there were other bands with that name, Anasazi defined our purpose, our REBELLION, our violent street image. It speaks in tongue to me in the shadows. In the time of what’s going on in NUKE YORK it’s appropriate to have this name with pilgrims coming into NY and taking the land away from the native people of today and destroying values, lifestyle, community, and culture, and drowning it in organic markets, condos, trustfund morals, moving the poor into sewer holes, and laughing all the way to brunch. This is a part of Anasazi — hate of gentrification and the whole idea of ripping neighborhoods to shreds with their pearly white teeth. SCALP THE PILGRIMS! FUCK THEIR ANCESTORS! Burn ’em alive.
Oliver: How would you describe your music? In songs like “I Saw the Witch Cry” (the demo version especially), it seems clear there is a Christian Death influence, and in fact your vocals sound pretty Rozz-esque to me. I know a lot of bands hate to categorize themselves, but where, in the big scheme of things, do you think your music fits?
Chi: “I Saw the Witch Cry” was a reflection of how everyday magazines, t.v. programs (MTV, FOX, the Whitehouse, NJ Housewives, Bad Girls Club, ahhahahah HHHAAAHA), shopping centers, fashion runways, etc., want you to look like fucking Barbie and Ken — plastic vile smiles of deceit and worship. Growing up in New York I always thought, “Who the fuck cares what ya look like as long as you got a good heart and know who you are?” Fuck the world. Be happy to be alive and cherish those around who love you. Love is the law. Christian Death is a big influence to me and it’s a compliment to even have anyone say you sound like Rozz, but I am no Rozz! I’m a criminal in punk clothes, ya feel me? RIP Rozz.
Oliver: What bands do you feel have influenced Anasazi’s sound, and what are your personal favorite bands?
Chi: Anasazi is influenced to write about our surroundings — a place we used to call home. And it’s a sad state of mind to know where I live — our friends, family, and loved ones — are being pushed out as we speak in this interview. Rotten condos, rotten cafes, hipster shit bars that punks indulge in… FUCK THAT, I DONT WANT IT. KEEP YOUR FILTHY TRUST FUND $$$. Perfect example: The twin towers are getting built over a grave sight, like expensive condos getting built over nuke york culture. The NYPD kill at will because they can. Politicians drown the working class and our country is ruled by the KKKlan. My anarchy was prompted by things like our fascist mayor Mike “Cunt” Bloomberg, who said in 2007 he’d like to clean up New York City so tourists felt like they were at Disneyland. DISNEYLAND? Ugh. (Insert vile diarrhea noise.) I’m getting sick just thinking of twisted minds who think like this. Humanity has died in this day and age and everyone is too involved in themselves to give a fuck.
My favorite music is hip hop, anarcho-freestyle-postpunk-reggae-metal-doowop! Hails. Little Richard is the king of rock and roll, but Anasazi is influenced by the Cro Mags, Misfits, Southern Death Cult, Siouxsie, Ritual, TSOL, Cursed, Part 1, AfriKa Bambataa, The Damned, Depeche Mode, James Brown, Tozibabe, Vex, Discharge, Rudimentary Peni, Hysteria, Shabba Ranks, Coro, G.I.S.M, BIGGIE SMALLS, Sisters of Mercy, etc. Aaaaaagghhhhhh!!
Oliver: You mentioned you’re a horror fan and go to a lot of horror conventions. What are some of your fave horror movies and do you feel these have influenced Anasazi in any way? Also, who are the coolest people you have met at horror cons….?
Chi: I luvvvv, am obsessed with, luvvv horror /cult/gang/nunsploitation/Giallo films like Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Dolls, Basket Case, Terror on Tour, Suburbia, Class of 1984, Reform School Girls, 80 Blocks from Tiffanys, Enemy Territory, The Exterminator, The Prowler, Street Trash, Toxic Avenger, Frankenhooker, The warriors, School of the Holy Beast, House by the Cemetery, Eraserhead, Buried Alive, The Burning, Phantasm, Return of the Blind Dead, Microwave Massacre, Brain Damage, Last Dragon, Miami Connections, Sleepaway Camp, Bloodfeast, Black Devil Doll from Hell, Night of a 1,000 Cats, Psycho Cop, Drive-in Massacre, Mardi Gras Massacre, Never Too Young to Die, Monster Squad, Night of the Creeps, CB4, Return of the Living Dead, Garbage Pail Kids, Cop Killer, Maniac, Driller Killer, Halloween 3, Evil Dead, Pink Flamingos, Cannibal Holocaust, Ilsa: The She-Wolf of the SS, Killer Nun, 555, Frightmare, The Exorcist, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Blood Diner, Bloodsucking Pharaoh in Pittsburgh, 3 15, MOMENT OF TRUTH, Henry, Beetlejuice, and of course Coming to America.
With horror conventions that I like to go to like a gore-whore, I have had the pleasure of meeting, arguing, eating with, smoking with, (annoying?) these folks: Ruggero Deodato, Angus Scrimm, Lamberto Bava, Linnea Quiggley, Kane Hodder, Gunner Hansen, Robert Englund, Cassandra Petterson, Tom Savini, Linda Blair, Tom Atkins, Kyra Schon, Michael Baldwin, John Kassir, John Carpenter, George A. Romero, Miguel Nunez, Jr. I got some stories about hanging with that crook — just kidding. Juwanna Man. RIP Bill Hinzman — you will be missed, #1 ghoul.
Oliver: It seems like we have a common friend — Chelsea, who I think was a roommate of yours! Hah. She’s a big Rudimentary Peni fan, as I assume you are, too (and as am I). So you come from a punk background, obviously. How do other punks treat the music you guys make? Is it too wimpy, slow, etc., for them, or have they been receptive?
Chi: CHELSEA — Haha! Ask her about her Bushwick Church Tale. I am a fan of Rudimentary Peni. Anasazi’s music I see as a violent seance on stage. Cult Punks and Sewer Witches are a part of our altar when we perform. It’s always a “hex on the system,” you feel me? Attic Noise is a seance for the people to free themselves with black mass trance.
Oliver: Do you think darker bands like The Spectres, Lost Tribe, etc., are just a “trend” in the punk scene now, and if so, is that a bad thing? Why do you think punks are turning to the darker variants of punk and postpunk that are out there?
Chi: No trend, just a graduated style for an oppressed and oppressive country that lives off war. The darker the better.
Oliver: One of my fave questions to ask: If you were stranded on a desert island and somehow had a functioning record player, and you would be there alone for the rest of your life, what 5 LPs would you take with you, and why?
Chi: Oh fuck, that’s hard. (That’s what she said.)
Last Dragon soundtrack, Punk and Disorderly #2, Subhumans’ “The Day the Country Died,” Siouxsie and the Banshees “The Best of.” Haha — and, of course, the Misfits! RIP Phil pp boi.
Oliver: What label is Anasazi on now and what labels have you been on in the past? Have you all toured much?
Chi: Toxic State is my fam and Burn Books helps us distribute our stuff (cult punk shaman and my main main Alex Heir). Attic Noise, our second 7 3/4″, was put out on Sacred Bones (which I dont have my copies of, hmmm….). This is where I give all my shoutouts to my people: Death/Traitors, Toxic State fam, Survival, Bed-Stuy handball players, Queens graffitti, ZV crew, NFS, Z the Poet, La Casa de Mold, ghetto goth kids, Wednesday domino heads, “bodegas,” IDS, Jersery Punks, Ray Kelley suck a dick, RIP Phil, RIP Policia. Mayor Mike Bloomberg, I wanna vomit on you. I love you JTA. I love all my Asian punk friends (and black — I don’t discriminate). Nuke the condos.
Oliver: Chi, what are your fave serial killers, politics, weapons and gangs, music, porn, food, eyeliner, styles of dancing, and cult movies?
Chi: Richard Ramirez, RIP. Jr/Sr George Bush — cunt. Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. Charlie Don’t Surf, John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, Ronald Reagan — cunt, Ed Gein. Nunchucks, ninja star, pink tasers, all knives, and AK47s. Black and Puerto Ricans — mad luvv to my New York nukkas! Goth dancing on A, Pyramid Club! Getting tattoed at Funcity. MAC eyeliner if you could steal it. Cult life. And weed. I love food. Pickles, Reese’s Pieces, ET, Butterfingers, Rice Dream milk and tacos.
Oliver: Have you gone around requesting Youtube uploaders not upload some studio versions of songs? I seem to recall some demos being on Youtube (like the excellent demo version of “I Saw the Witch Cry”) that are no longer there? What happened to these?
Chi: No. Really, they got people like that? [Yes, yes, they do! 🙁 — Oliver] That, I have no clue. Like I said, my computer is my phone. But I’m all about free music. Steal it, bootleg it — just give me a cut, kid! I gotta eat! Yum.
Oliver: What are the upcoming plans for Anasazi? Are you guys working on a new EP or LP or any new material right now? New tours, etc.?
Chi: Upcumming: We’re working on the West Coast for August, maybe Hong Kong, Egypt…. Oh yeah, just came back from Canada. Maybe Iraq? Free Iraq!
Oliver: What’s the best website for folks to go listen to or learn about Anasazi?
Chi: Your mind…
Oliver: Thanks, Chi!
Anasazi have no official website or Facebook (although Chi is on Facebook if you look for him hard enough….). The closest thing to an official web presence the band has is their page at the Sacred Bones website: http://www.sacredbonesrecords.com/releases/sbr081/
The Anasazi Discogs page is also helpful: http://www.discogs.com/artist/Anasazi+%283%29