Article By: Sara Liberte
Originally Published In The September 2012 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
When I heard AnAkA was doing an acoustic session album I was totally intrigued; I couldn’t wait to check it out. I mean, these guys are a pretty heavy band and hopefully you have had a chance to see them out since we wrote about them here in Full Throttle Rock last year. This Brooklyn powerhouse features brothers Peter Pallis on guitar and Jimmy Pallis who sings lead vocals, Karl Andreassen on bass guitar, Tony Heredia is on drums, and newest member, Matt Bene, also plays guitar. You may recall hearing some of their music as we feature a lot of their tracks on our video site, www.rallytvonline.com. Since doing so, we have had a flood of comments about soundtracks of the videos, inquiries W about the band and where they can check AnAkA out live. We used their song Erase for coverage of the Cycle Source 15th anniversary party in Brooklyn. This song’s music video exploded onto the mass media scene upon its release, topped the charts on MTV, received hundreds of thousands of views worldwide on Music Choice Video on Demand, VH1, Spike TV etc. Their album, The Glorified Crusade, which featured Erase, along with other killer tracks, hit #18 on the FM Metal radio charts. Last weekend, I was able to spend some time on the phone with Peter Pallis, founding member of the band. He filled me in on what AnAkA has been doing and what is lined-up next for them.
Peter told me, “We recently released, Into the Great Unknown, our brand new acoustic sessions’ album which features acoustic guitars, rare percussion instruments and drums, acoustic bass, violins, strings and piano. It was such an amazing experience writing, recording, and reveling in the unknown on this musical journey. “From the very beginning we knew we really had something special. We had the foundations of some really strong tunes ready to go; songs that I had been writing throughout the years and along the way. We even had a song I wrote a couple weeks previous to walking into the studio. It was just so freeing going into this project and doing things in a totally different way than we have ever done before. It was refreshing, and at the same time it was incredibly inspiring knowing we could tread down any musical path of our choice, understand how to make it all work, and bring it all together.
“I remember our producer Jerry Farley turning to me with an adventurous look in his eyes and saying, ‘Let’s do this,’ after we had recorded the first acoustic song on an inspired whim while working on the remix process and re-release of our first album, Down Devil’s Road. ‘Wow, let’s do more of these!’ Jerry said. ‘I think we really have something great happening here.’ We all knew it as well after the first song came to be; there was just no stopping us. Before you knew it, we had a whole new album in the works. “There were no parameters and we really enjoyed being furiously inventive with this album. If a song called for piano, we just went for it. If it called for strings, we put in the time, wrote the parts on the spot, and pushed straight forward from there. Jimmy’s vocal harmonies really came together naturally and he had an amazing time recording them. For me, recording guitars and working through all the different playing styles was literally spiritual. It was really cool watching Tony find the pocket for his drum work, and I could tell Karl had a blast finally recording the acoustic record he and I always talked about creating one day down the road.
“We just shrugged off the idea of any type of limitation. There was no fear. You only get to storm across this world one time in this great life. For AnAkA, it’s all about putting forth the gift; putting forth your greatest efforts each and every time. Anyone who has a soul will get where we are coming from on this acoustic sessions’ album. I mean, the process was so inventive and natural that at the end of the track Cast Your Stones, right as the song turns to an almost metal Conan the Barbarian like vibe, I actually pounded my chest into a microphone continuing the beat until the song ends. I didn’t hold back, it was so powerful delivering a bass drumlike tone by literally pounding my chest like a Spartan warrior. I loved it; it was intense and guttural and it just had to be there, not to mention how it really slammed home the enduring message of the song’s lyrics.
“The coolest part about it was that at the same time as we were recording this album, we were also writing new material for our next heavy album at rehearsals between recording sessions. It was a massive experience, and the new tunes are some of the heaviest songs we have ever written. It was a challenge, and maybe one of the most underrated things we have ever done as a band. I mean, to strip it all down and create the acoustic sessions’ record, and during the same time period to turn around and create new monstrously heavy AnAkA songs, was awe inspiring for us to say the least. To be honest, at the time we really didn’t give any thought to the task we had undertaken. We just did what came natural, we made music, we put the work in, and we did it our way.” Now, this is what I was interested in. There is nothing I enjoy more than combining ideas from the opposite ends of the spectrum, so when Peter was talking about this process of heavy and acoustic happening at the same time, I was all ears. Peter added, “There is nothing like challenging yourself in life, making things unsafe and then conquering them and imposing your will. It was great, and we just went for it. It was seamless and it was powerful, knowing that we had the foresight to guide our own destinies musically, and had ability to do so in two totally separate musical realms all at once.
“Looking back, it makes me proud to know that we went to those inventive places during that creative time. It gives us even more pride coming to this realization now, after the fact, and realizing that this whole process was not preconceived. We just did the work and the reward followed. The writing process was so pure, we just let the songs manifest. We’re not the type of band that thinks about writing a heavy or a slow song. We let the songs become what they were destined to be.” I asked Peter to tell me more about the heavy tunes they were working on. He explained, “Like I said, it’s heavier than anything we’ve ever done before and we love it. We are still in the writing process right now, but we are getting closer and closer to finishing up the songs and hitting the studio. It is not a process that we have ever rushed. You really can’t do that. We let the songs find their own breath, their own life, and we just supply the heartbeat and the muscle. “It is also awesome having our newest band mate killing it on guitar. Matt Bene has been such a great addition to AnAkA. His guitar playing is so unique: his take on the new songs, his passion for music, and his ripping guitar solos are really going to take the world by storm. The guy just fits right into the mix and he has made our live shows even more powerful, which is saying a lot. It has been great performing the new stuff with him. We are so into these new heavy songs that once we finish a song, we play it live right away. These tunes are crushing live. They are just brutal, and they make the live crowds step up the intensity levels.”
We ended the interview by talking about the big live shows they have coming up in New York City headlining Gramercy Theater on July 20th and other big venues in the fall. Peter stated, “We love playing live and feeding off the energy of the crowd and sending it right back at them. It is an electrifying exchange. We call our supporters the “AnAkA Army” and our army is getting bigger every moment, and every second. The live stage is our battleground. There is nothing like going out there and making the venue shake. We live for it, we embrace it, and we understand what a rare and wondrous gift it truly is. A gift attained through hard work, by never taking the easy road, never taking a short cut, never listening to the naysayers, or asking for a handout. We are building our kingdom brick by brick, year by year, song by everlasting song. Living in the prime and the glory of the righteous beast we have created. We are AnAkA. It’s just that simple.” Into the Great Unknown (The Acoustic Sessions) is available now on iTunes and CDbaby.