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Unbeaten and Unbroken. The Story behind NYC Metal Band of Color Anahata

How did you guys get together? CL: I currently had Anahata as a band and project before I had actually met Marvin and Chris. We played shows and released music but when the lineup started to break down and lose members, I came across Marvin, who saw Anahata before we ever hung out, at the same club as me in our school, Queensborough Community College. We jammed together and it was shocking, we were compatible musically before even 10 mins of playing. So after some time passed and my guitar player left the band, I called Marvin and asked if he wanted to join, and asked him to send me a video of him playing a song. He sent it after an hour and I was floored. He played every note right… in the wrong places, but I was like “How did he do it like that. He played the whole thing by ear. Awesome”. So he nailed it and since then he has been in the band.

Chris was contacted through the grapevine by our ex member Brian, to join the band once he recovered from a car accident that messed up his legs (hopefully that is how it happened and I’m not telling the story wrong). We met up with him after some time passed after his recover and he auditioned for drums. He played awesomely, some fills and parts were off, but what really had me captivated was that he didn’t give up, and the energy we felt while playing the songs with him felt amazing. It was like being wrong didn’t matter, and that the chemistry exceeds all concerns. He’s into a lot of prog and death metal, and that was cool considering him being in a different style of music compared to myself and Marvin, who are also into that style of music, but it was great knowing we brought something new to the table joining the band. So he then also nailed his audition.

MT: I met Chris in college, and we ended up having this crazy spontaneous jam session in our music club. I was a fan of the band at the time, and when my band split he called me up and asked me to join – and the rest is history!

CC: Back in July of 2014, I was at a mutual friends Birthday party where I ended up meeting our bassist at the time, Brian M Doran. We spoke about our music tastes and got really into it once we started talking about our instrument. When Brian found out I was a drummer, he quickly asked me if I would be interested in trying out for ANAHATA, and of course I said sure! Fast forward to the end of August, I get a message from Christopher Leyba, he asks me very serious and formal questions such as, how long have you played drums, what kind of music makes you cry?, do you put pineapple on pizza? Stuff like that. He also asked me to come meet with them for a try out. When I met up with them, it was only Christopher and Marvin for majority of the session. We had a nice little jam session to warm up, and from that point we instantly clicked. It honestly felt like we’ve been playing as a band for a few years already. At that point I knew I wanted to be apart of this group, and the rest of ANAHATA was on the same page.

What’s the meaning behind your band/stage name? CL: The word “Anahata” means a couple of things. It means unbroken, or unbeaten, but it also is the fourth chakra, being the heart chakra. Ideally we go by the word definition instead of the heart chakra one. I wanted something that was strong and meant something that represents something that will stand the test of time, never destroying itself and always thriving.

MT: Directly, Anahata means warmth. But I think our band means understanding to a lot of people. A lot of people aren’t okay with vulnerability and aren’t okay with dealing with things in their lives or themselves , and I think that not only do we provide some kind of escape for those people, but we provide that outlet that lets them know that it’s okay to feel those confusing feelings and that it’s a part of life. We’re an intense band, so I think it fits.

CC: In my own words and experience in the band, its mean being able to overcome seemingly impossible challenges with the help from the right people in your life. Everyone goes through their own struggles in life, so having a solid support system of people that are trustworthy makes it so much easier to cope and deal with these struggles.

Who are some of your Influences? CL: I’ve grown up and have been influenced by a lot of styles of music, when I was younger, I was an R&B, Pop and Soul head and also listened to Motown Records artists, Michael Jackson, Jackson 5, really throwback “family reunion” type music. Then when I got in my tweens, I was listening to Metal, Punk, and Emo Pop-Punk. Bands like Metallica, Bullet for my valentine, Dir en grey, the Gazette, The Used, Taking Back Sunday. Then as I got into my local scene and started going to shows in my area, I then got into Hardcore, Post-Hardcore, Metalcore and Deathcore, and they all play a part in the way the music goes and how Anahata can transform in the future of our music writing. We sound a certain way now, but that isn’t going to stay that sound for too long. Things can go either way honestly.

MT: I grew up listening to tons of music, and a lot has effected how I see music as a whole – from hip hop to jazz and blues and classic rock. Reggae even. However, Bands like My chemical romance had a massive impact on me. I also look up to a lot of bands from japan. Bands like Maximum the hormone, X Japan, the Gazette and Dir en grey are massive for me.
4. I heard about Punk Black through Instagram. We were asked to play one of their showcases and it was an amazing time – everyone was so nice and the room had so much good energy inside of it, I loved it so much.

CC: Throughout my life, before and during my life as a musician, music has definitely shaped my entire being. The biggest influence for me has to be the band Staind. Listening to their music from a very young age truly helped me cope with a lot of my issues that I went through and still going through to this day really to learn that music is a powerful tool with being able to control or at the very least understand many of the emotions and thoughts that go through your mind. My other biggest influence hands down has to be the band Gojira, and more specifically Mario Duplantier, drummer for Gojira. With Gojira, same with Staind, I’ve been listening to them from a young age, and again, majority of my influence comes from the emotion each member puts into their playing and performance in the band. With Mario Duplantier, watching videos and listening to his drumming helped shape how I want to be as a drummer. Not to be exactly like him, but to have the same passion, energy, emotion, and power behind the kit.

What do you think of your area’s POC Rock scene? CL: I love that there is so many POC in the underground music scene, it feels normal, as it should be. It’s very unified, for all these walks of life to come together for the music and for the culture. I’ll not be the first to say it, we need more of us. There is still a stigma in POC and rock and how to other’s on the outside, it’s still labeled “white people music”. No one really understands the style of music is a concept and is a way that we can get our voices heard. Music still spreads awareness, and for guys like us to be pushing to have our voices heard, just to be seen as having the same struggles as so many others, it feels great working towards something and bringing others out to relate to us. I can’t wait for the future for more POC and a more unified front and bring more people together for the music.

MT: It makes me incredibly happy to say that our local scene is incredibly diverse. People from all walks of life come to shows, form bands and perform, and are climbing. I think there’s an incredible strength in that. You can go go shows and see people who look like you play music you like or share that interest and a lot of people DON’T see that. Being black is beautiful and every day we’re changing that narrative of how people expect us to be, and breaking those barriers of where people want to put us as people of color.

What are some of your favorite venues to play in your hometown? CL: We have played at a lot of venues, some aren’t even open anymore and it sucks that more venues are closing more than the shows that happen every night. Some of my favorite venues to play are definitely the Kingsland, Gold sounds, Gramercy theater, and Lucky 13 Saloon. Also, since Brooklyn Bazaar is also having it’s last shows, I want to have it as an honorable mention, we played there on the lower level and it was so cool, definitely hope to cross paths with them again.

MT: The Kingsland has always treated us well, and it’s one of my favorite spots to go. It’s amazing to see how far that place has come. So has lucky 13. One of our craziest shows earlier this year was there and it was probably the most fun I’ve ever had. There’s also knitting and Gramercy, but Lucky 13 is probably mine the more I think about it, just because of that memory.

CC: These two venues are basically home base for us, we’ve been consistently playing at these venues for the past almost 2 years now and it always ends up being a great wholesome time. But my personal favorite venue to play at is Gramercy Theater, the two times we played there, we felt and sounded like a national touring band. Playing on that huge stage, the great lighting and sound, and the crowd that came out to see us was so humbling both times. I honestly can’t wait to play there again.

What brands of equipment do you prefer to use? CL: Definitely Shure Mics, and Digital Reference Mics, and Focuscrite and Mackie have been holding us down for the longest time and I’m grateful for that. We recorded the Abhorrence Album with Ernie Ball Strings and we used a Mitchell Guitar for the sound.

MT: I use a lot of line 6 things! Mainly my POD HD 500. However I really love how Blackstar Amps sound, and I really love Orange Cabs, so one day, right? Guitars are all over the place. My Mitchell MD300 has been incredibly reliable for live performances, and I also use my Ibanez a lot as well.

CC: For Shells, I’ve been a Tama guy for 10 years now, I tried switching it up, but I just really love the sound and feel of playing a Tama drum set. Preferably a 5 piece kit. Pedals, same thing, I love using my Tama Speed cobras because I get the precision, speed, and power that I need when I need it unlike direct drive pedals. Hardware, I stick with DW9000 stands because I hit so damn hard that I need stands that aren’t gonna bend, loosen, or walk away from me while I am playing. Drum skins, Evans, I’ve only used Evans and I’m not gonna swap ever. Lastly cymbals, I’m all over the place with my current set up, but I love Zildjian cymbals and when I am ready to upgrade my set up again, I am going all Zildjian.

What’s your favorite song to perform? CL: Favorite song is definitely “Small”. It’s got a lot of energy and I catch myself having almost too much fun when we play it.

MT: This is tough. Every song has an amazing quality to it. Small is so much fun, and I get so hype playing that song live. The solo in there is special to me because I had to fight that fear of playing leads in order to write that. Seed is a very special song to me, But the room always erupts for Beakmouth. I’ve got to pass on this one.

CC: It’s bit of a toss up between Empty and Small, but If I had to pick it would be Small because of the way the song starts. Right as the song starts, you just have the synths and the drums building up until the full band comes in, and this happened both time at Gramercy, right as everyone jumped it, the lights were shining bright on us, and the way the guitars, vocals, drums, and sounds come together, the song sounds so incredibly huge live. It makes me feel like we are a bigger band than we are at the moment, it’s almost like a foreshadow to what we will be doing later down the line.

Who are some of your favorite local artists? CL: We have come across so many bands and have made so many connections over time and our life as a band. I can’t seem to come up with a list on first thoughts alone but favorite local band would be The Hearkening, Attempted Revenge, and Bedlam Barrio, to name a few.

MT: Function, The Machinist, Vendetta, Daly’s gone wrong – there’s a ton of others but please dig into those and see what you Iike!

CC: Moonfall was the first local band I met once I joined ANAHATA and they have been one of my favorite bands ever since. They consist of some of the most talented musicians New York has to offer and they have pulled some of the biggest moves in the local scene with the quality of their music and music videos, and even going all out with the last headliner with a crazy light show, videos playing on dual monitors, and having a live crew assisting with some of the performance.

What advice would you have for new and up and coming local bands? CL: Don’t give up, no matter what numbers you see, no matter what anyone tells you, push harder. People will let you down, you will lose friends, you will fight family, and you may get discouraged and think no one cares about you or your music, but the truth is that those people are not the ones that define you. There’s about 7 billion people in the world, have you shown them your music yet aside from these 15 people who can’t give you the feedback you are looking for? If not, don’t stop. Don’t think you’re good enough? Good, get to practicing, Don’t stop. Don’t think you will find connections? Talk to people, make connections, who you know now could be someone who knows remembers you when they are looking for a band or an artist, you never know if you don’t open your mouth. Tell people you have a band, do not keep your music a secret. Only way to find out is to keep going. No one can change your mind about giving up except you. The number can only get bigger as long as you push. And Don’t forget to be yourself, so many people lose themselves trying to be accepted, in an industry that only awards people who stand out. It is better to be you, than imitating someone you saw in the last music video you watched. Stay true to yourself.

MT: Play to metronome. Work on live performances, practice your technique until you can play your songs in your sleep. Organization is key, working as a team is key, and most importantly, have fun. You’ll have a lot of doubters, but the music is what’s going to silence them. Believe in your craft and believe in your skills no matter where you are.

CC: the biggest thing is to have fun, performing live with a band should always be fun and enjoyable. You also need to develop your craft as a musician, practicing your techniques, practice everything to a metronome, and developing you stage performance. And lastly you need to work together as a team with your band mates, you are a unit. You only need one person to bring down the band, and you need everyone to keep pushing the band forward.

Any Upcoming projects? CL: We currently have new demos, and hope to bring them out to you guys in the future. The writing is getting bigger and tackling a new introspective level. Don’t want to spoil anything, but it will definitely have more of a “song-iness” to them.

MT: We’re always cooking honestly. But in time! We’ve got a lot of plans that we can’t wait to put into action.

CC: Yes? Maybe? I don’t know, We are doing things, that is all I know

Is there anything you want your fans(and new fans!) to know? CL: We released our Music Video for our song “Breathe / Bleed” so please check that out. Check out our album “Abhorrence”. More Videos. More music. We hope to bring a lot to the people that are down with us and to have a platform for new fans to check us out.

MT: Everyone who took the time out to check us out – Thank you! It really does mean the world to us.

CC: We love you, we really appreciate all the support we get, and we home to meet more of you when we start traveling the states

 

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