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"Thanks to everyone who supported us and helped make the last couple of years so memorable. The reunion shows/festivals were great and it was awesome to have the opportunity to play for you again.” It were just a few lines which Anacrusis posted on their website early 2013, but they left quite a mark with me. Anacrusis is a band that has always left a huge impression on me and I'd have loved to see them live again, but that was no longer possible. During the year, however, it quickly became clear that Kenn Nardi was still creating songs. Recently (February 2014) he put four samples (each of more than ten minutes) on YouTube to give an impression of the music that will appear on the new album. I contacted Kenn and he offers you an open look into the album that is coming up: 'Dancing With The Past'.

By: Patrick | Archive under speed / thrash metal

For the past years Anacrusis has played several shows (such as KIT, 70000 Tons Of Metal, Alcatraz, Rock Hard). February 2013 it was made known that the band are taking ‘an indefinite break from playing or any other band activities’. Where did the break come from? Are the other members no longer interested in continuing? Was the reunion not what you all had expected from it?
Just the opposite, actually. We reunited in 2009 after being invited to play at the Keep it True Festival in Germany the following year. Out original intent was only to play a single show for our hometown fans and then to play the KIT show. However, the reaction from fans and others in the metal scene was so overwhelmingly positive, we decided it would be a waste for use to spend an entire year re-learning material and rehearsing for the two shows if our fans really wanted to hear and see more. Based on the success of our KIT performance, we were immediately invited to do a few more shows. Our founding guitarist Kevin was not interested though, as he is very busy with his full-time cover band, so the rest of us decided to get a friend to fill in on guitar and the following year we played Germany’s Rock Hard Festival, Belgium’s Alcatraz Festival and finally the 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise. It was great to get these opportunities and did not want to pass up on playing a few more times. Eventually, the burden of traveling and doing these types of appearances became too much for us due to other commitments and responsibilities, so after the 70,000 Tons Cruise we decided that was enough.

What is your motivation to keep going? I mean: continuing all by yourself, without any help from others, is a very different task than doing it with all others?
In some ways it is more difficult and in others it is easier. During the reunion shows we were constantly asked if there would be any new Anacrusis music. Our drummer Mike and I would often show up to rehearsals earlier than the other guys and just mess around with new ideas together. I had written several new songs and lots and lots of new riffs and pieces of music, so I knew the possibility of creating something for our fans was there. I began putting together ideas for a new album using some of my older songs that I had planned to update in a style closer to Anacrusis and combine them with new songs in order to bridge that gap between the last Anacrusis album and something that would be done nearly twenty years after. I had already begun recording demos for many new songs when I realized I wanted to do something very special and not just a typical “band gets back together” album. The amount of material I had written and the number of fresh ideas that I had in mind dictated that this would have to be a double album.

I had also asked for musical contributions from out bassist John and drummer Mike. John had always contributed pieces of music here and there and was also responsible for a good number of lyrics on the old albums. Mike, who also plays guitar and dabbles in home recording also had some good ideas that I thought I could incorporate into this new material. Even though I had always written the majority of the Anacrusis material and arranged virtually all of that material, I wanted it to feel like a “band” album and not just a solo project with members playing my songs.

For whatever reason, they just never really presented anything to me. Over the many months of rehearsals and discussion about the new material I would often give them recording I had made in hoped that they would learn what I had recorded and then put a bit of their own personality to them. This was often the way it was done in the past. Unfortunately, their interest either in the material or in my “vision” seemed less than enthusiastic. Maybe they felt that I was doing “too much”, I don’t know, but it was no different than the way the band had always written and recorded in the past particularly on the last two Anacrusis albums. I was gushing with new creative ideas and I just couldn’t get any real cooperation. Maybe the responsibilities of normal life and working just got in the way for them or maybe they just couldn’t see beyond some of the rough ideas I had to understand the way these songs could all come together to create something that would not only satisfy our old fans, but also bring some new and fresh ideas to the Anacrusis sound.

Either way, eventually it became clear that we were getting nowhere and I so I decided to simply record the album myself. I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do and just don’t have the time or patience to convince anyone else to get on-board with me. Though Mike contributed some great drum parts in many of the songs, virtually everything else was “my” music anyhow. I would record the bass parts and then try to get John to learn them and record them, but after a while it just pointless. Why write and record everything and then have someone else simply copy what was already done? My writing has developed over the years to the point where I envision the entire song in my head as I write it. They are not rough ideas that I want or need anyone to come in and complete. If someone doesn’t want to play what I feel the song needs, then there is nothing I can do about that. I also completely understand why someone might not want to. That is their choice and I respect it, but in the end when it comes to my music, I answer only to myself and am not a fan of compromise. Collaboration can be a great thing, but it is not the way I work best and there was just reason for me to change my focus.

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Recently you have made four teasers - each one longer than ten minutes - available. In those four teasers 28 tracks come by. It seems that it is more than sufficient for at least two, maybe even three releases. Are you going to use all 28 tracks for a future release or will you make a selection?
All 28 songs will be on the album. It completely fills 2 CDs and has a running time of nearly 160 minutes. I have said from my very first announcements about the album that it would be nearly 30 songs and I knew exactly which ideas I wanted to include whether they had been written at that time or not. There are also many more ideas that I have not used and could easily write another 12 song album just using them, but I feel with this group of songs I have said what I wanted to say lyrically and musically.

I don’t like to simply do what people would expect. I wanted this album to be special, whether the band and I recorded it together or not. I wanted to give Anacrusis fans what they have wanted and waited for and much more. Judging by the reaction so far from the samples I have posted I believe I will achieve this. There is no way to please everyone, but I believe this music will find a home with old and new fans alike. There are the familiar Anacrusis trademarks along with some very new twists, though nothing is out of place at least in my mind. I care very much about the music I make and the fans that connect with it.

Can you say that the new material sound wise leans towards Anacrusis, is it more close to your solo material with Cruel April or is it more of a mix of both?
It definitely was intended to be Anacrusis music from the beginning, though there are some elements of the Cruel April songs here and there. However, the same could be said for Cruel April in that there were certainly elements of Anacrusis sprinkled throughout those songs as well. I guess you would say those are “Kenn Nardi” elements and not so much “Anacrusis” though.

The whole process of writing the Cruel April material was a great learning experience for me. I had no boundaries and no expectations and just allowed songs and melodies to flow. I believe some of that made this material much better than it would have been had I not recorded the Cruel April songs. They are however very far apart from each other style-wise, but with the new album I believe the songs are built on much better foundations than in the past. I used to write riffs and try to cram a song in between them, but now I have written songs and dressed them up with heavy drums and guitars and that is the biggest difference.

Between all the new songs I noticed ‘A Little Light', a song we know from your solo project Cruel April. Why have you chosen to add this specific track? Is this track extra special to you? If so, for what reason?
This was the one track that I felt might have been able to fit among Anacrusis songs. Lyrically and musically it is much darker than the other Cruel April material. Many old fans expressed their love for that song in particular, so I decided to run it through the Anacrusis “filter” you might say to make it work with this new album. It is a very different kind of song for me and like so many others brings one more dimension to the album as a whole.

The downside of a one-man project can be that you cannot see through your own vision if or where improvement is needed. Have you ensured that you got feedback on your music and how and by whom was that feedback provided? Or is feedback something you've just tried to avoid because you wanted this album to be something completely done by yourself?
Even in the past, Anacrusis was always very much “one man’s vision” musically speaking. Of course everyone contributed their ideas too, but I was always the one who brought it all together to create our unique style. The guys always trusted me enough not to question that most of the time and even though we all did our parts to make Anacrusis what it was, they allowed me to steer the musical ship almost from the very beginning. I just always arranged everything, from the songs to the order they would appear in on the album. Even when we recorded “I Love the World” I really never asked the other guys first. I arranged it for the band, recorded a demo and played it for them saying “I want to cover this New Model Army” song. Luckily they liked it and it became one of our most popular songs.

I learned a long time ago that when all is said and done, the only person that has to be happy with the music I make is me. I am not trying to chase the rock star dreams I had as a teenager, I am not going to make a million dollars and so I must love what I do musically. I must be proud of it because there is always the possibility that no one else will like it and then what is left? On the other hand, when people do connect with it, it is a very special bond because it is so personal to me and to them.

I could make a very long list of songs that friends and family members have said I shouldn’t include or that weren’t as good as the others, but sometimes, these are older songs I’ve had and they were unable to see past their own familiarity with them. They are fresh to them and they cannot hear them with “new ears”. Or they could not picture them “fitting” with the newer songs. Then, after posting the samples, I have people commenting and often those songs are their favourites. I have to trust myself and my own judgment. Maybe I am not always right, but I can live with that if it is my own decision. I do not want to regret someone else’s mistakes. Anyone who creates is an artist, and just like a painter works alone without four brushes working against each other, sometimes a songwriter has to do the same. If a band is working together it is a great thing, but when it is not it can really drag everything down to the point of atrophy. I began to feel that and did not want this project to die and in order to keep it alive I had to do it alone.

Which things inspire you in your lyrics? Do you get inspiration from personal life, books, faith, movies, nature, politics? Could you elaborate on the this?
Mostly just life. We are all spiritual and political on some level and that plays a big role too, but generally I just try to capture certain universal emotions or experiences that certain people are able to identify with. On this new album there are some very political songs and some pretty spiritual topics as well and mixed in with that, are songs about the things I deal with or have dealt with over the years. We are a lot more alike than we are different in the end and I’ve found that even if a listener or fan disagrees with your point of view, they will generally respect it if it comes from the heart. Personally I have always been very conservative, which is somewhat unusual for this type of music, but it has never been a problem for me musically. I was not a Christian back in the ‘80s and ‘90s as I am now, but I make no secret of that. My faith is extremely important to me and something that makes me who I am just like anyone else’s beliefs (or no religious beliefs at all). Some of that comes through in a few of these songs, but it is just one part of the puzzle when you look at the big picture...

The first working title for the new album was ‘Parallax Error’, which you have changed to ‘Dancing With The Past’. What made you decide to change the working title? What do you want to express with this title?
‘Parallax Error’ was a term I became familiar with during the recording of ‘Manic Impressions’ and something that I always liked as a concept and a title. I had considered using it for ‘Scream and Whispers’ at one point. When we began work on this album, I thought it would make a great album title, but it after it had become a major hindrance in capturing something meaningful for the artwork and layout, I knew I needed to move on with something else.

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There is a song on the album called “Dancing With the Past” and is about clinging to these “dead” things even when there is no benefit to ourselves in doing so and even to the point that they keep us from “living” like we should. The idea of dancing with a partner, whether that is literal or in this case a metaphor for relationships is a two-way arrangement, which requires give and take. Both parties have a role to play in order for it to be productive and fulfilling. Often we find ourselves clinging to something and giving ourselves over to something that is no longer what it once was and getting nothing back in return. We are, in essence, dancing with a corpse, which becomes like dragging this burden around in a mock ritual because we cannot move on. In a larger sense, that is what I was doing with Anacrusis. I was trying to prop up a band that had not really existed for almost two decades. Even during the reunion we were merely playing our old roles and performing this music from our past. That was fine, but when I tried to make this dead band alive again creatively speaking, it became apparent that it was just not ever going to be the relationship it once was. I had to let go of that and let this music come naturally rather than forcing an unwilling partner to dance this new dance with me, so to speak. It cannot be done and only becomes a millstone around your neck if you allow it to. I thought that this title and concept were a much better fit for what this project had become.

How are you going to release the album? As a solo album or will it be under the name Anacrusis?
This goes back to the last question. In my heart, I would rather not call this an “Anacrusis” album even though it will be virtually the same album I had intended to make with John and Mike. Anacrusis was never about “one guy” even though I was the main force behind or music for most of time together. However, there is some level of recognition that goes along with that name that I have worked very hard to earn. Of course I am not the only one who worked hard, but I certainly feel that I deserve the majority of the credit for creating the unique musical style that is associated with the name “Anacrusis”. I hate the idea of minimalizing the other guys, but sometimes there is a decision we must make even if it will make some people unhappy. It seems that the fans are insisting that I call it by that name because they long for a new “Anacrusis” album and I may do it for that reason. I would have preferred a group effort, but since it mostly the choice of my bandmates not to participate, I do not feel that I am being disrespectful towards them and hope that they do not feel that I am either. The album is very much “Anacrusis music”, but is it “Anacrusis” with only me? That will be for the fans to decide. If I call it Kenn Nardi, some will say it is “really Anacrusis”…if I do call it “Anacrusis” some will say “it is NOT really Anacrusis”. There is no correct answer in this case.

Do you already have a date planned on which you want the album to be released?
No, not yet. I’d love to say “next week” or “next month”, but it depends on a lot of different variables. I have a few songs to finish recording, and we are working to have a really great cover and stunning visual layout to make this album something special.
The initial reaction I have received based on the samples I have released is very encouraging and makes me excited to get everything out there, so hopefully over the next few months this will be accomplished.

Will you release the upcoming album independent, all by yourself? Or are you having contacts and/or interests of record companies?
I may do a self-release like I did with “Hindsight” or I may work with a small label or both since I am currently discussing the idea of a doing 4LP quad-fold limited edition on vinyl. I haven’t decided what to do yet. So far everyone has had different ideas about the way they think this should done and I will not compromise anything that I feel will take away from this project. As soon as I have a definite date, I will make it known to everyone.

In today's music market, it is very difficult to generate some attention of record companies, promoters and listeners in general. How do you want to generate that attention?
I am relatively low-key. I use our website to post updates if there is anything going on and also FaceBook, where I am in contact with most fans and friends. I am also fortunate enough to have some fans with connections to some of the bigger heavy metal new outlets online, which tend to grab these details and make them known through their websites.

All Anacrusis music is free to download on the website and you share new songs and teaser through Facebook and YouTube. What is the importance of sites like Facebook and YouTube for you/Anacrusis?
Ever since we went over to Germany back in 2010, I have been in contact with so many friends and fans from places all over Europe and elsewhere. It is nice to be able to communicate with everyone so easily. YouTube is a good place to put up clips of the band, whether it is from a show we just played or from the “archives”. It is nice to be able to put things out there to keep people interested in the band whether it is talking about concerts we played years and years ago or this new music I am currently working on. I have always been very open about myself and Anacrusis and I think fans appreciate this. They know that there is no impregnable wall between them and me. Sometimes they’ll post old concert tickets of pictures from a gig back in the ‘80s or ‘90s and sometimes just say hello or thank us for the music. Either way it is always cool to know that someone out there appreciates something you created and poured your heart and soul into. We never achieved commercial success, but there are other kinds of success that should not be overlooked. There is nothing better than someone telling you that your song or music in general touched them personally or even changed their life in some small way. That was always my true goal, so in that sense I can say we did achieve a special kind of success.

Thank you for taking the time to go through all these questions! The last words are yours.
As always, I say “thank you” to all of the friends and fans of Anacrusis all over the world. I appreciate each and every one of you and the way you have made all of the members of Anacrusis feel over the years with your love and support.

I have worked very, very hard to create this very special new album and I only hope that it will resonate with you and bring some enjoyment to all of you who have waited so long for new music. I hope that by whatever name, this album will find a place in your hearts just as the old albums did and that it will bring along with those old familiar favourite things something entirely new and fresh.

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