ANOMALY “A Storm Is Brewing”
By Theron Moore
Milwaukee death metal band ANOMALY recently self-released their new album, “Planet Storm”, via Bandcamp. It features re-recorded and remastered versions of three songs (and intro) from 2019's “Planet Storm” EP coupled with five new tracks. Milwaukee has long been a hotbed for not just metal but death metal specifically, and ANOMALY have certainly staked their claim in beer city’s scene with this album. Wormwood Chronicles recently caught up with ANOMALY’S Neil Tidquist to talk about “Planet Storm” and metal in general.
Wormwood Chronicles: Before we start, introduce the band lineup. When was ANOMALY founded and how many albums or demos do you have available?
NEIL TIDQUIST: We got together in 2011 and there’s been a lot of lineup changes. We currently have one EP and this full length coming out. We're planning on making up for that this year.
WC: How did everyone meet each other and form ANOMALY, were you in other Milwaukee based bands (if so, which ones), had you known each other before forming ANOMALY?
NT: I met Mary at college...well, actually I met Mary Beers (keyboards) at an ENSLAVED concert. She later pointed out to me we had a class together but I kinda just slept through those ha,ha. I've known Dan Stachowiak (bass) since I was 15, maybe 16, we met at a record shop. We found John Ibarra (guitars) on Craigslist. Dave Norman (drums) was a dude from the local scene.
WC: Was death metal an obvious choice for what all of you wanted to do, or had you experimented with thrash, etc.?
NT: I started this band with the intention of being a prog band and then I realized I wasn't good enough. After that we kinda tried to do a TESTAMENT style thing. Eventually by trial and error we landed on what I was good at.
WC: I’m really impressed with how professional the artwork is and the overall production on your record, “Planet Storm”, is. Is this a concerted effort to attract record label attention or is it simply maintaining a level of excellence for the band?
NT: Ryan at Cherry Pit hit us up for recording. We didn't know anything about him going in, but we decided to try him out. I'm SUPER happy we did. I don't think I'll go anywhere else. Mary's boyfriend did the artwork. I mean, I would love a label to pay attention to this, but I just think people will see the artwork and know it's sci fi and from there get an interest.
WC: How do you feel about the current Milwaukee metal scene? Is it strong or is it lacking in metal? What about availability of clubs to play gigs, is that healthy or lacking?
NT: Honestly, I don't know too much about it right now. I kinda stopped paying attention when shows stopped because of Covid. I obviously follow my friends and I'm going to have to start paying attention when we get back in the swing of things.
WC: What local Milwaukee bands should we know about that are top tier in terms of metal?
NT: H1z1, BRAY ROAD, UNNECESSARY GUNPOINT LECTURE, and LEECHMONGER.
WC: Let’s start with the artwork for “Planet Storm”. Who did it and how did you find this artist?
NT: Chris Wenzel did the art and the layout for the CD. He and Mary are pretty much married, so that was convenient.
WC: Your new record, “Planet Storm”, comes out September 17 via Bandcamp. Why re-record and remaster three older songs and combine them with five new tracks? Is this record a sequel to that older EP?
NT: We rerecorded the bass and remastered the older songs so they would sound as much like the newer ones as they could. Originally we were going to put out the new songs digitally as “Planet Storm 2” and because we never released the first one as a physical we were going to combine them for a physical copy. I then talked to someone who knows what they're doing more than I do and he recommended we should just push it as a full length.
WC: “Planet Storm” has a sci-fi, cosmic feel to it. Is this a concept record or just touching on sci-fi themes? What influenced the writing or concept behind “Planet Storm”? Was it particular books or movies or games (see question below)?
NT: It's not a concept album but it is about space. A merger of science fiction and science fact.
WC: Just curious regarding the sci-fi tone of the record, do any of you game at all? Could be fantasy / sci-fi roleplaying games, card games (ex: Magic), or video games?
NT: I have a $10K Niv Mizzit EDH deck ha, ha. I know everyone else plays video games. John's brother is in some jazz influenced video game cover band.
WC: I read on your Facebook page you’ll be tackling another EP later this year leaning more towards the black metal side of things called “Red Clouds Painted on Gray Skies”, a horror themed album. You also mentioned doing a full length record, “Somewhere Within the Pines”, before the end of this year. That’s a full workload. Tell us about each one.
NT: “Somewhere Within the Pines” is older than some of the songs on “Planet Storm”. We were having problems finding a guitar player, so we decided to move away from tech death and play more of an OPETH influenced sound as a four piece. We found John, then Dave joined, and we put out the first “Planet Storm” as a “this is what this band can do” kinda thing. The intention was to record “Pines” after that but between Covid and everything else, it got messed up. I'd be lying if I told you we were organized as a band. We're going to be recording that in November though.
“Red Clouds Painted on Gray Skies” is going to be a project we're doing with our original drummer, Sam Morrison. It will be different, but I think if you like our other stuff you'll enjoy it.
WC: Switching gears here, with Covid-19 still in effect, has that dampened any plans ANOMALY has had regarding touring the band across the country or the Midwest? Is it feasible or not feasible since all of you have families and day jobs?
NT: I'd like to get back to playing shows around March. What the state of the world will be like then, I couldn't tell you. I'm going to try my best to get us on some festivals out of town.
WC: How does the band feel about livestreaming a performance either on Facebook or on some other medium? Is it something you’d consider or does the idea of it sound too sterile?
NT: It's not something I'd be opposed to. I've never watched a livestream concert, to be honest. I'm sure that's something you could do, something cool. I liked the idea of that weird movie METALLICA put out where there's like a story going on with the concert. I didn't really like the way they did it, but I think someone like DEVIN TOWNSEND could really pull that off.
WC: In terms of how ANOMALY is viewing live gigs – either now or in the future – how has Covid-19 effected this experience for all of you? Do you want everyone in the club vaccinated, social distancing, etc.? Do any of you have anxiety about being near others who may not be vaccinated?
NT: I really don't want to answer that because no matter how I do, someone is going to think I'm a shit head.
WC: Final words. What didn’t we cover that you want fans to know about? Social media links, an official website, etc.?
NT: Thanks for reaching out! FB is https://www.facebook.com/AnomalyMKE