ANYONE “The Riz Story Story”
By Dark Starr
The band ANYONE is more or less a one-man act. That one man is Riz Story. Not only is he a musician, but he's also an author and marine naturalist. He shared insights about the latest ANYONE album, the future of our planet and much more.
WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music – sort of a "highlight reel?"
RIZ STORY: I started improvising at the piano and organ at about age four or five. My parents were astonished at my ability and repeatedly asked me, “where did you learn to do that?” I had no answer to offer them and still don’t. At age 10 I enrolled in band class at school and learned the baritone and trumpet. In 7th grade I formed a rock band with my best friend Donny Miller. I was the vocalist. Next I took up the guitar starting with the basics, LED ZEP, HENDRIX, THE WHO, and quickly gravitated toward more progressive music like RUSH and finally YES (70s period), which to this day remain my favorite band. Next I became interested in fusion and finally composing modern classical music. I composed my first symphony at age 15. I formed the band that would become ANYONE in the early to mid 90s after meeting Taylor Hawkins and Jon Davison. It was Taylor who convinced me to form a "rock band." ANYONE signed to RoadRunner Records in 2000, and we experienced acclaim and success until 9/11 occurred, at which point the label dropped us. To this day the debut album by ANYONE is unavailable. These days I make music automatically for no particular audience beyond myself.
WC: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?
RS: Exactly what I’m doing. My main passion in life is the ocean. Everything I do revolves around the sea and I am a certified Marine Naturalist, focusing on ocean conservation (www.Oceanathemovie.com/trailer). I might likely have been a marine biologist had it not been for the arts. I am also very much an author and filmmaker, but nobody reads poetry anymore and the film industry emits a smell similar to a rotting fish.
WC: ANYONE is essentially a solo project. Why did you not use your name for it, and what is the significance of the name?
RS: The name "Anyone" appealed to me because it was anonymous and didn’t sound like a band name. Also, I realized early that band members would come and go around me, and so I felt that the band could be comprised of anyone at any given time. Despite the fact that I create ANYONE music completely alone I prefer to draw attention away from myself and let the audience feel that it has been created by an anonymous source, keeping the focus on the music itself and not on a person or group of people. In the last few years I’ve considered changing my name to ANYONE, but then I decided that that would be rather absurd. And for some reason I just love that word… "Anyone." Isn’t it beautiful?
WC: Your new album seems to be a concept album, and a bleak one at that. Can you give the readers an idea of what the story is about, and do you see hope for the future in spite of the view expressed in the album?
RS: The album is a concept album in that it was conceived as the soundtrack to my film (and novel) concept of the same title. The story takes place in the future when humanity has rendered earth uninhabitable and is forced to seek a new home. I am deeply involved in conservation and will die trying to contribute to the restoration of the planet, but the fact is that there is very little hope given the prevailing trajectories outlined by the data. For example, 60% of the planet's coral reefs are already dead with scientist saying they’ll be gone in 20 years – 50% of the biomass on earth has been decimated by mankind since the 1970s. We are in the midst of the "sixth great extinction event" with 150 -200 species going extinct every day. Humanity is a virus which is growing exponentially as all other forms of life disappear. There is very little hope, and I can assure you that we shall witness unthinkable catastrophic natural collapses more frequently as the years pass.
WC: How did it come about that Jon Davison guested on one of the tracks?
RS: Juano (as we called him) was not only a founding member of ANYONE but he became my best friend. His becoming a member of YES was somewhat of a miracle in our world and to this day we marvel at such an occurrence. I’m delighted to have played a small part in his joining YES – I created the videos that YES viewed and also prepared the mixes that he submitted to them. He pushed hard for me to produce the “Heaven and Earth” album and asked me to collaborate on the music. The band chose Roy Thomas Baker instead, which is a shame. I could have made that album sound profoundly better.
WC: Who would you see as your musical influences?
RS: Early on it was YES music of the 70s, GENESIS, RUSH, KATE BUSH, PETER GABRIEL - anything artistic. Jon Anderson was a major influence. Anderson and I were working together on the “In Humanity” album and I have a full version of the title track with his vocals on it. It looked like he was going to be the main singer on the album along with me. Sadly, he pulled out after finding out that I’d been lifelong friends with Jon Davison who has replaced him in his own band. Who can blame him? I was so heartbroken by Anderson pulling out that I didn’t play or listen to music for over six months. I was tired of having my heart broken by the various disappointments that the music industry had facilitated.
Later I was influenced by classical music, particularly the French Impressionist composers like Debussy, Satie and Ravel. I was a huge admirer of Allan Holdsworth, Jaco, and the highly progressive fusion music created by Bruford, WEATHER REPORT and MAHAVISHNU. In the past decade I’ve not listened to much music by others and take my influence from the sounds of nature. My guitar solos now, for example, are more influenced by whale song, dolphins, birds.. the sound of the wind blowing through the trees. Nothing I’ve heard moves me more than whale song, which I listen to regularly. If you listen to the guitar solo on the track “In Humanity” (at about 7:30) you can hear the influence that whale song has had on my playing.
WC: What's the best thing that's ever been said about your music?
RS: That’s an easy one. A film producing partner of mine is long-time friends with Herbie Hancock. She played him "The Pale Blue Dot" right before it came out last month and I received a phone call out of the blue from them. Herbie said that he’d never heard a musician play all the instruments on such a virtuosic level. I was absolutely floored. Keep in mind this guy has played with literally every renowned virtuoso from Jaco to Miles to Coltrane… everyone. I couldn’t believe my ears. It was an absolute affirmation. He also told me that he’d never heard what I did with time signatures in that song, and said that as far as he knew it was unprecedented in music. I told him that I called it ‘fractional time’ and that it created the twitching sound that can be heard in that piece. Jon Anderson was also very complimentary and I was walking on cloud nine for a few weeks after he asked me to send all the stems for the first batch of songs from “In Humanity” so that he could lay his vocals. Imagine what the album would have been had Anderson been the main singer.
WC: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them or posting them online?
RS: I have no fans, but if I did I would be delighted to see them enjoying what I’ve made.
WC: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
RS: If I were a superhero I’d destroy fascism, save the environment and feed the hungry.. I would leave artists alone because they suffer enough.
WC: If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?
RS: Jaco would be on bass, Holdsworth on guitar, Anderson on vocals, Yodi Madar on drums, Debussy on keys. I would be the soundman and perhaps caterer. As for why I would pick these guys, it is because you don’t get any better than them.
WC: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?
RS: I don’t listen to any band currently performing (aside from their work many years past), so I’d be the last person to assemble a music festival. But I’d love to see a set by Debussy. Perhaps Liszt could open the show?
WC: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
RS: Actually, the last CD I purchased was “In Humanity”. I was forced to buy hundreds of copies when out of nowhere retailers contacted me to order physical CDs. I felt bad because I suspected that they would sit in the store and never sell. Lately I’ve been listening exclusively to the song I’m creating now entitled "Everything Everywhere Always." It’s 18 minutes long, and I’m completely absorbed in it. I’m thinking that I will create another long song entitled "Nothing Nowhere Never" to balance it out.
WC: Have you read any good books lately?
RS: I stopped reading books over a decade ago having grown tired of knowledge itself. I suppose I reached a point where I hadn’t had any "breakthroughs" or "revelations" in years and even if I had, what difference would it make? At this point I prefer a delicious meal or swimming through a coral reef much more than the musings, opinions or findings of any human being.
WC: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
RS: I went to see Jon Anderson sing (ARW). I was dreadfully ill and could barely walk all the way into the Greek Theater, but I managed to make my way to my seat to hear "Awaken" one last time before I return to dust. Tears ran down my face as he sang, “Like the time I ran away, turned around and you were standing close to me.” Moments like that!
WC: Do you remember the first concert you attended?
RS: RUSH – “Moving Pictures” Tour at the Forum in Los Angeles. I was pissed off that they didn’t play "Hemispheres" and I wondered for months why they’d ignored their best material! (laughter)
WC: Have you come across any new gear recently that you love?
RS: It’s funny because I used to be very much into gear. These days I’ll play on anything and get what I want out of it.. I did go through a brief romance with my Ricky 4001, but that was years ago now.
WC: Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
RS: I love the song, "Send in the Clowns." I’ve listened to that song over and over and over again through the years and it never fails to bring me to tears - especially when Judy Dench sings “Well maybe next year…”
WC: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
RS: I’m drawing a blank. But I’m sure Rick Wakeman has supplied us all with enough Spinal Tap moments to keep us all laughing until the sequel. (laughter)
WC: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?
RS: I prefer to eat alone so I can enjoy my food without incorporating manners or the burden of conversation. But I suppose If I had to be subjected to company it would be Donald Trump, so I could vomit in his fucking face.
WC: What would be on the menu?
RS: Alaskan King Crab with drawn garlic butter… Mmmm, I love that one.
WC: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
RS:Not really. Nobody wants to hear from a misanthrope, even if they began as a childlike humanitarian full of love and light.
(I wish Mr. Story well. I must unfortunately agree with his dire assessment of the environment, but reading between the lines here, I hope he keeps himself from self-harm of any kind.--Dr. Mality)