AnnisokayAnnisokay – Wrapping “ARMS” Around America
by Dave Schwartz

Annisokay (stylized as annisokay, pronounced Ann is okay) is a German post-hardcore band from Halle, Saxony-Anhalt consisting of screamer Dave Grunewald, guitarists Christoph Wieczorek and Norbert Rose, as well as bassist Philipp Kretzschmar and drummer Daniel Herrmann.  They’ve just released a new record – “ARMS.” 

Identifying Annisokay as “post-hardcore” doesn’t fully explain the sound of this band.  They are hardcore but they are also a diverse mix of influences, including pop icons Lady GaGa and Michael Jackson, along with samples of 1980s and '90s music.  I wanted to learn more about this interesting mix of sounds so I spoke with vocalist Christoph Wieczorek.  When Wieczorek isn’t out on tour he works as a full time producer from his studio in Halle an der Saale. 

Check out the interview…

DB:  Congratulations on your new record.  It’s called “Arms.”  I would like to hear all about it.  Why don’t you tell me about writing the album? 

CW:  We did this record like we do it every time.  We have a studio.  I have a studio because I’m a full time producer.  So naturally we can record as long as we want, whenever we want.  But there is a downside because as I’m working there I’ve also got to get a lot of other work done.  At some points we had a real time pressure because the deadline was coming closer.  So we really had to sit down and lock ourselves inside the studio and do all the writing and work on nothing else but working on the album.  I think the stress points helped because they made us write.  We had another producer from Germany called Benny Richter.  He worked with Caliban.  I don’t know if you know the band.  They were metalcore.  He became a friend of mine.  He’s really a great guy and we work well together.  He brought the songs to a new level because he had some great ideas. 

DB:  That’s very interesting.  I find that as I interview producers who are also part of bands, very often they don’t want to work with other producers because they want to have full control of the sound and be able to shape the songs into their own vision. 

CW:  Yeah, I am the same but when it comes to writing it’s always good to have outside opinions.  When you are locked in your own room sometimes you have no idea if you have a good song or not so another opinion is always good to have.  And sometimes that brings on new ideas that you may have never thought of.  So that’s why I like to use another producer. 

DB:  I do understand that need to have a fresh perspective - an outside voice to help guide you sometimes. So you’ve named the album “Arms.”  Tell me about that. 

CW:  Yeah, it has two meanings because its arms like your arms and its arms like the weapon.  We thought that was interesting because we thought that everyone can make their own interpretation of the name.  Is it our arms like mostly a positive thing for like hugging and stuff or the other side like weapons for protection and stuff.  So it’s two sides and we have these two sides in out lyrics so… 

DB:  Did you have a vision for this record prior to starting work on it? 

CW:  Not really because we write about so many things that there’s no real red line that goes through all of these songs.  We write about social critical stuff, we write about personal relationships and things that happen to us personally and matter to us.  It’s a really personal album but like I said, we also have some bigger themes on it like the gun laws in America or people being assailed for no reason.  So there’s no red line.  It’s just everything that a matter to us is on this album. 

DB:  I’ve noticed that this record is a bit more aggressive than previous albums. 

CW:  That’s an interesting opinion.  I’m not sure if it’s more aggressive but if you say so, cool.  I was afraid that it was more mainstream sounding because there are so much more melodies and harmonies on this record.  I was afraid that people would say that it’s softer.  But if you say the other way, then that’s cool.  We don’t think about making a record more hard or soft or more aggressive.  It’s just comes with the writing.  You write songs and afterwards you listen to them and see what you have. 

DB:  You’ve mentioned that there are a lot of harmonies and melodies on this record.  I know that the band has a lot of pop influences, such as Lady GaGa, Michael Jackson.  Elements of this have appeared in your music in different ways.   Can you tell us about that?

CW:  Yeah, where I come from in music it’s all about melodies and rhythm and the chorus so if it’s a pop song or a metal song, it doesn’t matter.  It’s going to have that fundamental stuff.  It’s got to have a good melody in the chorus or a good chord progression that moves people.  It doesn’t matter what instrument you use so that’s how we go about writing.  We also write with either the piano first or the acoustic guitar and then translate it to a more metal style.  And this way we come up with some fresh stuff.  That’s how we do it. 

DB:  It’s interesting that you occasionally write with a single instrument – a piano or acoustic guitar.  I know that when you write songs, if you write with a single instrument that it very much influences the song.  It seems like it would be a challenge to transpose a piano song into something that’s more of a metal song.  

CW:  It’s not actually.  For me, it’s the most fun part about writing.  I like writing with a piano because it’s so clean and you can hear every note so you know exactly what’s going on music-wise.  And then when you transpose it to an electric guitar it sounds good.  Besides writing riffs on a guitar, you don’t hear all this stuff and wonder if the melody is sounding great.  So if it works on a piano, it pretty much works on an electric guitar. 

AnnisokayDB:  That’s very interesting.  I read that you had a stylistic vision for this album – the '80s and '90s, that era.  You wanted to incorporate those sounds and that feel into this record. 

CW:  Yeah, that’s true.  Most of the samples we used were out of the '80s era with some '90s.  We really like the sounds.   We were just like let’s use these kinds of sounds for our music.  So we came up with some cool sounds that no one else had.  It was just fun playing around with all of these sounds.  Also, sometimes you get a new idea by just playing with some sounds.  And if you look at the album artwork, we took all these Polaroids.  We had this polaroid idea because obviously polaroid’s are from the 80s.  We thought it would be cool to have these in the artwork.  We actually shot about 500 Polaroids of the girls and then we laid them over all these Polaroids and made another...  It took us a long time but I think the outcome is pretty cool.

DB:  I agree, it is really a cool idea.  You’ve got a couple of singles out already – “Unaware” and “Coma Blue.”  Tell me about the singles. 

CW:  We put a lot of effort and time into our music videos.  This time is was even harder because we shot these two videos in one weekend.  We shot “Unaware” in a desert area during the day time and then we shot “Coma Blue” in this industrial area.  And then we did it all again the next day.  So we were really exhausted and it was really stressful but I think the outcome is pretty good.  When we remember how it was created we are really proud of how it looks now. 

“Unaware” is about a time thing.  It’s also about being part of a big system and we don’t even know about it.  We have to work each day, we have to keep up and stress ourselves out just to keep up with the system.  The video shows a futuristic, apocalyptic world.  The idea is that everyone has a clock, a timer on their arm.  If the time runs out, you’re done.  The only way to add more time is to work.  So the people work every day just to stay alive which is pretty crazy.  In the end, the video shows that you don’t actually die if the time runs out, you’re actually healed. 

And the “Coma Blue” video is pretty much a weird dream kind of thing where the camera flies around in one shot.  We tried to make it look like one shot but it’s actually not.  There are some trick edits but there are some long time frames where there’s no editing and we had to move all this stuff around to make it look really weird like it’s really moving. 

DB:  Yeah, I noticed on “Coma Blue” how long some of your sequences are and I shoot video so I understand how difficult something like that can be. 

CW:  Yeah, we had to shoot that many times until it all worked out.

DB:  So you’re out on tour right now.  Is this your first tour of America? 

CW:  It is, yes.  It has been an amazing thing for us.  When we started this band many years ago it was always our biggest dream to tour all these great places where all the bands that we admire come from.  And now being here, it’s a huge country and amazing.  And we want to come back.  This is just the beginning hopefully. 

“ARMS” has been a breakthrough for Annisokay in that it has opened new doors for touring.  The band just finished their first tour of America and will be heading to Japan in December.  Check them out when they are near you.  Until then, get the record.


No. Title Length
1. "Coma Blue" 3:23
2. "Unaware" 3:50
3. "Good Stories" 4:19
4. "Fully Automatic" 3:52
5. "Sea of Trees" 3:30
6. "Innocence was Here" 3:35
7. "Humanophobia" 3:41
8. "End of the World" 3:26
9. "Escolators" 3:19
10. "Private Paradise" 3:21
11. "One Second" 3:48
12. Locked Out, Locked In 3:53
 
Annisokay - ARMS 

Annisokay:
Christoph Wieczorek - clean vocals, rhythm guitar (2007–present)
Philipp Kretzschmar - lead guitar (2007–present)
Nico Vaeen - drums (2007–present)
Dave Grunewald - unclean vocals (2011–present)
Norbert Rose - bass (2013–present)


European Tour

Sep 2     Musikzentrum Hannover    Hannover, DEU           
Sep 7     Bastard Club    Osnabrück, DEU              
Sep 9     Bastard Club    Osnabrück, DEU              
Sep 16   Musikzentrum Hannover    Hannover, DEU
Sep 21   scheune kulturzentrum    Dresden, DEU   
Sep 23   Musikzentrum Hannover    Hannover, DEU
Sep 25   Musikzentrum Hannover    Hannover, DEU
Sep 26   Musikzentrum Hannover    Hannover, DEU
Oct 5      Bastard Club    Osnabrück, DEU              
Oct 8      Musikzentrum Hannover    Hannover, DEU
Oct 13   scheune kulturzentrum    Dresden, DEU
Oct 18   O2 Academy Islington    Islington, GBR    
Oct 19   scheune kulturzentrum    Dresden, DEU
Oct 19   The Asylum     Birmingham, GBR 
Oct 21   Musikzentrum Hannover    Hannover, DEU
Oct 22   Musikzentrum Hannover    Hannover, DEU
Oct 24   Musikzentrum Hannover    Hannover, DEU
Oct 25   Musik & Frieden    Berlin, DEU
Oct 26   Bastard Club    Osnabrück, DEU 
Oct 27   Luxor    Cologne, DEU


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