ANAGRAM CD release with Deloro at the Silver Dollar (486 Spadina), Friday (January 13). $5. 416-763-9139. Rating: NNNNN
Most rock bands have to work to create the sort of mystique that Anagram enjoys. That often involves hiring a press-savvy publicist and working out a shrewd image-shaping campaign in conjunction with management and a label marketing team. However, that's news to the Oshawa-sprung, Toronto-based members of this bash-happy punk posse.
Since they've just released their riotously good After Dark (Dead Astronaut) debut, it might appear that their curiously low media profile and dearth of gigs could be part of a clever strategy to enhance their reputation as the local scene's best-kept secret. The absence of a band photo on the CD sleeve tends to support that theory, yet Anagram's flop 'n' writhe frontman, Matt Mason, insists that no elaborate plan was involved.
"We're not trying to create a mystery," Mason elaborates. "It's more like we just can't be bothered to do any of that shit. I can't stand having my picture taken. It's so awkward, I'm really just not interested."
Whether it's shyness or laziness, either way, their "couldn't give a shit" attitude goes a long way toward explaining why Anagram's debut disc is two years overdue and why they hired guitarist Jeff Peers, formerly of faux country band Cuff the Duke, to be their new bassist.
"We must've gone through 15 or 20 members since Willy (fraternal twin Willy Mason) and I started the band as this messy Spacemen 3-obsessed jam band. You know, personality clashes. For a while I tried singing and playing bass, but I was a shitty bassist, so we decided to get someone who could actually play. Jeff is a friend of mine. He's the only member of Cuff the Duke I've kept in touch with since leaving Oshawa.
"The majority of the album was recorded in a weekend at Umbrella Sound, but certain circumstances revolving around our inability to get our shit together resulted in it taking about a year and a half longer than it should have to get out."
Even Anagram's label deal with Dead Astronaut wasn't the result of actively seeking out the operation best suited to releasing and distributing their skronky Stooges-inspired style of punk noise.
"Dead Astronaut is run by this guy Greg Sullivan. He was a friend of a friend who was thinking of starting a record label and heard that we didn't have one, so he asked us about releasing our stuff. I don't know if he even liked our band; I think he just wanted to put out a CD.
"But I've got no complaints. We give him the recordings and he makes suggestions for the sleeve art and posters. If they're good, we go with 'em. That's basically it. He's just interested in making back the money he invested."
Now that Anagram's debut disc is out and getting some favourable reviews, the members are seriously considering playing a few gigs outside Toronto. The notion of hiring a manager has even crossed their minds. It would help to have someone to rent vans and fire bass players.
"Having a manager would probably be a good idea," allows Mason, "but we're not the sort of people who think about that shit. If somebody makes us an offer, we'll consider it, but so far Dan Burke is the only one who has, and it seems like he's got enough of his own issues to deal with.
"I've got no problem with Dan, though, and I don't know why anybody does.... Well, I guess I do, but whining about Dan's behaviour is kinda like complaining about your coffee being hot you should already know what you're getting yourself into."