California five-piece Ceremony recently returned to the UK to showcase their new album, 'The L-Shaped Man'.
“Being in Ceremony is exactly like growing up,” explains guitarist Anthony Anzaldo. “You don’t see it happening until you’re ten years older and you see old pictures of yourself.”
Later on tonight, Ceremony will play their first London show in three years and in the process become the first band to headline the rejuvenated MOTH Club in Hackney. All polished brass and glittered ceilings, it’s a venue that demands attention but then Ceremony, ten years into the game, are a source of constant evolution. Starting life on the outskirts of hardcore, the band have slowly but surely toyed with the realms of possibility. Earlier this year they released ‘The L- Shaped Man’ and took another step away from where they started and into an assured, creative freedom. Sure, the glimmer of the venue is eye catching but the Californian five-piece shift before you, comfortable in change.
“Ceremony fans know the drill with us,” continues Anthony. “This is our fifth LP and every one has been so drastically different to the last. They know that going into a new record. Obviously you lose certain people with every album but you hope that you gain more than you lose. The core fanbase that we have, they know it’s going to be different, they know we’re going to something else. With that, it’s always going to be good,” he offers before singer Ross Farar repeats “it’s always going to be good,” with steadfast conviction.
Ceremony have a point. 2006’s ‘Violence Violence’ is different to 2010’s ‘Rohnernt Park’. ‘Zoo’ is further away still but by the time we reach ‘The L-Shaped Man’, the band are barely recognisable yet nothing stands out as awkward or forced. “They’re still there,” says Ross of their earlier material. “They still inhabit a part of our lives. When we first started getting into punk, we made those songs. They’re very nostalgic. It’s not like we think hardcore is lame but at the time that music felt honest to us and now, making these songs is honest to us.”
“It’s all come back full circle,” offers Ross before Anthony explains. “We started the band with this name and this aesthetic and it was such a contrast. Our music was this abrasive, hardcore alongside this image of a rose and ‘Ceremony’ written across the top. Now it all makes more sense.” “It’s not as different as it used to be,” adds Ross with a smirk.
“The energy changes,” he continues. “You’ve just got to ride the wave. Each time you make a song, you need to figure out how they feel and how you’re going to move to them. These new songs are very different to anything I’ve ever done. They’re not funky but they’re a little bit dancey and I dance. I love to dance. The fans are in the same situation as us. They’re still trying to figure out how to move to the songs but we have a lot of people upfront, very much in it with us and that’s a beautiful thing.”
The original inspiration for ‘The L-Shaped Man’ was a series of Leslie Lerner paintings, “I saw one of his paintings at an airport and it moved me. It moved my hair back but then the breakup started happening. I started writing more about love and loss and that certain person in your life so it’s a mix of each,” says Ross. “I’m pretty much out of that, emotionally, but there are moments when I’m doing these lyrics, speaking these words and it comes back to me in a weird way. I think ‘The Bridge’ is one of those songs. I feel those sad times when I’m singing that song. It’s not overwhelming but its there at the back.”
“We always say play from the heart,” continues Ross. “And we want people to be moved.” “I’m moved when we play,” states Anthony. “What we do is such a real, honest and from the heart thing, of course we want that to be translated and it is. Honesty is honesty. We really love playing and we want that to come off. “
“I would love to get 'The L-Shaped Man' as out there as possible,” ventures Anthony. “I think it’s the most cohesive, most beautiful album we’ve ever done. I love playing these songs more than I’ve loved playing any of our other songs before. Before I just wanted to play the songs that the crowd really wanted to hear. If the crowd didn’t want to hear certain songs, what’s the point in playing them? With these songs, I don’t think about that. We just play the songs we like and that translates really well. Having said that, I want to get as much from ‘The L-Shaped Man’ as possible. I want people to really experience as much as we can offer.”
“My life is in two sections,” continues Anthony. “My life before Ceremony and my life since Ceremony started. Our growth, our evolution, or popularity or whatever you want to call it, has been so minuscule, we didn’t see this happen. It was very gradual, we never really felt like we grew or cracked everything wide open.”
Every move Ceremony makes, comes with poise and composure. Their attitude towards the future though is slightly less considered. “It’ll figure itself out,” says Anthony. “Being six months ahead of time has been our thing forever. If you get farther than that, you drive yourself crazy. I would. You start thinking about when you’re going to write the next record, where or what it’s going to be called, or where we’re going to be in a year…” The band have more pressing concerns. “We’ve got to play London tonight for the first time in three years first.”
Taken from the October issue of Upset, out now. Ceremony’s album ‘The L-Shaped Man’ is out now.