Balding, Bearding and True Blood: My Interview with Animal Years

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By: Harrison Giza

Animal Years make sense to the people that like a little cinema in their vocals. Each song they make sounds like something that could end a Scrubs episode… emotion, good guitar work, and a style that melts the fabric of your heart bit by bit.

The group has character, so much so that their music exudes with finished purpose and an unlimited range of feeling. You get into these songs quickly. The reason? Nothing jars out, other than the fact that Animal Years know what they want their music to sound like. “Forget What They’re Telling You,” their ballad straight from what seems like an apocalyptic-love fest, is simply fun and fancy-free. The video even stars True Blood alum Bailey Noble!

If you were to play this for anyone, I don’t see how they couldn’t shake a leg of two. Hell,  from “Let Go of Your Head” to “Meet Me,” these guys are able to blend and surround while maintaining fun hooks, great lines, and enough smile material to make People Magazine sore.

I talked with the band (mostly Mike) not more than a week ago, discussing their early start, the complicated place we call life, and their upcoming gigs. We even talked about the possibility of baldness bearding, a true delight in my eyes.


HG: I bet you’ve been asked this a thousand times… but how did you land on the name Animal Years?

AY: Yes I have! But that’s ok, we love the name. I fell in love with an album called The Animal Years by Josh Ritter. I never found out what it meant and always had my own idea of what it meant to me. I’ve spent so many years as a struggling musician that I truly learned what was important to me in life. Food, water, friends, family, shelter, love, etc…We’ve complicated life so much with all of these possessions we think we need. We need to remember what it truly takes to be happy. We need to remember that we’re just animals. Live your life in Animal Years.

HG: You guys have such a warm sound, especially on “Forget What They’re Telling You.” How do you know when a song is finished and that the mood/tone of a song is set?

AY: You just kind of know. That’s a really tough question, I don’t know if I can articulate that properly! Let’s try the next question.
HG: Tell me how the band came together.
AY: I (Mike) wrote and recorded the record in Baltimore before moving up to Brooklyn in 2012. I knew Anthony Saladino (bass) from playing music in the past and he helped me put the rest of the group together.

HG: How does it feel to be a rock band in age where electronic music is bigger than ever? What is your take on the shape of rock ‘n’ roll?

AY: I can get down with some EDM. It’s really popular and I think that’s great! Rock and roll is still alive and well I just think you need to dig a little deeper sometimes to find what you want. Music is changing and has always been changing, and when everything has changed 20 years from now, Rock music will still be there.

HG: Describe your perfect breakfast.

AY: When I lost a lot of weight a couple of years back I could only eat carbs in the morning as part of my diet. So I always ate pasta in the morning and I still do. I know that’s weird but I love it!

HG:  Mike, at what age do you think you’ll settle into the “bald and beardless” category?

AY: HAHA! I don’t think ever! I’m pretty sure that particular gene skipped my generation, luckily.

HG: I sense a My Morning Jacket influence from you. Who are your influences? Who made you want to pick your instruments and write songs?

AY: I love MMJ. My biggest influences are singer/songwriters like Ray Lamontagne, Jackie Greene, Tallest Man On Earth, Josh Ritter, Martin Sexton, Donovan, Loudon Wainwright III, etc…

HG: Where did “Meet Me” come from?

AY: I was moving from Baltimore and trying to make a lot of things work in Brooklyn that just couldn’t work. It’s all about dealing with that whole moving away, moving on, moving forward kinda thing.
HG:  What can fans expect from seeing you live and what was the best concert you have ever been to?
AY: A super high energy show. We also change up some of the songs so you get to see something that’s unique to the live show. The best concert I’ve seen was probably Martin Sexton at the now closed Recher Theatre in my hometown. Just him, solo with a guitar. The sounds he can make with so little, it’s awe inspiring.

HG: I love the video for “Forget What They’re Telling You.” How was it working with Max Cantor and Bailey Noble?

AY: Thanks! Max is a very talented director. He really came through for us on this project and we’re really pleased with the result! Bailey was great, too. We met her while shooting a scene on an indie film called Hard Sell. She said she loved our music so we asked her if she wanted to be in the next video and the rest is history!
HG: What was the first album you ever bought?
AY: Probably an Outkast record. They were my first group that I really got into.
HG: What can we expect from Animal Years in the future?

AY: Shows! Brooklyn Bowl July 31st, Music Hall of Williamsburg August 25th.
HG: Any obstacles when making tunes?

AY: Trying to transcribe what’s in your head to a computer. Getting the right sounds while recording can be really frustrating. Sometimes it feels like a code that needs to be cracked.
HG: And finally, what, in your opinion, is the greatest song to make love to?
AY: Trey Songz – Neighbors Know My Name
For more music, CLICK HERE: http://www.animalyearsmusic.com/
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