Scene Point Blank got a chance to catch up with Ceremony in September 2012 at MacEwan Hall in Calgary. They were on tour with Bloc Party for a few Canadian dates and we got to sit down amongst the beer and haze in their dressing room to chat with guitar player Anthony Anzaldo about the past, present and future of Ceremony. The band just released Zoo on Matador Records.
Scene Point Blank: So this past month you guys have been touring with Bloc Party. How did this tour come about and how has it been going?
Anthony Anzaldo: It came about pretty standard. This year we finally got a booking agent after not having one for 7 or 8 years and having someone like that in your corner makes things a lot more accessible. He was aware that they were looking for an opener and I think he either submitted us or there was interest – I’m not really sure what happened and they were like, “Do you want to tour with Bloc Party?” “Sure”.
The shows: they’re all right, we play mostly new songs. Not a lot of punk kids come out which is why we’re trying to, on our off-shows every day, play a headlining show. Which, unfortunately, we weren’t able to do anywhere near here [Calgary, Alberta] unless you count Regina—we did our own show there which was really fun.
Ceremony's Anthony Anzaldo playing live
Scene Point Blank: What are the differences between those off-show dates and the Bloc Party dates?
Anthony Anzaldo: It’s night and day. I mean, on Bloc Party shows you’re playing to 1,000 people who don’t know you and on our own days we play to 150 people where everybody knows you. So it’s completely different.
Scene Point Blank: Do you have preference on those?
Anthony Anzaldo: You know, it’s always great to play in front of people who are there to see you and know the words to your songs and all that stuff – that’s where our heart is. We also love playing in front of new people in these kinds of arenas. It’s a big challenge.
Scene Point Blank: How drastically does your set list change between the dates?
Anthony Anzaldo: On the Bloc Party dates we play most of the songs from Zoo and like two songs from Rohnert Park. On our own shows, a third of the set are Rohnert Park songs, a third of the set will be Zoo songs, and the last third are older – like Violence Violence, Still Nothing Moves You, and Scared People.
Scene Point Blank: After the release of Zoo, how do you feel about it now that time has passed? What have you noticed as far as reception?
Anthony Anzaldo: It has been winding down. We love that record and we’re really proud of it. It’s done a lot of things for us and opened a lot of doors that have never been in our grasp before. Record sales decline every day and every record that we have done has been just a little more than the last one, so to be in a climate where record sales decline daily, we’re proud of that.
Scene Point Blank: You mentioned that not the punk scene hasn’t been too present at the Bloc Party shows. With what appears to be some growing resentment towards your band amongst the hardcore and punk scene, would you mind commenting on this “I only liked the 7” attitude”?
Anthony Anzaldo: We have been getting that since our second release. That’s just kind of the mindset that a lot of hardcore kids and young people have. When Still Nothing Moves You came out in 2008, people were saying that we were over and that we’re weirdoes; the same thing with Rohnert Park—every record we get that. But it’s funny because with every record we sell more records and with every record we play to more people. I think that it’s sad that the negative people make the most noise, you know? There are a handful of kids that disapprove of what you are doing and that seems to be the general outlook when, in reality, this isn’t true. If we were doing this interview two years ago you would be asking me the same question about Rohnert Park. But, the fact is that the Rohnert Park songs at our off shows go over just as well, if not better, than any of the other stuff. We’re always going to get that attitude and that’s just the way it is.
"I think it’s sad that the negative people make the most noise. There are a handful of kids that disapprove of what you are doing and that seems to be the general outlook when, in reality, it isn’t true."
- Anthony Anzaldo
Scene Point Blank: With the release of Zoo your band moved from Bridge 9 to Matador. What has the new label been like and do you feel like this has affected public perception of your band?
Anthony Anzaldo: I think a lot of people now know of the band now that we’re on Matador. A lot of people have been exposed to us who probably never would have found out about us before, just because Bridge 9 kind of stays in one kind of genre. As far as perception has been among people, it’s hard for me to tell. Like I said, we did a headlining tour in the US for a month and are doing our own shows on off-dates of this tour. For the most part, the same kind of people come to see us so I’m not really sure. The change seems to not have the biggest effect on our core base but it gets us more exposure to people that have never heard us before.
Scene Point Blank: Ceremony has released a whole slew of covers, including a Covers EP on Bridge 9. What was the driving force in doing so?
Anthony Anzaldo: Oh, just for fun. We enjoy doing it. I’ve heard a lot of people say we put the Covers record together to end our contract with Bridge 9, which isn’t true. We just recorded all of them when we recorded Rohnert Park because we wanted to play these songs that we love and listened to growing up and are just dear to us.
Scene Point Blank: You played “Kiss Off” by the Violent Femmes on The Onion AV Club. How was that experience?
Anthony Anzaldo: It was really cool, just going into a room and learning a song right then and there, then recording it immediately after. We never got a chance to rehearse it at all before we went into that. It was really fun, then we played it for a few shows after that and it was a really cool experience. We love that song and we were really happy that we could lay it down.
Scene Point Blank: Over the course of your releases, as you mentioned, your band has changed and grown. Would you mind commenting on the progression from release to release?
Anthony Anzaldo: I think that we are always evolving as human beings and musicians. I think if you listened from our demo to Zoo in chronological order you’ll see a natural progression. All of us are into a lot of different styles of music and, as time goes on, we don’t really want to do the same thing that we’ve done before. It’s not really a conscious thing, we wrote Zoo the same way that we wrote our very first EP. The four or five of us go into a room and throw around ideas and stop when we think it sounds good.
Scene Point Blank: Your band has never released a split record. Is there a reason behind that—and if you did, whom would it be with?
Anthony Anzaldo: We had a "no split" rule for a very long time. Splits, I think, are only good for the band that has the better side because, no matter what, one side is going to be better than the other, I think, and it’s kind of an odd format. But we are doing a split after not doing one for 8 years. We’re doing a split with Titus Andronicus and the song that is going to be on it is a song that we recorded during Zoo called “Everything Burns” that isn’t on Zoo or anything. So it will be cool to get that out.
Scene Point Blank: Lastly, what’s in the future for Ceremony?
Anthony Anzaldo: Well, the split is cohesive with a six-week US tour with a few Canada dates that were doing with Titus Andronicus starting in Philadelphia and ending on the east coast. That brings us to December and we will probably start writing for the next record not too long after that. Then do the whole write/record/tour process all over again that we’ve been doing for 8 years.
Scene Point Blank: Thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure.