Anthony Anzaldo of Ceremony: 'Punk is broad, it's like calling yourself a rock band'

Ceremony, the Rohnert Park punk band that's been labeled everything from punk rock to  shitgaze (yes, that genre exists) just released their new album Zoo last Tuesday, and they'll be at the Center For The Arts in Eagle Rock, then Chain Reaction in Anaheim on Friday (along with Cold World, Skin Like Iron, Rank/Xerox, and Joyce Manor) to promote it. Ceremony's inspired guitarist Anthony Anzaldo answers some of my queries concerning punk rock, venues, and not being a straight edge band.


OC Weekly: So you're punk; technically a hardcore punk band, and some would even say powerviolence or thrashcore. What do you think of the extensive sub-categorization of punk rock music?

Anthony: I think hardcore is a tangible genre, but all of that other stuff is made up as far as I'm concerned. Punk is broad, it's like calling yourself a rock band. Ceremony is a punk band, and a hardcore band, and a rock band. As for anything deeper than that… I just consider us as part of a whole musical journey. Our influences are rooted in punk, and we've embraced that since the beginning of the band.

I've heard that you go pretty far back with Ross Farrar and some other guys from the band. Did you ever think you'd grow up and be in this famous band?

I guess famous is relative. I definitely did not think that we'd be in the place we are now, not only when we were kids, but even just a few years ago. The last year has been very unexpected. We've never wanted or thought of it, like getting reviewed in Rolling Stone, but things like that happened naturally. Even a few weeks ago when Claire of Matador Records said they were going to review the record, I was like, “What the Fuck? Why?”

I don't hear any messages relating to straight edge in your music. Do you chose not to make music about that, or am I missing something?

I'm one of the only straight edge members of the band, and I'm the only vegan member. We were never a vegan band or a straight edge band. People who aren't well versed in the world of punk rock label us like that, but a lot of people in the punk world do that more than we do. Those messages haven't ever been a prominent part of the band. The lyrical content is kind of Ross' duty. I want Ross to write what speaks to him; I do the same thing, but I have a guitar instead of a pen and paper. Our lifestyles are different in that sense, but I would never want him to attach my views to something that he's doing, just for me.

Zoo came out on March 6th. People have been able to stream it from for a while now, though. Why did you decide to pre-release it for free?

The days of your record not being leaked are long over. We might as well try and get as many people to listen to it as possible. Maybe they'll buy it, or go to a show, or get it on vinyl. We can still recruit them as a fan. The thing is, music is invaluable to me, and people don't value things that they can get for free. Depeche Mode is my favorite prog of all time–if I had to pay for all the effects they've had on my life, I would do that. Streaming on Spin doesn't advocate not buying it, though. It's about getting it out there and making it known for people who don't know who are.

What's your favorite venue to play?

924 Gilman Street, Berkley, California. Without a doubt. We grew up playing there and we had our first 7″ release show there, and we're having the release show for Zoo there also. No matter where the band is as, we always come back to Gilman. Its home.

This Friday you're playing Chain Reaction in Anaheim. Do you think you'll play a lot from Zoo, or more off your other albums?

Chain Reaction also a venue we enjoy. We'll probably play a handful of stuff from Zoo, but it'll always be a potpourri. They're our new babies, we're excited to play them, but we probably won't play a lot from Zoo until our summer tour since it just got released.

What are your favorite songs to perform right now?

We don't have a lot of experience playing songs from Zoo yet. Citizen is really fun live, and World Blue. Sick is the first song off our last record, and that's always great.

Ceremony will be at the Center For The Arts, Eagle Rock w/ Nails and Chelsea Wolfe (All Ages) tonight, and
Chain Reaction w/ Joyce Manor, Cold War, Skin Like Iron, Rank/Xerox (All Ages) tomorrow night.

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