Annabel: No Brakes

Kent, Ohio’s Annabel have only been at it as a band for three years, but they have been taking full advantage of their brief time together. In the time the band has churned out an EP, a full-length and the recently released 7-inch Here We Are Now.

Singer and guitarist Ben Hendricks spoke about their pace of recording, the new songs and having patience.

Innocent Words: In three years as a band, you haven’t let much time pass between releases. Is that a conscious decision to constantly be putting out music?

Ben Hendricks: I don’t think we put out music frequently enough. But basically, we’ll put it out when we have it. So I guess it’s conscious and unconscious at the same time.  I know some bands like to sit on their records for a while, but I don’t know if I have the patience for that. I like the records to be a snapshot of that particular time in my life and our existence as a band, and to be able to move on from it right away.

After we put out the full-length, I went through a really weird anxiety type thing and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I had those songs and been working on them for a year and half and all of the sudden they were done. I no longer was able to go through my days imagining how they would sound on a record. It really hit me that as much as I love the songs I knew I just had to let go immediately and move forward. As silly as this is, I even painted the walls in room because I didn’t want my writing environment to look the same in any way.

That being said, I think we’ll take our time on a new full-length, because the process has felt a bit rushed in the past.  But that’s been more of just trying to stick to personal deadlines.  Once you have new music, you immediately want people to hear it, and that’s a tough inclination to fight sometimes.

IW: Backing up a bit, how did the band first get together?

Hendricks: Andy [Hendricks, drummmer] and I first started playing together right after I finished high school. Both of our previous bands had just broken up, and the most sensible thing at the time, us being brothers with similar musical interests and all, was to join forces and start a band together. We started out playing a lot of songs that were from my own solo catalog, and a bunch of other songs that really didn’t have a consistent sound. We had two other guys playing with us, but they quickly exited, leaving Andy and I as the only members for a period of time. Luckily, we soon met Scotty [Moses, bassist] and he was enthusiastic about playing with us, and everything started to fall into place after that. About a year and a half ago, Scotty suggested we let Corey [Willis, guitarist and keyboard player] join the band, and after working him into the fold slowly, it’s been magical ever since.

The first couple years, it was hard to tell if we were even a real band or not.  Line-up changes can be one of the most frustrating things to go through in a band.  But I take a lot of pride in the fact that we were able to be persistent and hang on long enough to find the right group of people, which we have right now.

IW: What can you tell me about the new 7-inch?

Hendricks: We feel the new 7-inch directly reflects the band we want to be. It’s certainly more natural and organic sounding to us, compared to some of our previous work. It’s the first record Corey plays on, and that could have played a role in that too.   Having a second-guitar/keyboard really helps the writing process. We took a complete DIY approach on this record as I recorded and mixed it myself, and Andy did all the packaging and art stuff. We recorded them in my parents’ basement, which I like to pass off as my “studio.”

We thought about waiting to put these songs on a full-length, but we felt this group of jams had a real chemistry together, and they should stay together just how they were. We decided Tiny Engines was the right label to release it, and we couldn’t be happier.

IW: What are the plans for a new full-length from Annabel?

Hendricks: There aren’t really any plans right now, but that would be the next logical step for us. We’re at the weird stage where we just released something and just have to get all our shit together again. I’ve got a bunch of ideas that may or may not be full-length material, but I think we are going to try some new things with the writing process this time around. We’ll see how it goes.

IW: What do you guys have planned for the rest of 2011?

Hendricks: Well, we’ve got a 4-way split 7-inch coming out soon on CYLS. It’s going to feature us, The Reptilian, Joie De Vivre and Empire! Empire!  Sort of the “original core” or what have you, of that label. We will also tour with Joie De Vivre. We will definitely be writing a bunch after that and hopefully doing a couple tours during the summer. We’ve also got The Fest 10 to look forward to in the fall.