We Talked to Anamanaguchi About Bitcoin, Memes, and Dick Tricks
Get to know Anamanaguchi, the Internet's sexiest 8-bit boy-band. They poop together, they have sleepovers, and they just launched a pizza into space.
Remember how absurdly significant video games felt as a kid? Anamanaguchi do—their newest album Endless Fantasy distills the agony and ecstasy of power-ups, extra lives and checkpoints into jolts of 8-bit flavored pop-punk, musically equivalent to chugging as many Redbulls as you can afford on a 5th grade allowance and playing Mario Party way past bedtime. Chiptune blips inject their music with video game unreality, an increasingly relatable sensation in a world where mobile technology saturates daily experience with the breakneck virtual pace of Sonic The Hedgehog. If you need proof check the video for "Endless Fantasy," in which the 'Guchi Men launch a pizza into space via weather balloon. Eager to get to the bottom of all this viral content creation I grabbed a slice with the Four Horse-Studs of the Singularity—Pete Berkman, Luke Silas, Ary Warnaar and James DeVito—and emerged with a fascinating interview on the ins and outs of Web 4.20 culture, including (but not limited to) memes, bitcoins, personal branding, and dick tricks.
Noisey: How do you guys build group morale and trust?
Pete Berkman: We poop together. We poop in group toilets that are large enough to seat four men of adult size.
Are there railings?
Luke Silas: No, we have to hold each other out. Its a trust exercise.
James DeVito: All our legs are interlocked in the middle. We've been training for as long as we've been a band to miss each other's legs.
Luke: The legs are on the inside, it's about trust and accuracy.
Are you facing forward or backwards?
Luke: Forwards. Have you ever seen Cliffhanger with Sylvester Stallone? Its' a lot like that, where you're on the precipice about to fall off. You're trying to not fall in, because it is big enough to drown.
James: It's also difficult because there are only six or seven of those in the country so we have to wait.
Do you plan your tours around accessibility of group toilets?
Pete: Not only do we plan around that but we have to wait until we all have to go at the same time and we're nearby one, so thats why our rider is very complex. We have person-specific riders so that our diets are in sync. I'll have a steady diet of Flinstones vitamins and gummy bears and other gummy vitamins to help me go. Ary actually poops artificial poop. He doesn't know how to poop yet, he's figuring that out. Part of his rider is fake poop that's not digestible, it just comes out the other end. Luke, he'll eat anything. He can poop on command, he's been practicing the longest, and James…
Have you ever had a mishap while pooping as a group?
Luke: Not major, but we wouldn't be a band if we hadn't.
Pete: Practice makes poo-fect.
What do you all think about bitcoins?
Pete: I think bitcoin is sick. I'm ready for the world to be all credits and stuff, like in sci-fi movies where its just creds and shit. Money's gonna go away.
Do you guys ever use the deep web?
Pete: I'm not on the deep web, but I've dug deep before, I've done some spirit surfing, found deep things. What I really like to do online is google a name like Randy or Todd. Then I Google an adjective like "Randy goofy" and go into Google Image and filter by extra large image, and I'll find all these extra large images of businessmen. You can zoom in real close and see their pores and stuff. Whenever I'm in the Apple store I'll set all the backgrounds to these, because they're at super high displays, so they'll take up the whole thing and you'll just see this huge nose.
Ary Warnaar: We're also only releasing the new album on Silk Road.
What was your first social networking experience?
Pete: Mine was in 1998 on goth messageboards and punk and ska message boards, where I would argue about punks vs. preps and make my AOL chatroom signature tricked out with sick italics and those hacker rainbow fonts.
James: I was mostly talking about cartoons, a lot of Thundercats.
Do you think something is lost on kids nowadays who don't have those kinds of anonymous chatrooms?
Pete: Yeah, in a chatroom you got to talk to people you don't kow but now your experience is limited to things that you do know and things they think you might ike, whereas you got to be surprised by things you were just thrown into. That's how I found out about a lot of cool music. l was in a punk message board and someone was talking about goth, and so I went on a goth message board and heard about a hundred weird bands from people whose names I'll never know.
Luke: I mean, that can still happen, you just don't have the anonymity.
Pete: But that's what was cool about it, the anonymity. Mark Zuckerberg said something about Facebook— he said, for a Facebook user the squirrel in your front yard might be more important to you than a kid starving in Africa. Its like, that might be true, but who gets to decide? Nowadays that websites have so much content that they have to filter it down and deicde what you want to see so they can actually handle the weight of you being on the website.
Yeah, especially in the case of keyword driven sites like Buzzfeed.
Pete: Yeah, its about keeping you on the website for as long as possible, like, "You like this? You like this? Check this shit out!" As opposed to challenging you with a dissenting opinion or something that might shock you. That stuff still exists, but nowadays you curate your own experience instead of being throw into the pool of it.
Luke: I'm hard-pressed to say, I don't want to comment on what the experience is for kids nowadays because it's probably just as crazy and mysterious and awesome.
Pete: What's weirder is they're born into it. We've had the experience of not being born into it, then going into it. It's fucking cool, kids connecting to each other, born knowing everything about each other. That's pretty next level shit for humanity and its going to either really fuck us up or really make us really sick. I think it depends on how we use those tools.
Any advice for kids nowadays, on how to make their online personal brand a little sicker?
Pete: Yeah, I mean when you're a band on Twitter, you always want to be talking about boring things. Like, "This is where my show is, buy tickets to my show," stuff like that. When you are a kid you want to be tweeting stuff like, "This is the homework I'm doing right now." Don't be funny, just update. Don't have any fun, thats my advice. Tell people exactly what your doing. Give me the facts kid, I want to know exactly what you're doing. Did you do you homework? If seven-year-old Jason has not eaten his lunch, I can tweet at him to eat his lunch.
If you guys were at a middle school sleepover, how would that work?
Pete: I think Ary's house.
Ary: We've had the most sleepovers at my house so far.
James: I'd bring the TVs and videogames and shit.
Pete: Ideally we'd have a tent going on, a fort, indoor fort, probably some Mickey's hand grenades, some Goldeneye.
James: We're in middle school.
Peter: Oh, well then probably Four Loko. We'll be sexting on snapchat and trying to get other twelve-year-olds to come over and then not talking to them when they get there, 'cause we're afraid.
Did you guys ever do dick tricks at sleepovers? Those were a significant part of my youth.
Pete: Well, James can do the fruit basket.
James: You put your junk in between your legs and close them, and you look like a female from the front.
Luke: I think it's weird and makes you a bad person.
Pete: Whenever we had sleepovers I would usually bring the video games, Luke would bring the snacks cause he has really good taste, and James would bring the itinerary of dick tricks to try out for the night. We'd do it at Ary's house, cause his parents are really supportive. And sometimes they'll come down during. They're cool parents, like Sublime's parents. I feel like we are who we are because Ari's parents let us do dick tricks.
If you guys had done an MTV Cribs, what would you have liked to display in your house?
Pete: I used to have an arcade in my apartment cause my roomate built a custom arcade with a Dreamcast, xBox, and a hacked Wii. He got literally every game in this arcade, and we had it for a year until he decided to move it into his office.
Ary: I'd have so many friends over at my house that they couldn't even come in.
Pete: I really want that waterslide from Blank Check that comes from your bedroom to the pool, and I want a bunch of lawnchairs for the pool where the drummer from No Doubt will just be chilling, like on the episode of Cribs that No Doubt had.
So you guys are basically showing off your cool friends?
Pete: No food or shelter.
Luke: That was a pretty good Cribs trope, just having crowds of people chilling on their phones in one room, like "Oh, what do we have going on here? Oh look, it's Kid Rock." Like, come on, you knew that this was happening today.
If you could sell one item of Anamanaguchi merch on Skymall, what would it be?
Pete: An inflatable James. They have a lot of pool floats in Skymall, and I think inflatable James would be good.
Ary: Maybe one of those pillows you sleep with.
Pete: A James boyfriend pillow.
Luke: complete with detachable fruit basket.
Pete: So you can get the real sleepover experience. Also I've always wanted a secret kitty litter thing. Maybe there would be an inflatable Luke where you could open his stomach and its filled with kitty litter, so the cat could poop in his stomach.
James: Pete's head could be a shower sponge, a loofah. The Pete Berk-fah.
Pete: I like that. I wanna be with you in your most intimate moments. And I would record phrases for you, like, "Hey, you look nice today" or "Hey, did you watch game of thrones last night?"
Luke: And the head lights up in case of a blackout so you can find your way out of the shower.
Pete: Also my eyes will function as sirens and will call 911. It's also LifeAlert. The most important thing is that you're getting value. Its a loofah, it's a friend, and its a siren
Ary: Also it would have a huge toothy grin, which is made of pumice.
Pete: I think Ary would be a helmet you can put on that would be his face, Deadmau5 size, with crazy hair growing out. On the inside it would be a hygiene thing, or a sensory deprivation zone. It would shave your face, brush your teeth, put your mouthguard on.
James: We can let Ary decide, but I think Ary has patented the only Hover-Round like device that's licensed for skateparks.
What's a Hover-Round?
Pete: The Hover-Round was actually invented by Tom Kruse, not to be confused with the actor Tom Cruise. K-R-U-S-E, I'm not kidding, There's a commercial on TV where you see all these old people on scooters and there's inspirational music and this guy wearing a dress shirt, and he's like, "I'm Tom Kruse." No you're not!
Luke: Ary's entire body is screenprinted on the seat and the headrest is his face. There's grindrails underneath it.
Can you get air with it?
James: Sure, as much as you want.
Ary: The Skymall's the limit.
Cool. So, what are all of your favorite physical textures?
Pete: I'm really into N64-style aquatic surfaces, where you approach them and there's nothing behind them. Also bubble rainbows are really good, they have no red in them.
Ary: I have the opposite, I hate groups of things in circles. Like Pomegranate, I can't do that. All the seeds, I can't do that. Or lotus seeds, or barnacle clusters.
What's the scariest thing that's ever happened to you in Brooklyn?
Pete: My WiFi went out once, and I had to send an important email.
Does your WiFi have a funny name?
Pete: We have an album named Don Metropolis, so we named it Dong Metropolis. The password is 4dudes4u. Its pretty sketch.
If you could score any TV show, which one and what cameo role would you give yourselves?
Pete: And what cameo role would you have?
Ary: Guy getting arrested. Also I would definitely score Xavier Renegade Angel, and I would cameo as the snake.
Pete: I also had a job scoring the Game of Thrones theme song. So the theme song goes, "Bum-bum-ba-ba-ba-bum," but the lyrics go "Thrones, yeah, Game of thrones, yeah, Game of Thrones." You gotta say the name of the show. Brand consistency.
Word is that the name "Anamanaguchi" comes from college internships you guys held at Armani, Prada and Gucci, respectively. What did you learn there?
Pete: Friendship, group poop, teamwork, sewing.
Luke: If I took one thing away from that, it was a lot of clothing. Free clothing.
James: It's all about who you know. Location, location, location.
Ary: Counterpoint and music theory. For all the interns at Prada they have a good music program where you're required to do thirteen hours a week. That's where I learned everything I know about music. They have a good classical program, and a lot of harmony stuff, vocal training.
Pete: A lot of models from Prada wind up on the Disney Channel, because they you have to be a triple threat to be on the Disney Channel. You have to be a classical musician, you have to be able to sing and you have to walk on the runway. That's what a triple threat is. But for real, I wouldn't say I learned nothing. I learned how to steal clothes.
How would you steal clothes?
Pete: It's all about taking them. Put them on, then you wear them and they're yours.
What about the little alarm?
Pete: When that happens just say, "No, no, you got the wrong guy."
Luke: Put it in your mouth so when it goes off you silence it.
Pete: It sounds like you're whistling.
What are your least favorite memes?
Pete: Oooh, I hate forever alone. This dude tagged on my fucking block just the words "forever alone," it wasn't even with the art. Dude, I fucking hate you, you should be forever alone and I hope you die. I'm normally a really happy guy, and I fucking hate that. Just the whole attitude of forever alone, like "Ooh, I'm really depressed." Just fuck off, be happy. Get better. I told Luke about that and he said to replace it with, "Forever together, never alone."
What would that face look like?
Pete: It would be the Earth, but the Earth would be one group toilet and everyone would be pooping in it.
Ary: I'm trying to think of more memes that I hate but I can't think of any.
I personally hate when people say "All of the things."
Pete: Oh yeah, I hate "all of the things," I hate "feels." I hate anything that's fake enthusiastic, like if you're that enthusiastic you should be able to come up with an original response.
Luke: To be fair, ten years ago everybody was saying "Fuck you, faggot" and now they're saying "All of the feels." I guess that's an improvement.
Pete: Yeah, being zany has become the greatest cultural currency at this point. Showing your idiosyncracy, what makes you unique.
The elevation of the nerd to a mainstream cultural protagonist.
Pete: The nerd… we've spent so many years talking about what nerds mean. I feel like nerd was just a by-product of TV culture, like the first nerd that existed probably was what you imagine in a 1950's stock high-school image, with the pocket protector. They had to come up with this stereotype, this trope. I think the big problem with nerds right now is that they don't realize that they're the protagonist, and they're playing the victim. Like, dude, making fun of jocks for sports is exactly like them making fun of you for liking Dungeons And Dragons, get over it. Jocks are just nerds about sports. We have to get over this idea of personal sovereignty and ego and just explore everything together, and that's always been the message of our music. We're trying to channel the euphoria of the shared experiences we all grew up with because of the internet. Me and some kid who grew up in the fucking desert, we both played Final Fantasy 7. We have shared experiences that are virtual.
Definitely. I guess the one thing I'm concerned with nowadays is that collective idolization of shared experiences leads to people sharing content instead of creating content, you know, subsuming their sense of humor within some viral meme template without actually communicating.
Pete: Dude, yeah, that shit drives me mental. Its funny, I feel like we're on the right track, but then there's what you mentioned, people sharing this totally empty content without thinking. You can look at mass culture in a lot of different ways. We visited Japan a few years ago, and it was really amazing, seeing the ways they treat global culture. It's very different. They have pizzerias that are like Italian pizzerias, bakeries that are French bakeries, and they are all based off models from other places, but you can still tell that it's a distinctly Japanese restaurant. Whereas, in the US, you take Italian pizza and it becomes Pizza Hut, something everyone can do and everyone can replicate. It's a different approach to a mass global mindset. I think its really important to put a personal touch on something that you are taking. That's what a remix is. No one wants to hear the same song, they want to hear how its filtered through someone else's ideas.
Ezra Marcus hates the Internet because Ezra Marcus is the Internet. He's on Twitter - @tryna_functi0n