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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah has been home to great ska bands for decades — Swim Herschel Swim in the ’80s, Stretch Armstrong in the ’90s, and Two and a Half White Guys in the 2000s.
The Anchorage wants to make sure the 2010s are taken care of.
Over the past six years, the six-piece group — Derek Harman (guitar, lead vocals), Erik Vorkink (trumpet, backing vocals), Evan Wharton (trombone), Myles Lawrence (saxophones, guitar), Jake Bills (bass) and Jason Bohman (drums) — has released two full-length albums and two EPs.
Now they’re gearing up for a new record, due out in early 2018.
“Over the years our lineup has changed around a bit as members had to move on for various reasons, but we’ve been fortunate to continually find some of the most talented musicians in Utah to be part of this project,” Bohman said.
Despite lineup changes, the band’s sound has stayed consistent — aggressive third-wave ska, driven by punk chords and big vocal hooks, in the vein of RX Bandits and Streetlight Manifesto.
“Oddly enough, I feel like our sound hasn’t really evolved much over the years. It has definitely refined itself and improved in quality, but we haven’t made a very big shift in our sound in any specific direction that I’ve noticed,” Bohman said. “We’ve enjoyed not really limiting ourselves to a ‘style.’ We have songs that are heavy and high energy, and songs that are lighter and more melodic, but it wasn’t a progression over time. It has always been mixed in.”
Not afraid to go big
The band was able to show off all those different styles and musical tastes on its incredibly adventurous 2015 album, Regrow.
“Regrow was a really interesting project and something that I’m very proud to have been a part of,” Bohman said. “It was a concept album that sort of developed itself during the writing process. Derek was experimenting with several writing techniques while creating the riffs and chord progressions for the songs. The album as a whole mirrors itself — each song in the first half has a corresponding song in the second half — and ends with a reprise of sorts that visits elements of most of the album.”
If that wasn’t ambitious enough, the album also includes four instrumental interludes based on recurring melodies and lyrical content from the album.
Completing the trilogy
The Anchorage’s upcoming album will build on the band’s previous work — but come from a much different place.
“Half of our band has changed since we released Regrow and the three of us who were part of that release are all in a very different place since we wrote those songs,” Bohman said. “With the new songs, we also took a different writing approach and the results were pretty rad.”
“Our two albums had very specific lyrical themes," Bohman added. "Bridges was almost exclusively based around loss and frustration. The songs were written while Derek and I were both in a pretty dark place and it came through with the songs often sounding bitter and unhappy. Regrow was written about the mental recovery of letting go and moving on from that dark place. It was a very contemplative album, and the mood of a lot of the songs had a very introspective feel."
“With our next album, we wanted to take it a step further and focus on the feeling of looking toward the future," he said. "The past is done, the healing has happened, and our future is what we choose to make of it.”
While fans wait for the new album to drop, they can stream all of the The Anchorage’s past releases on Bandcamp.