I caught up with instrumental rockers, Annexed, as they sweated and wept into their bowls of super-hot Thai curries that had sprung up in the bowels of yet another non-descript Sydney hotel. The three core members, Tim Chang (guitar), Diego Mora (guitar) and Alejandro Gonzalez (drums) – live bass duties are handled by Ben Morgan – were keen to clue me in on the release of their debut album ‘When Philistines Joust’.
Recording began in June 2006 with pre-production and polishing of the actual song beginning a year to six months before that. Between then and now, everything from bass player trouble to enduring a massive wait on the album art kept the album on hold. Also, the boys are perfectionists when it comes to their work. Everything is specifically designed to meet their code. Their music, and the way they work, is technical; machine-like in every sense of the word.
The album itself is taut, tense and direct. Diego and Tim’s twin guitar lines twist around each other, stalking up on heavy riffs and keeping everything at just below boiling point, while Alejandro bashes his kit with prejudicial force. Open, ringing chords and massive drums revolve through heavy vocal-less choruses. The instrumental nature of the tracks ensures a machine-like quality runs through. It’s cold, but not inhuman; forceful, but not foisted upon you.
Annexed have been together for over five years; existing as a unit of close friends as well as band mates. Diego and Alejandro grew up and went to school together in Colombia, having played in metal bands together at an early age and moving to Australia after realising they couldn’t push their musical ideas further than the scene would allow. “People over there are so closed minded,” says Diego. “There’s just a metal scene, a punk scene and a salsa scene. And we didn’t really fit into any of them anymore.”
After receiving the fatal blow, an incident involving an unappreciative crowd and a lead singer in a purple skirt, the pair decided to move to Australia to study sound design. This was where they met Tim, who was born in Taiwan and raised in New Zealand. “To be perfectly honest, I think we all started playing together because we had no friends,” laughs Tim. “We were all foreign students and we didn’t know anyone, so we’d say ‘hey, what you doing this weekend? Wanna go drinking maybe . . ?’ ”
Through those marathon drinking sessions the boys got to know each other’s musical tastes and eventually hooked up as a three-piece to utilise their school’s rehearsal potential, using their class time to jam out and piece together tracks. “We used to throw up mikes in front of all the instruments so it’d look like we weren’t just rehearsing. So people would walk past and think, ‘oh they must be doing a live take’. But we were just rehearsing and taking up all this studio time.”
Their first show was at the now defunct warehouse space in Ultimo, called Iraq. Even then they were still a three-piece, a revolving roster of bass players having been one of their constancies. Since then, smallish tours along the East Coast and pretty regular slots at the Lansdowne have stood them in good live stead.
With ‘When Philistines Joust’ finally finished and its launch and subsequent promotion just around the corner, I ask what else might be in store for the boys. And considering how long and arduous the making of the album was, I’m surprised to hear them mention how keen they are to jump back into a studio situation. Tim again: “We’re all just really stoked that it’s over with. If anything, we’re just looking forward to the next album because we’ve got half of it written. And because this one took so long we’re really keen to make up some time on the next one.”
It’s hard to keep studio buffs out of the studio. And if these guys are as keen as they make out, we should be hearing even more of their heavy thinking, heavy drinking mix of sounds very soon.