WORDS: BECTON SIMPSON

The differences between Ceremony’s 2015 release ‘The L Shaped Man’ and their 2019 full length ‘In The Spirit World Now’ are pretty marked and vast. The former is full of eerie post-punk Joy Division kinda vibes. The latter is bright modern indie punk with synths and shimmery guitars. But in many ways those two albums still feel connected. If you go back even further in Ceremony’s history, you’ll find they used to be a shouty little punk band with more of a classic hardcore style. The weird thing is, all of records work in their own way. Some might say that genre is dead, and while Ceremony’s guitarist Anthony Anzaldo might not agree with that statement, it certainly seems to be a fluid concept for this unique Californian punk band.

“I couldn’t begin to guess as to what our next release would sound like,” he said, and if that doesn’t sum it up then nothing will. There’s no hints or clues given in any of their records as to what the next one might sound like. They’re all unique and of themselves and as Anthony pointed out, the band are “never settled. We are searchers.” Always pushing themselves and moving forward, never backwards, and yet keeping an open mind. They don’t consciously search for some kind of fresh new sound. It just happens. “Ceremony is composed of ingredients only found in nature. We cook with nothing artificial.”

“I couldn’t begin to guess at what our next release would sound like”

Their most recent album, however, was cooked up with producer Will Yip, who’s worked with such artists as Code Orange, Citizen, Turnstile, Turnover and the Menzingers. It was a joy to work with him, says Anthony. “Will is an incredible talent,” he remarked. “He pushed us hard as performers.” And it gave them the results they wanted. ‘In The Spirit World Now’ was a triumphant album, one which Discovered voted as Album Of The Year for 2019, a year which was pretty triumphant for the band generally. Anthony’s personal high point though, was when they “covered ‘Cars’ by Gary Numan in London this past Fall. The crowd was singing along to the synth melody and it felt like we were in the middle of a rowdy football (soccer for the layman) match. It was a wonderful time.”

And while Anthony’s favourite track on the record is ‘Presaging The End’ (“We followed the yellow brick road and met the Oz himself in the process of writing this song”) he said the one that most summed up the theme of the overall record was the title track itself ‘Into The Spirit World’. Having said that, the band don’t think too much about that kind of thing while they’re actually in the process of making their music. “We don’t consider other people while creating,” Anthony explained. “Only after the album has been completed and a release date has been set do we start to factor in the audience and begin thinking of ways to promote the music and how they will react to the record.”

“I believe being punk means to be in control of your art”

And reaction to ‘In The Spirit World’ was mostly positive, with Anthony thanking their loyal fanbase for always sticking with them and coming along for the wild ride that is Ceremony. “We are very lucky to have a loyal fan base that encourages us to make these stylistic and sonic leaps,” he said, discussing the reception it’s been having to live audiences, adding that it’s been “a lot of fun to play live. We love the challenge of figuring out how to incorporate our new material with our previously released material.”

But regardless of their many changes sonically in terms of style and genre, at the heart of it, Ceremony are still punk, encompassing all the many different variants, and Anthony believes its still relevant to be punk in 2020 although it’s been “evolving since the term was coined” and means “so many different things to so many different people. In regards to a musician or a band I believe being punk means to be in control of your art.” If that’s the case, Ceremony are most definitely punk, because they’re very much in control, and although they’ve “yet to start working on new music” they still have some exciting things planned for 2020, although not much they could talk about at this stage. “We are hoping to commemorate our 15th year in some sort of fashion,” said Anthony mysteriously. “Stay tuned…”

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