Let the current carry us out

Kris Anaya leads his 15-member band, An Angle, into sonic heartbreak

Kris Anaya looks pensive by the railroad tracks.

Kris Anaya looks pensive by the railroad tracks.

Photo By Jeff Gros

An Angle’s Kris Anaya has already been at Simon’s for an hour-and-a-half before I arrive. “I was bored and thought you might show up early,” he says, sitting at the bar of the 16th Street watering hole. He’s drinking chardonnay these days, since his friends have told him that his beer intake is making him fat. Even now, before the conversation has even begun, I can feel Anaya’s energy: a sort of shaky, trembling electricity that infuses everything he says and does with a twitchy intensity.

It might be a manic upswing that is taking hold of Anaya—he mentions later that he suffers from bipolar disorder—or the wine, or perhaps a sense of excitement about his ever-brightening future. In the past two years, An Angle has toured extensively, signed a record deal with Drive-Thru Records and played the famed South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas. Anaya has been embraced by the indie-rock scene (even as he’s criticized it) and, perhaps most importantly, is on the cusp of releasing a new album. That album, We Can Breathe Under Alcohol, will drop later this month and represents a significant step toward defining the sonic landscape of An Angle’s music.

“I felt like that, with this second record, I’ve grown a lot more,” Anaya says, sipping his second chardonnay. “Now that I know what I want to do musically, like what type of music I wanna do. … So, I’m really stoked about it. And when the third record comes out, it’ll be another step.”

Part of this step has been to make An Angle a more permanent band. That’s proving to be somewhat challenging—particularly since the public perception of the name “An Angle” has become synonymous with Anaya himself. Anaya wants his current crew (numbering 10 members on the CD, not including the five-member “We Can Breathe Under An Orchestra”) to be permanent members.

That more-solid An Angle idea is nowhere more apparent than in the new album’s opening track: the peppy and riveting “Green Water.” “The music career is killing my liver,” Anaya sings, his laconic delivery heavily reminiscent of Beck. “So let’s take the train out of the town. / We’ll follow it to the nearest body of water. / Let the current carry us out.” On the one hand, the image is that of suicide, but We Can Breathe is about not only the question of death and abandonment, but also the hope wrapped up in that sense of despair. Anaya sings later in the same song, “If I fall down now, will you pick me up?” The album seems to answer yes, but only if you want to be picked up.

Listening to Anaya, I wonder if he is someone who wants to be picked up or someone who wants to be left in the gutter. “I’m not too happy about myself right now,” he says later in the evening, drinking his third or fourth chardonnay now. “This music thing is definitely destroying me. There’re so many aspects—the drinking, the drugs. … I’d rather get married and live a normal life than be who I am, but I feel like I’m so deep into this that there’s no going back. Either I quit and be rid of this and be depressed and be like what I could have been, or I go on with it and just destroy myself.”

Anaya laughs to himself for a moment, perhaps realizing that he may have said a bit too much, but then again it’s nothing that an astute listener wouldn’t get from the new record anyway. An Angle bears its collective soul on this one, and that kind of truth is beautiful, even if it breaks your heart.