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DM) Where was your first gig?
BM) Anubis Spire played its first live gig February 18, 1997 at Random Bullet records annual concert. It was interesting to see the audience's reaction to the band. The CD had not yet been released, and no one knew what to expect. After a slew of other alternative bands, all of which fit their fashion and music category perfectly, here comes this bizarre-looking bunch of guys playing this weird hybrid of heavy metal, fusion and middle eastern music. The things people wrote about that show were very telling. There were a lot of comments about our appearance, which I think says a lot about the current music scene. More people were interested in how tall (bassist) Tim Costley was (6'7"), how much they thought I could bench-press (well under a million pounds...), or why I had so many doubleneck guitars on stage (I use a lot of alternate tunings). Very few really listened to the music, and those who did couldn't figure out a comfortable pigeonhole to stuff us into, so they glossed over it and wrote about our clothes. Which is a shame because by the end of our set, people were beginning to loosen up and let the music in. Arabic and India rhythms are very addicting once you warm to them. Since the CD release, we've been seeing more and more audiences who know what to expect and recognize their favorites from the first few notes. That's really gratifying! Little by little our audience is finding us.
DM) What does the name Anubis Spire mean?
RG) That's got to be the second most asked question we get! The first is always about our logo. People are always asking what both of them mean. The name really doesn't have any meaning, but it's got an interesting history. That strange squiggly thing is indeed our band logo. It comes from a rather controversial pottery shard unearthed by the famous (infamous?) archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, who discovered the lost city of Troy. Though dismissed as "bunk" by virtually everyone in his own time, Schliemann believed it to be..."without doubt, of Atlantian origin...perhaps even the royal seal itself!" Something told me it should be our logo. As far as the name goes, it came to me in a VERY lucid dream. As hokey as it sounds, it had a real impact on me. When I woke up, I scribbled the name down. In the dream I was standing in the middle of a long avenue (this was in relatively recent times since I recall the other people had clothes circa the turn of the century)--for some reason I seem to pin it down to just before WW1. As I looked down the avenue, I could see an army marching towards me. I turned to run and crashed into a huge obelisk. Picking myself up off the ground, I pushed the damn thing over. Everyone stopped running and came to look at what I'd done. Someone yelled, "THAT'S done it!" Then I was alone with the wreckage. The only piece of it large enough to read (it was covered with writing in English) were the words "Anubis Spire". Mystical revelation? Past-life incarnation leak? Jungian archetype overload (I don't even want to THINK what Freud would say...), message from the gods or just a weird dream? You decide.
DM) What is your songwriting process?
RG) I usually write the basic structures by just playing around alone in the studio. All of the pieces except "Underneath the Roswell Sun" and "Talisman of the Dreamer", which I wrote many years ago, were written like that. Sometimes they come easy and sometimes I really have to work at it. I don't know if other writers work the way I do, but I hear all the parts pretty much as they end up. Even as I'm working out the rhythm structure, I'm hearing the melody and lead voices. Most of the stuff on OLD LIONS (in the world of snarling sheep) grew from ideas I'd been working out for a while. The instrumentals all went through an evolution once I showed them to (drummer) Mick Loher. Mick is so creative that he won't just play what every other drummer would. He's got to mutate it until the drums are unique. He really loves odd off beat rhythms, yet he always stays within the boundaries of the material I've written. Still, he definitely changes the impact of the tune, always for the better! The drums and lead guitar are probably the most defining elements in the band's sound. A major label A&R guy told me they'd have to pass on ANUBIS SPIRE because of our "curious timing"! Mick and I both considered that quite a compliment! As Hendrix once said: "Maybe now you can't hear it...but you WILL!"
DM) Well after consulting my Aunt Marianne (Psychologist) and her fiancee Dimitrios (really smart Greek guy), I'm left with a few questions... Where did you get your BA and what was your major?
BM) Did I say I had a degree? What I MEANT to say was, "I was born on the Delta and spent my early dues-payin' time leading Blind Lemon throughout the Southland, before hoppin' a northbound freight and founding RANDOM BULLET RECORDS." (What are you tryin' to do, blow my rock n' roll credentials?)
DM) Have you read any Freud or Jung?
BM) Yes, though I'm more interested in Jung's metaphyical ideas than his earlier stuff. I've read Freud mostly for historical perspective. (and for something to do.)
DM) What is your ethnic background?
BM) I'm Scottish. The MacKechnie clan is a Sept. of the MacDonalds of Clan Ranald. My ancestors were among the original highlanders, which probablyexplains my full name... William Wallace MacKechnie, hailing from the northwestern coast around Loch Ness. My great grandfather brought the family to America.
DM) Where were you raised?
BM) My great grandfather settled in the mountains above the Delaware river in Glen Spey, NY. I was born just a bit down river in a little place named Sparrowbush, New York and lived around Port Jervis, also in New York, most of my early life. Except for a short period in Pennsylvania, I've lived somewhere in upstate New York my whole life.
DM) When you founded the band, were there problems between members of the band?
BM) ANUBIS SPIRE is made up of quite different personalities. Sometimes we just have to agree to disagree. Since none of us are kids anymore, and have all been in countless bands, we all tend to think that we've got the best handle on what will succeed. Unfortunately, I could care less about the mainstream acceptance of this music, and because I'm the person who conceived the band and wrote the material, I was always pressured to let more of the other members ideas into the mix. Sometimes it worked, but more often than not, I think it confused the focus. I've always believed that the best music comes about when you, as a musician, move out of its way. I'm not much of a "pop tunes" kind of guy. If I could do the first CD over, I'd take much more care with the production and remain closer to my original concept, which was to achieve a sort of "World Fusion" sound.
DM) Dmitrios is wondering, have you studied Egyptian history?
BM) Yes, it really is one of my passions! Even as a child, I've always felt a weird sort of connection with ancient Egypt. I think we all have had experiences like that. A feeling of strange familiarity about a culture that realistically we shouldn't have a clue or care about. I remember when I was six or so, my mother used to have her tea leaves read by a woman who "had the gift", as she would say. To keep me quiet, the woman offered me a choice of typical kid's books or picture books of all these ancient cultures. I went right for the one with the pyramid on the cover. She told my mother that this fascination with Egypt was probably a past life memory or incarnation leak. Maybe she planted the idea in my head or maybe there's actually something to it. The best book I've ever read on the subject is "The Search for Omm Sety"
DM) Aunt Marianne also says, "In any case, it sounds like founding the band came out of great turmoil in his life and was a way for him to recapture a deep darkdark, forgotten part of himself, i.e., a way for him to express himself, his creative side, the side he was hiding before and yet a part he knew was there from when he was young." What do you think?
BM) I think Aunt Marianne, Dimitrios, and you and I should form a production company and get this all on the radio!!!! It could be VERY lucrative! Seriously, a psychiatrist friend of mine, the late Dr. Brian DeGregorio, once talked to me for hours and when I asked him for his analysis, said "Bill, that's easy...you're nuts!" I can't argue with THAT!