It’s fitting that Chicago indie art-pop ensemble Anathallo traces its origins to a small Michigan town named Mt. Pleasant. There was no actual mountain nearby, but like most middle-class burgs, the place begged for input from active imaginations—for makeshift raft races on the Chippewa River, bridge dives in the summer, and rollerskating down the abandoned slides of an old water park. In the 16 years before the founding of Anathallo, Matthew Joynt’s days were filled with these things, and what space was left went to the arts: music lessons, theater productions, dance companies, limited engagement lip-sync shows (co-produced, for a parental audience of two, by his big sis), and a proto-grunge band called Clockwork that rehearsed like its namesake (6:30 a.m. every day before school). In 2000, Matt finally got serious, and with a crew of self-taught musicians and marching band ruffians, he assembled an ensemble that, to this day, exists at the exact intersection of innocence, optimism, ability and curiosity.
Anathallo’s early years were likewise packed, despite having seven or eight members at any given time. They released four independent EPs (one hand-painted, another packaged with dirt and wildflower seeds), stuffed their many odd instruments into every room that’d allow it (fans’ houses, 4-H clubs, churches, veterans halls), and slumbered under the roof of their green Dodge Caravan in hospital parking lots (these had the best lighting) when they were away from home, which was often. By the time the band released its first full-length in 2006—a shifting work of virtuosity and earnestness called Floating World—they’d racked up an astounding 18 national tours. The bulk of that year was also spent on the road (with two glockenspiels, as many an awed critic reported), and upon returning home, the band realized it was time to leave again.
Offered a permanent residency at a Chicago church (via friend and artist Tim Lowly), Anathallo moved en masse to the Windy City in January of 2007. They took up odd jobs tending to other people’s food, dogs and data, and practiced at Berry United Methodist for five hours each night. Taking their name’s Greek translation to heart (“to renew, refresh, or bloom again”), the crew’s current lineup tangled up their roots in new soil, cultivated their overlapping interests in literature, music and film, and grew heartily toward a new album. Following a trip out to California for Coachella, the seven Anathallians dropped their day-jobs and hunkered down in one of the church’s humid old rooms. With the daycare kids next door shooting them funny faces, the band wrote Canopy Glow, an album that finds the band in the same blessed headspace birthed by Mt. Pleasant (five of them are natives to the area, after all), but more focused than ever. Rumor has it, Anticon was the only label that Matt, Bret, Danny, Seth, Jeremiah, Erica and Jamie could all agree on.
* Matt Joynt: vocals, guitar, auxiliary percussion, piano
* Bret Wallin: trombone, auxiliary percussion, vocals
* Danny Bracken: guitar, auxiliary percussion, vocals
* Seth Walker: bass, vocals
* Jeremiah Johnson: drums, percussion, vocals
* Erica Froman: vocals, auxiliary percussion, autoharp
* Jamie Macleod: trumpet, piano, auxiliary percussion, vocals