ANA KEFR – A Metal Odyssey Interview!

Upon my first complete listen through of Ana Kefr’s The Burial Tree (II), I realized many things. Firstly, there can’t possibly be any ego’s happening within a band such as this? Musical parts cannot “connect together” in such an uncommon way of effectiveness for there to be any indecisiveness amongst Ana Kefr. Secondly, this bands music changes like the seasons throughout The Burial Tree (II), while never lessening their firm grip on an all-embracing Metal sound, while threading in an Extreme Metal style. Thirdly, it is not advisable to pigeonhole Ana Kefr into any one exclusive Metal genre. From Progressive instrumentation with woodwinds to Black and Death Metal vocals, Ana Kefr provides the listener with a vast landscape of Metal and musical styles.

Lastly, this is a smart band. Why? Ana Kefr obviously does not hang out with status quo and their philosophical lyrics are written to not just make you ponder, their lyrics make you think. Yes, there are many up and coming Metal bands of all genres being heard around the globe, only Ana Kefr isn’t cookie cutting their way to the top. When an interview opportunity with Ana Kefr arose for Stone, the obvious choice was to accept it.

Ana Kefr is a band that avoids what I find annoying in Progressive Metal. This band does not play with bothersome excessiveness, nor is there ever a chance they will ever cater to the plastic side of the music industry. Ana Kefr is a band that plays together and a band that does interviews together. Let me introduce you to their names, then indulge in what Ana Kefr had to say:


Rhiis D. Lopez – lead vocals, keyboards & clarinet

Kyle Coughran – rhythm guitar & vocals

Brendan Moore – lead guitar, saxophone & vocals

Alphonso Jiminez – bass

Shane Dawson – drums & percussion

* Ana Kefr originate from Riverside, California. A May 3rd, 2011 release date is scheduled for The Burial Tree (II), on Ana Kefr’s own imprint label: Muse Sick.

Stone: Which took longer to write, the lyrics or the music for “The Burial Tree (II)”?

Rhiis: The Burial Tree’s writing and rehearsals began around the beginning of November 2009, shortly after the departure of our former lead guitarist and drummer. Kyle and I basically laid to rest about 13 songs that had been written then, what we had originally thought was going to be the material for Volume 2. Instead of holding onto these songs, we basically started from scratch. “In the House of Distorted Mirrors” was the first song we wrote when the band had been stripped down to just the two of us, “Ash-Shahid,” “Paedophilanthrope” and “Monody” were written around then, but they were a bit different – the material we write tends to undergo multiple revisions. The only song that is on The Burial Tree that was an idea already written is “Thaumatrope,” but that song also underwent some changes when we secured new musicians who were able to do more with their instruments. When Brendan, Alphonso and Shane became a part of the band, we brought the material we’d written to them and they added their own touch to the songs, and then as a full writing team we cranked out the rest of the material over the span of about one year. It probably would have taken a shorter amount of time, but Kyle and I had to first catch up the new guys on how to perform our older material before we could focus on writing for a new album. Once they were caught up, we also needed to get back into a routine of playing shows, and that also takes time, energy and resources away from concentrating on writing an album of new material. The last song written was “Bathos and the Iconoclast,” which was completed probably a month or two before we entered the studio. I have a feeling the writing process will move faster next time, mostly because everyone is caught up now and we’ve gotten used to the way we all operate.

ANA KEFR – The Burial Tree (II) album cover, which was created by the Dutch artist Bianca Van Der Werf and is aptly titled: The Watcher.

Rhiis: Lyrically, it all began with a ton of notes, and it remained as pages and pages of notes and ideas until about 2 months before we entered the studio. I wanted the music to be complete before I invested time and thought into what the vocals would do, so I just kept organizing and adding to this pile of notes. I went through a lot of ideas, many of which never made it onto the album, the whole writing process took probably 6 months. I knew that I wanted this album to be ridiculously layered with ideas and meaning, so that you could keep going back and re-discovering new things if you really paid attention. I’m really happy with the album, I feel like all the hard work put into every note and word has really paid off.

Stone: When you sit down to write the skeleton of a song, which instrument is it initially played on?

Kyle: Well, there are many ways we go about writing a song. I usually start by using the instrument of the mind to create an idea or feeling in particular, then from there I transfer it to my guitar. There have been many incidents where this process accrued on The Burial Tree. I also just like sitting down with another band member to create a song, either way it never falls short of Ana Kefr.

Stone: Which is that “one song” on “The Burial Tree (II)” that you feel the strongest emotional attachment to?

Alphonso: If I had to pick one song, it would have to be “In the House of Distorted Mirrors.” It was the first challenging song I had to go through. I remember going home and being worried about my skills. I had just joined the band and I didn’t want to make them feel like they made a wrong choice. So I had to practice more than usual. After having that song on lock…I knew it was going to get a little easier. I was wrong.

Stone: What non-Metal music influences and/or inspirations do you have to share? Be it bands, musicians, albums or songs? What band or musician is your greatest Metal influence?

Shane: Well, I have many influences. but if I had to pick one it would be Mike Portnoy. His drumming style is what got me into metal. Without his style of playing, I dont know what kind of music I would be playing.

Shane: The main musical influence that is not metal would be Frank Zappa. In my opinion he is one of the greatest musicians ever. “Joe’s Garage” and “Apostrophe” are two of my favorite albums of all time, along with “Dark side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd and “Colors” by Between the Buried and Me. But if you asked me to refer one artist for you to check out, it would be Zappa. Anything from his work is a musical adventure.

Stone: Woodwinds add another element of sound to “The Burial Tree (II)”, which only enhances an already progressive style your band exhibits. Are there other non-conventional Metal Music instruments you are considering to use, on future Ana Kefr albums?

Brendan: I was thinking about adding a slide whistle, kazoo, and a triangle in the next album. Actually that’s not true, I’ll probably stick to what I know how to play since triangle and kazoo lessons are so expensive. However I’m sure there will be some other obscure instrumentation on the next album, as well as a little more saxophone and clarinet than what’s on The Burial Tree (II). But, for now, I am simply focused on promoting this album in the meantime. When it comes to writing, the guitar parts and arrangements will be in place before anything else is brought into the mix.

Stone: If you could travel through time, what band or musician would you go to see performing live and why?

Kyle: I would travel back in time and examine the work and performance of Johann Sebastian Bach because of the wonderful music he has created. He is one of my big I’s.

Stone: What does the future hold for Ana Kefr touring?

Alphonso: We can not wait to get out there and tour for months, but we must start slow and build our tour in time. We will do the weekend shows, move up to a small northern California week tour, then travel a little farther from home. We will do our best to get out as much as we can. If we do this right, we could land a spot on a bigger tour.

Stone: How do you take care of your voice? Do you have any superstitions when it comes to vocal preparation?

Rhiis: I actually don’t take care of my voice by doing anything out of the ordinary. I’ve been making weird noises since I was a little kid, so I think my throat is used to the abuse. If I do get hoarse, I’ll stop talking for a day to let my vocal chords heal, but I usually don’t have any problems. I’ve had some ginger root, coffee and tea in the vocal booth when I’m screaming my brains out, but nothing seems to make a difference. I don’t have any superstitions regarding vocal preparation, but screaming along to Bloodbath on the way to a show or the studio seems to get me warmed up.

Stone: With so much chaos happening in the world around us, what would a soundtrack for mankind sound like in 2011, as performed by Ana Kefr?

Brendan: Honestly, that’s what I believe The Burial Tree sounds like. People often ask me to describe our sound, in which case I will reply with “if a brutal metal band wrote an epic movie soundtrack to humanity as we know it.” Our album encompasses our world and humanity as a whole in terms of the absolute feeling you get. It is organized chaos that stretches from the darkest tragedy and aggression to some of the most beautiful moments you can imagine; I feel it is similar to real life. Mankind is capable of absolute evil but also absolute good and plenty of gray. It is not often that there is a sharp contrast between the two. Tragic events, as well as noble ones, often contain a series of scenarios that lead to them. But that is not always the case. Sometimes it can take an unexpected turn for the best or for the worst. The music of The Burial Tree is similar in terms of how it leads into some of these starkly different moments. Often there is a flow from our heaviest and darkest moments that build into a beautiful moment. But just when you think you have it figured out, you are hit with the unexpected. The album (much like real life) can seem very chaotic and unpredictable yet, when it is all said and done, you are left reflecting on what you just experienced. It’s hard to imagine anything else that makes as much sense.

Stone: Thank you Ana Kefr for sharing your thoughts and insights collectively, as a band.

To read my complete album review of Ana Kefr’s The Burial Tree (II), (posted on February 9, 2011), just click the large header link below:

ANA KEFR – “The Burial Tree (II)” Progressively Extreme and Resists Metal Boundaries



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