Lights, lasers and cats … oh my!

Anamanaguchi bring their 8-bit rock to Cincinnati

By Zach Rogers

Photo: New York-based chiptune quartet Anamanaguchi will perform at the Taft Theatre in Cincinnati on Dec. 17

Sometimes, bands choose to make music the conventional way, with guitars, drums, keyboards … those kinds of things. Other times, they use an old Atari, Nintendo or Game Boy to find that perfect sound. Anamanaguchi, a chiptune rock band from New York City, uses a little of both.

Formed in 2004, Anamanaguchi released their second full-length studio album, Endless Fantasy, in May, and have been touring and promoting the album ever since. On Tuesday, Dec. 17, the band will bring the bleeps and blurps to Cincinnati’s Taft Theatre, giving the city a look inside their world through 8-bit eyes.

“Basically, we want it to be completely overwhelming, in the best way possible,” said Luke Silas, who plays drums for the group. “And I mean, we’re getting there – we’re trying, you know?”

The seeds of the group were planted back in NYC, where all four members met through internships at Armani, Prada and Gucci. In fact, it was from the world of fashion that the name “Anamanaguchi” came to be. Guitarist Pete Berkman had been experimenting and making music with his old Nintendo since he was 15, and after teaming up with bassist James DeVito and guitarist Ary Warnaar, his ideas started taking on a more distinct shape. Berkman’s pop sensibilities mixed with Warnaar’s academic electronic leanings, making for a unique matchup. After Silas joined, the band was finally complete. By combining pop, punk and video games, Anamanaguchi found a sound that matched perfectly with today’s Internet age. It’s a sound that utilizes the best of vintage hardware in order to bring about feelings of fun, happiness and pleasure for all.

This has been quite a year for Anamanaguchi, beginning with the release of Endless Fantasy. To get the album made, the band turned to Kickstarter, a popular crowdfunding website, to raise enough money for the album’s production.

“We had been speaking to a couple of different record labels about putting it out, but none of them seemed like they were going to be able to offer the proper support we were looking for,” explained Silas. “It’s not like we were getting used or abused, but nothing sounded like a good fit. We had big plans for the album and we wanted its release to encompass a lot of things. If we had worked with a traditional label, I don’t think we would have been able to turn this year into what it’s been.”

The Kickstarter campaign was a huge success, and at the time it became the second most-successful music project to be funded on the website. The band’s initial goal of $50,000 was quickly exceeded, with the project eventually raising more than $277,000.

“We knew there were people out there who appreciate what we’re doing,” said Silas, “but I guess we didn’t realize what that level of support really was.”

The support was enough for the band to accomplish everything they wanted to do for the album, and in the process they also realized the number of fans who wanted to see this album become a reality.

“We were just completely blown away, and completely and utterly humbled and hopeful about it after that,” Silas admitted.

From there, the group embarked on a tour in support of the album from May through July, which included a stop in their hometown for an appearance on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” Throughout the tour, the group treated audiences with a DIY setup of lights and sounds designed by their bassist, making sure fans received a one-of-a-kind concert experience. Now back out on the road, Anamanaguchi want to take their live show to all the places they missed the first time around.

In the middle of touring, the band found time to shoot a couple of music videos for the songs “Meow” and “Endless Fantasy” off the album. As a result of the successful Kickstarter campaign, the band not only had the finances to shoot the videos themselves, but they also had complete creative control over the final product.

“We always like to have some kind of visual component with our music, and the two we made were the ones that we had the clearest ideas of what we wanted to do,” Silas said. “‘Meow’ took about three days, which included some grueling all-nighters, but the end results were totally worth it.”

With all the success this year has brought them, it seems like the perfect time for Anamanaguchi to take over the world. After the tour, the group hopes to put out more music, and maybe even another video or two. They’ll also be heading across the Atlantic to play a few dates in the U.K. in February.

Whatever the plan may be, one thing is abundantly clear: Anamanaguchi isn’t here to take on the world’s problems; instead, they’re here to make you forget about all that crap. They’re here to make you happy, they’re here to make you dance and, most importantly, they’re here to have as much fun as humanly possible.

Anamanaguchi will perform on Tuesday, Dec. 17 at the Taft Theatre, 317 E. Fifth St. in Cincinnati. Admission is $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. with the show at 8:30 p.m. For more information, please visit 


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