Person or Persons Unknown: Six Questions with Annakarina’s Craig Hodgkins

Person or Persons Unknown

 

Six Questions with Annakarina‘s Craig Hodgkins

by Asya Yanyo

 

Have you ever been going to an event somewhere, where you don’t really expect things to be different — you figure it’s totally going to be a fun night, but nothing out of the norm — then suddenly after you’ve walked in the door, something begins and BAM!, you are completely blown away?

Yes? No? Doesn’t matter, that’s basically the exact scenario of how I first heard Annakarina: I was attending a punk show with Eric in Charleroi, PA, last December. This show was about five minutes from our house — quite a change from our normal hour-plus drive, so I was happy to be attending for that reason — but with the inclusion of the word “punk” I didn’t expect to be hearing something that Eric later described to me as “Post-Mathcore,” but we did. It was seriously gorgeous in its expression of angst and precision side-by-side.

So Annakarina and their music really never left my mind after the show. Soon afterwards, I found out that someone had taped their whole set and put it on Youtube, and I’ve probably watched it like five times since then — needless to say, I was a fan.

Anyway, last month we were attending another punk show at the same venue — where as it turns out, Annakarina was going to be making another appearance — and on this day I happened to decide that I needed to drink A LOT of tequila before the show (and during). Probably because we were so close to home I was feeling a little more rebellious, I don’t know. Drunk or not, I was extremely excited to see Annakarina again, but this time I decided that I needed to talk to those guys. In my drunken stupor, I basically poured my inner fandom out for them, sharing the fact that Eric was a blogger, that we attend shows at least once a week in Pittsburgh, all sorts of stuff.

[Editor’s note: at one point, I recall she had told bassist Kurtis Kelley about the description I made up the first time we’d seen them. He seemed a bit puzzled, but then said, “Well, I know what post-hardcore is, and I know what math rock is, and — yeah I guess I can see that.”]

I’m sure they were like, who’s this crazy lady, but even so they were all very kind. I got introduced to them all one by one, and in particular I felt drawn to [guitarist/vocalist] Craig. In between bands I talked casually to him (or as casually as I could manage — remember I was very drunk) about his music, his friendship with the drummer and other bandmates, and soon I realized this guy was special pretty special.

In a way, I was feeling sort of annoyed that no one else we knew really knew anything about this band — because I’ve never seen them at any shows in Pittsburgh, and (I mean this in the nicest way possible) honestly they’re better then a few bands that we’ve seen playing other shows in the past. So I decided I needed to introduce Craig and his music to more people — so there’s the core reason for this interview. I think you’ll agree he’s quite a special guy — that magical combination of intelligence, wit, weirdness, awkwardness, and sincerity that you couldn’t fake if you tried. So here he is, pouring his heart out to you, via my six questions; I hope you will find him as endearing as I do, and I hope you will venture out to the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg this Sunday to see his band playing a charity show benefiting PLEA. Trust me, Annakarina is a band you won’t want to miss, and this guy is one of the major reasons for that.

 
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The “Signmeto” Unsigned Band of the Week: Dirty Shirt

Welcome to another installment of the “Signmeto” Unsigned Band of the Week feature, that thing where I talk about a band I found on the “Sign Me to Roadrunner Records” website.  You know the drill by now — you listen to some songs from a band you might not have heard before.  Then later, when they explode in popularity and sell a million records, you can scoff at all the bandwagon-jumpers, saying you’ve been a fan since the beginning.

Today, I’m presenting you with Dirty Shirt, who are from the Northern Transylvania region of Romania.  Their sound is made up of a hybrid of many different influences, but for the most part I would describe them as a sort of industrial nu-deathcore.  The band first formed in 1995, and over the next five years toured extensively throughout Romania, while also recording a few demos and a full-length album, Very Dirty, in 2000.

After a hiatus of a few years, they reformed in 2004, embarking on more touring and recording more demos, followed by a second full-length, Same Shi(r)t Different Day, recorded in 2009 and released in 2010.  Since that time, Dirty Shirt have kept themselves fairly busy playing more live shows across various parts of Europe, as well as putting together videos for three of the songs from their last album.  Those are now available for your viewing pleasure, and if you like what you hear, at the end of this post you’ll find some details how to download the album for free.

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