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Adam Baker of Annuals

Mountains out of Molehills

Annuals, the sextet that emerged from North Carolina with the critically acclaimed 2006 debut Be He Me, is back on the road in support of Such Fun, a solid sophomore release that teeters between mid-tempo rock, whimsical string and piano melodies, and sawdust honky-tonk arrangements. Frontman Adam Baker spoke with SF Station during phone interview from the road in Louisiana. Annuals perform at Slimís on February 21st.

SF Station (SFS): Youíve had a lot going on over the past couple of years. Have your shows changed at all?

Adam Baker (AB): Itís hard. When we are headlining, the crowds are slowly but surely getting a little bit bigger each time we pass through a city. I guess it is word of mouth. I feel like things are getting better, and we are making somewhat of a living. At least I can afford to live in my bass playerís basement.

SFS: At the end of 2007, you said you were more broke than you had ever been in your life. It sounds like that has changed.

AB: Iím not far from that same place; Iíve just learned to be a bit more frugal.

SFS: You also said that your favorite place to perform is the "upper west coast". Does that still hold true?

AB: I like to perform everywhere, but with touring, I love the scenery up there. We are on highways all day long, so itís all about whatís outside the window. The mountains there are so gorgeous; I just want to die there.

SFS: Your new album features a very scenic mountain from a Bob Ross paintingÖ

AB: Indeed.

SFS: What led you to use that image?

AB: We just decided that was the image we wanted, and luckily instead of having to get some random artist, we got to use a piece of history because the Bob Ross estate was very excited to let us use it. Bob Ross was not very protective of his work and he wanted everyone to enjoy it. His legacy lives on even after his untimely death.

SFS: Were you more confident going into the studio with this record, following the early success after Be He Me?

AB: I was more confident because I had been through the process. The first time, there was no confidence involved because it was just practicing and someone happened to hear the songs.

I definitely felt confident, but there were certain fits of terror when I thought it wasnít good enough. It happened before and it will happen again. It happens with anyone who cares about what they are doing -- well, maybe that is not entirely true.

SFS: Was the recording process much different with the new label?

AB: Yeah, it was. It took a little bit of getting used to for me and the people who we were working with. I wasnít used to working to my full creative potential around a bunch of other people who are just sort of working. But I got used to it, and it made things go a lot faster. Instead of setting up stuff the wrong way, I had people there who have a lot more experience than me.

SFS: Did you work better in that environment?

AB: I donít know if it worked better. It was probably more efficient.

SFS: Many of your songs feature complex arrangements. Is that the type of music you grew up listening to?

AB: Surprisingly, no. It just kind of came out. One of my favorite things about creating music is I can create whatever song I want. When I record, I can go in and change a song and make it be whatever I want it to be.

SFS: Was it hard to co-produce this album?

AB: It wasnít that hard, but Iím not sure if he [co-producer Jacquire King] was prepared because when musicians produce they arenít always as hands-on as I prefer to be. I wanted to engineer and produce and deal with mike placement and compression.

Producing is something I want to do. God forbid, if Annuals canít make a living among the thousands of other bands that are out there, I know I can produce and engineer and work in studios for the rest of my life. Itís good that I can put these CDs in my production repertoire.

SFS: Youíre building a resume?

AB: Thatís what I tell my mom so she doesnít worry.

Annuals perform at Slimís on February 21st. Tickets are $14. Doors open at 8pm and the show starts at 9pm.