From clockwise top left, The Anderson Council are singer-songwriter-guitarist Peter Horvath, guitarist David Whitehead, guitarist-vocalist, bassist Simon Burke and drummer Christopher Ryan. PHOTO BY JOHN OSBORN
If you are a fan of British Invasion power pop and psychedelia and subsequently inspired acts, Highland Park-based The Anderson Council are you’re jam. Released on Jersey-based JEM Records — home to similar Garden State acts The Weeklings and The Grip Weeds — last year’s 14-song “Worlds Collide” is one of the best things the psyche-pop four-piece ever have done during their 21 years, following four previous LPs and an anthology.
Led by founding singer-songwriter-guitarist Peter Horvath, The Anderson Council have been making their sundae of ’60s-inspired psyche pop so long, they’ve developed their own sound and style. Longtime skinsman Christopher Ryan’s drums crash into veteran lead guitarist David Whitehead’s expressively sonic sun bursts, while exquisite vocal harmonies are like a cherry on top, balancing out the smash ‘n’ bash and cut ‘n’ stomp also of relatively new bassist Simon Burke.
Live you can see and hear The Anderson Council on March 7 at their home away from home, Pino’s, Highland Park’s haven for well-crafted original bands and equally tasty beer and wine. There you also can enjoy the monthly solo effort “40 Songs w/Mr. Horvath” on March 12 and April 9.
Enjoy the following chat with Mr. Horvath!
How long have you lived in Highland Park, and why did you want to continue to live there after high school?
I have been a Highland Parker all my life, except for a brief six-year dalliance with Milltown, and a two-year period of group house living in New Brunswick, which got all that out of my system. Why not stay in HP? It's close enough to New Brunswick and Asbury Park and NYC, and all the other places one could want to go to and from Central Jersey.
Did you attend Rutgers University?
I was accepted, but I decided it would be a waste of my time and money to attend, so I joined the workforce at age 19.
Whether or not you did, can you comment on how the relationship between the university and the local music scene has changed over the years that you've been in bands?
There always seemingly have been places for bands to play on campus, although a bunch of them no longer exist. It seems as though having shows in dorms doesn't happen anymore, although I will admit to not having been inside a Rutgers dorm for many, many years.
What do you think of the current state of the New Brunswick music scene and how does it compare to what's happening musically today across the Raritan River in Highland Park?
With the demise of the Roxy/Melody/Budapest/McCormicks bars many moons ago, all that was really left was the Court Tavern and the Old Bay. The Court has finally sputtered out for perhaps the last time, and the Old Bay became the Blackthorn, and as a result, the NB Rock Club scene isn't really happening. The NB Basement scene is still happening, despite the best efforts of the NB Police, so that's cool.
HP has a bunch of parents and non-parents who are in bands. HP has Pino's, HP has Chamber 43. They both have musical stuff going on most nights, and they seem to peacefully coexist without stepping on each other’s toes. With any luck and some vision, HP can support another venue. All the moms and dads who are in bands will rejoice, I'm sure. They can do a Tour of HP.
Why is Pino's a special place to you?
The Anderson Council was the first band to play a rock show at Pino's when they decided to be a music venue, and not just a bar/liquor store. I know the owners, and they are fans of music, and of doing fun stuff in HP. Their involvement is the reason that bands come to play.
What bands were you in before The Anderson Council and when?
At one point, I listed all the bands I was in, and that list was 26 bands long. The more well-known bands were: Seething Grey (1988-1999), Greyhouse (1991-1996), P.E.D. (1985-1989), and Separate Peace (1989-1991).
When and why did you form The Anderson Council and who and/or what inspired you to pursue a '60s Brit-flavored power-pop band on the eve of a new millennium?
The Anderson Council played our first show in September of 1999. We were a complete about face from the band I was in before, called Seething Grey. That band's music was dark, dense, and not terribly happy. I had started writing songs that would become Anderson Council material in 1995. When I left Seething Grey in early 1999, I knew what the new band was going to sound like, and set about it quickly.
How and why did Pink Floyd influence the name of the band?
Pink Anderson and Floyd Council were the names that Syd Barrett used to name his band, and the other names were free, so those were the ones I used.
The Anderson Council not only were my No. 3 album of the year, but 'Worlds Collide' made several Top 10 lists. How does it feel to have remained such a vital band so many years down the road?
I will never tire of A) hearing myself on the radio, and B) having our records appear on peoples' year-end lists. It's nice to have been fronting this band for 21 years and to not have peoples' enthusiasm flag after all that time.
What do you like most about 'Worlds Collide' and why?
We sound like a band that's firing on all cylinders, and who know what they're going for. It's a very confident-sounding record.
Is it the best record The Anderson Council have made yet? If so, why? If not, which is better and why?
I think every record that comes out is the best one we've done yet. ‘Worlds Collide’ is no exception.
Do you plan to make a video for 'Worlds Collide'? If so, what details can you share?
No plans as of right now. Maybe we'll film at the show March 7 and see what's usable.
How was the Light of Day show on Jan. 17 at The Stone Pony with JEM label mates The Weeklings? What was the best part?
Overall, it was a really great show. I feel like shows of that ‘level’ are the shows we SHOULD be playing; we do well on a bigger-sized stage. Lots of folks were there, and we fed off of that energy. This is not to say that I won't play practically every show that we get offered, as I just love playing live. It keeps me young.
How and why do you like working with Marty Scott of JEM Records and Kurt Reil of House Vibes? What have they brought to recent Anderson Council projects that you couldn't have done yourself?
Marty is really good at making things happen that wouldn't have happened if I tried to do them myself. He knows everyone, and I don't.
Kurt and I have a good recording relationship. We have similar ideas about how things should sound, and I'm slowly making him realize that ‘70s punk rock and ‘60s psychedelia have equal merit!
How is the songwriting process going for the next Anderson Council album and/or singles and how and when do you plan to follow 'Worlds Collide?'
I’m about seven to eight songs into the next record, with many more voice memos on my phone that I have yet to finish. If I can keep the new stuff flowing, perhaps we'll start recording this year? I say that, but who knows? Everything always takes longer than I mean it to take!
Will you play any new songs on March 7 at Pino's?
Actually, we will be pulling out some older songs that we haven't played live in years, so there's that. No new songs at this gig. Maybe the next one.
You also play solo at Pino's fairly often. Any plans to release a solo album?
Even if I were to do a solo album, the other guys from the band would probably play on it, so there'd be no point in calling it a solo record, right?
Are you still playing in The Beatles tribute band Hey Bulldog?
Kinda, sorta. I think we have a gig in June or July. Since Hey Bulldog never rehearses, and all the guys are in a million other bands, it is the stepchild.
I'm also playing guitar with this band: melancholykings.com. I was in a band in high school with the guitar player, and when their record was coming out, he asked if I would come aboard to help fill out the live sound.
Bob Makin is a reporter for MyCentralJersey.com and the former managing editor of The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at email@example.com. And like Makin Waves on Facebook.