Drummer Ryan Scott Long has a hard time describing his two-piece band Anthkrna. There’s a lot of Indian musical influence. There’s a jazz aesthetic. It’s got elements of trance and pumped up breakbeats. It’s 100% improvised. With all that going on, the best description he can give is “chaotic bliss.”
It’s a sound that can inspire a lot of different reactions, he says.
“You can be on the other side of the room meditating peacefully, engaging with the performance, or you can be that crazy festival person, dancing your ass off the entire night. It really depends on how the listener is feeling,” says Long.
The project, which comes to the Crepe Place on June 21, isn’t Long’s primary musical outlet. It’s just something that he and VoidTripper (aka Jared Warren) do on occasion. The two are longtime friends who used to play in an Oakland punk band together, until Warren dove deep into studying Indian classical music and learning how to read Sanskrit.
“It’s way different than anything I’ve ever tried to do with anyone before,” Long says of Anthkrna. “From an artistic standpoint, it challenges me to be more creative and just see what we can get away with. It’s a lot of fun.”
His primary focus is the relatively new group And Then Came Humans, another duo for which he plays drums, with Mike Sopko on guitar. Currently Sopko lives in Cleveland, Long lives in New Orleans, and they play 200-250 shows a year.
The group isn’t as out there as Anthkrna, but it’s still very experimental, and an opportunity for them to flex their musical chops and think creatively. The band released its debut album In Heat Wave last year; it’s quirky, catchy and has a solid groove. The title track is a weird, funny song with jokey vocals, cartoonish synthesizers, jazzy guitars, and a funky drumbeat. Some of the songs are just downright bizarre musical experiments that barely have a melody.
Even as a two-piece, Anthkrna manages to get a real fullness to its sound. The duo also wants to add more instruments to the group, specifically Long playing the keyboards, singing and drumming at the same time.
“We worked really hard in the music trying to find a sound that works, and to just continue to expand on creative ideas,” Long says. “As simple and silly as that might sound, it really does come down to that.”
Long’s love for the duo setup explains why he’s playing in Anthrkna whenever he gets a break from the full-time schedule of And Then Came Humans.
“Two people is the way to go. It’s forced me to completely change the way I play. And to understand how to sound fuller without necessarily having to add more notes or to be busy,” Scott says. “I have to find ways to be able to stand alone, like I’m just playing a groove. I’m not even playing a fill. And just having that be everything that needs to be there. And being okay with that.”
But the two projects allow him to show off completely different artistic sides, Long says.
“What I do with Jared, I’m not doing anything near that ballpark with Mike. They’re so different from each other,” Scotts says. “Anthkrna is more like the Picasso. It’s still groove-oriented, and people get into it. But we don’t know what’s going to happen next at any point in time.”