Slade Echeverria stands in front of a plain blue door, slightly hunched over, no idea what might be behind it. As per the rules of the game, the only thing that the people that put him here have told him is that he is to put on a fireman’s helmet and open the door.
Somebody yells, “Action!”
Echeverria reaches out to open the door, but it won’t budge. He keeps at it, now using two hands on the doorknob. Before he knows it, two firefighters appear and pick him up into the air. Using him as a battering ram, they drive the hapless Arizona native head-first through the door and drop him to the ground, looking inside the newly created hole for “survivors.”
Slightly confused and clutching his arm, Echeverria rises, having just won himself and his bandmates $800. This isn’t some bizarre snuff film; this is an episode of MTV’s Silent Library, one that featured Echeverria and the rest of pop-rock outfit Anarbor last year.
“They did a lot of stuff that actually kind of hurt,” says Echeverria, lead singer and bassist for the group, who, at another point in the episode, had to kneel at the end of a grocery store conveyor belt as food products flew towards his face. “But it was a really cool experience. I, to this day, still have not seen our episode.”
He may have not seen this particular episode, but the young front man certainly doesn’t have to worry about not getting to see or hear himself on TV; “Let the Games Begin,” a track off the band’s 2009 EP Free Your Mind (as well as last year’s full-length, The Words You Don’t Swallow), has been used on other MTV programs like The Hills and Jersey Shore, not to mention its use by the NFL and MLB.
“That song was kind of based off of a relationship,” says Echeverria, “but once I put the catchy, you know, ‘Let the Games Begin’ [part in there], everybody wanted to use that in their sports game or whatever.”
So what is it that makes the music of Anarbor just so palatable to mainstream tastes, anyway?
“I don’t know, I think that we write really relatable songs, you know, just talking about your girlfriend and helping each other, stuff like that. We hope that more people can understand [our lyrics] more.”
It makes sense that the unique brand of relentlessly catchy alt-rock produced by the band speaks to their core audience; one look at the crowds they’ve pulled during their stints on Warped Tour, Bamboozle, the Take Action! Tour and more will show that they aren’t much older than their fans. Hell, they’re just barely allowed to imbibe alcohol; quite the significant milestone for anybody, and for the Arizonans, it’s no different.
“All of us are 21 now, so we’ve all kind of experienced a little bit more on our plate and just a little bit more responsibility and stuff,” says Echeverria on how Anarbor’s next full-length, for which they’re in the process of writing material, might differ from The Words You Don’t Swallow. “A couple of us now have girlfriends, including myself, so when it comes to influences, it’s really big now, just because we’re all grown up.”
Anarbor is riding a wave of success that doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon, so it’s a bit refreshing that, according to Echeverria, they pass the time in between shows (like this Wednesday’s show at UCR’s The Barn) via simple means.
“[We] basically just hang out with each other. You meet a lot of people on the road, fans and stuff, so we interact with our fans a lot and we hang out with the other bands a lot. Talk to people back home. That’s the only way to do it, you know?”
Anarbor at The Barn, UC Riverside, 900 University Ave., Riverside (West Campus Drive, Building 358); rside.ucr.edu/barnseries. Tickets $8-$15 general admission, $5 w/UCR student ID. Wed, Feb. 16. Doors open 7:30PM.