Ann Beretta haven’t been playing much recently, but Conor and Matt were lucky enough to catch lead singer Rob Huddleston and Ann Beretta live in the same weekend at the Death To False Hope Records Fest II. Conor and Matt caught up with Rob during the event to chat about the band’s future plans, injuries to his left leg and the possibility of an Ann Beretta comic book.
Listen to the Ann Beretta interview (10:22)
First off, forgive my ignorance, but what have the past few years been like for Ann Beretta?
Well, we’re not really a working band anymore. We don’t really do a whole lot. Really, all we’ve done the last few years is just kind of play wherenver we get an opportunity to or whenever something seems fun for us to just kind of get out of town and do. So this is one of those things. I think this is actually our first show since. . . it’s probably like our first show in three years. Typically what we’ve done since we stopped touring in 2004 has just been playing a couple festivals or a couple shows a year, maybe two, three, four shows a year and that’s really it. Just to kind of keep ourselves having fun and for the people who still want to hear the songs. You know, we try to go out once or twice a year and just play a couple random shows.
So, you’ve mostly been focused on solo stuff lately?
Yeah, I’ve been doing a lot more of the solo stuff. But right now I’ve got a 4-year-old son, so that takes up like every minute of my day. So, it’s actually really hard to get out of town a lot. But yeah, even with the solo stuff, it’s been the same three of us. Russ and Donovan are playing in the solo band. When I do solo shows, just depending on what type of show or where the show is or who’s available, it’s either myself alone, like it was last night, or a four- or five- or six-piece band, just depending on who’s available. We keep it pretty loose and just kind of go with whatever happens at any given show.
What do you guys do when you’re not playing music?
We all have day jobs. Donovan works on movie sets. He’s a set builder. A lot of movies—HBO and a lot of the studios are starting to work in and around Richmond now. So he’s always on one movie or another. He just finished the Lincoln movie, the Spielberg movie was filmed in Richmond, so he worked on that for about a year. I do web sites and graphic design for a day job and have my own little business. I also have a bar and a restaurant at home. And then Russ works with fiberoptic cables. He manages a small shop. I don’t really know exactly what they do, it’s a little too complicated for me.
What’s your bar and restaurant called?
It’s called The Mill. It’s a really small place. Everything is locally sourced and it’s a lot of vegan and vegetarian food, as well as meat and fish. It’s a little neighborhood spot. Everything is local and all the food is made from scratch in the restaurant. Nothing is frozen or pre-packaged or anything. It’s pretty cool. It’s a good little neighborhood and they’ve been really happy to have us. It’s only been open for about a year.
That’s cool! What’s next for you guys, either solo-wise or with the band?
We’ve actually got a lot going on. I’m in the middle of recording about three records worth of material. A lot of it is really stripped down, just kind of like the way we do shows. It’s either really stripped down or a full-band production. But as we really started working on the songs, a few of them started to lend themselves to, ‘These should be punk songs!’ and we started kind of toying around with the idea of writing a few new Ann Beretta songs. Again, just for kicks, just because we decided it’d be really fun. No real agenda or anything. Just decided we’d write a handful of songs and just start giving them away for free online, or whatever. And, as we started doing that, we actually got approached to do a couple festival dates in Europe, so we decided to take advantage of that as a vacation. So, we’re going to go tour Europe for I think 16 days in the fall. So, it was like, ‘Hey, we can make a vacation out of this and go play some shows and have a good time, so let’s do that.’ So, that’s the rest of this year. We’re going to spend some time in the studio just kicking out some more songs and then we’re going to head to Europe in September.
Ok, a couple silly questions for you. . . if you could be in the Guinness Book of World Records for one thing, what would it be?
That’s a really cool question. Um. . . I have no idea. That’s a stumper, there. . . So, my left leg, I have an occurrence of injuries. Every year or every two years, I always destroy something in my leg, and it’s always my left leg. My hip was broken and is held together with a bunch of pins and bolts. My entire femur has a metal plate down it, with I think 15 screws. Last year, I dislocated my knee and turned my foot around backwards snowboarding and I’m pretty sure my ankle’s next because that’s just how it goes. So yeah, maybe in the Guinness Book, I’d have the first fully-bionic leg or something like that.
Most Injured Left Leg?
Most Injured Left Leg! That’s it! I think that’s going to be it.
If you could be anyone else for a day, who would you be?
Oh, wow. I’ve never really thought about that. Oh, I know. Actually, I would be my 4-year-old son for a day. Because that would be amazing to be that young and free and adventurous. He’s not afraid of anything, so I think that would be fun for a day.
What’s your favorite city on tour?
Anywhere in the world? Man, I have a couple. I bet I would change my answer depending on the day you ask me. We’ve made such really great lifelong friends in so many cities, it’s always great to run into them. So like Gainesville, as an example, is pretty dear to us. I love going up to Canada to Toronto and Montreal, both. And San Francisco with all the old Lookout! bands and the Lookout! label out there is a really great city for us. Austin. . . I don’t know that I could narrow it down to one, you know? I don’t know, maybe Toronto. Toronto, to me, is almost like a really clean New York. It’s just amazingly clean. I mean, to walk through a city and not see any trash anywhere and people are really polite. It’s their New York, just cleaner. It’s a heavy arts and fashion and entertainment kind of city. So yeah, maybe Toronto.
What’s an underrated album everyone should check out?
The first thing that comes to mind is maybe the first One Man Army record, but I don’t that it’s underrated. I guess it depends on how you define that. If you ask a lot of people, they love that record. I don’t know. . . I’ve been in the cycle lately of listening to things that are, for me, my classics. You know, things that I listened to in high school, like really old R.E.M. or U2. Maybe the last six months, I’ve been listening to a lot of really old, late-80s, early-90s Manchester-pop stuff, The Stone Roses and old Blur and stuff that I loved when I was starting out in college and kind of forgot about for 10 years or so. I have this kind of cycle where every so often, I just go back to some period in my life and that’s all I listen to until I jump onto the next one. . . I don’t know that I’ve heard anything new in a while. I’m really actually bad at that. People always ask me, ‘Who’s the new band in Richmond?’ And I feel so out of touch. I hate to say it, but I couldn’t even tell you. So, underrated? I don’t know if I even have an answer for that. Sorry!
That’s okay! What’s a talent you have outside of playing music?
Definitely art. I went to art school for painting and drawing. We’re actually working—I’ve been working on it for probably 10 years now, periodically—but we’re working on an Ann Beretta comic book. So I’m kind of partnering with some people, so we’re collectively trying to come up with some story lines and some concept drawings, so we’re all kind of pitching in and doing a lot of illustration. It’s all coming together pretty cool. I think we’ve got it figured out that we’re going to do something with Paper + Plastick with that, since they’re starting to do this kind of like comic/art in the label. So, we’ve got some conversations coming up in the near future about doing something with that. So, yeah. . . definitely art. I need to be creative. Whether it’s music or painting or just picking up a pencil or a pen and drawing. I think that would be it.