Occasionally, we like to delve outside our typical Buffalo/Rochester wheelhouse to explore some out-of-state talent. Through the grapevine, after interviewing Jesse Isadore and his DESIGN THE VOID boys multiple times, a very noteworthy band called THE ANXIETY EFFECT managed to pop up on our radar as well. We chatted with vocalist, John Lockwood about all things TAE, and if you’re into any of the styles we discussed, TAE are DEFINITELY worth a listen!
Q: Can you talk about the conception of The Anxiety Effect? How did you come to join or form the project? How has being a part of TAE pushed you as a musician?
A: I actually formed The Anxiety Effect in 2011. I had a completely different lineup at the time, and the music was in a different direction. It was still heavy music, but it was more of a groove metal style. I didn’t do any melodic vocals at the time. Just screaming. The direction now with the current line up is aimed more towards the metalcore genre with a lot more focus on the vocals; specifically the melodic hooks blended with the screaming. Because we are more vocal focused, it’s pushed me to be a better vocalist. To bounce back and forth between singing and screaming can be challenging, so I am always working on that.
Q: How long have you been a vocalist? Who first inspired you to front a band?
A: I’ve technically been a vocalist for 25 years now. I started my first band called ‘Kriegspeil’ in 1998 when I was just starting high school. We took it a bit more seriously than most teenagers would have. I started that band with my current band mate Rick Griesbaum. That band lasted about 4 years. As far as who inspired me to front a band; that could be a long list! But if I were to narrow it down to a couple of the most influential vocalists that inspired me, I would have to say Maynard James Keenan of Tool and Kurt Cobain from Nirvana. I was heavily into alternative rock and metal when I was a teenager, and those two, I would say, are my biggest starting influences.
Q: Who are the very first band(s) or artist(s) that inspired you to become a musician in the first place? Before you even knew what role you wanted to play in a band setting.
A: Well, at the age of 39, I need to go back a bit to hit on the first bands that inspired me. When I was a young kid, around 5 or 6 years old, I had a family full of musicians. Several uncles, cousins, and family friends who were always in and out of bands together. I spent a lot of time at my Uncle Lonnie’s house where music was life. He was in a band and was always working on songs when I was there. His son, my cousin Rich, started playing guitar at a very young age. He was busting out 80’s hair metal guitar solos at the age of 11 or 12. So I was constantly around musicians. On the weekends, MTV would air a late night show called Headbangers Ball and once I was exposed to that, I was pretty much hooked. So I think a lot of my first early influences were from that era. Motley Crue, Poison, Pantera, Guns n’ Roses… pretty much anything that rocked, I was into.
Q: Fast forwarding to today, who are a few bands who have emerged over the past decade or so who have influenced your writing or inspired you heavily. Discuss local bands if this calls for it.
A: There are a slew of bands that have been a huge influence on me the past 10 years or so. Locally, one of them would have to be STEMM out of the Niagara Falls/Buffalo area. I respect the hell out of those guys, and have been a fan since I first heard them back in 2004. Sharing the stage with them several times over the years, I learned a lot. So they have definitely been a heavy influence on me. As far as other bands go, I would say Beartooth, Bad Omens, The Amity Affliction, Fit For a King, and still to this day In Flames. But I think the biggest ones would have to be Wage War and Caskets. I started following Wage War several years ago, and there is not a single thing they have put out that I have not loved. So they are a big one.Their last couple albums have more melodic hooks and they are just amazing to me. Caskets are the other big one. Their singer Matt Flood was a breath of fresh air to me when I first discovered them. He is one of the few vocalists that actually gives me goosebumps. They have that djenty music background, but Matt does all clean singing vocals and he really carries that band for me.
Q: What made you guys settle on the name, The Anxiety Effect? What’s the story behind it?
A: The Anxiety Effect name, originally, was a concept that one of my former guitar players came up with before we even formed the band. It was an idea/theory he came up with and was using it for a screen name across the internet. I can’t remember the full concept behind it, but after a few months of writing and rehearsal sessions without a name to go off of, we decided to use it as the band name and ended up building a lot of the earlier songs and content around it.
Q: Thinking back on your full music catalog, what are a few TAE songs you’re most proud of having worked on? What makes these songs so special?
A: From the first E.P. that we released in 2012, I would have to say the opening track “Vigilance” would be one of them for sure. At the time, I started to look at the world in a different way and started to have a lot of frustrations with things I saw within government and world leaders. That, along with the fact that it was the first song we wrote as a group, it just had all the organic elements that fired me up. It’s a high energy, loud and proud kind of song. We opened every show with it.
Another song I am proud of is ‘Lockdown” which was originally released as a digital single in 2017, and then re-released on our “Neon Raid” E.P. in 2020. That song was my first attempt to introduce melodic vocals to our sound, and I was re-branding the band after taking a hiatus for a couple of years. New sound, new lineup. The song means a lot to me due to a personal matter that involved some dark issues within my family. I won’t go into details here, but the subject matter in the lyrics will paint a pretty dark picture of the situation the song was influenced by.
The other two songs that I am most proud of would be our latest two singles “Visions of Doubt” and “Roots” that we released this past year in 2022. These songs are special to me because they are based more on the sound I have been aiming for with the band for a long time. My bandmate Rick Griesbaum has been a huge piece of the puzzle in bringing that sound to life. More melodic hooks mixed in with the heavier music elements and screams. Because we are still somewhat new, what a lot of people don’t know is, right now we’re basically a two man band. Rick and I are currently alone in the writing and recording process of all our current material. So not only are these songs a big step in the re-branding of the band from its original sound, but they are also the finished product of two dudes in a small studio putting their best efforts in. Both tracks have also generated the most in sales and streams/plays the fastest when looking at the history of our entire catalog. So I’m super proud of that.
Q: What is your “music scene history” like? Talk about any and all projects you’ve been involved with besides TAE. Are you currently involved with any side projects today?
A: I am not currently in any other projects outside of TAE. That may change as I have had a few offers, but it just depends on the schedules and timing of things.
My scene history goes back a ways. As I mentioned earlier, Rick and I started out in 1998 with our first band “Kriegspeil’. We ran from 1998 to 2002. We played a mix of originals and cover songs. We never got to a studio to record any of them, however. That band was around when the Nu-Metal era peaked, so we had a sound based on bands like Korn, Staind, The Deftones, and early Slipknot. With the help of another local band that had a bus to tour in, we played shows all over our region. We just jumped in their bus with them and went. A lot of the time we were not even booked for the shows we went to, but there was almost always a band that canceled last minute so we got to fill the slot. Being teenagers in high school at the time, we were constantly turning down fun parties or get-togethers to go play shows. Not many of our friends could wrap their heads around that haha.
When that band parted ways in the spring of 2002, I jumped right into my second band called “ZeroPointOne”. That band ran from 2002 to about 2007. We were one of the more well known bands in our scene. We had our own sound rig, so we could set up and play shows anywhere. And that is pretty much what we did for about 5 years. Outside of the standard clubs and bar type venues, we would set up shop in all sorts of places to run shows all over the region. Parking lots, abandoned grocery stores and warehouses, skating rinks, you name it. If we had a place to plug in, we played. We had a strong following throughout the Buffalo, Ny region.
In 2008 I was briefly in a band called “Light the Shadow”. We recorded our own E.P. and released it locally and played a handful of shows throughout the course of a year. Scheduling and creative conflicts would see the demise of that band rather quickly.
And that of course, that brings us to The Anxiety Effect which I formed originally in 2011. I put so much time, effort, and money into the name as a brand when we were actively playing out from that I just couldn’t scrap everything and start over again. So from 2014 to 2016 there was not much happening with it. In 2016 I started working on new material with our original drummer and a new guitar player. The line up didn’t stick, but I decided to work with whoever I could to keep the name alive as a studio band with hopes that a full group would come together. That brings us to the present. Pushing new material as a studio band, hoping some musicians grab it and want to come along for the ride and get back out there to some live events.
As for Rick, after Kriegspeil broke up in 2002, he fronted a couple pop punk bands for a couple years. Then from about 2005 to 2012, he fronted an alternative emo band called Entropys End that had much regional success. In 2013 he started playing drums in a metalcore band called Skylime. They played at regional Warped Tour events, Mayhem Fest in Pittsburgh Pa, and the Summer Slaughter Tour in Toledo, Oh.
After Skylime’s departure in 2015, Rick then started an acoustic project with former Kriegspeil member Dave McGarry called Darkwater Duo. They continue to flourish throughout the region, booking 3 to 5 shows a week. Rick would also work as a guitar tech/stage manager for (a) national touring band (Red Sun Rising) in which Dave was a member of.
Rick and I both have been at it for a long time now. Rick now plays a huge role in the most recent TAE singles we’ve released, performing all the all guitars, bass, and drums for the recordings. And we have a blast every time we get together. Growing up and starting in music together, we have great chemistry.
Q: Talk about the most memorable live show(s) you’ve had with TAE. What made these shows so special?
A: The most memorable live show for me that we did was back on January 21st, 2012. The show was booked locally at our home venue called Rock n’ Rick’s. We had a couple of rising bands on the bill that were signed to upcoming record labels, so we had local press attention on the show and what not. Our Buffalo, Ny friends in STEMM were also on the bill.
A couple weeks prior to that show we had received the mastered tracks from our mixing engineer for our first E.P. and we were doing what we could to get the albums pressed and finished for the show. We announced the official release date for February, but really wanted to surprise our hometown crowd with an early release. The physical copies of the album came in 4 days before the show, and I didn’t even tell all the guys in the band that they were in our possession. Only a couple of us knew about it. The other guys would have just been too giddy about it, and let the cat out of the bag so to speak.
Fast forward to the day of the show; the venue was packed. We were turning people away at the door because we had already been over the legal capacity. About 30 minutes before we took the stage, I got the band together in the green room and revealed that the album was finished and that we would drop the news about it to the crowd in between songs during our set. Everything went off as planned, and we got a huge reaction from the crowd over it, and we ended up selling all but 6 copies of the initial 200 we had pressed. So that show, up to this point, is the most memorable for me.
Q: What are the future plans TAE has in the works that you’re at liberty to divulge. (recording, shows, etc.)
A: Right now, with it just being Rick and I in the group, we’re actively writing and recording new songs. We plan on releasing at least 3 to 4 new tracks throughout 2023. We have a couple that we like to say are ‘in the bucket right now’ that are just about ready for official tracking. So releasing new songs this year, that’s something we are confident that can happen for sure.
We are hoping that these new songs will grab the attention of some musicians in the region and get them on board with us to start booking some live events. I would say that’s the overall goal right now. Release new music, get a full lineup together, and start booking some shows within the region. We’re both getting older, so we are somewhat limited on how much time we have left to really give this thing a go. So if we had it our way in a perfect world scenario, we would get a solid run in with a full group and book some small tours and/or regional shows.
Q: If someone reading this has never heard of you (which will be most people. as this is a WNY based publication), what’s the simplest way you can describe your music? What bands do you usually compare yourselves to if anyone? What’s the best song of yours you can think of to have a new listener start with?
A: I would say we have an aggressive sound. Heavy with melodic hooks. We are possibly comparable to several of the bands I mentioned that have influenced me over the last several years. Beartooth, The Amity Affliction, maybe some of the older Bad Omens songs. That’s about the best list I can think of, honestly. At the time of this publication, I would recommend a new listener to start with either “Roots” or “Visions of Doubt”. I think they both have good elements that show where our new planned direction is. “Roots” has an overall aggressive and edgy feel to it, whereas “Visions of Doubt” has some of those same elements, but also has a bit of a more of a relaxed darker tone I think.
Q: Plug yourselves! List links to your whole online presence here:
Official website: https://www.theanxietyeffect.net/
Sound Cloud: https://soundcloud.com/theanxietyeffect
Reverb Nation: https://www.reverbnation.com/theanxietyeffect