Last month, Charleston rock band Anergy released a music video for their empowering, rebellious, and energetic punk-rock single, Society. The 3-minute track starts off with high pitch, gravelly, passion-filled vocals from featured female artist Ash Vapor. The single is reminiscent of California-based punk rock band Dead Kennedys and has a “fuck you” kind of attitude.
Many Americans can probably relate to Society‘s message as they deal with the effects of COVID-19, the controversy surrounding the death of George Floyd, and the nation’s political divide. “Ya think I wanna live this way?/Careless attitudes every day?/Breathless in the void/I won’t be destroyed,” Ash shouts in the track.
The members of Anergy began working together in 2016. The group is composed of four musicians: drummer Gabe Segarra, guitarist Igor DeSouza, bassist Sherrod Russell-Blake. They do not restrict themselves to a single genre and can be best described by their high energy and “in-your-face” vibe. “I wanna write music that makes people wanna get up and destroy something, just smash something to pieces. That’s when I feel like I’ve done something right,” says Gabe.
I recently spoke with Gabe and Ash about their experience working together on the single. The collaboration began on their way to see Lydia Lunch perform in Greenville, with Ash shouting out ideas for lyrics and Gabe chiming in with lines of his own in the car. After forming the lyrics, the group worked on the instrumentation and collaborated with Brendon Shealy to work on the guitar solo and put finishing touches on the track.
One of the main musical influences for Society was California skate punk group Agent Orange, while Ash’s vocals were heavily influenced by Babes in Toyland and Made Out of Babies. Along with their musical inspirations, their own experiences and personal beliefs shaped the lyrics and instrumentation for Society.
Ash lives with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), a disease that affects the lungs and can cause major respiratory problems. Her condition has set her back in her academic and professional life. “Every time I get comfortable in a job or school, I always need to go to the hospital,” Ash says.
Ash has also faced harsh judgement from others, especially in reaction to her unique and striking fashion sense. Many judge the way she dresses and make assumptions about her health. “If I were real dressed up and wearing makeup when I was physically going to school, people would say, ‘well you look fine.’ Sometimes you’re dressing up to cover up the fact that you aren’t feeling that well…Everyone who is sick doesn’t always look sick, and nobody should be judged for the way they’re trying to look, especially if they’re sick.”
Much of her inspiration for the single comes from these experiences with CF: the numerous setbacks in her personal life, facing harsh judgement from others, and of course, the condition itself. The single is an assertion that she will no longer let this dominate her life.
Gabe’s inspiration comes from his view of America’s political climate. “I’ve always had issues with aspects of society in general. That’s not to say that I’m the kind of person that thinks that everything is society’s fault…but we think it should be different. We think it should be better. We want to send a message that this is not how it should be,” Gabe says. “My message is ‘don’t be afraid to stand up and say you don’t like how things are.'”
Anergy strives to make an impact on their listeners, whether it cultivates a positive reaction or a negative one from the crowd. “We love it when someone hates one of our songs. If something we said in the song makes somebody angry, we’re like, ‘ah, that’s good!’ Sometimes people need to be made uncomfortable…It gets people to have a dialogue. That’s what punk is all about. The whole idea of ‘don’t be afraid to be yourself,'” Gabe says.
Anergy has already performed throughout South Carolina and even outside of the state, but their goal is to expand even further and organize a tour soon. Ash hopes to continue performing in Columbia, Charleston, and Greenville.
Keep up with Anergy’s upcoming projects and performances by following the links below: