Extensive touring, international recognition and grand theft auto

Joe Shearer

Kent indie band Annabel is making all the right moves

Brothers Ben and Andy Hendricks sit in the grass of the courtyard outside their Kent apartment. It’s mid-afternoon, the sun is shining and the weather is perfect in the high 70s. Never mind it’s the first day of class and yet another semester looms large. Or, that despite the serene setting, the flying insects can’t seem to stay away. None of that matters much.

Despite the plights many a local band face, the stars are beginning to align for Kent State’s Annabel. Frontman Ben, a senior electronic media production major who sings and plays guitar and a few other instruments; drummer Andy, a junior visual communication design major; and bassist Scotty Moses, a freshman at the University of Akron, have been vigorously trying to avoid demise like most college musicians chasing – in many cases – a pipedream.

To be fair, there’s a lot that goes into Annabel’s layered sound. Sure, there’s the guitar, drums, bass and vocals most bands latch onto, but each is carefully composed to create an out-of-this-world landscape dream. Then, there are the finishing touches, like guitar loops, keyboards or glockenspiel chimes. Yes, Scotland’s the Jesus and Mary Chain and Ireland’s My Bloody Valentine may have reunited; however, Annabel holds its own in recreating airy atmospheres without plagiarizing those before them.

Hot off successful – both financially and attendance-wise – spring and summer tours to numerous destinations such as New York, Boston, North Carolina and Georgia, the group is showing it has appeal outside its Kent/Akron comfort zone.

“We were expecting to lose money,” Ben says. “Fortunately, all the shows were good, we were able to make money at the shows and sell a bunch of merch, so we came back with more money than we left (with).”

For those unfamiliar with local bands and touring, it’s a huge risk since returns depend on attendance. A lot of bands do it simply to get their names out there.

Of course, having a song in “Grand Theft Auto IV” doesn’t hurt your chances of someone stumbling upon your band, either. The band’s “Bouquet Mines” off its EP “Now That We’re Alive” is featured on a downloadable radio station for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 title.

“Some dude just like contacted us,” Ben recounts. “He’s like, ‘Hey, you guys wanna be in a video game?’ He didn’t tell us what video game it was.”

“A couple friends have heard it,” Andy adds. “I don’t even play video games, so I would never know.”

Ah, running from the cops and soliciting prostitution never seemed so blissful.

It’s tough to top those accomplishments, but with an EP garnering positive reviews from around the country – one even coming from as far as the UK – you have to assume this is just the beginning of good things to come.

After three EPs, the guys are currently in the studio recording their first full-length album. Containing 11 tracks, Ben estimates the disc should be ready by mid-October, but the band’s hoping they can find a record label to distribute it. When asked how much making an album costs over a five-song EP, Ben laughs, “A lot more than we expected.” Still, those are the kinds of sacrifices and investments artists take to separate themselves from the thousands of anyone-can-do-it-themselves MySpace bands.

So far, who could argue with them?

Contact all reporter Joe Shearer at [email protected].