Uncovering the Annex Theory

Fans of technical outfits such as The Dillinger Escape Plan or Misery Signals may discover a new favorite when encounter the complex devastation known as Annex Theory.  Based out of the thriving Winnipeg music scene, Annex Theory features the participation of Trevor Birnie, who was a former vocalist for the long running Quo Vadis.

Their debut EP entitled Beneath The Skin will be launched in May, featuring four tracks that are sure to incinerate music fans well beyond the province of Manitoba.  Here is a recent interview Highwire Daze conducted with two of the members, as we attempt to uncover the great musical mysteries of the Annex Theory.  Read on…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Annex Theory, and how long the band has been together.
Sam Jacobs: My name is Sam, and I’m an alcoholic. Actually, I play guitar! We’ve been a band since summer 2008.
Trevor Birnie: My name is Trevor, I am both an alcoholic and a vocalist. We started the band as a brainchild between Sam and I as stated in Summer 2008.

Where is the band based out of and what is your music scene like there? Who are some local bands in your area you could recommend?
Sam Jacobs: We’re based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and the scene here is actually not too bad! Where we’re pretty much in the middle of nowhere people have a pretty strong support for the scene, because you can’t really go to shows anywhere else! There is a pretty wide array of bands, lots of deathmetal bands, some hardcore (Comeback Kid for one), there aren’t really a lot of tech bands though!

Is there any story or concept behind the Beneath The Skin EP title?
Trevor Birnie: The title is scratching the surface of what’s to come and also is making reference to the fact these songs are quite personal to me lyrically.

Where do you get your ideas for some of the song lyrics? Please cite two songs from the EP and what inspired you to write the lyrics?
Trevor Birnie: I am the type to need the music to inspire the mood in me before I can write lyrics, so it really depends on what I feel when I hear a new song the guys finish. Orbit and Horizons are actually 2 great examples of this because they’re tied together lyrically about a personal situation. Orbit was about the darker period of it and Horizons is about the overcoming and realization of the positive that follows. When I heard the music for Orbit it hit me deep and it felt like the perfect chance to vent everything that had frustrated me about it. Horizons is in a sense part 2 lyrically because I wrote it when I was climbing out of the situation I wrote Orbit about. It’d take me too long to explain my lyrics, so all I can really say is there is always negative in this world but you should never let that outshine the positive. So I write about both!

How close are you to releasing a full-length recording and is there a working title for it yet?
We are almost finished writing it! Our first EP is only coming out in May, so realistically I don’t think the full album will be out for a while. We’ve been demoing lots of new stuff and we plan on recording another EP at some point is well, so new stuff is still definitely on the way! We’ll be playing lots of it on the road also.

Why did Trevor decide to leave Quo Vadis and does he still keep in touch with any of the other members?
Trevor Birnie: I parted ways with Quo Vadis on great terms! I really wanted to focus on Annex Theory and be able to get the ball rolling with touring, which wasn’t as possible when also working with such a busy hard working band like the QV. I did a few tours with them in a span of a year which included an amazing Overseas tour in 2009, in which I got the chance to meet a great Annex Theory fan in Turkey I now call a friend! All I have is fond memories with highest respect to all of them. I even did guest vocals on their new track Obitus – check it out (myspace.com/quovadisofficial)!

How did Sam and the other members get involved with Annex Theory and did they know Trevor from his Quo Vadis days?
Sam Jacobs: Trevor and I actually started the band before he was in Quo Vadis. Initially we were both in other bands and just happened to play a show together. We dug each other’s stuff and a few weeks after, both of those bands came to an end. I started writing some new songs and posted two demos (which became the first few Annex songs) which Trevor heard and took interest in. After that it was pretty much getting the group of guys we wanted together, and it worked out fantastically!

Who did the cover art for Beneath The Skin and how much input did you have on it?
Sam Jacobs: Our very talented drummer Adam Jefkins did all of the artwork for this EP. Adam is actually a professional graphic designer who has done work for the city as well as movies (One of them being “Goon” with Seann William Scott) so we really will never need anyone else to do work. Seeing as we all saw each other daily, everyone in the band got the full input they wanted. I’m sure the album will work the same way.

Have you ever played in the Los Angeles/Orange County area or plan to do so in the future?
Sam Jacobs: Negative, we would love to though. Hopefully we can snag up a US tour!

What could one expect from a live Annex Theory show?
Sam Jacobs: Heavy groove, ambience, melody, and harmony all in a split second. And our keyboardist Matt dancing ridiculously on the side of the stage. Everyone really has their own vibe that they bring to the stage so it definitely makes for a unique show. Obviously some parts need to be choreographed but for the most part its just 6 dudes hangin’, playing tunes, and rocking the fuck out.

Who are some of the bigger bands you have opened for in the past and what was that experience like?
Sam Jacobs: Despised Icon was the biggest probably, it was an amazing experience to see them on their last tour. Obviously they killed it live. Misery Index, The Contortionist, The Last Felony and Last Chance to Reason were all great also.

Sam, who are some of your guitar influences and how long have you been playing?
Sam Jacobs: I’ve been playing around 10 years, my influences have really changed a lot over that time. When I was first really getting into metal Kyle McKnight from Threat Signal was my favorite, his solo in “counterbalance” still gives me chills. When you can hum along do a solo, its good, especially in metal. Nowadays I’m a lot more into great songwriting rather than shreddy guitar work I guess. Misha Mansoor from Periphery is doing some amazing stuff. Acle from Tesseract, the new Born of Osiris album is ridiculous, the list doesn’t end really!

Do you have any messages for people reading this who might want to check your band out?
Sam Jacobs: Give it a shot! It is definitely a different sound, or at least we hope, and we would like to think that we have a bit of something for everyone i there. Definitely it’s a heavier sound, but with a lot of melody and groove as well. If you dig, check out our upcoming dates and see if we’re playing near you, we’d love to hang out!

Annex Theory is Trevor Birnie on vocals, Sam Jacobs on guitars / vocals / programming, Wade Forshaw on guitar / vocals, Matthew Rutowicz on keys, Adam Jefkins on drums / programming, and Jordan Fehr om bass.

(Interview by Kenneth Morton)

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