by Sarah A. Peterson
When a love of music is born in childhood, it has the tendency to stick around. And the members of Fresno’s alternative band Anchor City know a thing or two about this.
“I sang in the school choir from third grade all the way through college,” says lead vocalist Stephen Niewind, 28. “Music is my life.”
Guitarist Joshua Babcock, 19, first picked up a guitar when he was 12. “My dad taught me the basics,” he says, “but after I was pretty much self-taught.”
Drummer Luis Rios, 16, took up the drums at age seven, while bassist/backup vocalist Cameron Pool, 21, also sang choir and played guitar as a kid.
They all grew up listening to the likes of Metallica, Jimmy Eat World, Amberland, Switchfoot, Skillet, and 30 Seconds to Mars, and those musical influences stuck with them.
Babcock and Pool, friends since childhood, formed Anchor City two years ago. “We met Rios through a former band member,” Babcock says, “and Stephen came on board about four months ago.” So now they are a band of four.
Songwriting duties fall to Babcock, Pool, and Rios, while Niewind takes a more behind-the-scenes approach. “We’ve got to be the only band where the lead singer doesn’t write the songs,” he says.
Instead, Niewind handles the business side of things, though every member of the self-managed group helps with both the networking and the booking.
The songwriting is also a collaborative process, and musical inspiration can strike at the most unexpected of times. “I’ll wake up in the middle of the night,” says Rios, “and come up with some rhymes, then take notes in the morning.”
“Whoever comes up with an idea will call the others up to get together and hash it out,” Babcock says. “And then we build off of that.”
Anchor City has performed locally at a wide variety of venues, including gigs at Frank’s Place, Kuppajoe, the Sanger Music Center, the Chinatown Youth Center, and most recently, Crossroads Nightclub. They have been heard on the radio (New Rock 104.1 and 105.1 The Blaze) and seen on television, when the band played on KAIL’s Chuck Leonard Show.
Rios and Pool were a little nervous the first time they appeared on the show, but Babcock wasn’t too fazed. “Being on TV just didn’t seem real,” he says. “I was just jamming with the band while the cameras rolled.”
Upcoming performance dates include July 26 at Warnor’s Theater’s Star Palace Ballroom, August 2 at Woodward Park in support of Breast Cancer Awareness with Hug America, and August 1 and Sept. 5 headlining at Crossroads Nightclub. They have just added another performance on later on August 2 at the Dinuba Youth Center.
Anchor City also has a tour in the works. Next month they head on out with Eye the Realist, kicking off August 22 at Fresno’s Chinatown Youth Center. The tour will take them to Seattle, Las Vegas, and Mesa, Arizona, before closing out in San Diego.
The group remains extremely grateful for all of these opportunities. “God opens these doors for us,” Niewind says. “We’re just His tools.”
Check out more local band & musician profiles in KRL’s music section.