This week I’m starting a new segment that (I hope) will become a regular entry on my blog. Instead of talking about myself or my work, I’m going to talk about someone else whose work has made a difference in my life. It may be a writer, filmmaker, musician, designer, or illustrator. But I promise that these won’t be names you’ve likely heard of, even though they mean a lot to me.
Laser Zombie Robot Love by John Anealio. Artwork by Len Peralta.
To get this party started, I’m going to talk about John Anealio. Since 2010, John has been co-hosting The Functional Nerds podcast with Patrick Hester. But what introduced me to John was his eclectic style of music.
Trying to categorize John’s music difficult. Some of his songs have an alternative sound, some have an acoustic sound like folk music, others have a pop hook that makes them very memorable.
But no matter the style, it’s John’s lyrics that captivated me. John calls it “nerd music.” I call it inspired.
John writes songs that appeal to the geek in me. His album Laser Zombie Robot Love (and isn’t that the coolest title?), includes beautiful tunes inspired by a “Steampunk Girl,” an “Angry Robot,” and the fact that “George R.R. Martin is Not Your Bitch.”
In each song, John tells a micro-story. And while some are clever or silly, many give a poignant look at the life of a geek. For instance, with “Steampunk Girl,” he tells of a young girl adopting a new fandom and leaving her goth days behind.
“So, she’s putting on her goggles and a bowler hat
She checks her pocket watch, adjusts her rocket pack
She laces up her boots and puts her makeup on
She grabs her leather coat and her Tesla Gun
Cause she used to be a Goth Kid but now she’s a Steampunk Girl”
On his album Seasons Geekings, John writes a sad (but very-relatable) tale in “The Millennium Falcon for Christmas.” As one might imagine, it’s the story of a child obsessed with getting his favorite Star Wars spaceship as a Christmas present in 1979.
“I just wanted the Millennium Falcon for Christmas
and a season full of cheer
I just wanted the Millennium Falcon for Christmas
but I didn’t get it that year”
It could be easy to dismiss his music as novelty songs, the type that Dr. Demento might have played on his radio show back in the day. Yet, John’s music transcends the campy, transforming his words and stories from mere goofiness to heart-felt and beautiful poetry. Whether he’s performing his own songs or covering favorites like “Mr. Roboto” or the “The Transformers Theme,” he always brings something personal and different to the music.
In 2013, John re-directed his creative energy to focus on his podcast. But he still puts out new music now and then. His 2014 Works in Progress, includes the song “Nerds Arguing About Spaceships.” It’s a melancholy tune that belies the playfulness of the lyrics. Even though it’s not yet available as a download, it’s a nice treat to listen to on his site. And hopefully it’s a sign that John’s musical muse is not completely finished with him.
You can find out more about John:
His music: johnanealio.com
His podcast: The Functional Nerds