Charlie Anastasi, Bass Player for Liily, Interview about Origins, COVID-19, and Touring TV or Not TV
Charlie Anastasi is a 22-year-old bassist who’s currently touring the United States with Liily on their TV or Not TV sophomore album release tour now that the COVID-19 pandemic is finally receding.
Throughout his childhood, Charlie would listen to all types of music but he didn’t initially start playing the bass until 13, “purely out of childhood envy, or jealousy even.” He continued, “I had plans to hang out with my friend one day and he bailed on me at the last second because he said he had band practice. I was like ‘oh man, he’s in a band. That’s so cool’. I was bummed on it all day and then maybe three, four hours later the same kid calls me up again and says, ‘hey, our singer doesn’t want to sing and play bass at the same time. You have a bass at home right?’.
Charlie was hyped over the chance to join a band, “I absolutely said yes like ‘fuck yeah I’ll be your bass player.’ Then my identity was the bass player and that was awesome at 13.”
The first band that Charlie played in was Platypus Rampage at 13 years old. In his early teens Charlie also began playing in another band, Five Way Log Jam, simultaneously but due to logistical issues with being in multiple bands at once now, he’s completely devoting his time and energy to Liily. Charlie admits that luck has a lot to do with Liily’s success: landing a record deal with Flush Records out of high school, playing shows with his best friends, staying afloat during COVID, and getting involved in something meaningful and creative at such an early age. However, just because Charlie has been lucky thus far doesn’t mean that he hasn’t had his own struggles with the rock and roll lifestyle.
“It can get pretty dark on tour. You know, just it gets isolating. You get lonely… There’s this existential dread and anxiety that comes out of being really far away from home. In these foreign areas [I’m always] questioning if I’m really spending my time correctly.”
Without his bandmates’ support, Charlie couldn’t see himself continuing on tour, “To be able to have a support system woven into [touring], which is inherently scary, makes such a huge difference. You know, I don’t think I could do this as a solo artist. I think it would be too hard. And I don’t even think I could do it as a hired gun. I think it’d be too isolating.”
Going back on tour has been an abrupt transition for Charlie and his bandmates. Charlie said, “I was nervous, I was excited. I’m still nervous and I’m still excited. I’m having a great time; I’m having a terrible time. Some venues have been packed other venues have been empty like it’s this cluster fuck of everything. It’s great.”
Although Liily is on the right track to becoming a ‘successful’ band, Charlie admits true success is hard to quantify, “It’s weird dude because it all goes back to like how do you quantify success? You know, because, even on this tour we’ve come into contact and just kind of crossed paths with bands of all different signifiers of success. Here I have the perfect example…”
He continued, “We were in Burlington, Vermont a few weeks ago. We were playing this venue that was split into two rooms, so you had one band playing in the left room and we’re playing in the right-hand room. And these venues shared a backstage, so you’d go upstairs and there was a balcony for each venue. You could go and see which band was playing on which stage. We played for maybe 15 or 20 people that night right. So, I walk off stage, I go up to the backstage area, and I go into the balcony where you can see which band is playing on the other stage. There’s probably 1,000 people [at the other stage]. I’m like, ‘who the fuck is playing tonight?’”
“They start playing their first song and I think to myself, ‘I’ve heard this song before, who is this band?’ It was a fucking Pink Floyd cover band. They were called The Machine and this band sold more tickets than the venue could hold. So, if you’re taking that case study, that band is tremendously more successful than my band is right now but a cover band isn’t part of any cultural conversation.”
Liily’s sophomore album TV or Not TV dropped on October 22. Charlie is proud because he has “made something that I have a real, legitimate attachment to and a tremendous sense of pride attached to it. [...] When I perform these songs I'm selling myself at a show now as opposed to selling something else.”