1990 – 1993: The Final Period (The Alternative Era)

After a year or so, Stuffel left the band to pursue an interest in more blues-oriented music, so the band was left, again, without a drummer. Crosby reached out to drummer Jeremy Payton, who he had worked with in a previous group, to fill the drummer slot, and Payton accepted. Around this time, unrelatedly, Matt Newton was recruited for lead vocal duties. Newton's classically trained, powerful tenor voice dramatically transformed the sound of the group. Newton also contributed enormously to the songwriting process going forward, writing most of the lyrics and collaborating with Baker on writing the music.

Lonesome Road album cover - front
Lonesome Road cassette cover (front)

During this period, the band's original music shifted again, this time almost completely to alternative rock, and by the early 1990s, the group had become a full-fledged, alternative rock powerhouse. Since "less-than-barely-anyone" in the area knew about, much less listened to, alternative music at the time, "betting the house" on the alternative genre may not have seemed like a formula for success, and perhaps, it wasn't. However, the group sensed that the new music they were writing in this genre was accessible, high quality, and could open up opportunities for the band — and it did.

The band continued playing their earlier alternative songs such as "Lonesome Road," "Dying to Meet You," and "Turn to Me" with some lyrical and musical revisions by Baker and Newton. The new Baker and Newton writing collaboration produced a number of new Anarchy alternative favorites such as "Shame" and "Night By Night." Once again, the use of dark lyrical themes continued: The struggle to overcome a rape ("Shame"), the drudgery of day-to-day work life ("Make a Better Day"), environmental destruction ("End This Nightmare"), and the plight of the homeless ("Night by Night"). Interestingly, some church groups thought the latter song was about prostitution and were upset by this. While their interpretation was quite obviously incorrect, the band would have been willing to write and perform a song about sex workers, so perhaps, these folks should have been upset with the band nonetheless.

Lonesome Road album cover - front
Lonesome Road cassette cover (inside)

Over time, the band's original alternative music took a more jazz-influenced direction. The group combined the clean guitar sound of groups like The Cure and The Smiths with jazz elements such as extended chords, chord substitutions, altered chords, Wes Montgomery-style dark guitar tones, and walking bass lines. In addition, the group added instrumentation not conventional in rock music like classical guitars, dulcimers, and recorders. Furthermore, the musical arrangements took on more complexity. For example, in order to give the music a richer sound, Baker would often use not only extended chords but also have each guitarist play a different extended chord. For instance, one guitarist might play a D minor 7 chord while the other played an A minor 7 chord. The result of this would be the overall effect of a D minor 11 chord, but with a much richer sound than if both guitarists simply played a D minor 11 chord due to the variation in voicing. Baker used a number of arrangement techniques such as this to give the group its dark, rich, distinctive sound.

Around this time, the band also began exploring experimental music. Baker had developed an interest in music by composers such as Igor Stravinsky, John Cage, and Arnold Schoenberg and was writing atonal music (e.g., 12-tone compositions for the piano and guitar) for other musical pursuits. Baker and Newton were interested in how Anarchy might incorporate elements of experimental music into its work. One such experiment was the creation of a glockenspiel, the keys of which were different size spanners (i.e., wrenches). The spanners formed a scale, but not a conventional 12-tone Western music scale, and the scale would change based on temperature, humidity, and so on, creating an element of indeterminacy and chance. For better or worse, these experiments never made it into any Anarchy performances or recordings.

Lonesome Road sample score
Excerpt from the musical score for "Lonesome Road," demonstrating how the layered extended and altered chords and the ostinato bass line combined to create Anarchy's complex, yet accessible, distinctive late-period sound (composers: Baker/Newton)

The group realized that, given its now complete abandonment of its punk/hardcore roots, there was a disconnect between the band's name and its music, and the group discussed changing the name at various times. However, the group always concluded that the original name should be kept, so as not to lose the name recognition they had worked so hard to earn. In an effort to explain the disconnect, when asked about the band's name in newspaper, radio, and TV interviews, members would respond, somewhat disingenuously, that one definition of anarchy is chaos, which described the group's diverse musical influences and styles.

Ultimately, though, what the band's name meant to the band was not important. What the band's name meant to the fans is what mattered, and anarchy meant something slightly different to everyone. Whatever personal meaning anarchy had for fans, it usually had something to do with freedom of thought, nonconformity, and the desire for a better, different world. Once Baker received a fan letter from a young man who was being ostracized at school and elsewhere because he was gay. The fan concluded the letter with:

Anarchy equation

The band would certainly have agreed with this young man's assessment, as well as many others.

This period of the band's history was the most successful, and during this time, the band recorded their only studio album, the regionally successful alternative rock album Lonesome Road. The album featured the following personnel and credits:

The band received extensive media coverage (newspapers, television, and radio). Their music, particularly the song "Shame," received radio play. The band performed in other areas of the state, headlined gigs at large theaters, played large festivals, and gigged on the college circuit. However, "success," in the sense of being able to make a living playing music, continued to elude the band.

Ironically, Anarchy disbanded in 1993, just after alternative music became mainstream. While the group might have ridden the breakthrough of alternative music to success, for better or worse, the version of alternative music that became mainstream was the Nirvana/grunge variety, rather than the clean, melodic version of groups like Anarchy. This failure, along with life changes in the group, sealed the band's fate. The group quietly folded and liquidated in 1993.

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Audio Files

Authentic Recordings

"Lonesome Road" from the album Lonesome Road (composers: Baker/Newton)

"Dying to Meet You" from the album Lonesome Road (composers: Baker/Newton)

"Night By Night" from the album Lonesome Road (composers: Baker/Newton)

"Heading Your Way" from the album Lonesome Road (composers: Baker/Newton)

"Shame" from the album Lonesome Road (composers: Baker/Newton)

"The Meeting" from the album Lonesome Road (composers: Baker/Newton)

MIDI Recreations

MIDI recreation of "End This Nightmare," the first song Baker and Newton wrote together. The song won second place in a state-wide songwriting contest and received local radio airplay (composers: Baker/Newton)

MIDI recreation of "Make a Better Day," originally composed by Baker during the middle period and titled "Generic Song." After some reworking by Newton, the song became a staple of the band's set list, a fan favorite, and was a candidate for the Lonesome Road album (composers: Baker/Newton)