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Anthony Worden finds himself at home in a band

IPR's Tony Dehner speaks with Anthony Worden, Avery Moss, and Capel Howorth about the new album from Anthony Worden & The Illiterati.<br/>

The past year and a half has been challenging for everyone, and some more so than others. It’s in that context that the Iowa City band Anthony Worden & The Illiterati have released their newest album digitally and on vinyl.

In addition to the pandemic which has affected everyone’s daily lives, Worden has been dealing with health issues for the past eight months.

It definitely was a rough eight months, and when you’re not feeling good, you don’t have the energy to do that thing you want to do, like write songs,” said Worden. “It’s definitely a feeling like you’re not in control. It just gave me a lot of context for what a lot of other people go through on a daily basis.”

“How Could We Lose When We’re So Sincere” is the second album Worden has recorded with The Illiterati. He’s released two other albums with a rotating group of musicians. Worden loves working with other musicians and has come to prefer the band format.

Anthony Worden & The Illiterati played on Saturday afternoon, in front of an enthusiastic crowd.
IPR/Tony Dehner
Anthony Worden & The Illiterati, performing at the Cedar Basin Music Festival in June of 2021.

“One is the loneliest number,” said Worden “The thing I’ve loved the most about making music is doing it with other people, and seeing what they can bring to the project. Having a band is so much easier, and so much more fulfilling.”

Worden began writing the songs for the album last summer, along with Illiterati keyboardist Avery Moss, who began playing with the band in 2019. Collaborating on the songwriting was a new and enjoyable experience for Worden.

“It was kind of a new way of doing things for me, working with some new song methods, and hanging out with Avery and learning more about chords,” said Worden. “The writing was really intermittent, but we tried to do as much as possible while we had the time.”

Worden and Moss also spent time together watching classic live performances by some of their favorite musicians.

Preparing and pressing the record

Photo courtesy of Anthony Worden

“We got really into watching classic, seminal live performers, especially like Prince, James Brown, and Sly Stone,” said Moss. “That really informed how we approached coming back to the stage. We’ve been willing to take more liberties, and lean into the part of being entertainers. Not just writing good songs, and performing them well, but bringing people joy, and making them dance and move. That’s been a little bit of a guiding light for us right now.”

All of the band’s members are happy to be performing live again, describing the experience as “awesome” and “exhilarating.”

“I remember entering a music venue for the first time since lockdown, and just feeling a live PA, and the bass,” said Worden. “It’s been so good getting back, meeting random people, and having those experiences that make life worth living for musicians and fans of music.”

Capel Howorth, the band’s bassist, agrees.

“When we went into Gabe’s in Iowa City for the first time, I was joking about how much I missed my feet sticking to the floor, and the smell of stale beer and stuff,” said Howorth with a laugh. “I was only half joking!”

“How Could We Lose When We’re So Sincere” is available on Spotify and Bandcamp, along with the rest of Worden’s music. There are also 100 copies of the album available on vinyl, which were pressed in a small batch run in the Czech Republic.

"There are very few DIY artists that actually can make money on vinyl. I think I can make like $5 per record if I sell them at $22 a piece. That’s not great," he said. "It’s not a great business decision to do it on such a small scale."

Still, it was worth it to Worden.

"I’m a collector of records, and I thought the artwork we did for the record deserved a physical release. It really doesn’t do the artwork justice just on Spotify."

Anthony Worden & The Illiterati are IPR’s Artist of the Month for October. You can learn more about the series, including how to apply for consideration, here.

IPR Music Iowa Artist of the Month
Tony Dehner is a Studio One Host