Anova Skyway has long had a place in Houston’s musical skyline. Thanks to a sturdy foundation, some recent renovations will allow the prog-metal band to continue its skyscraper climb in the city’s music horizon.
Band founder Mike Palacios is very aware that a change of direction is sometimes akin to the wrecking ball for a band. In Anova Skyway’s case, the shifts it's undergone since 2020 have spurred some exciting new developments, most notably a new EP. Aptly dubbed Reset, the six-track album debuted on streamers July 15. The band has an August 5 date set at Scout Bar for its official release event.
The group’s biggest change is noticeable on record and will be evident at the release show when fans, many for the first time, will see and hear Palacios as the group’s lead vocalist.
“About the time of the pandemic that’s whenever our last singer, Garret (West), he had bowed out of the band, so we were kind of at a loss for a moment there,” Palacios said. “Instead of looking for a new singer I just went ahead and took over the role because, you know, I was our guitarist before, pretty much from the start of the band.
“A lot of these songs Garret had already laid out except for one of them,” Palacios said of the new EP. “That’s basically how that came about. Once he bowed out of the band we just had to pick up the pieces from there.”
Picking up the pieces meant adding some too, Palacios noted. With his move front and center, the band was short a guitarist. They called on a friend, former Oceans of Slumber guitarist Sean Gary.
“He said, ‘Send me the stuff,’” Palacios said of Gary. ”He checked it out, hit me back a couple of days later and said, ‘Man, this sounds freaking amazing, let’s talk. Let’s get together.’”
So, they did and after a couple of weeks of jamming, Gary joined the band. Also new to the mix is keyboardist Frank Alonzo.
The band started writing the music for Reset in 2019, Palacios said. West’s departure was amicable and at the time Palacios said, "Juggling newfound fatherhood and doing Anova Skyway while living in another city, five hours away, was proving to be too much for him with time and finances. As much as we hated to hear it, we understood completely. We love Garret like a brother and his family’s well-being comes first. “
The band shifted gears and completed work on the EP in 2021, then went to work on marketing, artwork for the EP, creating music videos. They were deliberate in their pace and deliberately kept the changes to themselves.
“It was a lot of planning, just trying to get it all together so when we did present everything, with me being on vocals, it would look like it was all well put together,” Palacios said. “When it first happened with Garret, when he left in 2020, we didn’t even announce it right away. He messaged us, told us about it first and we were kind of like, ‘Okay, let’s keep it on the hush for now.’”
They did so to avoid “negative energy,” which was already at a high in the lockdown days of 2020. They didn’t want fans to think West’s departure meant the end of the band.
“We just didn’t make any announcements until the following year. Once we had Sean for sure in the band, we got a new keyboardist as well, once we got all that solidified that’s when we started making little announcements about it, saying I was gonna be doing the vocals. Garret went onto his page and made a little announcement about it and all that, but yeah, we kept it on the DL for a little. For at least a year, we just kept it like, ‘Let’s not talk about it right now.’”
Once they started talking about it, they were pretty open. Palacios posted a short video on the band's Facebook page in the spring detailing his journey from guitar to vocals. He said that transparency has probably helped ease fans into the new sound.
“So far we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback just from releasing ‘Horizon,’” he said of the EP’s lead single. “Just for a local band, I feel like our video’s done pretty good without any kind of promoting the link to the YouTube page, I think it’s done pretty well on its own. We’re around 3,100 (views). For us, that’s really good. Normally, back in the day, you release a video on your own and you’re only going to get a couple of hundred on its own. So, it’s moving on its own. We’ve had tons of shares.”
The new music has already received some love in print, on podcasts and on the radio. Those nods and the thumbs up from fans have encouraged Palacios.
“Yeah, I mean I’m feeling pretty good about it. At first it was just kind of a shock to the system. I don’t look at myself as a singer or a front man type person. I know I’m capable of doing the vocals, things like that, but for me it’s just very out of my comfort zone to be fronting a band.
“I’m coming around. We’ve done two shows now, I’m starting to get a feel for it,” he added. “It’s gonna take some time for me to get really comfortable in this type of role. I get a lot of encouragement. People say, ‘Man, what you’re doing is really good, you’ve gotta stop being so hard on yourself.’ I think a lot of the positive feedback I get from people just really helps me not feel so awkward about everything. Over time, just doing gigs, I think it will come around and I’ll be able to feel a little bit more comfortable with the whole thing.”
The band includes Andrew Alvarez on guitar, drummer Mike Marksberry and Cory Miles on bass. Palacios said Anova Skyway has gone through changes before, but the time these veterans have dedicated to making its music has allowed the band to keep building skywards.
“Me and Marksberry, the drummer, we go way back, to like 2006. This is our second band together so we’re sort of like the founders of the whole thing,” Palacios said. “Garret was maybe our third singer at that point and that’s before we were ever on the map even locally. We had two other singers and we were just playing little shows to like five people here and there.
“The thing about us is regardless of shows and how big the outcomes are, we just kind of love writing music and making music together,” Palacios concluded. “It’s progressed over the years. Our sound has changed pretty dramatically. You can go listen to some of our earliest stuff and you’ll know it’s a way different sound, way different band.”
Anova Skyway celebrates the release of Reset 8:30 p.m. Friday, August 5 at Scout Bar, 18307 Egret Bay Boulevard. With Hindsight, Framing Skeletons and Stoneside. 18 and up, $10.
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Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.