My Heart, My Anchor
By Carly Wedding
St. Mary’s County, Maryland has a population of only 109,000 people, which is pretty small compared to Baltimore County, Prince George’s County, or Montgomery County. When you live in a county where everyone has heard your name, it’s hard to go unnoticed. Especially if you’re a musician. Such was the case for Sean McCamman and Daniel Thompson of My Heart, My Anchor.
McCamman and Thompson owe their comradeship to the metal and pop punk bands they played in when they were teenagers. In 2009, their respective bands, Well I’ll Be Damned and The Varsity Letter, played a show at the Good Samaritan Lutheran Church in Lexington Park, Maryland. It was the first time the two had ever met, marking the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
“I’ve been writing and playing metal music since I was 15 years old, but I’ve always enjoyed such simple and softer music,” McCamman explained. “About six years ago, I was listening to a lot of Secondhand Serenade, The Scene Aesthetic, and The Fray. I bought myself an acoustic guitar and learned a few of my favorite songs. I came up with some of my own stuff. That’s when I started toying with the idea of starting an acoustic band.”
“Sean told me he had been working on acoustic songs, so he asked me to listen to them and see how I liked it,” Thompson added. “I loved it, and I knew I wanted to be involved.”
The two began learning songs and writing their own material. McCamman wrote the music while Thompson handled the lyrics and vocal parts. Once they started practicing more, they knew they were onto something. And thus, the band was born. The duo played one show under the name The Secret Success, but neither McCamman nor Thompson cared for the moniker. They decided to name the band My Heart, My Anchor in honor of Thompson’s father, who passed away when Thompson was a teenager.
“The night that my father passed away, the first song I listened to was ‘You Be the Anchor That Keeps My Feet on the Ground, I’ll Be the Wings That Keep Your Heart in the Clouds’ by Mayday Parade. That song has meant a lot to me since that day,” Thompson said. “We were looking for a new band name right around that time. I wanted our name to be something to honor my father, so we chose My Heart, My Anchor.”
In 2010, McCamman and Thompson wanted a second guitarist to play leads over the rhythms. Thompson contacted Matt Jones who had previously played with him in The Varsity Letter. Thompson showed him the songs he and McCamman had been working on, and Jones agreed to join them. The trio recorded three songs with Nik Tyler and Shane Henderson, which helped them garner more attention. With their newfound popularity, the band was able to play shows opening for acts like Emarosa, The Chariot, and Memphis May Fire. It was then that they decided to recruit a drummer and bassist for a fuller sound at live shows.
“I hit up Tyler [Lagana] and Robbie [King],” Thompson explained. “I had played with them in a metal band called Vela Oh! Vela, and when the band disbanded, they were both looking for some new work. When I called them, they were down to try it out, and they fit perfectly.”
However, that line-up didn’t last for long. After MHMA headlined the local stage at the first annual Ice Jam Festival, Jones left the band for personal reasons. Anthony Niv replaced him, solidifying the lineup. Less than a year later, the band underwent another phase of member changes – this time in the form of a hiatus.
“We hit a plateau,” Thompson admitted. “We were playing the same four or five song set at each show. Anthony had some personal things going on and didn’t feel as though he could devote the time and dedication to the band, so he left. Tyler felt as though we were no longer progressing and sought out other promising projects. We had spent so many months trying to replace Matt, and then we needed to find a replacement lead guitarist and drummer as well. I honestly didn’t feel like starting over with new people again, so I decided to leave MHMA on the high note we reached at that point in our musical careers.”
While MHMA hadn’t officially broken up, they weren’t playing more than a handful of shows for a couple of years. Regardless, it’s always sad when a band breaks up or goes on hiatus, no matter the genre. When Blink-182 called it quits the first time, the world was heartbroken. After Fall Out Boy released a statement saying they would no longer be recording or touring, millions of emo kids cried. Brandon Flowers’ announcement that The Killers would be going on hiatus caused mainstream radio stations everywhere to mourn. Such is life.
The ironic part? All of those bands got back together. MHMA is no different.
After Thompson temporarily left MHMA, he joined The Lives To Come and moved to Baltimore. He played in the post-hardcore band for about two years, maintaining his friendship with McCamman the entire time. One night, the two discussed re-recording all of the band’s old songs for everyone who ever supported them. They agreed it was an idea they wanted to follow through on.
“When we decided to get back together, we wanted to stick to our roots and keep it an acoustic duo,” McCamman said. “So we started practicing again. It was like nothing had ever changed. We recorded all of our old songs and released it as our first full length album, Chapter One: An Introduction.”
The band received a plethora of positive feedback on Chapter One. They played a few local shows after that, and that’s when Thompson knew he wanted to share their music with as many people as he could. The only way to do that would be to tour as much as possible. However, McCamman had just started working full-time for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, taken on the role of a father in his current relationship, and was playing in a cover band, S’Wild. With everything going on in his life, it wouldn’t be possible for him to tour. But McCamman was supportive of Thompson’s idea.
“Dan wanted to take the music on tour, but I couldn’t spare the time away from my schooling and work to do so,” McCamman said. “I’m proud of Dan for doing this and I’m more than happy for him.”
“I bought an acoustic guitar and had Sean teach me some of the songs,” Thompson explained. “It was enough for a set. I learned the rest of the songs by ear and then some. After I got back from tour with Jonny [of WATERMEDOWN], I started writing new material for an EP. I was 75% done with that by the time I went on tour with Casey Bolles.”
Thompson recorded the Closure EP by himself with Collin Dunn at Fly Honey Studios, making it the first release he’d ever had complete creative control over. Although McCamman wasn’t involved in it, he supported Thompson’s endeavors.
“This is his music too,” Thompson said. “Without him, MHMA wouldn’t exist, so there is no way I could do this project without him.”
McCamman and Thompson have slowly but surely working on new music that will be a part of Chapter Two, their next full length album. Thompson will be going on a weekend tour in March in support of the Closure EP. For music and tour dates, visit their Facebook page.