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Like Mayakovsky

Exactly one year has passed since these Englishmen visited our country last time. What has changed during this year? While the long-anticipated album stews in its own juice (and in mind of musicians as well) and nothing is known about the release, Anathema play the new songs in concerts to their utmost. We talked to Vincent before Moscow concert of the band and, as there is no hot news, we tried to disclose various sides of life of such a remarcable band. Resent years Anathema permanently succeeded to expand the boundaries of their music keeping their own image and their truly unique style as well. Now you may read about their way to attain this result and about Vincent's attitude to music and life as well...
ur last studio album was released almost 4 years ago. When can we expect a new studio album from you?

(laughs) Its a secret. Probably next year. There are still so many things to be put in place before we think of releasing a new album, but probably next year.

All musicians always consider their latest album to be the best stuff which they have ever recorded.

Well, it depends. I wouldnt be so categorical, whether they say so or not. I lot of bands get worse, I mean rock-bands. Some of them just dont become better, continuing to play at the same level as they did a year, two, three agoI do personally think that we do improve, and weve been improving for a long time. And thats my opinion. And its true, if you ask me. But of course some people will only love the first album. And thats fine, too. But thats a completely different style of music to me.

You wanted to rent a house, in order to play the album live before recording the new album. Was this idea a success? How much did it influence the material?

We just went back to our regular rehearsal room in Liverpool, because we couldnt really afford a house. So we couldnt really afford it. Weve been to our rehearsals room for
a while, just playing and writing. We also made some recordings in Less studio, then Les (keyboardist) moved home and we had to find another one.

When Daniel was in Moscow this summer he told us that you were discussing signing a record deal with an American label. Have you signed it?

No, not actually. There are some discussions, but the deal is not signed yet.

After your yesterdays concert in Krasnodar there was an accident. People who were going home after your concert were attacked by a group of underage idiots. Have you ever come across such incidents at your concerts? Do they happen often?

Really?? Fucking bastards!

Yeah, unfortunately. Those were skinheads.

Are they ok??

I suppose yes, more or less at least. But the group of skinheads was rather large about 20 or 30 people, so you can imagine the results of this accident But the police were nearby, so everything could have been much worse.

Well, these fucking idiots you have everywhere, and in Liverpool, too. You know they are hanging around in bands, because on their own they are piece of shit. Theyre the cowards on their own. But in such a big groups and in such packs of w
olves they think theyre mighty.

I know that you had a great evening after the concert in St.-Petersburg when you performed there last time. You even played a kind of extemporized concert in one of the clubs. Do you often spend the time after show this way?

Yeah! As often as you can really. Its always great to do something especial for your fans. Fortunately, very often when we go somewhere, we play concert and after that we have after show party. Last time when we got on the train after the show in St.-Petersburg the whole carriage, just all of us sang songs and played guitar.

Could you tell us about the process of creating songs? How does it happen?

In lots of different ways.

Some musicians say that they just go to studios, lock the doors and stay there until the new material is ready. I think its not your case

No, we write all the time anyway. And the song carries on developing all the time too, until the final stage of recording process. So it will always be in the process of writing. Even after the song is finished we make some changes anyway. We are not so strict, we are quite flexible with our stuff. We reserve the right to alter anything, to vary, to taste som
ething different.

At the festival Metal Mania in 2006 you performed with string quartet. How difficult was it to prepare such a show? How much did this quartet influence the music of ANATHEMA? Did you compose special string parts for this occasion?

Yeah! We did a couple of rehearsals, even one I think. This is a talented bunch of people so it worked perfectly even with so little time for rehearsals. Thiss gonna be like some string parts written for the next album, this will be more directly influenced by the string parts. And for the first time everything, I mean all string parts, will be played by the real musicians.

It often happens that some musicians prefer not to perform the old material on stage, especially when the band has changed the style greatly. What do you think about the old stuff of ANATHEMA? Do you play that stuff only because your fans want to hear it, or do you play it, because you like your old songs?

We always play the old stuff. Last night we played stuff from Silent Enigma, Serenades, Alternative 4 from every single album. And I think its ok, I like those records. We all change, we all move with the times. We have so many albums and I think it would be wrong to exc
lude old songs from the set-list.

Your brother were this summer in Russia with a solo concert. Did Daniel tell you anything about that concert and about that visit to Russia in general?

No he didnt. I didnt ask him. I saw some photos and they look quite good.

During your last tour you visited two cities in Russia. This time you give concerts you play in 4 cities. Is it interesting for you to see more cities of Russia? While in tour do you have time for walks and excursions?

Definitely! All of Russia is interesting. Ive been fascinated by the Russian history, art for a long long time. I was fascinated by the big history and people like Mayakovsky. And today I went to Mayakovsky museum. Mostly we have a couple of hours to make some excursions, a couple of hours to visit and see everything. And then we have to go back for sound check. But tomorrow were gonna walk in St,-Petersburg, visit some museums, Winter palace, well try to see as much as we can St.-Petersburg is really special.

At your concerts you played the songs by Pink Floyd and Fleetwood Mac, but you never recorded them in the studio. Why didnt you record them? Do you think that the energy of these songs is stronger w
hen you perform them live?

Yeah, but thats not the reason why we didnt record them. Theres just no point. We play it live, because we really like this song and want to give something special to our fans.

Many of the band members are relatives. Does it make the work easier? On the one hand, you understand each other better, but on the other hand, with your relatives you can be more straightforward, and this may lead to serious conflicts

I really hate them all, I really hate them all (laughs). I can really even fight with my twin brother.

Was the music of Anathema influenced by folk music (Celtic, English folk for example) ?

Yeah, we used to be pig farmers in our youth in the wilds of England. And we played the acoustic guitar and of course it influenced our music greatly. We were really much into sitting in the woods with mushrooms

What did you want to say by the cover artwork for the album A Natural Disaster?

Its got sexual connotations. But it wasnt my idea! (laughs). I cant analyze it now what was meant. The man to blame is Travis Smith. He is a strange boy, but we love him anyway!

How are the cover artworks created? How do you w
ork with the artists? Do you tell them what they should paint?

More often I will get in touch with the artist and direct him what we want. Its a long going process.

You said that music influences people so much as no other kinds of art. Do you think that the visual part of the album is not so important, as music?

No. It works as a whole. It is important, because it creates the whole picture. The way it goes these days with all high technologies, its gonna be challenging for artist to make a multi media interactive package with an album, so you get all kinds of different galleries for your artworks. When you work at the new songs, for all parts you have some home movies, short videos, galleries, making-of, documentaries, all the lyrics, all the information about the album. All the things possible, different mixes of the album, you can also have some audio files for people to make their own mixes, so that people could add something to the album and do their own mixes of various songs. All this is really challenging and its really really good. But its not only the music that matters, music is the most important thing but all these things matter very much.

What can you say about your former ban
d members activity? Do you like what they are doing?

Do I like what theyre doing? (laughs) I like anything what they do. I like the fact that they walk the earth, that they are still around. I love them all.

Dunkan Peterson for his side-project ION invited a female singer from Russia. Have you thought of inviting some guest musicians to take part in the recordings of your albums?

I have some ideas for the next album, but it will cost heaps of money. Actually Im not so interested in having guest musicians at the moment unless they can add something really great to our music. But its possible. Its possible.

I think when you were recording Alternative 4 you were aware of the fact that a lot of your fans might turn away from you, because of the great changes in the music. How difficult was it for you to take the decision to change the style and why did you decide to change it?

We didnt take any decision to change the style. It was quite a natural change for us. What we do always comes natural to us. As for fans why should we be diluting the stuff? If we take into consideration such things itll be bullshit in the end. I think about the band and our music and why should I think about some peoples opinions? Of course not. We are our critics anyway. Were just sticking to our own roles and do the things our own way. And well always do that. And people may like the album or not, may buy the record or not.

Your voice was a bit hoarse on the album The Silent Enigma. Did you have any problems with the vocal cords then?

(laughs) It was a bit hoarse, yes. I cant do that now for long, cause it hurts. And I dont see the point, its useful enthusiasm. Just a grown-up man screaming and shouting like a fucking crazy grizzly bear. (laughs)

Are there any songs youd like to make a cover version on?

Oh yes, so many! But Id rather not to innumerate them in the interview, let it be a secret.

What music do you listen to nowadays? Is there any band nowadays youd like to sound like?

No. And as for music that I listen to nowadays I listen to all kinds of stuff. It doesnt depend on the style of music.

Do you spend all your time on music? Do the members of the band work somewhere else beside music? What hobbies do you have?

No we dont work. As for hobbies they either directly or indirectly are connected with music. I like traveling and seeing new places. Thats a big hobby of mine. I love to travel. Wherever I go I take with me my guitar. Its always there, its always there! (laughs) And like I said I do like visual art.

Did you try to paint something yourself?

No, not for a long while.

Do you spend all your time on music? Do the members of the band work somewhere else beside music? What hobbies do you have?

Would you like to live in some other country?

Yeah, of course I thought about living in a few countries in the past. Maybe yeah. Some day I will.

For example as Johan Edlund of Tiamat moved to Greece from his native land Sweden.

Really? Ive seen him in Germany lately. How interesting. And why Greece? Has he got married to a Greek woman? (laughs)

Interview by Bonez, E_X_I_L_E
6 2007
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