Radio Metal : First of all, a question that you must hear every day and you probably can’t stand it anymore, but many of us would like some clarification on how the label handling is going?

Vincent Cavanagh (vocals) : It’s not really going anywhere at the moment to be quite honest with you. The priority for us is to finish the album and then speak to labels. If we spoke to labels now they would think about our previous albums and that’s all that they would know; so that would limit the amount of labels that we can approach. But if the idea is that we finish the album first and it turns out far better than anything we‘ve done before, then we can approach far better labels. At least that’s the idea for the moment, we’ll see how that works out! (laughs)(rires)

Do you feel the need to detach yourself from the world of metal?

Detach myself? (laughs) You mean like a spatula between me and the world of metal, like a pizza stuck to a fucking oven tray? (laughs) No, yes, no. I think that’s a boring question in relation to me, because I still listen to some heavy stuff, like heavy guitar music, but it’s not necessarily constantly metal. At least not since I’ve been eighteen!

Well, what I mean is that your music isn’t really metal anymore…

Not for the last ten years, no.

(Vincent): « The point when we do an album that’s worthy of some kind of world wider claim then we’ll start talking… And I do believe that we’ve started it, and that it’s going to be this album. » »

Exactly. So maybe you could attract a bigger crowd if you…

(he stops) Well yeah, I’d say so, but as far as I’m concerned we’ll talk about how big the crowd should be when I do an album which I consider worthy of a crowd. To be quite honest with you, I’m fiercely critical of everything we’ve done in the past. The point when we do an album that’s worthy of some kind of world wider claim then we’ll start talking… And I do believe that we’ve started it, and that it’s going to be this album. So when that’s done, we’ll see how it goes!

What do you think of bands like Radiohead or Nine Inch Nails that have decided to distribute their albums for free on the internet? Would you consider doing the same thing?

The difference with bands like Radiohead or Nine Inch Nails is that they sold millions of records before they had this idea! I mean they’re never going to outsell themselves! That’s all very well if you’ve already got yourself set up in life. But I do agree with the principle of it. In fact, we did it before Radiohead, even though it was only a few songs. But I don’t think that we could afford to do that now. I don’t know, maybe we should. But it’s a case that those bands already have such a huge fan base, so they know automatically that at least a couple million are going to go in the first few weeks. With us it’s not like that; our fan base at the moments is in the thousands, but nowhere NEAR that amount. So we’re talking about a completely different league. So we still need to make that step up before we can afford to do things like that.

Alright. Do you fear the possible disappearance of the CD format??

No, because I think people still always want to have something tactile in their hands, that they can feel and absorb and get into. It’s not all about computer screens. Maybe in 20 or 25 to 50 years in the future we might be talking about something completely different, yeah, but I still believe in the tactile experience of having a vinyl or CD. But we’ll see! Obviously, we’ve all got to embrace the future and see where it takes us. But it just leads yourself as an artist, you know, to accept the challenge and to see it as an opportunity. It’s pushing yourself in areas you’ve never experienced before in a fully interactive package. There is nowhere it can’t go; it’s all possible, so there’s never so much you can do with a CD. So, yeah, of course.

Ok, now lets talk about the releases you’ve got in stores. First of all, Hindsight, the acoustic covers album. It seems to be the natural continuation of your career as you’ve played acoustic versions of your songs more than once on stage. I guess this shows you felt a strong need to record this alternated versions.
Yeah you guessed right. It just seemed like the most natural thing to do and it was the right time to do it. After we met Dave the cello player, me, Danny and Dave did a tour. The songs sounded fantastic with the cello, so it was great experience and it just made perfect sense to us to do that at that time. When we think about it now, it’s the biggest crossroads that the band’s ever faced, it’s the biggest challenge and the biggest step forward that we’ve ever taken from the last album to this next one. So it was logically the moment to reflect and to say “ok, here’s where we were, we can see these songs in a different light and then just move on”. We won’t do it again.

Lets talk about the new album, which is called Horizons, right?

Possibly, possibly not. We reserve our right to change our minds at any point! (laughs)

Well, at this point the fact that you’ve chosen to call it Horizons seems to evokes a sense of freedom in the title. Do you feel more free today than before?

Yeah, definitely, much more. Free from myself, free from the traps that I’ve put myself in, you know, free from the controls that are so easy to come by from everybody. The self doubt and fear; all kinds of pointless nonsense that’s dropped off of me. It took about a week to do and it happened last year. (laughs)

Also, the horizon is a place where we find new grounds. Did you try new things on this album?

Yeah, new sounds, new types of riffs, new types of approach to music. I mean it’s not all on guitar, there’s a lot more piano stuff. It’s definitely more open. I think that each song is its own little world in a way, with its own colours and its own way if you like. They all sound different to me, so that’s cool. There’s no one particular theme running through the entire album. It is not a concept album. The songs are all diverse from each other.

You actually put up a few songs available to download on your website. They sound a lot more progressive, is that going to be a general idea on the album?

Well I don’t know what you mean by that. Its not a general indication. If you’re talking about progressive as in are we progressing ourselves? Yes we are. Are we evolving? Yes we are. We’re pushing ourselves to do different things and try new types of songs, but that comes naturally to us. It’s a conscious thing, but it’s also an unconscious thing because we don’t really need to think about it but it’s more a case of that’s how the ideas roll. But they are all different.

So, Steven Wilson has been named as the guy to be mixing the album, is this still the case?

It’s possible yeah, he’s a busy man. We’d like him to put his ear to it, see if he can do something with it. If that’s the case, it’s really a matter of timing. If he can do it then we’ll see.

And do you think he’s the perfect person to do it?

I don’t think there is “a perfect guy”, but we’ll see. Let me put it this way, nobody knows our production and our songs better than we do and the type of mixes that we’d like. Having said that, it’s always interesting to give someone both options. So what we’d do if we spoke to someone like Steven is that we’d say “Here’s a rough mix that we’ve done, and it has these types of fades and effects etc”. He might like it or not and want to do his own version of it or copy what we’ve done. Whichever he sees fit and then we could balance the ideas backwards and forwards to see what we come up with.

According to the fact that Porcupine Tree and Anathema are both bands that sound more like alternative rock whilst still being classified in the metal genre, do you think that a man like Steven Wilson will understand your music better and where you want to go with it?

I think that he understands it because he’s into a lot of stuff that we’re into. So the short answer to that question is yes. Yeah, I think that’s probably right. Obviously, he knows us really well now because of the tour and he’s heard all of our demos from the album so he knows which direction it’s going in, so it could be really interesting. But we’ll see because it might not even happen. As I said, he’s a very busy man.

Steven Wilson is in fact currently finishing his solo album and he has lots of guest appearances on it… Are you a part of this?

No. (laughs)

That’s too bad! You made a surprising cover of Bad Religion’s song Better Off Dead, which is a very fast song and you made it sound like a ballad. Have you ever thought of doing similar covers of songs from your band’s more violent era, like Serenades and Pentacost?

Well yeah, I was thinking about certain parts but I don’t know whether it’s worth it. I mean because it’s our old stuff, it’s possible. I mean there are certain parts of They Die and Crestfallen… I mean we’ve just done Hindsight and it’s a bit like that. So I don’t really feel the need to do that right now. It’s a possibility, but I’m far too invested into what we’re doing now to think about anything else.

Ok then. Do you find it emotionally challenging to regularly play songs like One Last Goodbye on stage?

Challenging? It’s a funny choice of word (laughs). If you’re challenged emotionally it means that you can’t quite feel something, you can’t quite get something out so you can’t quite express it. Maybe it’s been lost in translation. Definitely not challenging..


Yeah. It’s not a song that I listen to, it’s a song that I just do. That goes for a lot of our stuff, we never actually listen back to it. I know what it’s like and I don’t need to listen to it.

What do you think of the following statement: “From sadness arise beauty”. These words were used in a review on the internet to describe Alternative 4.

There’s beauty in so many things. It’s not just flowers, trees and pretty birds. Obviously, there is an innate beauty in sadness and I think that the beauty in Alternative 4 is its complete adherence to the sad songs. There’s no light in them at all, not even a bit. They know exactly what they are, and the beautiful thing for me is if you can go through something that intensely dark and horrible, and turn it into something like Lost Control. Which to be honest, is about a really bad time in Duncan’s life. He was not in a good way and to take that into that song is beautiful to me. One Last Goodbye, Inner Silence, Alternative 4, all of these songs and loads more of our stuff… But, beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. People might not think so, but we do of course.

Time for the final question! This is the silly question of the interview: The reputation of being depressive never outlives your band, so here’s an opportunity to prove them wrong, do you have a good joke to share?

(laughs) Well no… I just have a proverb. There’s only three types of people in this world; those that can count and those that can’t. (laughs)

Interview conducted November 1st, 2009
MySpace Anathema : myspace.com/weareanathema

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  • Great. Very good interview. Thank you very much to keep it here for four years. I really liked the last question and his answer: « the beautiful thing for me is if you can go through something that intensely dark and horrible, and turn it into something like Lost Control. Which to be honest, is about a really bad time in Duncan’s life. He was not in a good way and to take that into that song is beautiful to me.  »


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