Anathema – Internal Landscapes

As one door closes, another opens. Or so the saying goes. Yet the conclusion of the A Natural Disaster (Music For Nations) run saw British Progressive Rock act Anathema complete their second cycle, one that had taken them from Doom (Serenades through The Silent Enigma) through a transitional period through more Progressive and emotional waters (Eternity through to …Disaster including the exceptional Judgement), alone in a room without an opening ahead of them, with apparently limited options. Externally, at least, the future of the band seemed shrouded, and their continued existence, let alone any future success, appeared unlikely. Continue reading

Anathema – The Optimist

Over a lengthy and storied career, Anathema have always had a knack for change; whether it being through evolutionary steps, a desire toward experimentation or both. It is well documented by now of their beginning as a Doom/Extreme Metal outfit with cult classics developing through to their contemporary, comparatively unrecognisable incarnation as an emotive Prog outfit; simply put, Anathema have always done what they want and have never been ones to bow to expectation. Nowadays, fanfare and as a result, expectation is at an all-time high when it comes to a new album; so in perhaps typical fashion, they release their most cinematic effort and most challenging release for many years in The Optimist (Kscope). Continue reading

A Fine Day To Live: Daniel Cavanagh of Anathema talks The Optimist, being an honest band and more

Despite a messed up sleeping pattern and having not yet gotten around to getting any caffeine in his system in the hour since he woke up, guitarist and co-songwriter Daniel Cavanagh of Anathema is in good, wry spirits. Almost Optimistic one might say… An erudite and affable chap of no little musical or creative talent, Mr Cavanagh is talking to Ghost Cult about the newest Anathema album, The Optimist (KScope) Continue reading

Anathema – A Sort Of Homecoming

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They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but sometimes the front can tell you exactly what to expect and emphasise something’s importance. The stunning scene from Liverpool’s Cathedral which adorns this particular cover perfectly encapsulates not only the grandeur of the cathedral itself, but the stunning atmosphere that any Anathema show has to offer.

A Sort Of Homecoming (Kscope) gives both a live video and audio version of Anathema’s Liverpool Cathedral show; part of a run of stripped down, mostly acoustic shows across similar venues around the UK and Europe, but a show in the band’s home town shows a great personal significance and familiarity to them. Some brief, jovial heckles here and there do not detract whatsoever and even highlights the warmth their music generates.

Much of the set on offer has been in heavy rotation in recent tours, and of course the latest album Distant Satellites (Kscope) gets a heavy airing, but even the regularity many will surely have heard these songs before does not lessen their effect or their presence whatsoever, and in actual fact the band do a lot to keep them sounding fresh.

‘The Lost Song Part 2’ opens the show to a fairly sombre note and curiously is done so without its corresponding parts, as Lee Douglas takes the first vocal duties of the night, and once again showing her improving confidence each and every show. Elsewhere, the poignant ‘Dreaming Light’ becomes a duet with Vincent Cavanagh sharing vocals with Lee, and ‘Internal Landscapes’ gets taken to its bare bones and sees Vincent and Danny singing together. An uncommon airing of ‘Electricity’ also helps to keep this set unique, alongside stunning performances of the likes of ‘Ariel’ and ‘A Natural Disaster’.

The video performance of this does well to showcase the gravitas of the surroundings and offers a clear, well shot document of the event throughout, all the while sounding crisp and note perfect, making this a live album that holds a candle to many of the greats. The largely familiar set list could have been a pitfall for those who have seen Anathema regularly in recent years, but the band’s unsurprisingly resonant and strong performance, plus the originality of the stripped down song versions and the magnificence of the venue itself, make this a very special release, and shows just why these guys are held so dearly in the hearts of many.

 

9.0/10

CHRIS TIPPELL

 

Ramblin’ Man Fair Festival (Saturday) – Maidstone, Kent (UK)

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In the absence of the much missed High Voltage Festival the UK festival scene has been screaming for a high profile outdoor festival which specializes in the worlds of classic rock and progressive rock. On a glorious, sunny Saturday the gates open to the sport park in Maidstone, Kent, revealing everything we rock fans need, namely great names and booze. The main and Prog stages sit either side of the site, as well as a beer festival bar and a third stage that will host both Country & Western today and Blues tomorrow. Welcome to the inaugural Ramblin’ Man Fair!

 

Touchstone hold a very special place in the hearts of their fans. So it comes as no surprise that they amass one of the biggest crowds of the day. With their last ever shows looming, it’s no wonder that as the first bars of ‘Wintercoast’ burst through the speakers, the crowd are completely immersed in the five piece. Kim Seviour’s vocals are on magnificent form, and it is clear that the reaction of the crowd means a lot to her and the rest of the band. Their encore is their renowned cover of Tears For Fears’ ‘Mad World’ for which they are accompanied by John Mitchell on guitar. The prog world will be very sorry to see them go.

Things take a psychedelic turn as prog upstarts Messenger prove that age doesn’t mean a damn thing. Having already supported the likes of Devin Townsend it is clear that we can expect great things from them. Unfortunately the vastness of the field locale seems to overwhelm their folk tinted melodies, and many an interest is lost. That being said, it is an impressive set, which only hints at things to come.

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Your scribe’s first visit to the main stage sees Blue Oyster Cult prove why they are one of rock’s most underrated gems. Arriving to the Game Of Thrones theme tune, BOC put on a master-class performance, which shows both experience and, perhaps, a surprising level of energy. Donald Roesar, Eric Bloom and Kasim Sultan prowl the stage and exude charisma, backed by a sterling set of anthems including a monstrous (pun entirely intended) ‘Godzilla’. Sadly a large portion of the crowd leave once THAT song is played, but this doesn’t take away from a sterling set which proves that these legends are so much more than a one song band.

 

British Prog heroes Haken are soaring right now, garnering plaudits a plenty and following a very well received EP release, and today’s performance shows signs of just why, if with some inconsistencies. Beginning with the short and shaper ‘Premonition’ from Visions (Lasers Edge) and The Mountain’s (InsideOut) ‘In Memoriam’ , they kick the Prog dial up with 3 long players closing the set. An unusually mixed set sadly sees a flat performance of breakthrough song ‘The Cockroach King’ which seems to lack its urgency and power. A stunning rendition of ‘Crystallised’ following on however certainly makes amends as the set closer.

There cannot be a rock and metal festival goer on the planet now who hasn’t seen legends Saxon at some stage now, seemingly an ever present each year, and with performances like this it’s a bloody good job too. Offering very few surprises, their set is loaded with the familiar classics that everyone knows and loves to rapturous response from the gathered masses. Biff Byford gives an engaging and genuine display as ever as he commands his troops through classic anthems like ‘Strong Arm Of The Law’ and the timeless ‘Wheels Of Steel’, barking that they will play until they are booted off the stage. No such set cutting occurs however as they close the set with a rousing ‘Denim And Leather’, further cementing their reputation as one of metal’s most beloved acts.

 

Up on the main stage, prog maestros Dream Theater are going through the motions. Sadly despite their flawless, CD-perfect performance it feels as though they’re lacking personality. There is a sense of love ‘em and leave ‘em about this performance, and with the exception of Jordan Rudess the band looked as though this was a 9-5 job. Even the heart-wrenching ‘The Spirit Carries On’ falls flat emotionally, and the bombastic ‘Burning My Soul’ feels forced and perfunctory. The humdrum nature of closer ‘Behind the Veil’ bookends what has been a worrying glimpse into the bands future.

The last few years have seen Anathema rise from underground heroes to one of prog’s most celebrated entities, showcased as second to headliners to icons Camel. Renowned for their knack to bring grown men to tears, today they give a set full of some more energetic numbers but still with that trademark emotion and serenity. After a low key but building start to ‘Anathema’, things kick up a gear into ‘Untouchables Part 1’ before a raucous ‘Thin Air’ gives momentum. The splendor of the vocal harmonies really shows on ‘The Lost Song Part 3’, showing Lee Douglas’ growing ever more confident performance after performance; particularly so when she leads on the beautiful ‘The Lightning Song’. Closing with a harder and more energised rendition of ‘Distant Satellites’ than on record, they show just how versatile they are. Yes it may be songs that they have aired countless times in the last few years, but they are played as stunningly as ever.

 

The level of adoration for Camel the prog community has is unrivaled, and with good reason. Since their incarnation back in 1971, Andy Latimer and his brethren have produced some of the most iconic albums both inside and outside progressive music. It is a privilege to be amongst the crowd tonight, and as ‘Never Let Go’ begins proceedings, it is clear that their form has not floundered. Latimer is on his finest form yet; both his guitar work and vocals are flawless. Each song is met with elated cheers and fervent applause, with song like ‘Spirit of the Water’ flowing seamlessly into ‘Air Born’. Noise bleed from the Scorpions set does punctuate some of the quieter segments, but Latimer is undeterred proving that Camel are the real headliners of a glorious first day in Maidstone.

With the pull of the returning Camel on the Prog Stage, the crowd for German legends Scorpions is not quite as rammed as perhaps expected, and the huge delay does not help shake the underwhelming feeling. When they finally do take to the stage its to a somewhat flat and uninspiring rendition of ‘Going Out With A Bang’, at this point a seemingly ironic statement. Fortunately proceedings pick up with the sterling ‘Make It Real’ and ‘The Zoo’, as guitarists Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs and drummer James Kottak show tonnes of energy and Cheshire cat grins.

For the most part this is an immensely enjoyable set that balances classics such as ‘Wind Of Change’ and ‘Big City Nights’ with stellar tracks off the new album Return To Forever (Sony) like the monumental ‘We Built This House’ which sounds right at home with the anthems. But inconsistency sets in with a couple of moments that don’t hit the mark: for example the momentum killing acoustic segment. Inconsistencies aside this is a thoroughly enjoyable set, and as they close with favourite’“Rock You Like A Hurricane’ they affirm their legendary status with a great, if not perfect, close to day one.

 

WORDS: CHRIS TIPPELL & SARAH WORSLEY

Anathema – Mother’s Cake: Live at 013, Tilburg NL

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The Austrian band Mother’s Cake seem to enjoy disregarding genre boundaries. While on the one hand they have a very funky sound due to the bass, which is often played with slapping and popping, they guitar tends to have a more punk-rock style. The vocals are pretty high in pitch with that classic hard rock squeeze, but the drummer seems to prefer playing progressive music. Then again, they also incorporate unexpected reggae or ska breaks, and play a very good Hendrix-style blues. The dissonance between the various musical instruments and the vocals as well as the occasional very high pace means this band does not qualify for easy listening. Sometimes it seems as if we are witnessing three separate musicians rather than a band.

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However, the band attack their instruments with great enthusiasm, and in those sections of songs where the diverse elements fall into place they are actually really, really good. Because of the diversity of sound they remind of a number of different bands, The Music being one of the first that popped into my mind. The end of their set was really strong, with vocals similar to those of Robert Plant and on the whole an almost Led Zeppelin quality to the music.

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While I personally didn’t enjoy all of their musical experiments, I liked their skill in various fields and the risks they take in playing so many different genres. I think if they can move towards a greater coherency in their music they will be a band to keep an eye on.

 

Anathema, the masters of dramatic tension have once again returned to Tilburg, and judging by the size of the crowd the venue is very nearly sold out. This year saw the release of the band’s tenth studio album, Distant Satellites (KScope). Distant Satellites is much closer to heavy progressive than Weather Systems, which was rather ambient in sound, and these new songs provide a very strong opening to the show. Anathema do not play only their new works, however, and it is very interesting to hear ‘Untouchable part I and II’ played with the intensity of Distant Satellites. Other older songs include ‘A Natural Disaster,’ ‘Fragile Dreams,’ and ‘Universal.’

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I was glad to see backing vocalist Lee Douglas present on stage from the very start, and especially to see how much her stage performance has improved. She is really starting to take her space in the spotlight, which is well deserved considering her strength as a solo singer as well as the beautiful harmonies she provides that match both Vincent and Daniel Cavanagh’s voices. Vincent’s vocals, while not flawless, have a very intense and emotional quality about them, and it is truly impressive how he manages to sing in a completely different rhythm from what he plays on his guitar. Daniel’s voice is softer and is usually only present when he is playing keyboards instead of guitar.

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Although Daniel Cardoso is capable of great subtlety it’s great to have John Douglas present on percussions as well. John is also quite adept at the keyboards, which he proved during ‘The Beginning of the End.’ When they played ‘Storm Before the Calm,’ we saw Vincent behind yet another keyboard backlit like some kind of dark lord. Eventually, Daniel Cavanagh started playing his guitar with a violin bow.

 

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The band has a wonderful stage presence, and certainly great audience interaction, since Danny can speak a few words of Dutch, Vinnie a few phrases, and Jamie lives in the Netherlands so he can hold entire conversations with the spectators.

The band announced that they were going to play a very special festival in the 013, which means that we are likely to see them perform at Roadburn 2015.

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WORDS: LORRAINE LYSEN

PHOTOS: SUSANNE A. MAATHUIS PHOTOGRAPHY

Anathema: Live at Academy 3, Manchester UK

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A fearlessly charismatic outfit whose loyal fanbase have grown throughout the evolution of their sound, it really beggars belief that Anathema are not headlining venues double this size.

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Tonight’s performance is sold out and the intimate confines of the Academy 3 only help to make the evening feel that much more special. New opus Distant Satellites (KScope) has garnered much praise from all quarters and rightly so. The sweeping orchestral arrangements and ethereal vocal melodies of ‘The Lost Song, Part 1’ kick things off. The set is mainly comprised from their last four albums with particular emphasis on the current record which for some acts would be a bold statement but for this Scouse quintet it is just comes naturally.

 

Vincent Cavanagh and Lee Douglas voices are the perfect foil to each other their harmonies evoking sadness, emptiness, hopefulness and triumph sometimes in the space of one song.

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Lee’s brother John and Daniel Cardoso swap between drums are keys effortlessly adding lush electronic textures to the shimmering bedrock of guitars and strings. Lee herself is in particularly fine form lending her soaring emotive performance to ‘The Lost Song, Part 2’ and encore highlight ‘A Natural Disaster’.

 

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Danny Cavanagh is in fine fettle, showing bags of charm and charisma laughing and joking with the crowd between songs. Even when technical gremlins threaten to derail what is a truly magnificent performance during ‘Closer’, Danny comes to the rescue with an impromptu rendition of Pink Floyd classic ‘Wish You Were Here’ which fans sing along with gusto. Vincent then returns to the vocoder and belts out ‘Closer’ without a hitch. A truly incredible live experience full of such warmth and sincerity that you cannot help to be swept way in. A captivating, emotive performance from some immensely talented musicians that have carved a career from determination and a total lack of compromise. Concluding with the anthemic ‘Fragile Dreams’, Anathema demonstrate, yet again why they are literally in a class of their own.

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WORDS: ROSS BAKER

PHOTOS: LUKE DENHAM PHOTOGRAPHY

Anathema- Distant Satellites

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It is beyond a mystery how after all this time Anathema can still be considered almost a hidden gem, especially considering their consistent ability to make mesmerising and heart wrenching music. Considering their output in recent years especially, the fact it hasn’t hit much wider audiences than it has is quite simply criminal. For those lucky worshippers however, latest effort Distant Satellites (KScope)feels no less magical and tear flowing.

 

Distant Satellites is noticeable stripped down in comparison to the likes of recent albums We’re Here Because We’re Here and Weather Systems, overall using more straightforward song structures, less complex layering and multiple uses of looping systems. The aforementioned loops have become a fundamental part of the bands live show (especially in their acoustic sets) and is a foundation for much of this album such as on ‘Dusk (Dark Is Descending).

 

Opening up similarly to Weather Systems with a two part song; ‘The Lost Song Part 1’ once again offers the more grandiose and powerful, Vincent Cavanagh led version followed by the piano driven second part where once again Lee Douglas’ sumptuous vocals take centre stage. By ‘Ariel’ Lee’s voice will have you weak at the knees before the contrasting interplay with Vincent and the final, softer notes courtesy of Danny.

 

The latter half of the album will be the elephant in the room for many people, where it takes a quite unexpected detour toward more electronic music based territory. ‘You’re Not Alone’ uses continued repeated vocal refrains with an electronic drumbeat. The title track is where these influences really come to fruition with a much more obvious drum and bass style underlying drum beat. It’s this latter half of the album that is far less immediate and will put many people off instantly and take a few listens with others to finally click. Far from being a huge curveball, however, it still holds their characteristic sentiment despite its repetitive nature.

 

One of our world’s most understated bands, despite the plaudits they get, Anathema have once again showcased their knack for penning both forward thinking and emotionally driven music which oozes real human character and sentimentality that anyone and everyone can connect to. Distant Satellites in parts is one of the band’s most difficult albums to fully grasp in recent years but is so rewarding once it does. Prepare to have your heart strings tugged.

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9/10

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CHRIS TIPPELL

 

 

Loss, Death, and Life: Vincent Cavanagh of Anathema

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With their latest work, Distant Satellites (Kscope), being released this June, and their star rising all over the globe as a pay-off to their hard work of the last 20 years, Liverpudlian band Anathema with their ground breaking melancholy prog rock piqued our interest. We had a lovely chat with their vocalist, Vincent Cavanagh, one of three brothers that make up the band with friends from their youth, and spoke at length about music, the industry, emotions, love, death and the important things in life, America and the dynamics of a band scattered all over Europe and their creative process.

We started off by chatting about Distant Satellites and its masterful use of beats. When we mentioned a theory about Aphex Twin being an influence on us. At the mention of this and the song ‘Come to Daddy’, Vincent’s ears perked up:

Yeah me too, I’m into all that. I think I was about seventeen years-old and I was working at a studio in Liverpool and the guys who had the studio had this electronic band I used to help them out with their beats and things and they introduced me to Aphex Twin. So that’s going back a bit. And eh, it fucking blew my head off, you know. One of the most intense things I’d ever heard in my life.”

A band like that is an obvious influence to many, and we mentioned the impact we felt when we first heard them. Vincent agreed: “Oh Jesus Christ! Is it the “Black Long” remix of that? It’s on an album called The Fire This Times came out round 2003 I think. It was kind of a protest album about the story in Iraq. It was load of music put together as a soundtrack to this narrative about the first Gulf War, the aftermath and the build op to the second gulf war. And it was actually taken off the shelves in the UK when Mr. B-liar (red. Blair) *laughs* went to start his war. You know you couldn’t find it in the shops anywhere and you couldn’t order it, I tried my best to order it from everywhere. You could not order it for about 9 months. You bastards, you know, something is going on with that, don’t know what it is. But eventually I got it. Cause I heard a Radio 1 jockey, he played this “Black Long” remix of ‘Come to Daddy’. I thought “what the fuckin’ hell is that?” It’s this really, really dark drum and bass version, it’s brilliant. No-one does it like him as well, the way he programs beats is really unique, no-one does it like him.

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Vincent appeased our sense of curiosity about how this music could come to influence the new Anathema EP

Yeah well our stuff, well I don’t know all that kind of thing. It was me who basically breached the area, I mean. Over Christmas I bought this drum machine so I was experimenting with that, but I couldn’t figure out how to use the thing, you know. I didn’t really know. So when John approached it like that, and then we came up with this beat and then it came from there. So it’s fairly new for me. I think that song, it’s a song. It’s got a verse, it’s got a pre-chorus even and a chorus, it’s got a hook, so most of this stuff we do, even though we do experiment a bit, there’s some kind of anchored in a song, kind of.

Danny Cavanagh has settled in comfortably as the creative fulcrum of the band, leading the charge in the writing process, then bringing in Vincent and John:

Yeah he did most of that on this one as well. He comes up with a lot of the initial stuff, and it gets filtered through me and I finish it off with everybody. Sometimes it needs more work than other times, and sometimes it’s almost done as it is. And of course I always add my own touches here and there. John’s stuff, I work very closely with John, probably more closely, well definitely more closely than with Danny. I kind of put together his music. John has got great ideas, but they’re quite nebulous, you know. Like trying to get an idea out of John is like “alright what do you think? something needs to come in here.” And he goes “yeah I want a synth that goes “dedoofdedoof dodedoofdedoof” and he’ll just do that. And I’ve got to figure out what synths to use, how to program the sound and how am I going to manipulate this, how am I going to use the pitch bend to get this “dedoof dedoof” you know. Because he doesn’t really know how to technically do that. So that’s where I come in. I dunno, John’s like a psychedelic sort of disc guy, more of a classic songwriter. I’m more of a sort of organizer and producer, and I sort it all out at the end.”

After the foundations are laid, arranging the songs and completing them comes next: “Well it came together really quickly ‘cause we tried about five different ways of doing that song, ‘Distant Satellites’. And we just weren’t happy with it. We were already like three weeks into the process. And I said to John one day, we were having the break over at Christmas, and I said to John could you fly over, I live in Paris you see, so he had to fly from Liverpool, come to mine. And we said “okay what the fuck is wrong with this? Let’s sort it out. And we said we’ve just got the scrap it and start again. We found out what was wrong with it, was that the original way it was written was the chords were played in sort of this plucked rhythm and it was making it sound dated. It was making it sound old, so we just kind of scrapped the rhythm. So I said ok, I’ve got this here, this is a kind of sideways sound, how about we just play the same chords with this sound, but really slow? Ok that sounds good. Now how about a beat? We don’t want an obvious 4/4 beat, we want something different. Okay so I’ve got this drum machine, let’s fuck around with that for a while. And about an hour later or so, we kind of had the bare bones of it. It was getting developed as well over the course of the next couple of weeks until we had it into a certain shape with the vocals and everything that we were ready to play it to the rest of the band. At that pint it was completely different to how the guys had heard it last. Three weeks earlier it sounded totally different. So it was “okay this is the song” “okay, fuckin hell what happened to that?” well it took a while but we eventually figured out was it was supposed to be in the first place.

We next wondered aloud whether the brooding sound of the new music was intentionally made to be ominous:

It’s not intentional, it’s just the way it just happens. The chords come out naturally with us; we usually start with the first chord and see where it goes form there. I don’t think we ever set out to write a song in the same way, it just happens. We made the album and we didn’t even realize after it was done, we send it to someone and said “here it is have a listen to that” and he goes “fuckin’ hell, it’s dark innit?” and we go “eh… is it?” (laughs) yeah okay, it probably is, init?” We hadn’t thought of that, but that’s cool, because I quite like dark music. That’ll do me, you know, I’m up for that. I’d like the next one to be dark as well you know, but you can’t force it, whatever comes out comes out.

Some of that darkness musically seems to seep down from the lyrics, drenched in themes of loss and heartbreak: “It is yeah, there was a lot of more optimistic stuff on the last two records for sure. I think there’s hardly any of that this time around. That was what it was, that was of it’s time. This is now. I don’t know personally I don’t like happy songs. I don’t know what to do on a happy song. Just trying to imagine myself doing that kind of music. People want you to do that, why? So yeah I’d say it’s always honest you have to go through whatever is there. The people in the songs are all real, the situations the experiences are real, but what I’ll say is we don’t give it away a lot, because it’s too personal. At the same time we like people to make their own life, their own people and their own experiences in it. The only thing that I can say to give them a clue is when you hear the word you in one of our songs; it’s not about a relationship. We don’t write love songs or relationship songs. There’s none of that. So when you think a song is about a breakup, it’s not. People thought that about ‘One Last Goodbye’, that I could have written that about me and my girlfriend breaking up. Alright well fair enough, that’s cool for you, but that’s not what it’s about.”

In truth that song is about a relationship, but not a romantic one. It was made for their mother after she passed away.

Yeah you know loss and death and ultimately life for us, is about people. You know the people in our lives are the most important thing, everything else is all decoration. I’ve said this before and I don’t want to repeat myself, but at the end of it all I think that what I’d like to have around me is people. Achievement would be all great, leaving a legacy would be superb, but it’s not going to matter until you have good people. Spend your time with good people and having fun and having good people in your life, having love in your life, that kinda thing is the most important thing to me.

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Despite being a tight knit unit creatively, the brothers themselves today live quite far apart. How does a the band then come together to make music, and more importantly relate with that distance?

Yeah Danny is in London now, he’s settled over there. He’s got himself into like a shared house where he’s like renting a couple of rooms and I think he has a good deal there. He’s always loved London, maybe he’ll stay in one place for more than six months this time who knows. He’s lived a very nomadic life for almost 10 years now he’s just been all over the place. It’s difficult to write yeah, but we write as individuals anyway, we don’t need each other around to write music. Of course we do when the others are around, but it’s not absolutely necessary. So when we come together we’ll play “ok what have you got, what have you been up to?” and we’ll play everything we’ve got. We might get together and do a deliberate writing session now and again, and we’ve got one booked for the end of July, just to see what we’ve been up to since the last record. So I think the guys are gonna come to myhouse and just gonna we’re just gonna jam through some new ideas and see what we’ve got. Talk about the last record, see what we felt about it and what we learned from it and see what new things we’ve got and see where that seems to be going. And then we’ll get cracking on with touring. Obviously you spend a lot of time together on tour, there will be new stuff floating around on tour. And then after the tour we’ll do another session somewhere. It’s okay if you just concentrate your efforts. You say okay let’s just do five days we’ll just live in a studio and do as much as we can in five days, and we’ll get Christer down, you know the producer, and we’ll do it properly.”

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Christer-André Cederberg has been working with really closely with Anathema as the producer for the last few albums. By now he almost seems part of their little family:

Yeah and for this one as well, we had two session of preproduction. One for about a week in Portugal with Cardosso, he set up a studio for us there. And then one for about few days as well in Oslo, about a month before the recording, in Christer’s studio. He put everything down on a board, so we probably had about sixty-ish ideas, so we had to whittle that down to about say… twenty. And then in the final pre-production session another song that had been written in the mean time, ‘Ariel’. So in the final preproduction session we decided, ok this is the record it’s those songs, so we go to recording. Starting right at the beginning in Christer’s place and finishing the final mix in Christer’s’ place makes it a much more concentrated and controlled process. Christer is very, very organized and he’s extremely dedicated. He works very long hours. He’s a great guy to work with, he’s a positive guy. Whenever you speak to him, even the tone of his voice… do you know what I mean? He has a little lilt in his voice that just puts you at ease… it’s like he’s always upbeat, but despite that, right at the end he was mixing and recording through the pain,. He had some problems with his back and he was taking a bunch of painkillers. In the end it was too much and he had to go to hospital and they operated on him that day. That was the last day of recording. After that the doctors said “OK Christer, you’ve been doing too much, you need to stop working for about three months.” The operation was good but you need to stop now, and he goes “OK well, I can’t. I’m gonna take a week off and I’m gonna mix this record that I’m doing and after that I’m gonna take some time off, I promise.” He is so dedicated it’s beyond the call of duty. We were happy to say just take three months, we’ll put the album on September, don’t worry about it. But he said no, no I’m going to do it, don’t worry. Which is why in the end he just didn’t have time to mix two songs on the record. So Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree, Storm Corrosion ) was out first call. We got in touch with Steven and he was available, lucky for us, so that was good. To add to it all, we were in America, so there was nothing we could have done to go out and meet people to see if maybe this guy might be OK for the record. At least we knew Steven and we knew that we trusted him with our baby.”

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SUSANNE A. MAATHUIS