Saturday, November 3, 2012

Interview with Anaal Nathrakh (UK)

Finally, here is the interview with Anaal Nathrakh, who just released their new album Vanitas. This was one of the first bands Lachryma Christi wanted to interview but only now it was possible. Anaal Nathrakh are one of the most noisy bands in the Black Metal world, which mix other genres with the proper Black Metal, and which have one of the most brainy members, such as David Hunt. Let's see what he has to tell us.

Starting with Anaal Nathrakh name. It means "serpent's breath". Was it really taken from Excalibur, by John Boorman? Is it true that for you the name is just a name though?

Yes, it’s mentioned in Excalibur, and yes, it is just a signifier for the band as far as we’re concerned.  Whatever we thought at the time, nowadays it means no more and no less than the band to us.

You have been described as a band that plays black metal, grindcore, death metal, symphonic metal, industrial music and so on. Not wanting to ask you to label Anaal Nathrakh, how would you describe the band in a more simple and short way?

No idea.  I mean, I could give you more labels etc., but the point is, we don’t actually describe it unless someone asks us to, and then it’s in terms like those you mentioned.  When we speak to each other about it we don’t use labels, because we know what we’re referring to anyway.  But more generally, I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to concentrate on genre names like that, even if it’s a long list of them, because it gives the impression that one part will sound one way, another part will sound another way and so on.  Whereas we only really see one sound – ours.  Extreme, horrible, violent, words like that are more informative to use because they describe the whole sound.

After few years without playing live, are you happy with how things turned up in the end so far, and with live life of Anaal Nathrakh?

Yes.  We’ve only ever really done shows we wanted to do – bands can’t decide to play wherever and whenever they like, but they do have control over what shows they agree to do out of those that they’re offered.  And we’ve been lucky enough to play some great shows – twice at Inferno in Norway, Hellfest, Scion in California, the Maryland Death Fest and so on.  We get a fair number of requests to play a little further afield, from places like South America and Australia, so it’d be cool to be able to do that eventally, and we’re off to Canada for a few shows in a couple of weeks’ time.  And the shows themselves have nearly all gone really well.  It’s been a good experience so far.

Since your lyrics are never released, what are they about? Where do you get your inspiration?

Everywhere and everything.  I think a lot, read a lot, observe a lot.  I don’t think life is compartmentalized into those things which provide inspiration and those which do not.  Anything can be important, and everything is part of something more significant.

How does the songwriting happen for Anaal Nathrakh?

Mick writes the songs, I sing.  It’s literally that simple – many other bands may work in a more consensual way, but we don’t.  Our roles aren’t divided in a dogmatic sense, we simply each do what we’re best at.  There’s no way in the world that I could write music the way Mick does.  He’s incredibly talented, and it’s a privilege to work with him.  But by the same token, no one else can do what I do.  We do cross the divide a little bit sometimes, I might suggest a musical idea to Mick or he might think a bit of vocals would be better in a different style or things like that.  But for the majority of the time, it’s simply divided.

How did the gig in Hellfest 2012 go? What did you enjoy the most?

Very well.  Though I don’t really remember any of it, just that everyone seemed to think we’d played well, and there was a huge crowd who seemed to enjoy it.  I don’t meant to sound as if a gig like that wasn’t worth remembering, that’s not the case at all.  I mean I literally can’t remember very much of it.  That’s not entirely uncommon for me – I remember the things around the shows we play, but only bits of the shows themselves.  But what I do remember seemed great.  And the weekend as a whole was excellent.  As I was playing in both Anaal Nathrakh and Benediction on different days and the guys wanted to check the festival out, we all travelled together, plus both bands’ crew etc, so it was like there was a group of 14 of us and we all had a blast.  I spent some time walking around Nantes too, it’s a shame that more people who go to the festival don’t get to check out the city, it’s a cool place.

Regarding previous album, Passion, why Passion? How do you see Passion? Do you see it as the lovely thing, or as the painful and obsessive thing? Or none of those?

Passion is intensity.  So yes, I mean it more in terms of painful intensity.  The word originally comes from the Greek word for suffering, and that’s how I see passion – it has been bastardized  diluted in modern usage to mean something barely any strong than liking something or someone.  But true passion burns.  And more widely, I think that’s something which modern western culture fails to understand – the impulse is always to soften, to round off, to eliminate the negative.  Fond but not in love, to quote Radiohead.  That’s bullshit, that’s not what the world is.  So yes, I’ll take my passion with a side order of borderline self destruction, and fuck the mediocrity.  Passion can never end up a pig in a cage on antibiotics.

How do you see internet and the easy way how people download everything nowadays? Do you think it actually can be harmful for a band?

I’m not sure what the net effect is.  I mean net as opposed to gross – not as in the internet.  It certainly means we sell a lot less copies than we would have done according to the stature of the band if we were releasing albums 15 years ago.  But that isn't necessarily the whole story.  I’m not sure how many of the people who buy our albums or turn up to our shows nowadays first heard us via downloaded mp3s.  But I’m guessing it’s a fair number.  If they then go on to buy the music they find they like and so on, then I suppose the overall effect is positive.  Problem is, although I realize a lot of people do that, far more don’t.  So overall the bands and labels lose out a lot unless they tour constantly – which is not always what bands can or want to do.  Some people seem to think that bands make more money from touring nowadays than they used to do, but that’s only the case for the really big bands who it now costs £100 to see.  For everyone else it just means that only those companies who are large enough to withstand the losses will carry on.  Ironically downloading leads to increased corporatism in that way.  It’s largely irrelevant what anyone thinks of it though – the world is the way it is, and downloading isn't going to go away unless people stop wanting to download stuff.  To an extent I think the mania for downloading and the fucking stupid self justificatory idea that it somehow democratizes music have subsided a little.  But they haven’t disappeared and aren't going to.  So whatever you think about it, you just have to deal with it.

What have you currently been listening to?

Arvo Part.  I’d heard of him several times before, but I’d never really spent time listening to him  before the past couple of months.  And I've found him to be something of a revelation.  It’s my thinking music, for when I’m reading or writing something complex.  That and a band I hadn't heard of until I saw them recently, Undersmile.  It’s kind of like a slightly doomier Khanate but with girls chant singing instead of a guy screaming.  I got hold of the new Deathspell Omega EP not long ago, and will be giving that a proper listen soon.  I loved Paracletus, specifically the song Abscission.  And I’m looking forward to hearing the new Portal album.  Later tonight I’m going to see a Rachmaninov symphony.  I don’t know his stuff well, but that should be interesting.

Can you name a musician with who you would like to work with? And why that choice?

No, not really.  I mean, working with other musicians is something we do, something we enjoy, but we kind of like to think of what we’d like to do on a given album pretty much on the spot, so that it’s spontaneous.  What I’d really like is for someone from a completely different background to take one of our songs and see what they made of it.  I don’t know who that would be or what they would come up with, but I’m sure it would be fascinating.

When can we expect a new release for Anaal Nathrakh?

Well, as we speak, our new album came out last week in the UK/Europe.  It’ll be out in a couple of weeks in North America.  So if you didn’t know that, you happened to time your interview uncannily well!
(Note: interview was sent out a couple of months before the new album was released. This question could have been suppressed, but then some other questions - i.e. the one related to Passion album - wouldn't make sense. Lachryma Christi shared news about new album on the 10th September.)

Any message you would like to leave to your followers?

Thanks for the support.  That’s really all there is.  If you want some piece of life changing insight, go and read a book.

Mick Kenney 
David Hunt AKA V.I.T.R.I.O.L

Latest Release:

Vanitas (2012)

You can find more information and music of Anaal Nathrakh in:

Special thanks to Dayal Patterson

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