Continuing my wee run of interviews of Metal Blade bands, we have one from extreme Metallers Anal Nathrakh. The Birmingham based duo are currently gearing up to release The Whole Of The Law via Metal Blade records. Vocalist, Dave hunt very kindly set some time aside to answer some questions that I sent over his way. Back when I interviewed him last year, I noted that he was very honest with his answers and didn’t sugarcoat anything. That remains the case, even on the certain topic of “being locked in a small cupboard to record vocals”…
Thanks to Andy at Metal blade for organising and Dave for his time :)
You’re currently gearing up to release The Whole Of The Law. How has the response has been to the track you’ve released?
Very positive, as far as I can tell. We’ve played it at shows recently and it seems to have gone down well. I don’t really read Facebook or music commentary sites, so it’s not like I’ve done a survey. But from what we’ve heard speaking to people and playing shows, it’s been good. We’ve been pleased to see that people were receptive. It doesn’t hurt that we think it’s a really great track, but then of course we would think that.
In comparison with the previous album, Desideratum, how different was the process behind the creation?
The actual process, the more mundane aspects were largely unchanged we wrote and recorded everything in the same way we normally do, albeit in different physical locations. Mick has moved to a new place over in California, and the vocals were recorded in a house up the road from where I live, where we haven’t recorded before. But the process was basically the same. What changed was the new inspirations and ideas we had, the new ideas we wanted to include.
Anaal Nathrakh is fairly unique in the fact that you don’t publish the lyrics for the songs. What is the main reason for this?
It’s because I don’t like presenting everything on a plate. The instant availability of virtually everything nowadays seems to me to devalue things. It’s not like I’m trying to set an entrance exam you can get everything you need out of an album by listening to it. This is music we’re making, not literature. But if someone wants to get further into what we’re talking about, then I want them to think for themselves about it. Look for references in the song titles and bits of lyrics they can hear, have a read of a couple of the better interviews out there and see what’s discussed and so on. Very often the meat of what’s going on in the lyrics isn’t completely hidden, it just needs a bit of thought to get to it. That makes it more worthwhile, I think, to anyone who wants to make the effort. And if people don’t want to make the effort, they don’t have to. Like I say, this is music.
In a recent article that Mick did, he mentioned that he locks you in a dark closet to record the vocals for the albums. Could you clarify this? How big is the closet and is it comfortable?
That was certainly what we did for Vanitas, it was a cupboard about 6 feet by 4 feet with no windows, the door closed and the light off. I preferred it that way. It was more immersive, having no possible distractions meant I could concentrate on feeling the music and what I was doing. No, it’s not comfortable, but that’s rather the point – the claustrophobic feeling contributed to the method acting side of doing vocals. For The Whole of The Law, it was slightly different because we didn’t have the same space to work in, but a lot of it was still recorded with the lights off and as little distraction as possible from me, the mic and my intoxicant of choice at the time. Traditional vocal recording setups in studios are terrible for capturing the atmosphere of a song in your head, I think. They’re sterile and artificial. What you need, or at least what I prefer, is isolation in windowless darkness. Confront yourself with the abyss, so that you might scream bleakly and futilely into it, with everything you have.
You’ve got a couple of selected dates across Europe happening soon. Are you looking forward to them?
Yes and no. I find playing shows, especially back to back shows, stressful and physically difficult. So there’s always a degree of apprehension. You probably wouldn’t know it to see us, and you probably wouldn’t expect it given how many shows we’ve done individually and collectively, but I still shit myself about every show. But I suppose that helps in a way, given that an edgy demeanour is appropriate for our kind of music. And on other levels it can be very rewarding. A good show is an exhilarating thing, both for us and hopefully for the audience. So I’m hoping for some really good shows.
You also recently played in Japan for a few shows. How were they?
They were superb. It was the first time that any of us apart from our new drummer had been to Japan, and personally I’d always wanted to visit since I was a kid of about ten years old. Obviously going that far across the world to play shows in a country which can be really different than what we’re used to culturally, it’s very much an unknown quantity. But the crowds were, well they were there for a start we didn’t know what to expect in terms of turnouts, but the shows were all full. And the reaction and
reception from the fans was tremendous. Warm, excited and enthusiastic. We were very grateful for the support they gave us. It was a wonderful experience in general, and we’re looking forward to the next opportunity to go over there again. Though next time it might be nice if we could avoid the three typhoons which converged on Japan simultaneously while we were there!
You’ve been in the metal scene for a number of years now. What would you say has changed during the time that you have been a musician?
Very little really. Obviously there are new bands, but in extreme music, half of the bigger bands are the same bands that were around when I was a teenager. I’m not knocking them in many cases, they deserve to be. But they are. I’ve said this before, but if you look at the changes in music from decade to decade think of the difference between 1965 and 1975. The Beatles had become god, and split up. Jimi Hendrix had changed the world and then died, and so on. Then between 1975 and 1985, punk began, Discharge, thrash, the heyday of Iron Maiden, what we now know as extreme metal just around the corner. Then think about the changes between 1996 and now. Twice the time span, but nothing to compare in terms of milestone developments. I don’t mean to downplay the achievements of those active in that time it includes us, after all. And there have been some incredible highlights from all manner of people and bands. There are comparatively recent albums I adore. But I don’t think there has been the kind of fundamental, revolutionary change that one might have expected. When something big and new does come along, as surely it will, I’ll be curious to see what it is. Until then, I’ll keep looking out for innovation on a less seismic level, both in what I find out there and in what we do.
And finally, what advice would you give to a band that’s just starting out in the metal scene?
There’s only one piece of advice. And there’s a reason there’s only one. Get a relationship with a lawyer, or someone who can at least advise you with contracts etc. People who are largely only interested in playing music are comparatively easy to rip off with little details in contracts, and you need to protect yourself from that when the time comes. But the reason that’s the only piece of advice I’d offer is because that’s the only thing that is relevant besides what you already have. A band won’t be made or broken because of little things they do which others might advise them on. A band becomes what it is because of the creativity and dedication of its members. You know whether what you’re doing is the right thing for you to do, or at least if you don’t know whether it’s right, then you know whether you just have to do it regardless if you don’t have at least one of those, and preferably both, then stop. Do something else. But if you do have those things, then nothing I or anyone else says will matter. Your
atmosphere, your microcosmic world, is yours to create. Do it justice, and fuck everything else. Just make sure you don’t get ripped off along the way.
Anaal Nathrakh release their new album The Whole Of The Law on October 28th via Metal Blade records.