DATE OF INTERVIEW:
12th February 2011
METAL DISCOVERY: Despite your musical progression and evolution over the years, you seem to always have an affinity with the metal genre – like if you go in your local record shop, Anathema’s always found within the metal section. Do you think that’s ever been limiting for a potentially wider fanbase?
VINCENT CAVANAGH: Yeah, yeah. What do you want me to say about that? It’s not my fucking job, is it?
(Vincent Cavanagh on Anathema's evolution and musical progression)
"...we do what we’ve got to do in the future and we’ll get better at doing it. In that way, we’re no different to Radiohead, or The Beatles, or Pink Floyd for that matter."
Vincent Cavanagh backstage at the Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, UK, 12th February 2011
Photograph copyright © 2011 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Anathema Official Website:
Anathema Official MySpace:
The Crestfallen (1992)
The Silent Enigma (1995)
Albums & EPs
Thanks to Sam Hesketh at Division Promotions for arranging the interview.
Pentecost III (1995)
Alternative 4 (1998)
A Fine Day To Exit (2001)
A Natural Disaster (2003)
We're Here Because We're Here (2010)
Resonance 2 (2002)
MD: I just find it weird that, if you go into HMV, ‘We’re Here Because We’re Here’ is filed away in the metal section…
VC: So do I.
MD: …whereas surely Radiohead fans would love that album but the majority of them never venture near the metal section.
VC: It frustrates me beyond belief. What do you want me to say? It’s not my job.
MD: Has it surprised you that you’ve managed to maintain a large portion of your metal fanbase despite your progression?
VC: I’m happy with that. Surprised? No. Then again, I don’t really have an opinion on that because I’m just happy that anybody likes the music. There are a lot of metal fans that are into all kinds of music as well. All the people I know who are into metal all like electronic music, blues, sixties, or anything like that. You very rarely find people who are only one-sided and only listen to one thing. So absolutely, yeah, it’s cool.
MD: I think it shows the diversity of the metal genre too.
VC: Not just the metal genre but the people. People are more complicated and you can’t put people in boxes. If you try to put music in boxes, it doesn’t really work.
MD: Exactly. I’ve always said there are only two genres of music – either music you like or music you don’t like.
MD: You’ve gained a lot of recognition within the prog scene but do you think prog should be defined as a genre of music as many people do, or do you think it should be more of an attitude towards creating music because if you can identify a genre of prog then surely that’s a paradox and it can’t actually be progressive?
VC: Well, these days progressive is starting to…
MD: …move away from Dream Theater!
VC: Yes, exactly! When you see Thom Yorke on the front of a prog magazine it’s obviously about people who are constantly evolving, and changing, and trying new things, and pushing music, and pushing boundaries. And, okay, if you want to call that prog then fair enough, but that’s always been there. That’s just fucking rock music…imaginative rock music. You know, there will always be people with a greater imagination and there will always be people who show the way for everybody else. It may not catch on at first but a lot of people probably will get it eventually. Like, you know, people want instant gratification from entertainment and after Radiohead did ‘OK Computer’ a lot of people wanted more of the same. And no, fuck that…
MD: Exactly, they’re a genuinely progressive band so…
VC: Exactly, and it’s the same way that we are. We’re exactly the same way…we do what we’ve got to do in the future and we’ll get better at doing it. In that way, we’re no different to Radiohead, or The Beatles, or Pink Floyd for that matter.
MD: So are you still a big Floyd fan?
VC: Yeah, but much more when I was a kid to now. But yeah, I think they’re one of the best bands of all time.
MD: That influence has manifested in some of your songs, particularly ‘Pulled Under at 2000 Metres a Second’…
VC: Yeah, it’s quite like ‘Sheep’…
MD: Yeah, I was gonna say that.
VC: Yeah, I didn’t like that at the time and that’s why we don’t play it live.
MD: Do they remain an influence to this day?
VC: No, not really. I don’t really think we have any direct influences anymore. There were a few on the last album – there was that one, obviously, but not anymore. I don’t think there’s any at all; it’s more instinctive now.
MD: With band members living all over Europe, does it ever prove difficult for rehearsing etc.?
VC: Yeah, it could do but…we’ve grown up together all of our lives and we never really enjoyed having to play every single week or every day, so what we wanted to always do is rehearse when we need to rehearse. If we’ve got a tour coming up we’ll get together for two weeks before and we sort it out. Obviously, writing an album and doing that is different. There is a point where you do need to all get together and sort it all out but, at the moment, everything we’re doing is working fine. Modern technology and communication is helping a lot! So we’ve had no problems so far.
MD: And you live in Paris at the moment?
VC: I live in Paris, Danny lives in Oslo, Norway, Jamie lives in Holland and the rest of them live in England.
MD: Even though half the band have now moved away, the photography in the new album’s booklet contains a lot of photos from Liverpool – is that supposed to be an acknowledgement of your roots?
VC: Well, if you think about the title and what I said before, yeah. There are places from our childhood that have significant memories where a lot of this was formed; our relationships and our future lives. And we didn’t even know it at the time…we were too young to know anything like that. There’s a picture there which shows the window of Danny’s school. He was in trouble constantly in school and the headmaster called him in one day and said “what the fuck are you gonna do with your life?” or words to that effect, and he said “music”, and “oh yeah, music, okay, fine” with some kind of sarcastic comment. So Danny was like “no, fuck you, I am”, and he’s been right. There are photos there from the streets where we grew up, and the first place where we ever did anything together musically which was just for a laugh. We were just making each other laugh and wrote joke songs at first, Monty Python style, because we were kids and just wanted to write that. But, somewhere, we wrote some serious songs.
MD: So spiritually are you still in Liverpool?
MD: So you’ve moved away physically and spiritually?
VC: Yeah. I have a wandering home. I don’t have a single home. At the moment it’s Paris and that’s fine, but it’s gonna be in other places too.
MD: You’ve dabbled with acoustic performances in the past with a string quartet – now that ‘Hindsight’ has been out there for a while with stripped down versions of some of your songs, is that kind of show something you’ve considered resurrecting again?
VC: Yeah, only if it was worth it. There are one or two songs from the early days that we’d like to do in that style so we’re looking into that at the moment. I don’t think there’s very much beyond that but there’s a few ideas from the early days that we could do like that that we didn’t do on ‘Hindsight’ but, beyond that, I think that’s it then.
MD: Would you ever tour with an acoustic set with a string quartet?
VC: I would never say no because when me and Danny toured with a cello player a while back it was fantastic, so I wouldn’t say no. I’d like to do it at some point but it depends. We might be able to do it in South America or something like that.
MD: I saw the one you did where you supported Blackfield…in 2004 I think it was…
VC: That’s right, yeah.
MD: ‘Flying’ has never sounded as good as it did then…I think that sort of arrangement suited that song perfectly.
VC: Yeah, cool.
MD: I’ve read in a recent interview that there won’t be so much of a gap between ‘We’re Here…’ and the next album, like a seven year gap…have you already started composing?
VC: We never stop composing. It’s much more convoluted writing an album and having to write ten songs; it doesn’t happen like that. We’re writing constantly, all the time, so we’re always working on a few things. At the moment, we’re doing three things at once – two that can be released quicker than one, and the other one we’ll take more time with. So we’re doing those right now and we’ll see when they come out.
MD: Finally, for people who will be reading this and have never checked out Anathema previously, what would you want to say that recommends they go and check out your music immediately?
VC: I think our music isn’t really genre-specific. I think it’s the songs and I don’t really think it matters what you usually listen to, or how old you are, or anything, so give it a go if you want. It’s all there…it’s there if you want it…
MD: Your music transcends genre…
VC: Yeah, I think so, and it’s there if you want it, and you can have it, and you can take anything from it you like. Human beings are very complicated, and here’s to it.
MD: Good final words! Thank you so much for your time.