Just before we saw Anathema live in London at King’s Cross Scala, we caught up with the Liverpudlian Goth-turned-Prog rockers for a chat about stuff. Lead guitarist and songwriter, Daniel Cavanagh was the one who sat down with Amit Sharma to chat in-depth about all sorts from their latest album, We’re Because We’re Here to future plans.
We’re Because We’re Here is widely considered to be Anathema’s finest moment. What were the main differences when writing and recording this album?
“I think we just got better at songwriting and because we took our time we got the chance to reject the songs that weren’t the absolute best, and only choose the ones that were. We’re one of those bands that are lucky to get better with time, not every band does that. Radiohead do it and a few others – I think at this point we’re one of those, which is good.”
What do the words We’re Here Because We’re Here mean to you? Can you tell us a bit more about the war song and how it relates to the music?
“The title doesn’t have too much meaning except that it’s the only title everyone in the band liked, so that’s the one we went with. The war song is significant because it is about brotherhood, togetherness and getting through difficult times, and I liked it for that reason too.”
What’s your favourite track off the album?
“‘Dreaming Light’. It’s definitely my favourite, but I also love ‘Thin Air’, ‘Everything’ and ‘Universal’.”
‘Angels Walk Among Us’ features vocals from Ville Vallo. How did that come about?
“He’s just a good mate. We asked him to do it because he’s such a nice bloke. It wasn’t featured as prominently as I may have liked but he wanted to just stay in the background of the song and just add an effect. To be a presence in the song, and that worked. He’s one of those guys, he’s famous but I love who he is underneath it – a really good lad. And he’s a big fan of Anathema!”
How did you meet Steve Wilson and how did he end up working on your last album?
“We have the same agent as Porcupine Tree and we’ve toured with them twice. He’s also a fan of Anathema and when he offered his services in 2005 I was glad. He’s a lovely bloke and it was such a fantastic experience to work with him, I really enjoyed it.”
Do you have a favourite Porcupine Tree album?
“My favourite album would be Fear Of A Blank Planet. And my favourite song is probably ‘The Sound Of Muzak’.”
Eternity and Judgement are two albums that marked strong stylistic changes in Anathema. What were the main reasons behind this?
“Just a natural evolution really. We were just listening to other kinds of music and inspiring each other. The way we were playing guitars was expanding all the time, keyboards became more and more involved. I think piano became prominent on Alternative 4. I considered Alternative 4 to be the first real Anathema album. The way it was written and produced made a big difference.”
We saw you play Bloodstock 2009 with Nick Barker on drums, ending the set with Phantom Of The Opera. Who came up with the great idea of an Iron Maiden cover?
“It was mine. I love that tune. It’s probably the last time we’ll play it though! We’ve done it now.”
Music For Nations was one of the most important British labels for rock and metal. What happened to Martin Hooker and why did it close in 2004?
“I don’t know the details so cant really answer that. Clearly they weren’t making enough money. The record industry has changed so much.”
You guys have all been based in different parts of the world at points. What is your favourite place to tour?
“They’re all good for different reasons. Greece and Chile are great for concerts. I’m touring France soon, I like France very much so I’ll just say that! They all have different flavours, it’s hard to say. As long as people are coming to the shows, I’m very grateful.”
What does 2011 hold for Anathema?
“Just a chance to keep moving forward in whichever way we possibly can. There’s a release coming out called the Dreaming Light EP with at least 17 minutes of material originally recorded between 1992 and 1994. Songs like ‘Kingdom’, ‘Sleep In Sanity’ and ‘We, The Gods’ re-recorded with a full orchestra and grand piano, so that’s gonna be really nice. I don’t know exactly what might happen with the release as yet, things can change. It might not necessarily be an EP, it could extend into being an album.”