Interview: Danny Cavanagh (Anathema)

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HIT CHANNEL INTERVIEW: April 2012. We talked with Danny Cavanagh from Anathema. Anathema is probably the favourite band of the Greek listeners. We had the chance to talk to Danny about their latest very good album, “Weather Systems” and many more subjects. Read below the very interesting things he told us:


Are you satisfied with the final result of “Weather Systems” album?

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Yes, I’m very satisfied. I think it’s great and I’ve listened to it many times. I’m very proud of it. It has our best songs, our best vocals, the best writing, the best production and I also like the atmosphere and the colours of the album. I like it very much.


Would you agree that “Weather Systems” is more diverse musically than “We’re Here Because We’re Here” album?

I don’t think it’s more diverse. There’s only one part of a song, that’s electronic. That doesn’t mean that we did an electronic album. Anything we did in “We’re Here Because We’re Here” seemed to be more colourful and brighter. I like in “Weather Systems” the dark and intense strength. In “We’re Here Because We’re Here” it had a brighter energy. But I don’t think it’s more diverse. I think it’s stronger, more intense, but I don’t think it’s more diverse, no.


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Is there any particular concept that connects the songs of “Weather Systems”?

From the title “Weather Systems” and the titles of the songs, it’s quite obvious that the titles are a metaphor. It’s a way to describe the emotions that people go through and are a part of them, and there is a parallel between storms in the mind and storms in nature, or a rainbow… There is an internal meaning for those songs.


How important was the contribution of the producer Christer-André Cederberg (Animal Alpha, In the Woods…, Drawn) in “Weather  Systems”?

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He had a massive, huge contribution.  He worked a lot with Vinnie on vocals and with all the band. He pushed us harder in recording many, many times. I think we have the best performances so far. It was the best experience I ever had in the studio. I was very impressed. Christer is the best.


When did you record the album? Did it happen during the period you lived in Norway?

Part of it. It recorded during spring in Liverpool, and early summer of 2011 in Oslo. Also, we transferred in autumn 2011 in Wales and we mixed again in Oslo in January 2012. We used three different studios for the recordings and I’m very happy with the result.


Do you think that the classical elements are an integral part of today’s Anathema?

Yeah, they are at the moment. The piano and orchestra are parts of our sonic colors… Alongside huge golden guitars, and also some electronica.


How do you react when some fans say that they prefer your early doom/death period?

I don’t care, I don’t have any problem. Everybody has an opinion.  Who cares? I hardly care anymore. If you think how long is since “Alternative 4”, which is our first real modern album, you would see it’s a long time ago. And that was is 1998. It’s 14 years, and that album expanded our minds. It’s hard and heavy and honest and a bit influenced by Pink Floyd. And then we did albums more colourful with more influences and that is what we are doing since that day. And I’ ll tell you this: If we had changed the name of the band after “The Silent Enigma”, no one would complain about this metal thing. It’s only the band name that causes the argument.


They say if Anathema hadn’t done the early albums, they wouldn’t have been today in metal magazines. The same thing that they say now for Opeth.

Maybe, maybe not. Things change and grow.


Some people don’t understand that.

They have every right not to like what we like, and we have the right to like what we like. If someone downloads the album for free and then posts criticism on a forum, without having paid for the record, it seems for me to matter nothing. It doesn’t really matter. It’s irrelevant. We don’t make music for anybody other than ourselves and then we can only hope that people like it for themselves. That fact is that we have made great albums, we have great songwriting and the music is true and honest. That’s the end of the matter.


It’s very clear that your music is inner and pure.

It is pure and from our heart. If people have a problem, then they don’t have to buy the albums. We are more popular now that we have ever been, we are possibly the most important band in our record label, we are the possibly biggest selling band in our record label, we are one of the most important bands in the progressive scene of Britain, we play the biggest concerts than we ever did, the album has got rave reviews across Europe. It doesn’t matter if a few fans want to complain to us about not playing metal. But it’s our life and our music is totally from the heart. The old fans can always listen to My Dying Bride.

We respect them too, and people can listen to what they want. We too deserve respect, we do deserve respect for the music that we do. We still have elements of huge guitars, we still have a lot of power in the music, but it isn’t metal. But there was always a difference between us and the metal scene. Even in 1996. Even in the metal days.  So I can’t care too much what people think. 1995 was the last time we made a metal album. 1995! 1995! That’s the first 5 years of the band. It’s now 2012. The last time I checked it was still my life and I’ll write my songs my way, thank you very much !

The first big selling album in Greece was “Alternative 4” and that isn’t a metal album. I still believe that the songwriting of that album is of a high standard, the production is of a high standard, the vocals are of a good standard. It’s a first rate album, thankfully in some part to Duncan Patterson’s songwriting. Without Duncan’s songwriting, the band might have evolved differently, so we owe him a debt. He helped to move forward in “Alternative 4” but I was also writing “Inner Silence”, “Regret” and “Fragile Dreams” then too, so it wasn’t all down to Duncan.

That (“Alternative 4”) is for me the first real, real modern Anathema album.  That’s not metal though. The biggest change that has happened since, was a songwriting shift towards truly beautiful melodies and also to what is a little less melancholic, less bitter and more towards to the heart of life, more towards the heart of ourselves. More towards to hope and beauty and truth, and that is the biggest shift that ever happened in the songwriting of the band. There is no other band in the world that has come from the genre that we pioneered (with Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride – we fucking  INVENTED Gothic doom Metal, and we were still kids, already achieved more in our first two years than any hater in a band who posts on YouTube) . Then we have gone on to write like we do now, songs like “Universal”, “Thin Air”, “Untouchable”, “Storm Before The Calm”, “Internal Landscapes”. You can name Paradise Lost or My Dying Bride, Katatonia, all good bands, but not one other band in the whole world has made that paradigm shift in songwriting like we have. We haven’t always got it right, but we were brave enough to fail.


I have to say that, even I don’t believe that opinion: Even in Greece, some people say that from “Judgement” and on, Anathema jumped in the Radiohead wagon to become more popular. I grew up reading that. I don’t believe it. I think your music is genuine, but some people believe what other people believe.

That’s not a problem. The thing is that everyone has an opinion about us because we’re fucking good and popular and that’s why people have these opinions.


Because they all know you. 

If we were a shit band, we wouldn’t matter. The fact is that we do matter. We are a good band and we matter to a lot of people. And maybe that’s why some people are negative. Unconsciously, they could be jealous. I don’t meet any successful musicians who say we’re shit, the only ones who seem to say that are unsuccessful ones.


What kind of music are you listening to this period?

Well, I’m listening mostly to the new album during the last couple of months. But I’m also listening to Kate Bush. I like Kate Bush very much. I also listen to Podcasts. I’m downloading them a lot. I like spoken word, documentaries, that kind of things.


In your last Athens show, you chose Gravitysays_i as support act. Do you remember how you came in contact with their music?

I don’t know. I don’t think it was my decision.


I read that the band chose them.

That could be, but it wasn’t me. I met them and I think they are very nice people.


Yes, it’s a great band. Have you ever met Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits)?

No, I want to! I like him very much, he was my inspiration when I was young.


That’s why I’m asking.

Yes, he was my biggest inspiration when I was 12-13 years old and he has become a modern inspiration again. He’s a really nice writer and player. I like his guitar style a lot and I play that style when I practice a lot. I was playing “Brothers In Arms” just before you call on the guitar.


Wow! (Laughs) As an exercise?

Yes, as an exercise, as practice. You know, I use his style as a practice a lot.


You can play some of this stuff the next time you will do a solo gig in Greece.

It may be difficult because when I play a solo gig, I’m always playing on an acoustic guitar. I would really like to play Dire Straits on the electric. But I can do one or two.


How possible is to see Anathema soon in Greece?

I don’t know. I guess that there will be a concert to celebrate the album “Weather Systems”  and maybe it will happen before the end of this year. I would personally like to make sure that the ticket price will be affordable for the people. I will do it personally if I can, because I know that you live in a particularly difficult situation at the moment and I don’t want fans to pay 40 euros to see Anathema in Greece. I will actually try to make it cheaper for the fans, if I can. I hope will be there before Christmas.


A huge “THANK YOU” to Danny for his time and his great answers.

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