The summer of 2011, just two months after Passion was released, you announced via Facebook that you were ”writing new songs.” Were you disappointed with Passion?
– No, we weren’t dissatisfied with it at all – you just have to remember that by the time an album comes out, it’s quite a long time after the band has finished the recording. So when we put that message on the internet, it was a year or more since we’d written any new material.
– Right now, although Vanitas has only just come out, we recorded most of it a year ago, and we’re thinking about what to do next. It’s just part of the business of putting albums out that they take a while.
Were you disappointed with its response from your fans?
– We’re perfectly aware that some people didn’t find Passion to be among their favourite Anaal Nathrakh albums, but a lot of other people thought it was great, and we have a different persepctive – it was what we wanted to do at the time, and so in that respect it was very successful from our point of view. But the facebook thing was nothing to do with that either way, it’s just how things work.
And then, in August 2011, you wrote ”What would you most like to hear on The next Anaal Nathrakh record?” Did those answers affect Vanitas in any way?
– Not really, it’s more a case of simply wanting to know the answer to that specific question. Especially given that the answers were largely what we expected.
– We were on tour in Canada recently and I asked a few people what they thought of the election result in their neighbour to the south. Half the time people bristled because they didn’t want some political lecture, but I really was just interested in if they thought it was good or bad. No further than that.
– And the facebook question was similar. We’ll still do whatever it is we wanted to do, this isn’t music composition by focus group. But we’ll know a little more about how that matches up with what people were expecting.
Vanitas – album of the year if you ask me – was almost finished already in september 2011. Then it took a year to be released. Why is music business that slow?
– Well, part of that was down to us. We spent a much longer time than usual fiddling with the production et cetera to get it exactly how we wanted. There were lots of candidate versions that we ultimately rejected for one reason or another, much more so than for our previous albums.
– So although everything was mostly recorded by the end of last year, it wasn’t actually finished until some time into 2012. And then there’s the fact that when you hand an album over to a record company, they have to work out an appropriate window in their release schedule and so on.
– Given that our previous album only came out last summer, Candlelight weren’t eager to put anything out before a year or so after that. So it all took a while. But once it was out, it still sounded absolutely fresh and current, so I think we did a good job.
Have you started writing new songs for next album as well already?
– We’ve got ideas floating around, but no actual songs written. That’s not to say we won’t have a substantial body of new material quite soon though, because of the way we write.
– We get odd ideas here and there for quite some time, but then it’s as if an internal switch flicks on and then everything comes out very quickly. So Mick could probably have an album’s worth of music in a few weeks’ time, but it wouldn’t be his best work because at the moment we’re in the recharge period still. We haven’t quite reached critical mass yet.
So many songs, so many sounds on Vanitas. Like the blowing/whistling sound you hear on Feeding the Beast [1:25-1:40]. What is that mean sound?
– Ah yes, we like to include ’found sound’, plus I do a lot of background stuff with strange noises and so on. A lot of things which sound like samples or sound effects are really me, whether they sound like vocal samples or just weird sounds.
– The part you’re referring to is actually someone carving glass, which I found when I was out and about in America when I was over at Mick’s for the recording. We’re always coming across things we think sound amazing and get excited about, other people probably think we’re a bit strange, but that’s just how we are.
– While we were away a week or so ago I actually found a few recordings of various things on my computer and played them to Mick. A couple of them I had no idea where they’d come from and Mick said ’are you sure you didn’t actually go to hell?’.
– Well, strangely enough I asked Mick about that and the answer he gave was pretty much what I expected. You see, he writes everything extremely instinctively. So his answer was ’it sounded right at the time, same as every other song’. Might not be the most satisfying answer for someone looking for insights into how t write songs, but as far as we’re concerned it’s nonetheless precisely the correct answer.
The last song A Metaphor For the Dead is so beatiful – the guitar melody is a perfect outro, even fading out. Tell us how that came about!
– Thanks, I’m glad you liked it. Unusually enough, that was an idea I had. For reasons I don’t want to go into, I wanted to do something based around part of an opera aria called Vesti La Giubba, so I found a translation of the lyrics and changed them to reflect what I wanted to say, and explained it to Mick, who wrote the song around that chorus.
– It didn’t originally fade out as it does on the album, but when we were mixing it I said I’d like it if it faded out with a load of reverb so that it seemed to drift off into oblivion. I think it came out really well, a lot of people have mentioned the song to me, so I’m very pleased with the result.