ANAAL NATHRAKH – We started out in a bedroom…
Jeg trodde knapt hva jeg hørte da den siste skiva til ANAAL NATHRAKH kom i hus. Det var extremt så det holdt og enda ett hakk hvassere enn hva den forrige skiva Domine Non es Dignus var. Selvsagt måtte man etterhvert knote ned noen spørsmål og sende over fjorden til England for å sjekke ut hva vokalist V.I.T.R.I.O.L. selv mente om skiva og diverse andre småting som for eksempel hans vokal og livesituasjonen.
ET – First of all, let me congratulate you with an excellent album in Eschaton. An album I find very extreme but still with a lot of melodic parts. Did the album come out as you planned and is this the direction you and Mick wants with Anaal Nathrakh?
V.I.T.R.I.O.L. – Thanks, I’m glad you liked it. I wouldn’t particularly say there a lot of melodic parts – there’s like 3 songs with a line or two each. The emphasis is still firmly on extremity. The album came out pretty much exactly as we planned, but then it should – we do absolutely everything ourselves!
ET – I feel that Eschaton continue where Domine Non es Dignus ended. Do you agree?
V.I.T.R.I.O.L. – Partly, but not entirely. There was a desire to continue in a couple of different directions at once, if that makes sense – we wanted to push further with the elements that made Domine what it was, but we also wanted to harness some of the outright chaos of our first album again. So it its own way, Eschaton is both progressing and regressing at the same time.
ET – Anaal Nathrakh manage to mix great songs with brutality mostly never heard before. How do you do it?
V.I.T.R.I.O.L. – Thanks. We just play what comes naturally. We want the music to be completely face-peeling, but still memorable. So that’s what we do, and hopefully we get it right.
ET – Is yours and Micks’s vision on how music should be and be made the same and how did you two end up together in band in the first place?
V.I.T.R.I.O.L. – We originally met at a gig I did with the first band I was ever in. The band was rubbish just like most people’s first band, but at the time it was interesting to us as young guys and we got talking. Then I replaced the vocalist in Mick’s own band that was also terrible, but again we liked it at the time. That band split up, and I went on to form Mistress with Mick’s brother, and at the same time I filled in for Benediction on a tour round Europe. Shortly after that Mick came forward saying he’d written a few songs and needed some singing. When I heard the songs, I knew it was good stuff, and once I’d laid down the vocals we knew we were on to something. That was the first Anaal Nathrakh demo, and it’s been taking shape ever since. As for a shared vision, yes, I think we think about Anaal Nathrakh in a similar way. That’s why it has worked with the two of us over the years so far. Obviously we also have different things that we do outside Anaal Nathrakh, for example I’d never consider being in a band that sounded like Exploder. But when it comes to AN we’re definitely on the same page. It’s a pretty unusual way of looking at things though – it’s impossible to explain to anyone else, and anyone who’s ever tried to make suggestions has always got it wrong. So I don’t know why we understand each other the way we do – it’s just a fact.
ET – Your voice/vocals is probably one of the most extreme vocals in the scene today, but still you have the diversity to do clean vocals where needed. Do you practice a lot and what does the people around you say when you do, hehe?
V.I.T.R.I.O.L. – Thanks. No, I don’t practice the singing I do in Anaal Nathrakh outside the studio. Recently though, I’ve been doing some vocal exercises to try to strengthen my voice a little. It’s bizarre enough, but Mick got hold of Jim Gillette’s Vocal Power video – not to use it to train, but just because he wanted to see it – but the idea of doing a few exercises kind of made sense to me. A few years ago I used to have a pool table in my garage, and I did have a habit of singing along to the first Solefald album. If you’ve heard that album then you’ll understand that the neighbours must have thought something fucking terrible was going on in that room, haha! Vocals are all about expression I think, and I’m just trying to express something that’s at the limits of expression. You can use words to describe it – desperation, hatred, all that. And it does give a taste to people of what they can expect. But the feeling itself is beyond words, you can spend a career just showing various interpretations of it. So what comes out will be extreme. It’s not because of some competition to be more or less extreme than anyone else, it’s just for the expression of what I’m trying to get out and the satisfaction of listening back to it and knowing it sounds completely psychotic.
ET – You use more and more of the clean vocals; is this something we can expect more of in the future?
V.I.T.R.I.O.L. – Well there’s not really any more on Eschaton than there were on the last album. Like I say there’s a total of about 6 lines on the whole album that are sung like that. But those parts do stand out, hopefully because they’re good! The most basic point is that we use them because we like the way they sound. They add a totally different flavour to the music – they’re not the main focus, but they stand out because of the aesthetic principle that says without darkness there is no light. I suppose in our case it’s the opposite – the moments of seeing the clear sky show you how awful it is when the heavens cave in again. I hope we’ve got the use of those vocals right, and if so there’s a sort of transcendent quality to them, and they create a great juxtaposition with the blackness of the hatred and violence that’s everywhere else in the music. As for the future, I don’t know until it happens. We do everything very spontaneously on purpose, so we will just have to see what comes out.
ET – The variety in your vocals; when you record, do you do it all in one take or do you have to do it bit by bit?
V.I.T.R.I.O.L. – In the studio it’s best to record each ‘voice’ separately. That way you can set up the mic etc so it’s set to suit the style you’re using. It makes the recording comes out properly. Live it’s all in one continuous piece, of course. I have used at least one new ‘voice’ on each new recording I’ve ever made, so it’s a continually interesting and slightly experimental approach. You just try different things that you know will work.
ET – Mick’s musical skills has also improved. What will you say about him and what he does as a musician?
V.I.T.R.I.O.L. – What can I say? He is extremely talented and without him Anaal Nathrakh wouldn’t exist. Without me it couldn’t exist as the Anaal Nathrakh it is today. Not even Mick understands the way I think and how the concepts and aesthetics that shape Anaal Nathrakh work – so if it did continue without me, it wouldn’t be the same. But without Mick there just wouldn’t be a band full stop. He can make music from an idea, and he can come up with virtually complete songs seemingly off the top of his head. There’s more to it than that, obviously, but that’s sometimes how it seems. And with each release he’s pushed further and topped the last one musically. It’s a pleasure to work with him. It spoils me really, because when I work with other people it seems frustrating sometimes that I have to explain or discuss what I mean – with Mick it just happens, he can see the point of everything so easily. Bastard.
ET – It’s pretty easy to hear where Attila has done his vocal parts on Eschaton, but it’s not that easy for the listener to hear where Shane has done his parts.
V.I.T.R.I.O.L. – Well, I’ve heard several people saying parts I did were done by Attila, so perhaps it’s not so easy! He just did the verse sections on the last song on the CD. With Shane it’s probably easier in fact – he played bass on the whole album. (And who said it was it easy?)
ET – The two mentioned in the question above, Attila and Shane are two names not unknown for fans of Anaal Nathrakh. What can you say about them and what about the other two Ventnor and Drunk?
V.I.T.R.I.O.L. – What needs to be said about those two? Their talents and uniqueness will be well known to anyone with an interest in the music we make. Simply, it’s an honour to have them work with us, and to see that what we’ve made can bring such energy to them. Years ago in my early teens I saw Shane and was far too nervous to actually speak to him to say thanks for the music. So I went home and listened to my new Mayhem CD instead. Fast forward a few years and Shane’s standing behind me on stage playing bass for the band me and a mate started in a bedroom. Attila’s flying to England to record vocals in our dungeon of a studio. How do you think that’d feel? We’re proud to be considered some kind of peers, yet alone to be collaborating. Drunk contributed one sample we used on the album, so although he’s a close friend of ours, I wouldn’t really put him in the context of Anaal Nathrakh. Ventnor is a very serious character, whose main pastime is shooting. Musically he’s obsessed with rhythms, he spends a lot of his time composing a playing ridiculous time signatures. Meshuggah sort of thing, basically. He has an incredible guitar for it, it’s called a Black Machine – 8 strings of crushingness tuned a full octave below a normal guitar. We’re hoping to get the chance to work it into Anaal Nathrakh before too long.
ET – In a couple of previous interviews that we did with you, you answered that Anaal Nathrakh live is “a might not happen” thing, but last year Anaal Nathrakh actually played live in London. How was that?
V.I.T.R.I.O.L. – Brilliant. Obviously it was great to work with Shane and Danny as session players, but more than that it was great to actually play these songs live, very exhilarating. We had a dream first gig really – a well known London venue, sold out, various press and underground figures along with a load of fans who seemed to know every song within seconds of it starting, plus a shit load of anticipation. It was a great experience.
ET – Did this experience give you and Mick the wish to play more live?
V.I.T.R.I.O.L. – Yes. Obviously we’ve got a lot of experience of playing live anyway, but Anaal Nathrakh is a different proposition to any other band. We’ve been in discussions with one or two festivals and a couple of tours have been offered. One festival fell through, and the tours haven’t come together yet, but there’s another festival that should hopefully be confirmed within the next few weeks. Obviously I can’t say what it is until it is confirmed properly, but the bottom line is, it looks as though there will be more shows. What we would really like to do is play in interesting places. It would be great to get to the US and most of all Japan. But it’d also be most interesting for us to get to places where bands don’t often play. There are huge scenes in places like Malaysia that a lot of bands never get to. I don’t know whether we’re well known enough to do that sort of thing, but if it ever seems possible that’s what I’d like to do.
ET – I heard some rumours that Anaal Nathrakh was set to play in Bergen (Hole in the Sky Festival) this year. Anything you want to tell us there? If this is true, would you consider playing on a later edition of the festival?
V.I.T.R.I.O.L. – Yes, that’s the festival that fell through. We would actually have played it, but there was a fuck up in communications. It was a shame really, because we were quite looking forward to doing it, and it was a silly problem. But these things happen, hopefully next time it will work out better. It seems a good festival, and I’ve never been to Bergen, in fact it’s a place I’d love to see. So we’d be happy to discuss playing the next festival with the organisers.
ET – The line up Anaal Nathrakh used during the gig in London, is this a line up that could work as the permanent Anaal Nathrakh live line up?
V.I.T.R.I.O.L. – Depending on other commitments, I see no reason why not. Obviously it can be hard with the Napalm guys being so busy. For example, we were offered the headline slot a thing called the Damnation Festival here in England on the eve of Eschaton’s release – that would have been a perfect gig, but Napalm were away touring. So that opportunity went to Akercocke. But when things fall into place, I think it’s a very strong lineup, and of course for us personally it’s a brilliant chance to be able to play with those guys. And not to forget Ventnor, he’s extremely talented and a pleasure to play with. He loves Japan, so if we ever end up playing there it wouldn’t be possible to avoid having him with us!
ET – Well V.I.T.R.I.O.L., that’s what I have for you this time. Any famous last words you have that you want to share with our readers?
V.I.T.R.I.O.L. – Thanks for the support. We started out in a bedroom in a run down house in Birmingham, and it’s pretty incredible to think that we’ve grown to the point that people in other parts of the world would care about what we have to say. So I hope the interview is worth reading, I fucking hate it when people waste my time with bullshit, so I wouldn’t want to do the same thing to others.