And again, Desideratum is a really brutal and rough album, but in my opinion it losts some kind of tidiness like there was in Vanitas. In comparison both full-lengths are different: Vanitas had a more recognizable golden thread, but Desideratum seems to be more chaotic. Was the tougher approach intended?
Strange really, since I see it the opposite way around to you. Desideratum seems more focused to me. Would you say tidiness was a good thing or a bad thing? It seems from your language that you think it’s bad, or you’d have said it gained chaos instead lost tidiness. All I care about is whether I enjoy a piece of music regardless of what sort of sound it has or how one might describe it. So to me they’re just different. But our music in general is pretty damn chaotic anyway, that’s part of its intensity. That’s a good thing as far as I’m concerned – intensity is good in virtually any kind of music, and Desideratum sounds pretty fucking intense to me.
What shows the artwork of the cover, who created it and what does the name Desideratum stands for? Why decided you to take it?
Mick created it, based on design ideas I gave him. We do everything ourselves, recording, production and so on, and artwork is no exception. It has to do with part of the idea behind the album title, the origins of the word desideratum. One definition I read suggested that the word was formed from the conjunction of de-, which means something like ‚down‘ and sidere, which means star. I find it compelling to think of acquiring something which is desired as similar to bringing down a star. In the case of things which are profoundly desired, there is the fact that the acquisition of them removes an element from your own personal firmament, and in doing so diminishes the view. There’s also the fact that to draw something so powerful near to you is dangerous, even if you understand it merely as the destruction of the you that you were before. So the artwork idea is based on stars, but stars which seem foreboding, stars which seem to have a dark gravitas. A desideratum, properly understood, can be threatening and mysterious. And so the artwork is subtle, or at least that’s the effect we were aiming for. It’s simple, but I really like the way it manages to sum up some of the ideas behind it without explaining them.
Depends the result of an album also on what you hear currently privately? Are you affected by your current favorites and if yes, what have you listened to while you have worked on Desideratum?
Not especially. We don’t think of our stuff as connected to anything else really, it exists in its own space in our heads. Having said that, there’s probably a subconscious effect, of course. But it’s certainly not the case that we were consciously influenced by anything in particular. Most of the time during the recording of Desideratum, I was listening to Arvo Pärt, so I can’t see much of a link there! (laughs) ANAAL NATHRAKH is a function of a certain part of our personalities and the inside of our heads, and as such it’s pretty much immune to anything else we listen to.
One of you lives in the USA, the other one still in England. How does your exchange about new material work, via internet? How often do you have the opportunity to rehearse?
Yes, mostly via the internet. It’s really no different in terms of ANAAL NATHRAKH than it ever was. We can talk in real time, send each other songs or whatever, it’s exactly like it was when Mick lived a few miles from here. In social terms it’s quite different, obviously, but in terms of ANAAL NATHRAKH it’s almost exactly the same. As for rehearsals, we just make sure everyone can be in the same room before the show. I can rehearse with the guys who play with us live to get everyone ready, and it’s not like Mick needs to spend much time making sure he knows the songs, as he wrote them. We’re not the kind of band who writes by jamming songs out, so rehearsal is purely for preparation for playing live shows. It wouldn’t work for a lot of other bands, but for us it works just fine
Was there at some point the idea to get more permanent musicans for ANAAL NATHRAKH or does it just work since years because you two are a coordinated duo?
No, we’ve never really thought about adding permanent members. To be honest from our point of view it seems an odd question – you wouldn’t ask a five piece band if they had thought about adding more members, or perhaps if they had thought of changing into a two piece. As far as we’re concerned, what we have works. Adding someone else would just upset that balance and complicate things for no obvious gain. That said, we could change our minds in the future. But at the moment I can’t see that happening.
In which bands/ projects are both of you currently still active?
I sing with Benediction, and Mick always has various things bubbling away. I understand that he’s mostly been active with producing bands lately.
Why took it so many years, until you have decided to play concerts? Were there any other professional/ personal obligations?
We simply didn’t think about doing it. In fact, we didn’t think it would be possible, especially with the drums. There are a lot more very fast blast beat players around now, but at the time there was hardly anyone who could actually play a set of our songs. And we didn’t know any of the people who could. At least we thought we didn’t. But we were wrong, as both Nick Barker and Danny Herrera were willing and able to give it a shot. So when the BBC asked us to play a live session, we experimented with putting a live band together with Barker, Shane Embury and our long time collaborator Ventnor. We were amazed at how well it worked, and so when Terrorizer magazine asked us to play a live show, we figured we were in a position to do so. This time it was Danny on the drums, and again we were impressed with how well everything went. There’s actually a live recording from that show on I think the Japanese version of one of our older albums. Then we came across Steve who is now our live drummer, and everything else grew from there. Steve is incredible, but he is almost totally without ego, so he doesn’t get the recognition that some more high profile drummers get. He deserves it though.
Why did you change the label? Why did you go to Metal Blade?
Our contract with Candlelight had expired, and we thought we’d see what else was out there. Not for any negative reasons, we just thought it would be good to try something new. We spoke to several labels, and Metal Blade seemed like the best choice. They are pretty big, certainly bigger than labels we’ve worked with in the past, but at the same time they’re still intimately involved with music like ours. So it just made sense.
Is a european tour planned that will also make a stop in Germany?
Yes. We haven’t booked the dates yet as we’re aiming for something in the new year, and certain options are currently under discussion. But we are planning a number of European dates, including in Germany. And we’ll be playing some festivals next year, some of which will be in Germany. In fact I confirmed one a couple of days ago. So although there’s no information I can release at the moment, we’ll be around somewhere.
I would like to end the interview with the traditional Metal1.info-brainstorming. What comes to your mind first while reading the following terms:
Birmingham’s metal scene: Napalm Death. Obvious really, since we were just talking about them. I don’t think of bands like Black Sabbath as really being part of the Birmingham I know, as it’s not like you come into contact with them here. I wouldn’t see Ozzy walking round the shops. But I bumped into Danny from Napalm and a load of other people from local bands while I was out with Daz from Benediction on Saturday night. So that’s the real Birmingham scene to me.
Misanthrophy: Ozymandias. And the scene from The Matrix where Agent Smith explains his motivation to Morpheus while he’s tried up and drugged.
Worst song in your discography: I don’t dislike any of them.
Situation with Israel and Palestine: Far too complicated for discussion here. I imagine most of the real people there, the general public, not the politicians or militants, just wish the vested interests in the area would fuck off. Thinking it is a religiously motivated set of issues is childishly simplistic.
Favorite album of all time: The answer would change constantly. Right now I’d probably say the soundtrack to The Pianist. It might not be hailed by aficionados as the greatest recording of Chopin, but for me it is pretty much definitive.
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, if you would like to add something the last words shall be yours!
Thanks for the support, both personally for requesting the interview, and to any fans who managed to read this far!