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Anaal Nathrakh

When Birmingham's Anaal Nathrakh released 'The Codex Necro' back in 2001, it basically tore black metal a new asshole by dragging it back into the filth and stench of everyday human life. Since then the duo have continued to refine their savage amalgam of black metal and grindcore to perfection, so far leading to 2009's 'In The Constellation Of The Black Widow', an album that seemingly lacks progression at first glance but reveals itself as ridiculously brutal and murderously catchy after repeated listening. Live appearances of the band are still a relative rarity, so Anaal Nathrakh's performance on Tilburg's Incubate festival was seen as an excellent opportunity to speak to the band. Because Mick "Irrumator" Kenney was kept busy at the venue, sorting out all kinds of organisation matters, it was not possible to speak to both parties involved, but this provided an excellent chance to have a very extensive conversation with vocalist/lyricist Dave "V.I.T.R.I.O.L" Hunt and get a clear idea about the ideas behind Anaal Nathrakh.

By: Martin | Archive under black metal

Alright, having witnessed your soundcheck I was kind of reminded to the chaos I saw last year during Mayhem's tour, so perhaps that's a good starting point: chaos on the road. How chaotic has it been so far?
I would say pretty chaotic. We don't have the same experiences as bands who tour a lot, because we don't, but today we arrived at an airport, not knowing where we had to go. Some nice woman told us to get in a van, which we did, but we didn't know who she was. She dropped us up there (points at the front of V39, the venue where the band were bound to play that evening) and said: "Here we are! Thank you. Bye!" and that's it. That was kind of chaotic because we had nobody to tell us where we had to go, where the venue was, where the production office was, or anything. We had some chaos. Maybe not as much as Attila because he is mad in the first place.

Is this sort of representative for the limited life on the road of Anaal Nathrakh?
Yeah, really. Things are never brilliantly organised because almost nobody thinks of everything when it comes to concerts. Something always goes wrong. Not that it makes any difference. You learn to get used to it and carry on. It doesn't affect us, really.

You have been very strict in keeping live appearances of the band very limited.
Yeah... Well, obviously we are not the kind of band to get asked on tour three times a week by lots of people because of the kind of music we play, but there have been various things, like a tour we got invited to three weeks ago, that just don't feel as the right thing to do. We have been around, played a lot with other bands, as well as quite a few Anaal Nathrakh shows now, and we're not interested in doing it as a routine, a day job, so to speak. We want it to be different and special when we play, so it's not hard for us to get an offer and think "no, that's not right." We don't have to be really strict, but we do turn quite a lot of stuff down. Hopefully that means we get to play the more interesting ones. Besides, if people, fans, out there, can set their watch by how regularly you tour it becomes boring. Screw that! I'd rather be unpredictable and interesting.

Is this the reason that you're playing it an unusual festival like this one (Incubate, Tilburg)? It's definitely not your average metal festival.
If this would have been an offer for a club show in Tilburg we probably wouldn't have done it. We've got nothing against Tilburg, or Holland, or anything like that, but a club show is just a club show whereas this is... weird, and that's interesting. I would like to have the opportunity to look at some Herman Nitsch artwork and see a film and then get my ears kicked in. That's kind of cool, because it's unusual. That was the thing that made us do it.

You have done quite a bit of live shows over the last years. Are there any past shows that really stand out?
They kind of all stand out for different reasons, but a couple of them are really special. The first one we did stands out, because we've never done a show before and all of a sudden we were headlining a place in London. Previously I had paid to go down to London and see bands over there, so it seemed like a big place to me. It's not actually that big; about 500-600 people, but it seemed like a big thing. We had literally no idea what to expect, but we had half of Napalm Death in the band and we were really excited because of that. Then we got there, and the place was not only sold out but oversold by about 150 people. We couldn't breathe over there. And all the people knew all the songs and they want mad. When you don't expect it, that's incredible!

The same thing happened the first time we played the Inferno festival in Norway. It's quite a well-known, prestigious festival, and again we were headlining the stage, the second one. It was our first show outside of England, so again we had no idea what to expect, but we had been told that Norwegian people can be a bit static, standing there, arms folded, just looking. I've spoken since to many people who tried to get in the room there but couldn't because there was no space at all. They all went apeshit. Then, the first festival show was great, because there were 4000-5000 people. We wondered if anyone was going to be there and if anyone knew the songs, and then it was packed and everyone knew the songs and they all went mad. It's been like that quite a lot really! It's humbling.

Misery (bass) adds: That Norway gig was my first one, I think. I didn't know what to expect at all.

Another one that stands out is the one we did in the Czech Republic, about three weeks ago, because we had to do a signing session. You know, if someone asks us to sign an album, that's fine, we'll do it. But we had never done a proper signing session, with us sitting at a table and everything. We expected a handful of people, and then we'd have a drink and go play the show, but there was a queue more than 100 people long, all waiting. Amazing! And they wanted photographs and all that kind of shit. It's a continuous surprise.

You also played here in Tilburg in the same year you did the Inferno show.
Again, that was quite surprising. We had done only about seven gigs or so and then we played at Antwerp and Tilburg, sharing the stage with Obituary... Eh!? Ridiculous! We've all been fans of Extreme Noise Terror for years and then all of a sudden we're headlining over them, sharing dressing rooms and listening to (Extreme Noise Terror vocalist) Dean telling barmy stories and frightening everyone. It was just surreal. Great fun though.

Being a band that operates as a two person unit in the studio, you do obviously need to keep other musicians in check for live performances. How can you create a tight unit out of that?
Most of all because we know each other anyway. Paul (bass) is Mick's brother and we've known the other Paul, who plays live guitar with us, for years and years. He has helped us out with the odd solo and things on several records. Steve (drummer) is a little bit different, because originally we had Nick Barker (ex-Cradle of Filth, ex-Dimmu Borgir, etc.) and then we had Danny (Herrera; Napalm Death), both of them we knew for some time. Steve was in a band who came to record a demo with Mick in his studio. Mick was impressed by Steve's drumming during that recording but we didn't need a drummer at the time. Then, Shane (Emburry; Napalm Death bassist) and Danny, who are both very difficult in terms of availability, didn't have the time to continue with Anaal Nathrakh and therefore we did need a drummer, so we kind of asked Steve out of the blue and we've been lucky with him because he is absolutely 100% into doing this. He has also not got a great deal of experience in doing high level gigs. Tonight is a comparatively small one, but when you walk on stage in front of 5000 people... I think that lack of experience has made him very open to everything, and he is very easy to fit in with the rest of us. Basically we got lucky in finding someone who not only is able to play the drums like that, because he is amazing, but also in terms of temperament. He is very easy to get along with. If we would have found someone who can play the drums like Steve who is an asshole we would sack him very quickly, because, to be perfectly honest, I don't like dickheads very much. Most of the time, in everyday life, you cannot go around fighting people for no apparent reason, I'm not going to do that, but when it comes to Anaal Nathrakh, that's basically mine and Mick's territory. I'm not going to put up with a dickhead being involved in that, even if they're a talented one.

Do you rehearse a lot to get prepared for the shows?
We do. It's kind of hard because Mick is in America a lot of the time, but obviously Mick knows the songs quite well because he wrote the fucking things. He does forget some times, but it's easy for him to remember and get back to it. So the rest of us go down and rehearse. We don't rehearse continuously though. Many bands rehearse all the time, one time a week, or three times or whatever, whereas we only go for about a month when we have shows, rehearsing several times a week in that period. I once read an interview with Cannibal Corpse and they said they rehearse six days a week. Fuck that!

You can overdo it...
I think so, because then, when you play the songs, there is nothing organic about it anymore. It becomes mechanical. I mean, Cannibal Corpse are Cannibal Corpse. If they love it, then fine, but for us it wouldn't work. There has got to be an element of almost danger. You don't want to under-rehearse, but you don't want to do it too much and not have to think about it at all. You've got to be sort of by the seat of your pants to get the excitement of it.

Quite honestly I feel the same about Cannibal Corpse. I usually find their live performances rather uninteresting and often I walk away after a song or three.
Well, I don't want to single them out or anything. I know a lot of bands that work this way. Although... Napalm Death play all the time. Despite having seen them so often that we now what to expect now there is still fire when they play. It's not mechanical; there is something human about it. It's not impossible to work all the time, but for us it wouldn't be good.

Let's talk about the new album you released some time ago, called "In the Constellation of the Black Widow". How has the response been so far?
Largely very very good indeed. Most of the reviews have been really good. If you're in a band you are not supposed to pay attention to what people say. "You're always right; ignore the critics." Frankly, that's bollocks. I do want to read the reviews. When you've worked hard on something, you do want to see it grow, like they're your children or so. So I have looked around for reviews, and there have been quite a lot that I've seen of people who either hadn't heard the band before or hadn't heard anything for quite some time. Those reviews have been universally positive. That's the nicest bit, because hopefully genuine fans of the band will like what we do. We progress a little bit, but we're not veering off in a totally new direction, so hopefully we can count on the support of those people who were there in the first place. We're quite conscious of not wanting to let them down, but we don't. There have been a few negative reviews though, mostly from prejudice I think; when you hear something from a band, you form an opinion based on the thing that you've heard, and then you form an opinion about what you think they should do next. If they don't do what you think they should do next, THEY have made a mistake. It's not you being prejudiced or anything, it's the band's fault. That's fucking irritating to be honest. I just don't understand how those people think so I just leave them to it.

band imageYou say that Anaal Nathrakh's sound progresses only in little steps. For this album, it seems the thing that progressed the most is the production.
Yes, it sounds a lot better than the previous album. I must admit though that some people have accused us of not progressing enough on this album... and I think they are listening to the wrong bits. We do see progression, especially in terms of production. Some people may overlook that sort of things, but because we do it all ourselves, we do concentrate on those things. I do think this album sounds a lot better than the stuff before. Also, the songs are put together in a more technically "good" way: there are a bit more notes in the riffs and generally there is just more going on. We didn't really do anything different this time, but Mick told me that he had learnt a few new things about recording techniques and mastering and it worked where we went wrong in the past, which made it all significantly better.

Can you explain what went wrong in the past?
It's not so much that things went wrong, but because we do everything ourselves it's a continual learning process. Nobody is the best producer in the world; there are a few really good ones, but everyone has their own different sound, and while you continue to learn you discover new things to look for and different things to aim towards. On "In the Constellation of the Black Widow" we manage to get a bit more... I think clarity is the word, but within loosing the whole chaotic edge. It still sounds like a big horrible mess.

To me it sounds a lot more aggressive than "Hell is empty...". I do have to say that that particular album almost sounded neat in terms of production. Controlled, in a way.

V.I.T.R.I.O.L.: It wasn't a conscious effort to chase Lamb of God or anything ridiculous like that, but looking back on it, I think "Hell is Empty..." was a bit more accessible. Everything is a little bit nicer. It's still an Anaal Nathrakh record; it's not nice, but it was nice by our standards. This time we were looking for a bit more venom. Not the band though! We wanted a bit more of a savage sort of sound and I think that's how it came out. The weird thing is we didn't talk about it. We didn't say "Okay, what do we think of the latest album?" but it emerged while we were recording and talking about it that we pretty much wanted the same thing. I don't think the last one was a bad album or some sort of a mistake; 'In The Constellation Of The Black Widow' is just better. But that's what you aim for. If you do a new album and if you don't think it's the best one you ever did, then you haven't finished, because you always have to think you've just made you best album. This sense that we are used to having, just as most bands are used to having it I suppose, is added to this time with a sense that, stepping back and perceiving it more objectively, this is really the best thing we've ever done. Hopefully other people agree with it.

This brought me to a completely different subject. How should I imagine you and Mick working together in the studio? Is it correct that it's pretty much Mick writing the music and you handling vocal duties or is there something of a simultaneous songwriting process going on?
No, it's pretty much the first thing you said. Occasionally I'll make suggestions in the vein of "let's add a bit that goes like...", but for the most part, almost entirely, Mick does the music, records it and brings it to me. Then I listen to it and decide what to sing over the top, and that's it. It's not that we're adhering to our own strict rules. It's just that Mick is really good at music. He's better than I am at music, so apart from the odd idea I might have, he will write better music. Since I'm a singer and Mick isn't I will be able to think of the singing better than Mick would. There seems to be very little point in trying to mix things up on purpose. It would become a battle of egos. We simply do what we are best and occasionally we talk a little about the bits in between. There is a degree of collaboration after Mick has done the music. Sometimes when I'm deciding what to sing, it leads to changes in the structure of the song in order to make subsequent parts work together in a better way.

How do you work when you are recording you vocal parts? Do you have kind of a modus operandi?
Usually the whole album, musically, is done beforehand, or at least most of it. We go into the studio and listen through everything and then I start looking into my lists of ideas and bits of lyrics which I keep all the time. We listen to pieces of the songs and I think of the ideas I got and have them going through my head. When something appears to work together, I keep listening to that single song, match ideas together and make it into a structure. Then we go through the song again, piece by piece and decide what will sound best with the verses, the chorus, etcetera. It's not improvised, because most of it is ready beforehand, but it is spontaneous; I don't know how it is going to turn out until we actually do it. That makes it more exciting to do and, hopefully, to listen to, because you are never quite sure what is going to happen next. Anything could happen, and that's because there wasn't a plan when we were recording it. I think that keeps the material fresher and adds a sense of urgency.

How do you add the multitude of vocals layers you tend to use into that whole? Is it like a whole idea that you immediately have or do you add layer after layer and see what happens.
The latter. We have both got quite a clear idea of what works and what doesn't, and I hope it's not flattering either of us when I say that our ideas about what we should do are quite compatible. We don't really need to discuss things. As you build things up, it kind of starts taking its own shape, so it's not slap dash, or ignorant, just sticking parts onto each other, but you develop a picture yourself of what will work with what you've got and what you might be able to do next. Again, it's kind of the same thing. It's not completely chaotic, but it's organically grown as it goes along. None of it is planned.

Sometimes even the occasional fuck-up can turn out to be very interesting.
Sometimes, yes. You can just do something for an experiment and it can turns out so great you decide to use it. The thing that irritates me is not being able to use samples. There were quite a few samples on our demos and even a couple that were cleared with the record company first, but now our contract does not allow us to use any samples at all. It's a legal thing, but before we were aware of that we wanted to use a lot of samples on this record and just have the record company sort out the legal stuff.

Is that since you've signed with Candlelight Records? During your Season of Mist period you did use some samples.
It's pretty normal in record contracts. Sometimes records companies do clear those things for you. It's not very hard, it's just awkward. Most record contracts nowadays, as far as I know, have a general ban on samples, but if you really, really, really want one you can always ask them. It's easier not to bother though.

You don't want any legal problems of course.
No. We haven't got any money though, so anyone who sues us can't get anything!

band imageThis is your first album for Candlelight Records. Does the change of label make any difference in terms of promotion, response, support, etcetera.
That is a better question than most people usually ask. Most people ask if we are happy to be on Candlelight Records. I usually respond with the very boring answer: "They're a record company. They're not my new wife." Well, things are a little bit different. (cell phone starts ringing) They phone you every now and again! Largely things work the same way now that we're on Candlelight. Normally when you sign to a label you speak to someone important. After signing you usually don't speak to anybody who is important unless there is a problem, which is fine. I don't need the chairman of the record company phoning me often and kissing me down the phone. You speak to the press officer. We get along quite well with the press officer at Candlelight office. They are a slightly bigger label than what we have worked with before and I think they can put the music under more people's noses than before. It's not a huge difference but they are quite professional. So far there haven't been any problems. The real core of a record company comes out when there is a big problem. That's when you find out what they are really like. We haven't had a big problem so far, and hopefully we won't. So on a day to day basis, they're fine. We do lots of interviews, so they must be doing something right. If Daz the press officer wasn't doing his job we wouldn't be having this conversation. That's about as much as I can tell. I walk into a shop now and then and see our cds are there. Fine.

Let's get back to the most interesting bits, which is of course the music itself. In this case I would like to talk about one specific song: 'Satanarchrist'. It's a rerecorded demo song, just like "The Necrogeddon" on "Eschaton". Why do you recycle these songs? A cynic could accuse you of not being able to write even 35 minutes worth of new music for an album.
We have released five albums and an EP, so obviously we can come up with enough songs if we need to. There are two reasons for rerecording those songs. First of all, a lot of people haven't heard the demos, so for them it's not repetition and it's showing them something they hopefully enjoy, which to me is a good reason to include those songs on the albums. Another reason is, in a way, to make a point about the progression, and/of lack of it, since the demo days. If you spoke to people who don't like Anaal Nathrakh nowadays, and they do exist, they will usually say things like "The first album was alright, but the rest is shit." People do say it... I'm not frightened of the fact. I just think they're idiots. If you can put a song from back then next to your new songs it will show something about the relationship between the two bits of music and I think it tends to show that the older songs fir perfectly comfortably alongside the new material. I don't think that there has been any dilution or things like that. Second of all, if you listen to 'Satanarchrist' next to the other songs on this album it sounds quite pedestrian, almost tame even. I wouldn't say it's bad, but it's a lot less evil and violent than a lot of the newer stuff. It's kind of nice to remind people, as well as ourselves, of that. Another reason for including that specific song is that many people asked for it.

You can count me in on that: I love that song. It's also very interesting to compare the new version to the original recording. It tells a lot about the progression of the band.
Back in those days Mick's experience as a producer and generally the equipment we had placed a lot of limitations on what we could do soundwise, whereas now, we are still limited because we haven't got an unlimited budget, but we are a lot better at getting things right. The present version shows what the song could have been, or how it was suppose to be. Hopefully that's an interesting thing for people to hear.

Let's talk lyrics now. They are not printed in the booklets of any of your albums. What is the reason behind that?
I just don't. I don't like the idea of handing people things on a silver platter. First of all there is a difference between reading lyrics and really paying attention to them. I you're just interested in figuring out what the guy is singing, go and read a book. It's much more interesting anyway. Second of all, it's perfectly easy to find out what's it all about, as long as you are actually willing to try. You don't have to think about it. Just listening to the music is fine, but if you actually want to know what's going on, look up a few of the things that are being mentioned. You have song titles that I purposefully make so that you can think about them and find things out. You have got little bits and pieces that you can hear and the rest of it is made more interesting, I think, by not having everything written down in front of you. If something is easily available it's easy to forget. I don't think, for example, music itself is experienced the same way it was twenty years ago. Back then one had to pay a certain amount of money to get the music, which wasn't always cheap, so one couldn't afford everything and one would certainly not listen to something once and then throw it away. You'd spend time listening to it and it meant something to you. Nowadays, for whatever reason, music is very freely and cheaply available, if not free, and that creates a situation of listening to something once and then throwing it away. It's the same with meaning and identity and everything lyrics are about. So, in order to understand the lyrics, work for it a little bit. Don't expect me to hold you by the hand and help you through it. I don't like that approach.
There is also the case of some music I have listened to in which I just don't want to now what they are singing about, because I hear little bits and pieces that mean something to me in the context of what I was thinking about. That's good enough. It can shatter and illusion to have it spelled out that much. It's not some philosophical opposition to printing lyrics. It's just that I think it actually gives it more by not having them printed. It's a more interesting proposition. It's something that you can engage with a little bit more. I don't know if it works that way, but it's how I see it.

What we can conclude on the basis of the references in the song titles is that Anaal Nathrakh's outlook is bleak even in terms of extreme metal.
Pretty bleak even in terms of the most bleak and extreme in extreme metal.

What's the difference between you and them then? Is there some aspect of life or your outlook on life that makes everything so much more terrifying than, let's say, your average 1994 black metal album?
The typical 1994 black metal album is an attempt to shock people. It wasn't actually, in many cases and expression of the fundamental personality of the people involved. It was an expression of a stage of rebellion that they were involved in at the time. That may well be wrong, and if it is, fine, I apologise, but in many cases I get that impression.

A bit shallow then?
Not really shallow, but how many people who were doing that then are still doing and saying exactly the same things now? Not many of them. There has been an evolution rather than completely forgetting what was done at the time, but I think a lot of it wasn't really thought through at the time. What we do, or what I do in what we do, isn't a frame of mind that you can use on an everyday basis, because you'd be dead. It's nevertheless genuinely part of how I think about the world. For example, I genuinely do think that hell is empty and all the devils are here. Hell doesn't actually exist and it is therefore in some ways an empty concept. It's also an empty concept because punishment based religion doesn't promote what I see as morally genuinely good behaviour. It just promotes fear. Also, I really do think there are demons in the world, but they are demons of social trends and ways of life that are awful. There is an extent to which, sitting here, we are indulging in murder, rape, theft and all those bad things because of the basis of property based economics and social practices. There are people living in the desert somewhere who have nothing. Every time we turn on a tap there is a sense in which, although it doesn't fully describe the idea, we celebrate the fact that we live here and someone else lives there. We don't all live in a nice place. I'm not a communist or anything, but it's that sort of twist on the world that's always in my head and that comes out now and then. That's why it's bleaker, because I think the world is a lot bleaker than most people understand it to be. You can only spend so much time being like that, because otherwise you'd end up in a ditch with an arm full of heroin or something.

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Being constantly conscious of the fact that we are indulging in the celebration of our existence in this relative wealth, you could start feeling guilty, but then again, guilt is, just like fear, one of the basics of organised religion.
Absolutely. Guilt and fear. But that's one aspect, thinking about that specific song title. Something like 'The Lucifer Effect' is based on Philip Zimbardo's book about the Stanford prison experiment. Zimbardo did loads of stuff, but he also went to look at Abu Ghraib and what happened there. Again this is based on a genuine belief, but a slightly different one. I'm not giving you a single ideology. There's just lots of things that sort of fit together. In people there is something absolutely awful. I don't think there is anything we will ever do that involves a sufficient number of people that won't be ruined or debased or destroyed in some sense because of something about human beings.

Seeing this from my other viewpoint, being that of a biology teacher/ lecturer, I think this is really just part of what we are programmed to do in our own genes, which is to survive and to be reproductively successful. There is a genetic basis to all of this.
There is genetics, but society sort of exists on a level that is higher than genetics. In some ways it's an abdication of genetics. It says no, there are things completely ungenetic about us and that's what we should structure ourselves like. Reason being one of the common ones. In another way, it instantiates our genetics, and it's the tension between those two things that creates abuse and evil and cruelty. On a genetic level all of life is pretty fucking horrible in moral terms; you survive, fuck everything else. We are at a point where we survive so bleeding much we kill everything else. Brilliant on a genetic level! It's not as simple as that for a human being though, is it?

Then there is also the human tendency to avoid thinking.
There is, because if you think you run into these problems. I see them all the time. Right now I can see at least a hundred things I could point at for you and give you a reason to feel wrong in some way but you cannot do it all the time. Even I don't think about the things I think about as much as they probably deserve, but even if you decide to do things you should now why you're doing them. It's a lot easier not to think of course. The easiest way to be happy is to be stupid and selfish; that's a reasonably fundamental fact.

Maybe we are onto something then. Is the Anaal Nathrakh stance bleaker because it's more of a casual observation of what is happening instead of some sort of celebration of all that is supposed to be evil?
I think of Anaal Nathrakh as a document. It is documenting what is. It is not saying what is good or bad about it, but in some ways it's saying we are fascinated by the evil part of it, but it's not glorifying anything. It's more saying "look at this. It's shit. Don't you think it looks a bit like a mirror?" Not you personally... It's that sort of idea. It's not revelling or glorifying anything other than its own wretchedness in front of all of these things it describes. That sound so like a poser/artist sort of thing to say. I don't want to look at it like this, which is why I say that you don't have to think about it. Just listen to the music if that's what you want. I hate the idea of the so-called misunderstood artist. That's bullshit. Things like this are nevertheless involved in how negative Anaal Nathrakh is.

How does this, and your approach to writing lyrics in general, compare to what you do in Benediction?
It's totally different. For a while I was doing Mistress and Benediction and Anaal Nathrakh and another band, but it is no different functionally to these bands being comprised of different people doing different things. Benediction has a very strong identity of its own and it has already been that way before I was involved. I am perfectly aware that there are lots of people out there who are into that and if I came in and did something different it would be wrong. Any band is nothing without the people who listen to them and I am not going to betray those fans by forcing my ideas onto them, so with Benediction I try to work in a Benediction way, which is more about nightmares and serial killers and horrible things like that, which is cool in its own way.

Is it also a different state of mind when you perform live?
Yeah, very different. Benediction is kind of an extreme band, playing death metal, but it's still kind of compatible with larger scale stuff. It's a METAL band and you can trace the lineage from Judas Priest. There is more of a compromise involved in Anaal Nathrakh. It's not actually about making anyone happy or showing them a good time at all in many ways. It is in some; you make music. If you don't want people to listen to it, then don't make music, but the side of things like talking to people and all the frontman rallying stuff that is an acknowledgement to that you are performing live, layered on top of the actual identity of what it is you're doing. With Benediction it is integral: it's a part of what that band is. I do tend to think and act differently in both bands. It was the same with Mistress, which was mainly about alcoholic digression and breaking everything. That's quite fun to do.

I heard Mistress has ceased to exist.
We got dropped from Earache because we didn't sell enough cds. We sold a respectable number but Earache let us down a little bit because if you sign a relatively young band to a label, you should work with them, help them to grow a little bit and they didn't do that. I think the owner just wanted a new kitchen or something and therefore decided to get rid of us. That wasn't the end of the world and we still released an album, but then it kind of died. I was still into doing Mistress but the other guys are all playing together in Exploder. It's a shame, but nothing lasts forever. We had a good time, had some good laughs and some good fights. We are doing one more show in October. We never did a farewell gig so we're doing that now.

How do you prepare for an Anaal Nathrakh show? Do you get pissed, or pissed off? Or is there some specific "ritual" kind of thing?
Yeah, I get pissed off. There's not something of a ritual. I don't get any soil from the lands on which I am playing or so and let it run through my fingers or put my lucky underwear on. It's just when I'm aware that the show is coming I don't have to consciously do anything. My mind sort of comes into that way of thinking. Five minutes before we are about to go on stage wouldn't be a good time to do an interview. I would just swear all the way through. I think that's a good thing in a way. It makes you an asshole to talk to at the time, but at least it's genuine. It's not some act. It has a got a lot to with thinking about what you're doing and feeling what you're doing. If you don't feel what you're doing it's, you like we were discussing earlier, just a mechanism. I'd rather play driven by emotion than driven by duty. That would be boring.

Now for what is perhaps the most pretentious question of this interview. Together with a handful of other bands from England, like for instance The Axis of Perdition, Anaal Nathrakh have given black metal quite a massive kick in the arse by sort of dragging it out of the forests and bringing it back into the bleakness of everyday urban life. Would you say that living in England has anything to do with that?
You think we did that? I don't know, but okay. I think living in England doesn't have a lot to do with it though. Maybe living in Birmingham does, because, in all honesty, it's a shithole. Nevertheless, I make enough money to pay the rent and buy food and still there's a little bit left so that I can go to the pub and have a drink now and then, so there are many places where life could have been a lot worse. What is different about England is that there isn't really much of a scene, which makes a lot of sense to me. Why should I like people and hang out with them just because they happen to listen to the same kind of music? I think that's why many British bands have their very own sound instead of sounding like everyone else. There are quite a lot of really good bands, like for example Akercocke. These guys work so hard. You know, they actually have very good day jobs, but even so they just fuck off to Australia for a couple of months to tour. They don't need to, but still they do it. About the whole forest and elves thing... some time ago we played together with a band who are pretty much into that kind of thing, wear corpse paint and stuff. I'm not going to tell you the name of that band, but I told one of these guys "you know, if you want to see something that is really evil, just look around, read the paper, watch television or simply sit down and think a bit." Don't get me wrong, I don't condemn it when bands want to sing about things like that because if that works for you, it's fine, but I wouldn't be able to do that. It wouldn't be genuine.

Any future plans so far?
Well, first we will finish this tour and that should be pretty much it for live appearances this year. We are working on some plans for next year. It will be quite big, but I give you the details yet.

Have you got any concluding words for us?
What's the date?

It's September 16th.
In that case, be aware of the fact that you might have only about three years and three months left to live.

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