Hello Mick! More than two years have gone by again since our last conversation about ‘Fear Of A Unique Identity’. So, how’s life at the moment?
Hi Vera! This is by far the busiest year I’ve ever had, I’ve not had a week off since January and this will continue right up until the end of October. It has been rewarding when I look at the amount of things I’ve achieved but I’m not sure I would do another year like this as it has been very stressful, and to be honest I haven’t had much time to actually live.
I think you can look back at a rewarding Summer with lots of electric Antimatter gigs at festivals. Well, that’s a different setting and vibe than cosy club shows I think. How did you experience that? Any special events among them that were quite special?
Carrying on from the previous answer, the end of 2015 will have seen Antimatter perform at seven different festivals, which is certainly a record. They’ve all been special, really. I guess so far our acoustic appearance at Overload Brazil was memorable as it was my first time in South America and there was a real sense that the audience had been waiting quite some time for this to happen. But all in all, I love every single festival appearance. Looking forward to next year!
Well, I guess the Be Prog! Festival in Spain must have been pretty exceptional with lots of congenial bands. Can you tell a bit more about this happening on how you personally look back at it?
BeProg was memorable for me as it was the first opportunity to get out onto an open-air stage with the live band at a festival setting. As they say, you never forget your first… The Spanish sun was in full flight right in front of us and there was a tangible energy on stage. An unforgettable afternoon
At the time of ‘Leaving Eden’ you told me you had two albums in mind. Now the second of them ‘The Judas Table’ will soon come out. In which respect can ‘The Judas Table’ be considered as the twin album of ‘Fear…’?
That’s exactly how I’ve been describing ‘Judas’… as the twin of ‘Fear’, seeing as they both existed in me unborn at the same time. Though ‘Fear’ is the kind of evil twin I suppose, the badly behaved one. ‘Judas’ is calmer I think, certainly less hyperactive than it’s brother!
The lyrical concept of ‘The Judas Table’ is based on personal experiences, but it will be recognizable for all of us. So please tell us what’s it about?
The way I see it, for the better part of twenty-five years I’ve been involved with sick people, selfish people, thieves, users, manipulators, narcissists, bullies, sociopaths. I hid myself away from society for years because I became accustomed to being targeted by people who mistook my empathy for weakness, my humility for naivety. And I guess to some extent I was naïve, because I consistently saw the good in people rather than the sometimes obvious patterns of narcissistic behaviour. Everything came to a head about three years ago when I was targeted by a young girl desperate to use Antimatter to her own benefit. After that experience I almost completely lost myself, vowing never to trust another human being ever again. Thankfully I came out of that way of thinking after about a year and learned to trust again. I’m a hell of a lot wiser nowadays, and this album asserts some of the observations I have made as well as the empowering conclusions I have come to.
Can we see the writing of this album as a therapeutic experience? Did it heal some wounds after finishing it?
I struggled through decades of depression due to people’s callous behaviour, and for the most part I thought that I must have deserved it as otherwise why else would people treat me in such a way even when I tried my best?. Once I realised they were behaving that way due to their nature, not mine, lots of things clicked into place. When I have an empowering realisation I tend to hardcode it into song and lyric.
You said that this album is less nervous and restless than earlier works. How do you mean? Can you go a bit deeper into that?
Actually that is a quote from the record label Prophecy Productions, not myself, though I do agree that in contrast to ‘Fear Of A Unique Identity’, ‘The Judas Table’ is a lot calmer, and a lot less introspective and worried than ‘Leaving Eden’. A recent review I read for the new album also described it as ‘a breath of fresh air’, so there must be some kind of lightening of tone here.
Can we see this as a kind of ‘pains of growing’ every one has to go through to become mature or find peace with yourself, or do I see this wrong?
This is exactly how I feel nowadays. I have a head on my shoulders now that I wish I had twenty years ago, but don’t we all? I got here through pain and some very, very hard lessons in life.
Although I think you like to create music and art all by yourself, can you tell who contributed to the album in the studio this time? Old familiar faces? New ones?
Sure, again I wrote all of the songs myself and invited session musicians along to play their respective instruments and bring some of their own characteristics to those tasks. The main core of session musicians was Ste Hughes, bass, Liam Edwards, drums; Jenny O’Connor is the fifth official Antimatter female studio vocalist after Michelle, Hayley, Amelie and Vic, and Rachel Brewster returns on violin. All of these people have worked with me in the past on Antimatter releases. I also grafted in Kevin Dunn, Glen Bridge & David Hall to play lead guitars as well as having a cameo by Italian vocalist Kirayel.
What about some more details about the recording process this time? Are there any specific differences in comparison with ‘Fear’? Other locations?
Yes, I recorded the album in my home studio (apart from the drums which were recorded at Liverpool prestigious Parr Street Studios). I decided early on that, after the ‘Too Late’ single which was partially recorded at home, I would do everything here where I would have the time needed to get everything just right rather than looking at the clock in a studio and having to pack up and leave at a specific time. It turned out great, actually, and has given me the courage to go on to do more here.
I think music-wise the new album explores the same trademarks of the Antimatter sound, but you as creator, please tell me: how do you see the musical development this time?
Each album is a direct reaction to the previous one, so some factors from the last album will always be carried through whilst others will be considered ‘done’ for the time being. Due to the five-year gap between ‘Eden’ and ‘Fear’ I had a lot of pent-up energy to release, so naturally ‘Fear’ was a very visceral, frenetic affair. By the time ‘Judas’ came about, three years later, I had already released the ‘Too Late’ single as well as the Sleeping Pulse debut album, so this new Antimatter album is much calmer in its approach.
I’d like to come back to the subject of the electric gigs few questions. Last time we spoke you had gathered the band in Liverpool, but the acoustic tour with Vic was still waiting to be happening. In the meantime you are used to a ‘band’ on stage I guess. How did you experience that new challenge in the beginning and now? Pros and cons on it or just pros?
I just love having a live band to play these songs with; it’s something I’d wanted for so many years. The only thing I miss about acoustic gigs is the clarity of the vocals during the performance. Otherwise everything is perfect, and for the most part the vocals cut through … it’s just that sometimes if you have a bad on-stage monitor engineer, or something goes horribly wrong, it makes the job of singing much harder!
Did those full blown gigs have any influence on the creation of the new album or do you like to keep studio work and gigs strictly apart?
They come from completely different places. Working in a studio is a process of bringing to life the music I have channelled through many months of solo writing sessions, and however that music needs to be born is how it will come through. Some songs need to be acoustic whereas others, due to their energy, need to be in a more full-band, heavy frame. Playing live is a different thing; this is the process of celebrating the music that has been recorded, and sharing that celebration with the audience.
Are there plans for a video clip? I see you launched a question for a candidate to create it. Any news on that? For which song?
The video for ‘Stillborn Empires’ is currently being cut by Tomfoolery Pictures. At first I wasn’t sure what track from the album to debut as audio or video, but ‘Stillborn Empires’ kept coming up in my lists, so after the audio debut of ‘Black Eyed Man’ I knew what track would be the video. I gathered the band together in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle recently to film the clip, which should debut in the first week of October. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the final cut.
I see there is already some controversy about the artwork. Well, my interpretation was ‘androgen’ and ‘Judas Kiss’ if you wonder… But please tell me about your hidden symbolism or anything like that…
As I said earlier, the various narcissists and users from my past really damaged my mental health and contributed to my heavy years of agoraphobia. I must point out that I’m writing about less than 10 people out of the hundreds I have made connections with during my lifetime. It’s such a pity that this minority has managed to bend my sanity like this, and almost caused me to completely withdraw, which is actually what the artwork is about.
In the meantime the album of Sleeping Pulse has been released in 2013. How do you look back at that? Will there be a sequel?
Sleeping Pulse was a fantastic opportunity to work with Luis’ existing music and then craft vocal melodies and lyrics over the top. A wonderful experience that allowed me to operate fully as a vocalist and lyricist, and to put all of my energy into those jobs alone without having to worry about all of the other instruments like I do in Antimatter. Also, disassociation from the word ‘Antimatter’ was something that Sleeping Pulse brought, the ability to exist under a moniker that didn’t have any ghosts or connotations. With that in mind it served its purpose perfectly.
Soon you will hit the road again in Europe and in November Ukraine is waiting… what can we expect from your plans of playing live in the near future?
I want to include at least half of the new album in the upcoming sets, as I think there’s some great new material here. I’m also working on getting a track from ‘Lights Out’ into the setlist, one that hasn’t been played live by the full band yet, so hopefully that will prove fruitful! I plan to have a set that is largely different to our previous tours.
To occlude: the last song is ‘Goodbye’. Is this goodbye to inner tortures or is it impossible and the nature of the beast to suffer as an artist?
It is goodbye to the people who’s inability to control themselves led to my own history of inner tortures. Originally I wrote it about one person but immediately realised it was applicable right across the board, summarising how I felt about everybody that the album covers. It’s an empowering message… yes you hurt me with your bullshit but now I’m stronger for it and you’re out of my life. Most people will surely find a connection with it.
If there is anything you like to add or something I forgot to cover, feel free to do it here…
Absolutely, our tour dates are:
Oct 3 - Feira Da Musica De Beja, PT
Oct 9 - ’De Verlichte Geest’, Roeselare, BE
Oct 10 - ‘Panic Room’, Essen, DE
Oct 13 – ‘Ebrietas’, Zurich, Switzerland
Oct 14 - 'Das Bett', Frankfurt, DE
Oct 16 - ‘UnterRock/Geyserhaus’, Leipzig, DE
Oct 17 - ‘Rotunda Centrum Kultury’, Krakow, PL
Oct 18 - ‘Progresja’, Warsaw, PL
Oct 19 - 'Protokultura', Gdansk, PL
Oct 20 - ‘U Bazyla’, Poznan, PL
Oct 21 - ‘K17’, Berlin, DE
Oct 22 - ‘Rock Café St Pauli’, Hamburg, DE
Oct 23 - ‘W2’, Den Bosch, NL
Oct 24 - ‘Boerderij’, Zoetermeer, NL
Nov 7 – Doom Over Kiev, UA
And people can keep up with Antimatter by subscribing to the mailinglist on the front page of the official site www.antimatteronline.com . Thanks to everyone for their continued support!