Interview: Danny Cavanagh – Anathema




Interview by Miriam NocturnalConcerto

Transcription by Robin Stryker

I cannot tell you how excited I was to doing this interview with Danny Cavanagh, Anathema singer and guitarist, for a lot of causes, take it because was my first phoner interview, take it because I was worried that something gone wrong. The interview has started with a delay of 30 minutes preview by the slot I was very nervous but in the end I’m happy to share with you this interview, hope like it!

Since are passed 7 years from your last album “A Natural Disaster”, why it passed so much time?

Well, mainly it is because we didn’t have a manager. We didn’t have a record company, and one or two of our band members had family commitments they had to attend to. Different things were happening in their lives. You know, at the time, you don’t realise… one month becomes another month, becomes another month. It was just one of those things. Without a record company, it was just something that happened, and it will never happen again.

And also we must add that is your first album under KScope Music (excluding the semi acoustic album “Hindsights”), why have you chosen this label?

Why did we choose KScope Records? Well, they are very good and they believe in us very much and they wanted it more than anybody else did. They were really keen to have our record, and they wanted it for many years. We saw that, with the work they did on “Hindsight”, they are actually quite good. They do things properly and they don’t spend a fortune. They don’t spend quite a lot of money wastefully. Our manager — we have a manager now — he recommends we take this and we did. We were not the kind of band at that time that could attract a much bigger label, so we went with that one. We are happy and I am happy that we did.

I make a question about the title of the new album – it sound like a statement, who came up with title and why?

Well it’s not very very important and it’s not very meaningful. It is the title that we all liked. It’s the only title that everybody in the band liked. We couldn’t find another one where six people agreed. That’s the only one that six people agreed on. For me personally, it doesn’t have the greatest meaning for the songs. It does though, however, suggest the bond that we have as a band together… the family, the friendships, the caring that we have for each other. It is suggested in that title because we are here for each other, so I like it for that reason. I like it because it suggests “being there for each other” to me. It’s not a great statement, it’s not a spiritual statement or an anti-religious statement, or anything. It is just the fact that we all like it. Also, the fact is, it comes from a very moving story from the First World War in Europe when many, many millions of men and women died for no real reason. That was one of the most extreme situations that humanity has ever seen. And, during that war, young men in England used to sing this song, “We’re Here Because We’re Here”. You can actually hear a very small selection of that song… as the song “Hindsight” is tuning into the radio, you can hear it there. They used to sing that song in defiance of the situation that they were in. They were in an impossible situation, and there was no reason for them to be there, so they used to sing that song, “We’re Here Because We’re Here”. We like that story. And we like the meaning behind it and the memory of those men, so we chose it.

A question about the cover – How’s your interpretation and in some manner, is it related to the lyrics of the album?

Yes and no, really. The front cover and all of the artwork is related to Anathema, to the people and to our childhood, our story, and to our personalities. They are childhood memories of everyone… an old school, an old playing field, an old street that we lived in. The beach with the man in the distance is actually Liverpool Beach in the north of Liverpool. The mountains in the distance are the Welsh Mountains, the mountains of Wales where we spent many, many years on holiday as kids. So, what I love about the artwork and title is not that it relates very, very, very closely to the meaning of the songs. It relates to the meaning of the band and to the people in the band and the personalities and the family and the heritage and the love and the memories that we have together. And that’s why I like it.

I’ve listened to album like I said before and my favourite album song is “Everything” with the duet of Lee. What your favourite track?

My favourite track is “Dreaming Light” because it is probably the most personal one to me, and it is the one I am most proud of it. That’s my favourite one, but I love them all really. I think it’s the first record that … okay, well maybe not … I would say that it’s a consistently good album. All the songs are very good, and (for me) one or two are truly great. Those two would probably be “Dreaming Light” and “Universal”. What I like about “Dreaming Light” is the optimism in the melody and the emotion in the melody. I remember the day it was written, I remember how it came through me and I remember how I felt after it was written. It was just a special time. It was a special feeling to have that feeling come through. To feel that tune and feel those words. I do think it’s a gift. That song is a gift.

So now I have three curiosity to satisfy: How’s born the collaboration with HIM singer Ville Valo, how’s working with Steven Wilson and who sang the spoken words on “Presence”?

Ville Valo is a lovely guy. He is a very nice person, and I like him very much. He is a good friend. And that is the only reason, really, that we asked him to do it. He’s been very kind to Anathema and he’s been a loyal fan, if you like, of the band. He likes the band very much and he’s been supportive of Anathema very much. I wanted in a way to say “thanks” to Ville Valo because he’s been such a gentleman and a kind person to us that it felt appropriate for me to ask him. And he said yes. It was simple and he has added something very good to the song. It’s a background, but it works for me. He adds something to the song “Angels” and doesn’t take anything away. I like it very much. And that was really just a matter of friendship, he’s a good friend. Second question, Steve Wilson. Well, that was much more involved because we worked together for two weeks to mix the record, or maybe longer. It was a great pleasure working with him because he is very very very good at what he does. So I would go to his house, sit on the couch and drink tea and listen to his work and comment and work on the collaboration and he would suggest some things. He would try to make us think carefully about all the choices that we’re making, and he would try to encourage more simplicity in the record. I had a clear vision, almost, of how it should sound. What I appreciated about Steve was his willingness to allow us to follow that vision and to only speak up when he really felt that something was a little bit wrong. We worked well together. There was no real difficulty and I like him very much. So that was a great pleasure and I am delighted we did that collaboration with him. I think it makes a difference in the impact of the record also, because people are talking about this record because of it. The final question was the spoken word on “Presence”. That is an interview I made with a gentleman in Liverpool , England where I was living at the time. A gentleman called Stan Ambrose. He is a very beautiful person, he’s a musician and a radio presenter. He was involved in counselling for a long time and he is a local activist. Just a gentleman who many people like… many people like this man. He is very humble, very kind and we became friends. We started to talk about spiritual things and the essence of life and these things. He’s always been interested in those things, interested in mediation and all that stuff. So I interviewed him actually in the Cathedral — in Liverpool Cathedral I interviewed him – and he began talking about a book by Eckhart Tolle, who is a spiritual writer, a very successful spiritual writer whose message of stillness is making an impact around the world. Stan is a person who is very much interested in these things and very sincere. When he spoke to me about this, he almost had a tear in his eye. I made the interview with him, and it just seemed to fit with the song, “Presence”. Also, the fact is that he is talking a little bit about the possibility of life beyond death and I know that he was thinking about that. And that relates directly to “Angels Walk Among Us”, which is also asking that question. Just the same as “Are You There?” was asking that question: “Is there something beyond?”

With this album you have confirmed Lee Douglas like a full member in Anathema. Can you give more infos about her and say something about the decision to confirm her in the line up.

Lee is family, and a very good friend, and a very very good singer. She was always there… she sang on all the records since “Judgement”. Ever since “A Natural Disaster”, she became more involved because she sang the lead vocal on that song. It just, you know, developed. When she came to the studio to record, she did say that she would like to be more present at the live concerts because she has to balance it with work and stuff. She has always been there, really. If I’m honest, she’s always been there, so it’s okay. We are very glad about it because she is one of us. She does fit very well — a very good singer, easy-going and easy to be around, fun. So, no problem there, really. We’re happy about it.

So, now some advices for the new fans, what Anathema album to advise to start from?

I would advise to begin with the new album, “We’re Here Because We’re Here”. That’s what I would advise. And the reason is because that is the best one, and also it’s the picture of who Anathema really is right now. I would start with this record. I would suggest that it is just open-minded music. A powerful rock band, it’s emotional and it’s honest and it’s real … from the heart.

I would say that you have similitaries with The Gathering, you know, you first started like a doom metal band after you came through with an alternative rock band.

I understand what you’re saying. They really developed and changed and grew into much more of an alternative rock band. And I suppose we did the same. But, I’m looking at the interview schedule and it’s still Metal webzine, it’s in Metal Maniac, it’s in Metal Hammer (Germany). Those are our roots. The band is much more than metal and has not been a metal band for many years. Real musicians — like Radiohead or The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, U2, band like this – the real musicians, they do evolve. We are of that stock. I love Iron Maiden and their music has evolved a little bit. Our heritage is much more in the Radiohead, the Pink Floyd, the Led Zeppelin and the Sabbath and that area of evolution, which is much more expansive and open-minded. That’s just our style. And if they don’t like it, that’s tough shit.

What are the next band planes (talking about tours ecc.)?

We are in between playing Turkey and Russia right now. In three days we’re going to Russia, and then there is a show in London. Then I’m touring with Anneke van Giersbergen in South America. It’s just one or two festivals over the summer and a time over the summer to collect ourselves, to relax, to gather our strength and to do some new writing. Then, in the autumn, a natural machine will start, and a long tour will happen. I look forward to that, actually.

We know that you do acoustic tours with Anneke van Giersbergen and now I make you a question, do you think that in the future there will be a project or a collaboration with Anathema? I mean not only with your solo project…

We have talked about that, and she would be welcome because she is such a great person and such a great singer. So, she would be welcome. But, the fact is, we have a female vocalist in the band. You know what I mean? Lee has the voice for our style, so she’s in the band. I did have ideas for Anneke to sing on the new record and she would have sounded beautiful. But Lee Douglas is there and she’s committed and it wouldn’t really be appropriate. But we certainly love Anneke very much. She has sung live with Anathema. We love her very much. I think she is a wonderful person and a really wonderful singer and a really good professional. Of course, it’s a possibility.

So we’re at end greet as you want our readers.

Thank you, my dear. Ciao and grazie.



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