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Anathema: We're Here Because We're Here


On November 12nd, the whole The Heartagram Path Staff was in Rome for one of the gigs that Anathema played in Italy during those days. Thanks to the management, we had the opportunity to interview Vincent Cavanagh, Anathema's singer who, nicely and gently, answered to some of our questions. We also had the opportunity to take some pictures thanks to the photopass they gave us.

What else? We really hope that you'll enjoy the interview, we also asked him some questions about their collaboration with Ville. And if haven't seen them live yet, we do recommend you to go whenever you can, because it's one of those bands whose live peformances are even better than the album itself, two hourd and an half of  pure energy, great skills and humility. Anathema's fans are wonderful as well as all the members of the band! They really worth everything!

THP: How was the band born and why the name Anathema?
Vincent: Wow! Well…You know the way some people are just born into a certain way of life without even really having much control over it? It was like that.
THP: so you were born poet?
Vincent: yes, really . I think other people saw it before we did even. I mean, people and relatives said “They’re all gonna be musicians”. And this was before we can play anything. They just knew. It was the way we are obsessed with music since we were three years old.

THP: It was really your destiny.
Vincent: I guess so, yes. It’s still a thing that it’s continuing to evolve, now, so destiny is still happening, you know. But if you talk about destiny, one of the main reasons why this band started is the friendship that started between me and John, our drummer, which happened when we were about ten years old, because my parents had the chance to send me to school with Danny or to send me to school with Jamie, my twin brother. They send me with Jamie so, when I went to this school I wasn’t anywhere near Jamie, in the same class but they sat me next to John in the first day of school. If I’ d go to school with Danny we would not be having this conversation because the band would never formed. This was before we can play an instrument, you know. And then John’s sister, Lee, is a great singer, so that happened as well, you know. We’ve got two families: three brothers and a brother and a sister.
THP: The band is like a big family.
Vincent: Yes, and it extends to everyone on the bus, like the crew, and the driver and everybody. I don’t really treat anybody any differently, you know.
THP: That’s really nice. So…how was music shaped your life?
Vincent: Hmmmm….
THP: Or is music your life?
Vincent: How was my life being shaped by music?
THP: Yes.
Vincent: Entirely. So far it’s been my priority for most of my life, and then it has come between relationships with people, I split with girlfriends because of it. I’ve had positive and negative experiences because of it, and I continue to be mystified, enthralled, and excited, and immersed in it. I never really stopped that, I can’t really. I guess more possibilities opened themselves to me the more I feel like getting out of it, so it’s a very exciting time for me right now, because I’m finding new ways to do things that I’ve never knew how to do before.
THP: Thanks to music, then.
Vincent: Yes. It’s the whole composing, really. It’s one of those things where my chosen creativity is music, but at the same time kind of it chose me as well. Now, in order for me to live a life of some kind of fulfillment, I need to do this, there’s nothing else I could do. And if I need to be with somebody, then they have to understand or at least they have to have a similar vision for themselves. It doesn’t have to be music, but they have to have something creative, because you are a very different kind of person if you are. People think you’re selfish, because you’re putting something like music before somebody else, and they don’t understand, if you’re not an artist, a sculptor, a film maker or a poet or anything like that and nobody and nothing can pull you away from your muse and it’s very difficult to understand unless you never actually felt or actually been.
THP: During your impressive career you tried different music styles so… for an artist how much is important to experiment, to challenge yourself, to try new things?
Vincent: well…I can only speak personally, really…for me it is the reason why I do what I do. The evolution of ourselves and the way in which we express us is part of the same thing.
THP: You like express yourself through music?
Vincent: exactly. We always have to, you know.
THP: Otherwise you wouldn’t be an artist.
Vincent: Yes! I mean, this limits the possibilities how you want to make that sound . It just depends on who you are, how you do it. Some people just want a simple melody, a simple rhythm, and that’s fine. And usually that’s what it's all about. Maybe basic lines and melody. For me it’s about a bit more, as well. I can go more into a soundscape and use sounds as well as the building blocks of the song. But it’s one of those things where you can be waken up and dream. Last night, for example. And it’s happening more and more these days. Twice times on this tour I dreamed a tune complete with words and everything, I wake up in my bunk and I had to record it on my laptop, so there's no a real end to the evolution. I mean, I guess, the different styles of music, they come out not always deliberately conscious, you know.
You kind of get led down a certain way. I can be sitting kind of hypnotized by something I’m doing with my hands on a keyboard or a guitar or anything and and you get into a mental frame in which you’re not forcing it anymore. It’s subconscious, really. At that point point, it’s like been carried down a river, it’s like being on a river in a boat without oars and all you can do is try your best to get carried along and not hit the rocks or the obstacoles which are things like expectation, public opinion, and ego, expecially that’s one of the biggest, and money, celebrity, fame, anything else. All of these things don’t matter. And if then you reach the destination, and the idea remains , then you know you’re right. It doesn’t really matter. It’s just music at the end of the day.
THP: If we don’t count the acoustic “Hindsight”, released on 2008, there is a seven years gap between “a natural disaster “ and “we’re here because we’re here". Why so many years between these two releases?
Vincent: Loads of reasons, the main one is that we were building the foundations for our future.
THP: So… Like your own record label?
Vincent: No, we already are basically self sufficient. At the moment we just licence the new record, you know. It’s also the fact that we can record everything ourselves too. Building of the studio takes a long time, takes a lot of money. There are some other reasons, as well, but they ‘re not really important. What is important now is the fact that our future is secure and that we can now return to business as usual and we can record every year or every two years, so… next year we wanna do more.
THP: Talking about your newest album, were the songs all written before entering the studio or you for example finished the songs you're just started previously?
Vincent: All of them had been started but I think any of them haven’t been finished. They were at different stages of development. It's funny to see a song evolve like Universal, an amazing experience. I was on my own for about four days and basically I went on shaping, and shaping and shaping, making this kind of pre-album recording of it and nobody else heard it. That was the good thing. I had no internet so I couldn't send it to anybody. This was one of the best experiences of my life. It was actually born from a John's idea and I took it under my wing and shaped it, and made into what I was. I was there jumping around the house, just fucking bouncing, and I couldn't believe it. It's really one of the best experiences I ever had in music.
THP: It' s the beauty about music. You can shape an idea and then...
Vincent: ...See it fully formed. when you know it's right, when you know it's perfect, when there's nothing you will change about it, there's nothing like that. It's such a revelatory, climactic experience that you only kind of repeat . I really listened to us so far no more than ten times. Now I just don't listen to it anymore.
THP: You've got enough..?
Vincent: No, it's just because I'm already on for the next thing .
THP: You're already thinking of a new song.
Vincent: Well, I never stop. I think my mind is already somewhere out by that point. What happens then is that I think to play them live and experience how to do it live and how ity makes me feel, 'cause each one has its own feelings.
THP: And see the effects they have on the audience.
Vincent: Yeah, that's cool as well, yeah.
THP: Where does the inspiration for the songs come from, usually at least?
Vincent: It doesn’t come from necessarily one place, so…
THP: From everywhere.
Vincent: I don’t even think it’s external neither, I think it’s all internal, really, but within yourself. I mean, It’s beyond definition, really.
THP: From your soul.
Vincent: Even soul is a widely used and often misunderstood term anyway, you know. I don’t know, it comes from a place that it’s beyond definition by usual cromatical construpt of sentences. It’s beyond that, really.
THP: Beyond words.
Vincent: Yeah, it’s like trying to … No, you can’t do it, you can’t define it. And to do so you don’t need to sound pretentious anyway.

: Ok, no problem. “We’re Here Because We’re Here” was a line used by the soldiers of the first World War . What made you decide to use it as the title of your album?
Vincent: The spirit of overcoming adversity through a bond between people and a brotherhood and intense friendship and love, whatever you wanna call it, between people that it’s stronger than every hardship you’ve ever been through and help you to keep your spirit travel
THP: and to go on…
Vincent: Yeah, it’s exactly what the song is about and that’s what the album is about and that’s what this band is about.
THP: Wow, that’s beautiful, I’ve never thought about this actually. That’s really insightful, I’m impressed.
Vincent: Thank you.
THP: Ok, so… The backing vocals of “Angels Walks Among Us” are done by Ville Valo. Why did you choose him ? Are there any plans for future collaborations with him or other artists?
Vincent: No plans as yet. He love the song, he love the band. We asked him “would you try to add something to the backing vocals, he agreed, very kindly wanted to retain the integrity of the lyric and the very personal nature of the lyric by just adding a kind of almost keyboard-like vocal effect in the background really , so dark, so quiet, which I think was really really well done and one of the things about Ville that I respect is he’s here for heart, do you understand? He’s here to understand, I mean… One of the secrets about making music is knowing when not to make music…
THP: to listen….
Vincent: Yeah … knowing when to just shut up, you know what I mean? Feeling is everything in what we do and Ville completely gets it, always has done. So I got massive respect for the guy, for his attention to intimacy and feeling, you know, and the depth behind something.
THP: So it’s much like listening not with your ears but with your heart.
Vincent: Exactly, yeah. He appreciated that. And he was easy to work with because he just recorded it at home, you know, in his own home studio and he just gave us the files.
THP: He gave you the files, really?
Vincent: Yeah and “Ok guys” he said “ listen, you can do with it what you will. I just had fun doing it and I really enjoyed it, so...” You know, he didn’t ask anything for it. He’s just a great guy.
THP: Let’s talk about live shows. How much are they important to you? What do you like the most: being on stage or in the studio?
Vincent: Well. I would have to say, the studio.
THP: The studio, why?
Vincent: Because of the experiences that I have with the song like Universal and things like that. There’s nothing like that. But it’s completely different, you know, getting out life and then re-experience in that song and how it makes you feel because it’s a different type of experience.
THP: Two different types.
Vincent: Yeah, really. As a singer, I personally get the chance to live through each of the lyrics and, although, that it’s not always the most pleasant of the experiences, because I the subject matter is not always… let’s say … the most uplifting of the topics. Still nevertheless it’s very intense and it’s something that I physically have to go through, and it’s a state of mind that I have to place myself in I have to in order to do it with any integrity. It can go either two ways… 95- 96 % of the time it’s a extremely positive experience for me but sometimes it’s awful.
THP: It’s awful…?
Vincent: Yeah, because I’m already in that state of mind and if something goes wrong then I become incredibly emotional very quickly about it and I don’t always react the best way but I can help that . But most of the time I have an incredible and messy … you mess yourself into it. And then it’s the simple fact that you get to experience the meaning behind it all and also the physical capabilities of my own voice and what I can try to do live. It’s different in the studio, you know, it’s been more concentrated, more focused. Live, I’ve got a bit more freedom and a bit more time to try completely different things, extend notes or try different notes so, try different levels of…
THP: Challenge yourself…
Vincent: Yeah, different velocities, levels of intensity, different things, I like that.
THP: Yeah, cool.
Vincent: Yeah.
THP: How is your relationship with fans?
Vincent: It’s all good, if I meet everybody I don’t really speak to anybody any differently, you know….Talking to you now is the same way I talk with anybody out there… anyway.
THP: It’s the same. Yeah, that’s good.
Vincent: Yeah. I’m still a quite private person, you know. … my personal life is my personal life. I don’t like to mix as much as I used to, but that’s only because I look after myself these days on tour.
THP: I think you change, you know, maybe two years ago you loved to party and…..
Vincent: Yeah. Was I at a party with you there?
THP: No, no I was just joking.
Vincent: No, I mean like… The one frustrating thing about being on tour is if you can’t physically do your job properly, to do the all reason you are there. You have to sing an hour and a half every night, and just on its own it’s enough to kind of get down my throat , you know.
THP: So, your party is your live shows.
Vincent: Yeah, it’s the only way I can do it and afterwards I just… I’ll have my dinner ‘cause I can’t even eat before the concert, so I have my dinner …
THP: after the shows..
Vincent: And then I go to bed.
THP: And that’s your party.
Vincent: That’s my fucking life, yeah. But you know what? I prefer that though, you know, because for years, for almost all of the time I’ve been on tour I was the complete opposite and now at least I know that I can wake up every day and I’m gonna do a good job …
THP: Then you can’t take it easy…..
Vincent: It’ right . You can have a couple of celebrating, but I’m not missing it for the first time in my life, so that’s grace. What I’m looking forward to it’s getting home and then going out and have a bottle of champagne with my girlfriend, do you know what I mean? Just celebrate being home and celebrate a tour that is done, now.
THP: Celebrate with family and friends.
Vincent: Exactly. No, she is my family now… obviously my extended family is the band. I don’t really stay in touch with my actual blood family very much.
THP: You spend more time with the band
Vincent: Yes, it’s what I’ve done for my entire life. I still like them, they’re still nice people, but I don’t really see them very often. I mean, I live in Paris now, anyway, and they’re all in Edimburgh, so…
THP: You don’t get to see each other very often.
Vincent: We see each other enough [laughs].
THP: [laughs] and that’s enough.
Vincent: Yeah yeah yeah! ….
THP: It’s fine this way.
Vincent: -Yeah, that’s fine.
THP: Ok. In closing, is there anything you would like to say to your fans?
Vincent: Anything I would like to say to my fans…
THP: Yeah.
Vincent: Uhm… What the fuck am I suppose to… ? I don’t know. Well, I can say : check out Petter Carlsen’s second album. It’s gonna be called “Clocks don’t count “and that’s out soon, I believe, probably by the end of this year and… he’s just playing, now. He’s an amazing guy, an amazing singer. He’s part of my family now, he’s like another brother.
THP: Yeah, I remember.
Vincent: Yeah yeah. Just, I don’t know, I’ll see you somewhere.
THP: Somewhere soon, let’s hope.
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