tiistai 29. marraskuuta 2011

Antimatter - About Leaving

I've had the opportunity to interview the outstanding Antimatter twice, but the reason these two old interviews are published as November is turning to December, is that this time in 2009 my band Subaudition had the great honour to play live with Antimatter and Lisa Cuthbert on their Finnish mini-tour. Last year saw the release of the retrospective Alternative Matter compilation, which gave us fans yet another angle to approach the band from. Even though both Mick Moss and Duncan Patterson participated on the tour, Antimatter has officially been Moss' solo project since Patterson left the band in 2005, after the release of Planetary Confinement. The wait after Leaving Eden from 2007 is slowly coming to an end, with the forthcoming fifth album tentatively entitled 'Wide Awake In The Concrete Asylum,' but while we wait, do read these two interviews which were originally published in the Finnish Imperiumi.net webzine.

"About Leaving"
An interview with Mick Moss and Duncan Patterson of Antimatter.
Originally published in Imperiumi.net, July 2005.
First of all, I’d like to congratulate you guys for making such a wonderful album. Last week there was news from Duncan regarding his departure from Antimatter. Please tell us some of the reasons that lie behind this decision. Moreover, I’d be interested to know how long ago Duncan made this decision, and if that had an effect on the material heard on ”Planetary”?

Duncan: The decision was made some time ago, but we agreed that I would finish the album off. To be fair, I always knew I’d be moving on and thats why I didn’t have anything to do with the artwork or tracklisting. I just got to the point in life where I had to move on. I wasn’t comfortable with where I was in terms of the scene, and wasn’t comfortable with what I was getting back from all the effort that I have put in. My new project ’Íon’ is a much more positive venture. Hopefully the energy I get back from that will help towards improving life.

As I’ve understood it, the album was made in two separate sessions. I think I’ve read somewhere that this is not a new approach to an Antimatter album. So, please tell me some of the reasons that lie behind this unusual working method of basically making two EPs and then fusing them together.

Mick: This was the only time we ever worked like this, as in being in seperate studios. In the past we have worked in the same studio, albeit with no collaboration in the writing or arranging of the tracks. The idea for this album was to keep things simple and smooth, so our own tracks were recorded in our own time with no pressure on the other one to be there. Besides, we live in seperate countries now, so whats the point in all that travelling when it wasn’t necesarry?
Duncan: I agreed to do one more album, so we did it this way.

I don’t know how I get this feeling off the new album, but it feels to me that on ”Planetary” you guys have found the sound and balance you were still looking for on the two previous albums. Did a more stripped-down type of music correspond to your feelings when recording the album or did you just decide out of your own free will to move on to this kind of pastures?

Duncan: I think Lights Out is by far our best, and most balanced achievement. Its a crying shame it was mostly put out to the wrong scene.

The method is rather unique nevertheless, and actually that’s just one thing that makes Antimatter even more interesting as a band / unit. With ”Planetary” you’ve come to the end of the road as a collective, however. What will be the strongest (and dearest?) memory of this time for you two?

Mick: The night we played K13 was great, our American tour, the nights in Istanbul and Greece, meeting new people overseas, our gig in Paris, meeting Virgin Black, I’ve a lot of fond memories, at the time I began with Antimatter I was in a serious bad way, and it helped me out of a rut, gave me a purpose, and most importantly got me out of Liverpool.
Duncan: Lights Out

Antimatter will, of course, pass on as Mick’s own project, and the news is that Danny from Anathema will join him on the next Antimatter album. When did Mick get the idea of asking Danny to join him with Antimatter, and will Mick nevertheless be writing the majority (if not the whole) of the next album?

Mick: I’ve got the album pretty much written already. At this point, it might be necessary to clarify Danny’s involvement for this next release - he’s guesting as guitarist for one album, he wont be taking Duncans place as a writer or live performer. I’ve wanted to work with Danny since 2001, when we first played together on the ’Saviour’ bonus acoustic tracks. We’ve got a strong mutual respect for each others work and it’s been like that since day one. Danny likes my voice and my songs, and I like Dannys guitar playing and songs, so it was just a matter of time before we hooked up. It’s been a bit awkward in the past, especially with the fact that any collaboration would’ve resulted in the album being likened to some kind of Anathema re-union by half-arsed journalists, but obviously that wont be the scenario this time around.
Duncan: I dont know. I had no idea that Danny would be replacing me in Antimatter, I like the irony of things like that though. But I have no problem with them using the name, even though I thought it up and got us all the record deals. It was me who chose to move on, so good luck to them.

What things will you (Mick) do differently with the next Antimatter release, as it is probable you have to change your perspective with the band if/since you’ll be writing the lion’s share of the next album?

Mick: My session for ’Planetary ..’ went very smoothly, so it’s just a matter of getting in that position again where all the music is written and arranged and everybody knows what the’re playing and where, except this time to come out with twice as many tracks. I shouldn’t have to change my perspective that much when recording. As for playing live, I’m taking a long break from that and I’ll see what happens in the future.

Has Mick actually written some new Antimatter stuff already? If so, could you please tell me what direction will you be taking with Antimatter’s 4th album? I really hope you’ll continue singing on the next release as well, because I love the tone of your voice and the way you pronounce…

Mick: Thanks, I’ll be singing all of the album, Danny will possibly harmonise where necessary. The album as a whole isn’t any specific direction/style, as there’s different things going off within each track. I have acoustic-based songs with violin (a la ’Planetary Confinement’), atmospheric segments and also the more rockier elements found on tracks like ’In Stone’ and ’The Last Laugh’. It will definitely come across as ballsier than ’Planetary ..’, but then again that’s not hard because ’Planetray ..’ was such a fragile, sombre album.

Danny being featured on the next Antimatter album is, of course, one of many things that link you guys with Anathema. I reckon all that ”Antimatter is a continuance for Alternative 4 era Anathema” stuff has gotten under your skin sometimes? Or are you just so used to it that the comparisons between the bands don’t irritate you that much after all?

Mick: In the past, I think it’s been easier for the press to write about our Anathema connections rather than have to come up with something original. That aspect has got under my skin, yeah. Antimatter was a continuation of Alternative 4 as far as Duncans material went, but not mine. I’m doing my own thing and I have my own influences, and I think my material has been sold short in the past simply because some lazy journalist has no idea what to say and therefore goes down the ’Anathema’ route once more. That all seems to be changing lately, and I had gotten used to it anyway. The one thing that pissed me off was the Russian release of Live@K13, - they slapped the Anathema logo on the front and printed Duncan and Dannys name on the cover!? Obviously this helps sell cd’s, but I’ve never been that fucking desperate to clock up cd sales! I managed to see the funny side of this anyway. It’s not that I have an ego problem, what pisses me off is that the work I’ve done has been consistently mis-represented in some quarters of the media. I don’t want Anathema fans looking to Antimatter as some kind of psuedo-Anathema, as thats an immediately restricting scenario which can only lead to disappointment.

On the new album there’s a song ”A Portrait of the Young Man as an Artist”. I just finished reading James Joyce’s ”A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” a couple of months ago, but the lyrics for the song not being available I couldn’t figure out the connection between the two literary works. Could you please give some information about the song?

Mick: It’s connected with Joyce in the title only. It’s a play on words, aimed at people who try so desperately to be seen as something that they’re obviously not.

Another song that caught my attention right away was the Trouble cover Mr White. Why did you choose to record such a cover song? And what Trouble means to you in general?

Duncan: I like that song, and wanted to record a version of it. It means a lot to me and I saw it as maybe my last chance to record it.

So, what’s next? In particular, I’d be interested to know something about Duncan’s music-related prospects… For instance, will there be any releases from Strangelight Records during 2005?

Duncan: Next up is the Breaklose album. That release had to be postponed due to the mess with the Nick Drake tribute. After that I have the Leafblade album, but I honestly don’t know when that will be completed. I will look upon that with caution though.

An interview with Mick Moss of Antimatter.
Originally published in Imperiumi.net, June 2007.
When I last interviewed you when Planetary Confinement was released, you pretty much seemed to have Leaving Eden mapped out for the most part already, or at least your words could’ve been understood that way. Nevertheless, in the end the release of Leaving Eden was postponed at least once, and sometime late last year I heard that you’d also had some kind of problems with the label, Prophecy. Would you care to tell something about this, shoot the rumours down, or anything?

- There were setbacks, yeah, as the album was ready to go a long time ago. Eden could have been released in late 2006, but in the end that delay turned out to be a blessing, otherwise it would have been released at the same time as Duncan’s Ion project. Yeah, I had the album in my head pretty much since the release of the last album. It was all there in various stages of completion, some fragments of songs, some demos, some complete tracks, some songs just needing arranging. So, like I said, it could have been released earlier, but with Duncan not there anymore there were complications with the existing contracts which had to be ironed out, hence the delays.

Also in our previous interview especially Duncan didn’t seem to think too highly of Planetary Confinement (at least in comparison to Lights Out), and from your comments on that album I somehow sensed that you didn’t consider it your masterpiece either. What do you think about the album now, and what do you think made you feel slightly reserved about the album back then?

- Planetary Confinement was what it was. I didn’t and don’t have any problems with it then or now. I had no idea until lately that Duncan was vocal about his misgivings with that release, but if anything I think that represents more his discomfort with the project at the time - I really can’t see how he is unhappy with it musically, as an album. Personally, I worked my arse off for that release, and I’m very proud of it, as I am with all the Antimatter albums.

On the retail version of the Planetary Confinement album there was a sticker which stated ‘the saddest album of the year’ (I remember it was quoted from a review). Does that sound flattering? In general, what do you think about the label using your emotions as a marketing strategy?

- That’s fine, its fair to say that it probably was the saddest album of the year. The label weren’t using my emotions as a marketing strategy; they were quoting a review. Besides, I have no reservations about putting my own emotions down in print and then having them released worldwide, so I can hardly complain about a sticker on the front of the case.

And to continue with the same theme: do you feel comfortable with the fact that such personal music as Antimatter’s is sold, bought, distributed, listened, analysed and consumed all around the world? I mean, composing and even recording music is one thing, but releasing music is another thing. How meaningful is the releasing part to you personally?

- Yeah, I’m comfortable with people digesting what I’ve written; I suppose that’s part and parcel of it all. Again, if I felt uneasy about it I would just write differently, or not put certain songs on albums. That has happened in the past, I’ve written a song and then decided not to have it released. In the end I’m in charge of what gets heard and what doesn’t.

Making (melancholic, sad) music is probably a cathartic experience to you. But what do get out of listening to sad music yourself? Is it like projecting your own (sad) feelings to the music, is it perhaps an energizing experience, does it represent a chance to be with your own thoughts or is it indeed saddening? Would you please enlighten your answer by, say, naming one or two bands that are maybe categorised as ‘sad’ music, and tell us the feeling you get out of their music.

- You know, I don’t actually listen to any overtly sad music in my own time. I don’t write self-loathing lyrics because that’s the type of music I listen to and I want to be like my favourite artists, I write like that because they’re the lyrics that need to come out when I put pen to paper. There are artists that move me, but I wouldn’t really class them as depressive. Melanie Safka has a really fragile voice, and that makes me feel kind of sad when I listen to her sing, but she was from the Woodstock generation, and I don’t think it was exactly her ‘gameplan’ to come across like that. Then there’s Richie Havens and Van Morrison, two more singer-songwriters who can really touch me, again more with the fragility of their vocal performances than their lyrical content. Morrisons 70s work was outstanding. Come to think of it, I can’t think of anyone in my playlist who is as lyrically depressing as myself, haha.

From the interview with the Finnish Inferno magazine I got the idea that some of the songs on Leaving Eden have actually been around (in one form or another) for some time already, i.e. initially composed for the earlier albums, but then dropped out due to excess of material, the songs not being in line with the album concept or something. Did you feel comfortable working with some older ideas?

- Yeah, in fact I was ecstatic to be working with older ideas, pieces of music that I did not want to see go unrecorded. Writers always have a cache of material, and if a writer has an artistic burst one year and writes the basis of three or four albums, then that’s gonna take some time before all of those pieces are recorded, it’s just the way it goes. It would be naïve to assume that every band checks into a studio and records an album that they have only just conceived. In fact, I think a lot of the good material is that which has stayed within the writer’s consciousness for a long time and developed naturally and fully. Most of the ‘old’ material that I have used would have been recorded in an underdeveloped state had it been recorded around the time of its conception.

The method used to compose Antimatter albums (at least Planetary Confinement, a bit like composing two separate mini-albums) was, from an outsider’s perspective, a pretty interesting one. However, Leaving Eden isn’t that different from the previous Antimatter albums, so one could assume that you’ve had to broaden your own perspective to cover the areas Duncan more or less took care of on previous albums. For example, many people I’ve talked with about Antimatter would probably say that Duncan was more keen to the tad more electric, if not electronic, atmospheres, whereas you prefer a more acoustic, singer/songwriter-like approach. So the question is, did you feel restricted or limited with your own material on the previous Antimatter albums compared to the new one?

- I was restricted in terms of how much space I actually had to fill. Half an album isn’t much room to spread your wings in, so I was usually just happy to choose the pieces that were most complete, or most suited to what I wanted to work on at that point in time, rather than having a broad canvass to fuck around with. This time I had more space so I was more inclined to take risks.

I think there’s a nice continuation or contrast, perhaps even a paradox in the album titles of Planetary Confinement and Leaving Eden. It’s like one first feels he’s bound to (or literally confined in) a place he doesn’t feel entirely comfortable in, but when he’s made to leave the place, it’s like leaving eden behind. Was this contrast in the album titles a conscious thing? How much of a new start Leaving Eden is for you and Antimatter?

- It’s strange; it’s both a brand new start and also kind of closure at the same time. There’s a duality about the album in more ways than one. Like the fact that it’s the first Antimatter album to be a complete solo work, yet it’s the first Antimatter album to be a complete band recording.

Leaving Eden has a certain flow, it’s consistent but doesn’t go round the bend and become boring at any point. How difficult was it to come up with the right tracklist, for example?

- For Eden I had to choose from maybe 15 pieces of music, and the tracklisting did seem to change from day to day. In the end I just chose the strongest tracks rather than choosing the most musically identical ones. I could easily have fell into the trap of thinking ‘This is a rock album now, so there’s no room for acoustic songs,’ or something like that, but I had to choose upon the strength of the piece and not how many power-chords it had in it.

Are there perhaps particular songs on the album that mean the most to you personally? Would you please give us an example?

- They’re all deeply personal, I don’t think there’s any lyrics that are more personal or less personal than the others. I just laid my heart out in the words and in the process it helped me define myself, helped me realise what position I held in the world at the time of writing. Some things have changed since then, others haven’t.

This is a question we should probably ask Duncan, but keeping in mind the fact that you more or less composed your songs separately and also that Antimatter is, at least in my opinion, not stylistically or conceptually bound to one certain type of expression, would it be too brave to assume that it was indeed the monicker ‘Antimatter’ Duncan wanted to get away from? Did you think about the possibility of starting afresh entirely under a different band name?

- I did, but I’m a pragmatist, really. My music is associated with the name ‘Antimatter,’ and having just turned 30 I did not have the energy to start a new project, especially when there was nothing wrong with the project I was involved in.

Danny has a pretty recognisable style of playing, so many people will probably screaming ‘Anathema’ in few places on Leaving Eden (say, at the end of ‘Another Face in a Window,’ for instance). Did you pay any attention to, or try to consciously avoid sounding too much like Anathema in the lead guitars?

- Nah, I wasn’t bothered really. I wrote that part for him at the end of ‘Another Face in a Window’ anyway, I knew it would sound good. All the Anathema comparisons are a part of life now, its inevitable; the two projects are joined by history and personnel. People are going to compare the two because of that association and find what they want to find. That riff at the end of ‘Another Face...’ could have been on any other album and no-one would have even thought to compare it to Anathema.

My band Subaudition warmed up for Danny on three of his Finnish solo tour dates last year, and got to watch closely the way Danny handles his guitar – and how seriously and personally he takes his music. I mean, he seems to be a very passionate, though perhaps not a very rudimentary musician and guitarist. Is this exactly what you wanted him to bring to Leaving Eden as well, passion and melodic eruptions, so to speak?

- Yeah, of course, Danny is by far the most emotional and accomplished lead guitarist I know, and was therefore the only choice for the album.

The guitar solo/lead on Ghosts sounds like you played or at least wrote yourself? I get a very strong Pink Floyd (Animals album sort of) vibe from that... Was it a conscious little tribute to the Floyd?

- Not really, no, I don’t think I had Floyd in mind while I was writing that guitar lead. It was Danny that played it. I knew I wanted slide guitar, so Danny threw down my melody and then played another complimentary one behind it, like George Harrison. That’s what we had in mind in the studio, George Harrison.

To go back to your feelings about Antimatter and to our previous conversation a couple of years back, you stated then that when you started doing Antimatter you were in a somewhat bad shape in your personal life, but the band gave you strength to carry on. Now, one stressful album process more behind you, have there been times when you’ve felt that the energy you’ve poured into Antimatter hasn’t recouped in one form or another? If not, when/if such times would come, do you think it would be the end of Antimatter?

- The energy I’ve poured into Antimatter has recouped with every single album release. My ‘payment’ has been in the form of completing work that is really personal to me. In answer to your question, I think it would be all over when I have no music left to record. Money, popularity, or any other ego-based factors do not come into it.

On a brighter note, have you already begun with new Antimatter material? Is there a certain direction you’d like to go with Antimatter now, or just let the songs lead the way?

- It’s probably a question of both letting the songs lead the way, and also fulfilling your own personal needs musically. I do have two songs, both of which have been with me for many years, and I just haven’t got around to recording them. I also have fragments of songs here and there, and also other fully developed tracks from recent years, so yeah, there is material there. If and when I get the energy, enthusiasm, and (most of all) need to go back to writing, I will surely lay the foundations of what will become another album. If that blossoms into a full albums worth of material that I feel is good enough to commit to, I will surely see what options are available to me in terms of getting it recorded. That, though, is in the future. At the moment I have gotten ‘Leaving Eden’ out of my system , and I don’t want to even think about the prospect of doing another album for a while.

Any chance you’d be touring in Finland in the near future? Also, any message you want to send to your Finnish fans, feel free to shout it out here.

- Yeah, thank you for your time and support, and I hope to come to Finland soon for a few dates.

And so they did. Thanks for the memories guys and gals!

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