Antimatter - Interview
Quite possibly the best of the few bands that isn’t afraid of staying true to their own - Antimatter - with their most current release “Leaving Eden” is just what it is - sad, melancholic and gloomy. Mick Moss - the brains and most of the manpower behind Antimatter - speaks to us about being the “saddest band of the world”, the journey of becoming known for their own music, the natural way the whole band unfolded and the plans for the future - questions - courtesy of Kubiccy.
On "Planetary Confinement" there was an inscription saying that this album was "The saddest album of the year". However, on "Leaving Eden", there is a note that Antimatter is "The saddest band of the world". Are they only the slogans, or do you really think that this is true?
Well, lyrically it is quite woeful, and at the moment I'm hard pressed to think of anyone as depressing! I'm sure there is, though, so the jury is still out on that one.
Anyhow, sadness and melancholy overflows every Antimatter album. Do you think that these kinds of feelings are more proper for music than happiness and joyfulness?
More apt for my music, yeah, but for everyone else it's all down to the writer and the listener, and their needs. I don't exclusively listen to melancholic music in my spare time; I listen to whatever I feel suits my mood. But when it comes to writing music, or more specifically lyrics, I do prefer the darker side of things.
Marcel Proust said that "happiness is wellness for the body, but sadness broadens the power of mind". Would you agree with the thesis mentioned above?
I've never heard that quote before, but it sounds quite accurate, yeah. I don't want to dwell on it too much, though, because it's too early in the day for philosophy!
Let's move on to the latest Antimatter material. "Leaving Eden" is a great album, you're probably fully aware of it?
I'm aware of it, yeah, but only through the fact that lots of people have sent me messages saying so, and I've read a lot of extremely positive reviews. It's not that I've finished the album and I'm lying back congratulating myself on my new masterpiece or anything, although I can appreciate the fact that I've written and recorded an album that has succeeded on many levels.
As far as I know, the response of fans and journalists to this album was very good, even enthusiastic. Are you proud of it?
Yeah, sure. I worked very hard at this and I came out the other side with an album that I'm very proud of. When I think sometimes about the sheer scale of what I've accomplished there, it makes my head spin.
Did the recordings of the material turn out as you wished?
There's always a slight difference between how you envision something in your head, and how it actually turns out in the studio. The trick is getting each one as close to the other as possible. In that respect, the material turned out as I wished.
This record is also the strongest and the most guitar prevailed Antimatter album. Your previous comments suggested that it was your original goal. Why didn't you want to continue the acoustic sounds known from "Planetary Confinement"?
I did continue the acoustic sounds from 'Planetary Confinement', its prevalent on almost half of the album. I just didn't make the entire album acoustic because I stayed true to each track’s character. So we have completely acoustic pieces like 'Conspire' and 'Fighting For A Lost Cause' because that's what kind of tracks they are, and heavier pieces like 'Leaving Eden' and 'The Freak Show' for exactly the same reason.
The title track "Leaving Eden" is definitely my favorite from this album. Do you have your favorite one?
'Conspire' or 'The Immaculate Misconception' maybe. Other than that it's almost impossible to say.
The acoustic sound presented on "Planetary Confinement" imprinted on my mind so much that in the beginning I couldn't get accustomed to completely different sound of "Leaving Eden". Every consecutive record of Antimatter sounds differently and it became almost a showcase for you.
Yeah, but it wasn't a purposeful thing. I never said to myself 'right I've gotta make this set of songs different from the last one'. You just make the album that you want to make, and if you're clever enough then you'll realize that you don't have to try and make it like your last album, that's the real picture.
Are there any chances of comeback of electronic sounds known from "Lights out"? I must admit that i.e. "Expire", where the influences of Portishead are clearly audible, is in my opinion one of the best Antimatter songs.
I'm sure there's plenty of room in any future tracks that I work on for different textures. I'm not ruling anything out.
Do you think that new tracks sound better without female vocals? Why have you decided to resign from them?
My vocals have been on a constant increase since the first album, and this was just a natural continuation of that.
Was it easy to take on your shoulders the whole responsibility for the band after Duncan Patterson's departure?
Yes it was, I shouldered a lot of responsibility while Duncan was there anyway, especially in the latter stages.
On the other hand, now you can realize all your music visions in Antimatter and you don't have to confine yourself. Are you satisfied with this?
Yeah sure, I had a much broader canvass to fuck around with this time rather than just space enough for 4 or 5 tracks. I had the space to take what I saw as a few risks, which certainly paid off.
Have you given lately any interviews without even one question concerning Duncan's leaving the band?
Probably not, but it's a relevant question anyway - this project used to be a duo, and now this is the first album as one-man unit, so there are bound to be questions from journalists asking about that change. Journalists have a job to do, and that job is to assemble a set of questions concerning the subject of the interview. Any journalist who failed to ask about Duncan's departure would be guilty of not doing his research.
What do you think about the new project of Duncan Patterson - Ion?
I thought it was a very good album. He's making the music he wants to make without being swayed by the needs of the general masses.
When Duncan left Antimatter you declared that you were going to release one more album behind this facade. "Leaving Eden" has already been released. Have you decided what are you going to do next?
I'm going to concentrate on touring, playing the usual sets of small, informal acoustic gigs. I tried this last month with Leafblade as a support, and it worked out very well both musically and personally. I still have at least half an album of what I deem to be quality music that I don't intend to leave unrecorded. If I write another half of an album’s worth of material that I feel the same way about, then I will surely see what options are available to get it all recorded.
The packaging of the first and the third Antimatter albums are kept in light tones and the disk printings are white. In case of the second and the fourth material dominant hue is black as well as the disk printings. Was it intended or this was only the coincidence?
It's coincidence. Although personally I see the covers as: White (Saviour) / Black (Lights Out) / Grey (Planetary Confinement) / Colour (Leaving Eden), that's the progression for me.
I've read somewhere that your first ever band formed with your school mates played thrash classics like Slayer's "Mandatory Suicide". Once Tori Amos recorded a cover of "Reign in Blood". Have you ever thought how would sound Antimatter version of "Mandatory Suicide"?
Whenever I do a tour, I always look around for what cover versions I could put in the set, as I get a lot of satisfaction from playing songs I grew up with. It has crossed my mind in the past to try and interpret a thrash or death track into acoustic form, but usually before a tour I am so busy arranging other things, that I don't have the time to start such an intricate process. I have thought about it though, yeah. It will probably happen sooner or later if I find the right track, the right arrangement and the right amount of time.
While we are at the covers. So far on Antimatter releases appeared one and the only cover - the track of Trouble titled "Mr. White". Who is the author of this idea?
That was Duncan's idea. I must admit I had not heard of Trouble until he mentioned them to me. As far back as our first album Duncan had been talking about covering Mr White, as he had asked Eric about it personally while on their supporting tour.
But this song is not the only cover of Antimatter authorship. You worked on one of my favorite tracks of Dead Can Dance - "Black Sun" as well. Did you hear any opinions of Lisa or Brendan concerning "The Lotus Eaters" release?
Yeah, Brendan was very much into our version of 'Black Sun', which was very good to hear. Duncan worked on the music for that one while I did the vocals, and Brendan took the time to compliment both factors. He felt that it was the one track on the album that was most sympathetic to the original. Me and Dunc were both chuffed with that.
When did you feel that Antimatter is an independent entity and not only a new project of Anathema's ex-member? Wasn't it a problem for you that Antimatter was mostly perceived and valued through the prism of Duncan Patterson?
It wasn't a problem, no, as I knew quite well that in the early days the press would focus on Duncan as he had come from a 'named brand' and I had not. The press's fixation would of course influence the fans, who would at first be exclusively Anathema fans. That meant that for the duration of the early stages of Antimatter, the level of interest would be at an 'Anathema level' only. It didn't bother me, as I knew this would happen and I am not an egotist anyway. What did bother me was sloppy journalism and over-use of the name 'Anathema', which I felt was constantly undermining the projects independency. I feel that our third album was where the tide turned. I wrote and produced what seemed to be generally accepted as the most popular material of the album. This material was recorded separately from Duncan, which left the press no option to apply the word 'Anathema' to my tracks.
You have already cooperated with the two of the Cavanagh brothers, but still not with Vincent. What is the reason of that?
I'd have no reason to co-operate with Vinny, as what Vinny does (i.e. sing and play rhythm guitar) I can do myself. Jamie's performance on 'Lights Out' was percussive, and even though Dunc and me did muck in on the percussion, we didn't consider ourselves percussionists enough to do the whole thing by ourselves, that's why Jamie was asked. It's the same thing with Danny's involvement, I cannot play lead guitar like him, so therefore it was obvious to ask him to play. It's not that I'm intent on collaborating with all the members of Anathema, its just that when there's a job to be done and I can’t do it myself, I look at who out of my friends can do it instead.
You've published your first EP ever on the Internet; the album with demo and live versions of the tracks which have never been released before and also the material containing four free virtual video releases. Tell me, what you think about the Internet in general, about downloading mp3 files and all this confusion made by the record companies to a large extent?
I don't know, time will tell, won't it? Surely it's a good thing for bands to be able to get their music out to the world without having to go through regulated mediums such as radio, television and magazines, where only the rich or the favored can get exposure.
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