Anathema – Across The Ocean


The upcoming tour by Anathema will be epic! Making their way back to Australia for their second tour including Adelaide and Perth is shaping up as one of 2015s best. Hailing from Liverpool this band is not like any other and if you’re expecting a quietish acoustic show think again. Vincent Cavanagh talks to Across The Ocean about this tour and even after twenty five years they still don’t take anything for granted.


How’s life in Anathema at the moment?

It’s alright man! Looking forward to it to be honest and all the rigmarole and prep to get our Australian visas is making it all become pretty real.

There are a lot of excited fans looking forward to this tour and places like Adelaide who get to see Anathema for the first time.

That’s great! We’re getting to a few more places this time than we did with the full band, which is cool. We’ve got a bit more time to spend over there and I’m really looking forward to it so much.

Touring after twenty years as a band do you still get excited when you tour somewhere new?

Absolutely, I’m going to Japan on this tour for the first time and that is bizarre and I’m really looking forward to that. There is absolutely no hint of being jaded at all. It depends on what enthusiasm you have for live stuff really.

Is it still on the same excitement level compared to when you played your first show?

I think it is more exciting now and the difference is that we’re more tuned in to what we’re doing whereas before it was like some bloody wild ride, that constant party whereas now I’m more tuned in to what the fuck is going on. For me, going to Australia is a big deal and I’ll be making sure that I enjoy every second rather than trying to just get on my face.

Do you appreciate it more now?

I appreciated it then, you got to realise we were just kids when we started out. We never went on a holiday anywhere and hadn’t been anywhere outside of Liverpool. The furthest I had been was a drive two hours away and honestly that was as far as I went until I was seventeen when we were in the band and started to go out on tour. That’s life changing! I got the love for it at that point and really loved touring. That’s never left me and I have only recently moved back to the UK as I was living in Paris for seven years. I’ve lived in New York in the past and considered going back there and at some I think I will go back and live in America if I can.

How about Australia?

That would be good yeah! I’ll see how it goes but I’m absolutely not afraid of travelling and absolutely welcome it. The best thing about travelling is meeting people and I like having no preconceptions about anywhere before I go there. It is better to ignore any information you may have heard and just go there to experience it all for yourself.

Do you much time off between shows on this tour?

Not really, sometimes you do very occasionally but maybe on this trip it is possible because we’re out there for a bit longer, which will be cool.

Twenty five years and still going strong is a significant milestone for the band, is there a secret ingredient to keeping the band going for this long?

There are two ways of looking at it, there’s longevity from your own perspective and then there is longevity from your audience’s perspective. We’re lucky on both camps because what we did was change our sound from the very, very beginning so we were constantly changing the sound. Not only did that keep things interesting for us but that also marked us down in the public’s eyes as one of those bands that’s constantly going to change, so never expect them to do the same thing twice. Now we’re in that fortunate position where we are ten albums in and the next album people are expecting us to do something different which is a great position to be in if you’re any kind of progressive or evolutionary artist. For some band who try to change it can be very difficult if they have made three or four that sound pretty much the same that when they make a big departure people don’t accept it, that’s tough! For us it has been plain sailing because we’ll do our own thing regardless what people want any way. That’s the whole thing about creativity to us, creativity is our own thing and nothing to do with anybody else. The minute we allow anyone’s expectations to come in to what we’re writing then we have already lost the battle. Fuck that right?

Playing acoustic on this tour is really mixing it up and bringing a different level of intensity to the performance isn’t it?

Definitely, intensity is the right word to because this isn’t your average unplugged show. There is a lot of energy and intensity in there and it comes from the sound that we’re doing. Danny basically taps in to the acoustic guitar with a lot of rhythms, physically hitting the guitar, then loops those and add bass lines, riffs and things then I come over the top with more ambient sounds. My guitar is more synth-ie and organ-ie kind of stuff, then we add piano to that plus the three voices. It can end up sounding pretty full like an ambient sounding band and there’s a lot of energy in there.

Do you think some songs lend themselves better to the acoustic than others?

Some songs just sound very different from the original because of the nature of what you’re doing with loops your options are reduced. Then you have to come up with a different way of putting in a rhythm for example. A song like Distant Satellite which is a very intricate electronic beat on the album that’s simplified and the way that works is super cool then you have the four, four rhythm at the end. A song like Thin Air works with just a boom, boom, boom, boom, boom like a four, four banger rhythm and then you loop the bass line over the top of that and add arpeggios over the top of that so it sounds massive in the end. There’s a lot of energy in there and what we do on stage, we’re still the same people as if we’re playing a full electric show. We’re not sitting on stools or expecting people to be quiet and clap their hands. We want people to get in to it the same way we’re getting in to it.

Does that mean that each show is unique in its own right?

Exactly! That’s so right and not only that but each song can sound different as well. The last acoustic show we did there were things we were adding to that which we hadn’t done before and quite a bit of improvisation going on as well. It is really exciting for us as a band to be able to do that kind of thing. We’re well versed in it now and we absolutely love doing it. In some ways there’s less pressure and less work to do compared to the full band. It’s a bit easier, you have to look after yourself a lot more because when you’re playing acoustically you don’t have that huge big band sound to hide behind. So if your voice is a bit weak from partying the night before then it is going to show up. I respect that these days and I’ll always make sure I’ve had enough sleep.

Is there a new album in the works?

That never stops mate! We’re always writing new music and as far as the next album is concerned we’ll probably get together some time after this tour and see what we’ve got as individuals. John, Danny and I do the majority of the writing and I think we’ve got a fair idea of what we’ve got so far already. We’ll get together and see what we can make and see what else we need to write but we’re not going to rush it, we’ll let it happen naturally.

Do you find it hard to unwind once the tour is done?

It used to be when I was a single man and I would basically carry on for a week, I’d be out constantly with mates, going to bands, living the life! Now I have a very happy home life and I really enjoy being home so there’s nowhere else I’d rather be when I get home from tour. I also have my own home studio so I can get to work so it is the absolute best thing in the world for me and where I need to be.

Rob Lyon

Rob Lyon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rob Lyon has been writing about all things music for well over ten years in Adelaide clocking up more live shows each year seeing the best going round.

Whether it is rummaging through vinyl at record stores such as Clarity and Title finding hidden gems to scouring the internet to find that album by the next big thing or chasing bands to get that elusive autograph and photo his passion is music all the way.
Rob Lyon

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