It’s with a great pleasure that Hypnos Webzine presents on its own web-pages an exclusive interview with Duncan Patterson. Many of you still remember him for its incredibile work with Anathema, but Duncan has gone further with this experience, creating little music jewels under the name of Antimatter or Ion. In this interview, obtained with the collaboration of Francesco from My Kingdom Music, we have spoken about the forecoming release of his new project called Alternative 4, without forgetting to remember its glorious and famous past in Anathema. So, let’s listen to the words of Duncan…
Hi Duncan! Thank you very much for this interview with our little webzine! Well, just for breaking the ice, how do you do? What are you doing in this period?
Duncan Patterson: Hello there. I’ve finally got the songs for the new Alternative 4 album off to be mastered, plus the artwork etc. so I have a few things to keep my eye on. Other than that I am training hard in the gym every other day. I recently got back into martial arts.
Two years have just passed since the formation of your new project called Alternative 4, and the release of “The Brink”, what has been the general response from critics and fans? What are your feelings about this work made during the last two years?
Duncan Patterson: Unfortunately, the promotion for “The Brink” was dire so not so many people know about it. At the same time though it has received some great reviews and there are a small group of people that understand my music and own everything that I release. I’ve had some positive feedback from them too.
Always speaking about this new project, why did you chose Alternative 4 as the name of the band, well knowing that it recalls back in this way your past history in Anathema?
Duncan Patterson: I needed a name for my new band, and Alternative 4 kept coming back to me. It fits perfectly both musically, conceptually, and also the irony is perfect considering the subject matter. It just requires a bit of thought. The original title was my creation, not ‘Anathemas’ as such. Though I have been criticised for using the title by clueless Anathema fanatics.
Alternative 4 are a three pieces band, with Mark Kelson and Mauro Frison. How did you find these band-mates and how they integrate themselves in the musics that you compose? A curiosity but your drummer Mauro is Italian, because his name seems to be Italian!
Duncan Patterson: Mark Kelson is not in the band anymore. He’s been gone since last year. I brought in a second vocalist for the recording sessions of our second album “The Obscurants”. I always wanted two voices in the band, and I was writing this album with two voices in mind. So a guy called Simon Flatley hooked up with us in the studio and did a great job. Mark wasn’t comfortable with this, and it was visibly obvious and created a very difficult atmosphere in the studio. It was best for both of us that Mark left the band, so Simon ended up singing most of the parts on the album, with Georgina Rios providing harmonies and backing vocals as she did on “The Brink”. Mauro and Simon contribute their own styles to the music, and Simon has brought quite a lot in a short space of time. Hopefully for the next album we can work together more before we head into the studio, and bounce ideas off each other. Mauro is actually from La Plata, near Buenos Aires, Argentina. I met him there in 2010 when I played two concerts. Mauro played drums for me then and he was the first person I invited to be part of Alternative 4.
Listening to “The Brink” there is a vague obscure feeling that creates a sort of direct connection to the Anathema’s album. what are, according to your opinion, the resemblances and the difference between the two records? What is the track that frames the album in the best way?
Duncan Patterson: I guess the resemblances are me being the main songwriter, so theres always going to be a connection and continuation as I have my own style of writing. I’d say “Still Waters” is the most complete and representative song on the album. It bears all the hallmarks of what I am trying to do with this project.
You are almost ready to release the new Alternative 4 record, that it will be titled “The obscurants”. How do you describe it?
Duncan Patterson: Musically, and conceptually, it is a natural progression from “The Brink”. Lyrically it deals with the abuse of power, as in “The Brink”, only this is more about cover-ups and hidden agendas, hence the title. I think its a lot more mature than “The Brink” production-wise, and the choice of sounds and instrumentation. Plus Simon is well in tune with the lyrical content, and it makes a huge difference when the person singing the songs know what they are about.
Who are “the obscurants” quoted in the title of the record? In your blog you have written that the lyrics are quite prophetic, What do you mean with this sentence?
Duncan Patterson: The title covers various subjects, not just one person in particular. Governments, record labels, the mainstream media, police corruption, even lowlife computer hackers. I’m documenting things that I witness, and have witnessed. I’m very careful when writing lyrics, because I believe in the power of words especially when you mean them. Everything that I have written about has come true in one way or another, even when I’m usually writing about the past. Documenting things is a different kind of energy, and hopefully it will help the process of justice and karma.
Always quoting your blog, before Christmas you have posted that you are going to work on a releases made of Anathema songs, re-arranged in an orchestral way , for celebrating the mark of 20 years since the release of your first Anathema’s album, “Pentecost III”. This is a very interesting preview! Can you reveal us in advance something else?
Duncan Patterson: Firstly I must point out that it is not a project made entirely of Anathema songs. It will span my entire discography. I have written a lot more music outside of the Anathema moniker. I’ve managed to group the songs into three separate releases, so it will be a trilogy of albums. The first will be “The Eternity Suite” which will have arrangements of the “Eternity” parts, “Destiny”, “Going Nowhere”, “Silent Approval” and all things related. Plus a brand new piece called “Into Infinity”.
In this new record, you will record also the missing parts of “Eternity”? I can honestly say that I have jumped off my chair when i have read it. Why these pieces of music were been not recorded?
Duncan Patterson: They didn’t actually exist. I chose the title “Eternity” part 24 to annoy and confuse disapproving Anathema fanatics. I do, however, have pieces of music that fit into the “Eternity” theme and they will make up the ‘missing’ parts.
What do you remember of your initial period in Anathema and what is the best release that you made with them?
Duncan Patterson: I think Alternative 4 is the stand out album, not just because of the songwriting, but because its very clear and straight to the point. Eternity was a very messy recording, The Silent Enigma lyrics were pretty much written the night before the recording. Helped out by two good friends of mine, we pieced most of it together. So as a complete piece it isn’t the most meaningful thing. We got away with that one really. For songwriting I would probably put “Eternity part III” above everything I did with Anathema, we just didn’t record it very well. People go on and on about “Lost Control”, but “Eternity part III” blows it out of the water completely.
I can ask you if you are still in touch with the Cavanagh brothers? Have you ever have an occasion to come back in Anathema, even also for a single live gig?
Duncan Patterson: Yes, they are old friends of mine so of course I am in touch. I’ve played live with them quite a few times during the past 16 years. I never considered rejoining the band, even though it was mentioned to be a few times around 2001-ish. But it wouldn’t have worked for either of us, and especially now we are doing completely different things. They have got a big management deal, and are playing the game in that respect. Touring constantly and getting in with the right names. Something that is not part of my ethics at all, but good luck to them. Danny always had more ‘mainstream’ goals, whereas I always had contempt for that side of things. I’m far too punk for all that. At the end of the day, surely this is about music and the pair of us haven’t stopped making music in the past 16 years. Im sure Danny would have the same questions over and over if he wasn’t using the name Anathema anymore.
I’m a huge fan of your Ion’s releases. Can I expect something new from this project?
Duncan Patterson: Yes I will record another album when the time is right. I’ve been very busy with other things since the release of “Immaculada”. For all the hard work and energy I put into that album, plus it turned out really good, the record label did zero work to promote it. Plus half of the band I gathered together to play live decided to go off and play in Antimatter, so that just zapped my energy.
Ok Duncan, there was the last question of this interview. Thanks again for your availability, I hope to see you in Rome for a live soon or later. Feel free to close the interview in the wat that you prefer!