Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Interview with Anterior

Contributing writer Bobby Weaver chats with Leon Kemp and Luke Davies of Anterior, discussing their latest release, what makes them tick and how they relate to one another, what it's like being on Metal Blade Records, their future plans, and more.

Bobby Weaver: Hey guys, thanks for taking time to talk with me! You have Echoes of the Fallen ready to drop.  What major differences, musically, can we expect from your 2007 release This Age of Silence?
Leon Kemp: Just a more mature sound, really. The new album is in a similar vein to This Age Of Silence. We've still kept all our tricks; just improved on them. We paid more attention to trying to write memorable songs that have hooks and that would make people want to listen to that song over and over. So, yeah, no dramatic change in style, just a much improved production, a greater maturity in songwriting, and a few more Thrash elements, I suppose.

BW: Anterior worked with producer Scott Atkins at Grindstone Studios. How was the relationship with Scott and how was the atmosphere at the studio during recording?
LK: We got on great with Scott right from the first day. He's such an easy guy to get on with and he shared our vision for what we were trying to create, so it was very easy to progress. There were a lot of ups and downs, like in any studio, really. There were times when everything was going great, then there were days when we were struggling to get things right or a section of a song just wasn't working and had to be re-written. Those were the tough days, and the morale monster paid many a visit to Grindstone Studios. But we pulled together and got through it all, all for the better of the record.
Luke Davies: Yeah, Scott can be quite the taskmaster when he wants to be, and you really need to have a guy like that with you when you’re making a record. He squeezes every last bit of effort out of everyone. Like Leon said, there were some times when you feel incredibly down because a certain section is just not going well, and it can be hard to motivate yourself because you’re completely broken. Scott has such a good ability to bring you through times like that, kicking and screaming if need be.

BW: On This Age of Silence, you had Tim Hamill produce, record, and mix, as well as yourselves.  Was it different working with a new producer, and did you have as much input as you did previously?
LK: When we recorded This Age of Silence, we basically just went into the studio and tracked the songs exactly as the demos were. This time around, Scott brought a hell of a lot of stuff to the songs himself. We re-wrote riffs, doubled choruses, changed drum patterns, changed lyrics, vocal patterns. You name it, Scott had a hand in it. And it was really good for Anterior to have that 6th member for the duration of the album and I think we all learnt quite a bit while recording this album. The decision still lies with the band, but you really need to try and be open-minded when you're working with someone like Scott who has tons of experience in Metal. He'd throw his opinion into the pile and we'd usually work on it and come out with something that we were all much happier with than before and he definitely helped us squeeze that extra 5% out of every song. I really look forward to working with him again.
LD: I think we were a lot more willing to have someone actually have a hand in the record this time around. We were quite protective last time, but when you look at Scott's discography, it's easy to allow yourself to let his ideas and opinions have a more major effect in how your song is shaped. I firmly believe that this record wouldn't have been as good if we had gone to anyone else.

BW: When you attended Sonisphere Festival, wereyou excited about that?  What bands were you looking forward to seeing yourselves?
LK: Sonisphere was actually in July in the UK, and it was awesome. We had a lot of fans coming to check us out, even though we were up against Limp Bizkit, and it was a great show. There were a lot of great bands playing. It was difficult to try and catch everybody you wanted to see, especially with all the press and drinking to be done. But I managed to catch Metallica, Arch Enemy, In Flames, and Sylosis; pretty much the main ones I wanted to see.
LD: I was really looking forward to seeing the recently re-formed One Minute Silence but they pulled out of the festival last minute. Devastating.

BW: I love the sound that you achieved on This Age of Silence.  In fact, I am breaking windows in my house to it right now! What are the key elements of achieving the “Anterior” sound?
LK: The guitars probably play a big part in our signature sound. So all the solos and melodies are key. Plus, it's still gotta be heavy, so you need a big drum sound and some big-ass bass. And it wouldn't sound like Anterior without Luke, so then some well-written vocal patterns, and you've got a great Anterior song. If only it was as simple as that, hey Luke?
LD: Yeah, I fucking wish! ::laughs:: There have been so many times where we've had a breakdown or argued whilst trying to make a song work, although the Anterior sound has never been contrived; it's just been whatever sounded the best when we were writing and arranging the songs. I guess it's just down to the people who are involved in the making of the album that give it that stamp of individuality.

BW: For our readers out there that are just becoming aware of Anterior, what would you say your songs convey lyrically?
LD: There are a lot of different themes and critiques in the new record; a real wide range of topics crop up. We delved into inward reflection a little on this record. I'm always thinking, in years to come, what am I going to be feeling when I look back on my life? Will I feel that I've done everything that I wanted to do? Been as good a person as I could have been? That's why we used the Santa Muerte figure on the artwork. We liked the way that some Mexican cultures use it as a reminder of their own mortality. I think that's quite a good way to live your life: aware that your time on the planet is short, so be the best you can be and also be the nicest you can be. But there are a few criticisms raised, without trying to be a contrarian. For example, the song “The Evangelist” is a response to the Televangelists and general petty conmen and women who peddle their “hope and salvation” for a price. Those people make me sick, and it's such a joke that they are still doing this shit; it's a disgrace to humanity.

BW: Anterior was formed back in 2003 by a group of friends. Did you think that you would achieve international recognition? Also, how has the ride been since the early days in the garage?
LK: I always believed that if I worked hard enough, we could "make it." I think everyone else had a belief about themselves too. It was pretty evident from early on that we had something special going on. I think a lot of our success has to be attributed to the amount of time we spent rehearsing. We pretty much rehearsed five days a week, just jamming on covers and writing our own songs. We loved it so much that we couldn't get enough of it. We also stuck to our guns, too. We never wrote music for what was the trend at the time. We always just played whatever we wanted to play, and I think we really stood out as a band because of that. So far, the ride has been long and tough; lots of line-up changes, a few van fires, broken bones and alcohol-fuelled madness, but we're on the up now and things are only getting better.

BW: What were your early influences, and what new bands are you listening to at the moment?
LK: We were all pretty similar in our early influences. Metallica played a huge part, especially for me. Iron Maiden are probably another major and noticeable influence if you listen to Anterior. There were heavier influences, too, like In Flames, Children of Bodom, Arch Enemy. I think these are the main ones that you can hear in Anterior, that really have shaped our sound. I'm actually really into Journey at the moment, great band. Sylosis are a pretty cool new band.
LD: Yeah, we are all Metallica fans. We used to cover “Creeping Death” back in the day, what a song!

BW: Do you guys play pranks on each other while touring, and if so, will you share a few of the “good ones”?
LK: Yeah, you gotta, really. The hot sauce prank has been coming out quite a lot recently. Dave’s Insanity Ghost sauce, it's pretty devastating. I remember Luke ending up with some in his eye last time around. Probably not so funny for you, Luke?
LD: That shit really stings, it's brutal. We're always taking the piss out of each other. It's more verbal than anything else. I remember Steve getting some of that hot sauce in his eye at some point, too. I thought he was going to have a heart attack. ::laughs::

BW: Brian Slagel has always been known for his support of Underground/Indy Metal. What is it like working with Metal Blade Records?
LK: They're cool, very supportive of us. We've had some rough times between our two album releases and they've always stood by us and for that I've got a lot of respect for them.
LD: Yeah, they don't put any pressure on us, they just let us do our own thing. It was quite intimidating signing with Metal Blade at the beginning, with all those top bands to compete with, like Unearth, The Black Dahlia Murder and As I Lay Dying, but they’re really supportive of us, even though we're not as big as their top runners.

BW: Thanks again for taking the time out of your schedule to talk with us. Is there anything else that you would like to add as far as personal appearances, autograph signings, etc.?
LK: Just make sure you guys check out Echoes of the Fallen, out in September in the U.S. And hopefully catch you guys soon.
LD: Yeah, pick the album up, it's going to scull fuck you. Hope to get over to the States in the new year. Much love!

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