Vincent Cavanagh (Lead vocals, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar) of Anathema
It’s not long since British ANATHEMA finally returned to the world with a new album, called ‘We’re Here Because We’re Here’. In light of that new release we felt the time was right to send over a few question about things revolving around the new disc, which Vincent Cavanagh kindly answered.
Reflections of Darkness (RoD): It's been quite a while since your last full-length length release, not including 'Hindsight', even though it's a beautiful release. What have you been up to?
Vincent: Touring, Touring, Touring! Slowly acquiring more studio equipment. Working towards our autonomy. Putting out two albums. Putting out two DVD’s. Finding management we can finally trust. Watching the music industry implode then start to rebuild itself. Gaining control over our destiny. Undergoing a sea change in our personal evolution. Pulling further away from our former lives. Getting closer to the truth within us. Writing, Writing, Writing! Questioning everything. Letting it be. Falling on and off the wagon, finding a happy medium. Having valiant but ultimately vain attempts at getting healthy. Breaking parts of our anatomy. Breaking up and falling in love. John had a daughter. Experiencing life & death. Looking through telescopes, looking through microscopes. Travelling, sitting perfectly still. Living in cities, escaping to nature. Breathing mostly… lots of breathing.
RoD: The new album's title is 'We're Here Because We're Here', simple yet a bit cryptic. What's the reason you chose this title and is there a background story that led to its creation?
Vincent: It is a celebration of life in defiance of death, of triumph over adversity. Of brotherhood, sisterhood, of solidarity. It is a rallying-call. “Come on dear friends, to the barricades again! “ Ultimately it is about us. The members of this band. The brothers and sister that have stayed true to each other for all of our lives, for good or ill. It also has existential allegories towards chance and consequence. If it were not for one split decision made by my parents when I was a small child concerning my future, then I would never have met John and I almost certainly wouldn't be talking to you now. The sentence "We're here because we're here" was first heard in a song. To the tune of 'Auld Lang Syne' (the Old English New Years song) drifting through the mists that blanketed the Allied trenches of World War One.
RoD: The cover depicts a person standing in bright sunlight and it looks like he’s standing on water, but it's not water isn't it?
Vincent: No it's not. In actual fact he isn't standing on anything. He isn't there. The landscape is in his imagination. It's what he needed as a visual manifestation of his inner landscape.
RoD: How closely is that image on the cover tied to the intention and the songs on the album?
Vincent: The image and the music are both integral to each other. They are two sides of the looking glass, one musical, and one visual.
RoD: Who's been creating the artwork for 'We're Here Because We're Here'?
Vincent: Jamie took the original photograph, I did the rest. All the images on the album were done in this way. Each image was taken in our place of birth, Liverpool. Each place holds vivid personal and historical significance for us.
RoD: While listening through the album for the first time I felt there's a distinct sense of hope in many of the songs. I mean, there's lots of melancholy in it, but it feels as though someone's gone through some kind of soul catharsis.
Vincent: I'm glad there's no question there, as it allows me to just say, do you think so, yes? For me to elaborate I may have to unearth things that are probably better left buried. At least held from public view! We are always deeply honest in our expression, so if it seems there is some transformation in there then I guess there must have been. I just prefer not to live my personal life in public. People can easily pick up one of those magazines with the inane titles of 'Hello' etc. and read about some nothing pretend celebrity for that kind of stuff. So if you don't mind I will steer back to shore at this point.
RoD: The opening song of the album is 'Thin Air'. Why did you choose that one to be the first one for everyone to hear on the album?
Vincent: It was obvious from the moment we first played it. Thin Air was always going to be track one. Just listen to that first riff. Its tempo, its openness, its slow build. We take a lot of care composing the track listing to get the right flow. For this one we knew very early on that it had to start with 'Thin Air', 'Summernight Horizon' and 'Dreaming Light'. Then the last two would be 'Universal' and 'Hindsight'. For the rest it was finding the right balance of songs, moods, keys, tempos, all kinds of variables.
RoD: 'Dreaming Light' stirred up many emotions and almost made me cry. Maybe you won't tell me anyway but I'm interested to know something more about the way that eventually led you to the song.
Vincent: Hmm. I can't tell you the direct meaning behind the lyrics as that is again too personal. Besides, I always prefer the listener to make their own connections. In this was the song can be yours. Not just a re-imagining of what we intended. I can tell you that the music itself, the piano chords were written in one night, and had the same effect on the writer as you mentioned. The writer in this particular case being Danny!
RoD: 'Angels Walk Among Us' and 'Presence' seem like being tied together, apart from the smooth transition from one into the other. What is it that's connecting these two songs particularly?
Vincent: The questions raised in 'Angels Walk Among Us' are confronted in 'Presence'. One was written to follow the other. Even though the music and lyrics are connected, 'Presence' grew into its own entity in the studio, and deserved its name on the track listing.
RoD: You'll be doing some shows, coinciding with the release of the new album. Is there something special that you've planned?
Vincent: We're playing three club gigs in Germany in the middle of June, but then it's festival season, so we're gonna take time to prepare a full show for our European tour which starts late September. I guess we'll be in Germany again at the beginning of October. The way it's looking we're gonna split the tour into two parts. Do Northern territories first, then have a couple of weeks off, then do Central/Southern Europe.
RoD: Is there anything else, you'd like to add?
Vincent: I'd like to say thank you for your insight and for the thoughtful, intelligent questions and observations. I'm looking forward to playing in Germany and meeting everyone out there again. Take care.
RoD: Then we've reached the end. Thank you for your time to answer the questions and thanks for sharing a wonderful record with the world.
Vincent: You're welcome. It's yours now. We're already onto the next one.