The first impression is deceptive: At first, an anathema's current release "Distant Satellites" seems like a continuation of the celebrated, commercially successful predecessor "Weather Systems". After all, the band also recorded the record with Norwegian producer Christer-André Cederberg in his Oslo studio, Steven Wilson mixed two songs again, and Dave Stewart is again responsible for the wonderful orchestral arrangements. Everything's the same, so it seems. And yet, the more often you hear "Distant Satellites", the more new musical territory opens up. Experimental synthetic sounds form the basis of Anathema's songs like never before, driving beats determine the atmosphere. Singer/guitarist/keyboarder Vincent Cavanagh is pleased that the public is also aware of this.
With his formation, the 40-year-old Liverpooler is once again on the lookout for new creative challenges. "A lot has happened in recent years", says the rather introverted, thoughtful musician, "most of it has been positive for us. Which is probably because we didn't let the outside world influence our decisions. As flat as esoteric as that may sound, we have always listened to our inner voices. That's the only truth! And on the one hand we let ourselves be intoxicated by music and dedicated ourselves intensively to it. On the other hand, we consciously avoided her on not a few days. Music has a powerful energy when you face it. You have to be careful not to completely surrender to her. For the creator who wants to create something new, something orgiastic, must also know times in which he closes himself off from this devouring energy, if he does not want to be eaten up."
You can tell from sentences like that: A conversation with Vincent Cavanagh is exhausting. Extremely spiritual. And incredibly exciting.
eclipsed: Is Distant Satellites some kind of Weather Systems Part 2 to you?
Vincent Cavanagh: No, a direct musical successor of "Weather Systems" is definitely not "Distant Satellites", we are anything but a calculating or calculable band. We never make it easy for ourselves when we approach a production. Instead, we try to constantly evolve, no matter how commercially successful a record may have been before. This time, however, we experimented and improvised a lot, while the predecessor had a clear structure. The songs were finished, we just recorded them. There was almost no place for trips into strange worlds. This time, on the other hand, we sat down in a spaceship without a target and just went off. (laughs) Above all, we are very proud of the use of two drummers who give the whole thing a special groove.
eclipsed: Where does all the melancholy that weighs on most of your songs come from?
Cavanagh: That's because we're very brooding, melancholic people. The members of this group have gone through very many dark phases in their lives, we will not deny that. Now we're pretty much through it. We search more and more for light, for pure beauty. This search goes hand in hand with an existential sadness. Under these circumstances, our plays are created. What is interesting about the current production is that you won't find the words "you" and "love" in the lyrics a single time. So it is not a question of interpersonal relationships at all, it is always about something all-embracing. Pretty high off the ground, huh? (laughs)
eclipsed: Is there a lyrical concept behind the lyrics?
Cavanagh: We work with imaginary colours in poetry, so imagine which nuance could fit which content. That's actually as tricky as it sounds. (laughs) We try to work very focused, even philosophically. We like to make it harder than it has to be. When composing, the external circumstances also play a role: "Distant Satellites" was recorded in Oslo in December and January in consistently dreadful weather. We hung around in the studio all the time because it wasn't very tempting to go outside in this constant rain and snow. For the creativity and intensity of the production, however, this circumstance was wonderful. We concentrated completely on the work!