Blackened grind terrorists Anaal Nathrakh enjoyed a triumphant return to Hellfest 2012 this year. OneMetal’s Jack Traveller caught up with vocalist Dave Hunt and guitarist Mick Kenney prior to their set:
OneMetalSo, is this your first time playing Hellfest?
DaveThe second, the first gig we ever did in France was Hellfest. Four years ago in 2008.
OneMetalAre you here for the whole weekend or is it just a flying visit?
DaveWe’ve been here the whole time. Got here Thursday night, and we’re heading back tomorrow. I had to play with Benediction on Friday, so we all just travelled down together.
OneMetalHave you seen any bands then? Who were your highlights?
MickKing Diamond, obviously. The only reason, well; not the only reason, but the main reason we wanted to stay the whole weekend was to see King Diamond, ‘cos he’s obviously the best.
OneMetalHe is The King.
DaveIt was a nice juxtaposition with Megadeth’s set as well, because you know how Mustaine won’t keep his mouth shut nowadays, going on about gays and God and all this crap? The band who played above him, given that he’s got a massive ego, not only were they above him on the bill, right next to him, right afterwards, great big Baphomet backdrop, upside down crosses? Nice. Enjoyed that part.
DaveYeah, kind of. I was trying to arrange for two blokes to just happen to be bumming as Dave walked past “Oh, hi Dave”
OneMetal“Oh, we didn’t know you were here”
DaveYeah, exactly, “You want to join in Dave?”
OneMetalSo tell me about Passion then, where did the name come from?
DaveOriginally it came from a Nietzsche thing that I can’t actually find anymore, so I can’t actually tell where to find it, but it stems from the idea that passion is actually a harsh thing. The word originally meant something much less to do with romance and flowers and nice shoes and everything than it does nowadays; it burns, passion does, and I liked that notion, the idea of an experience, if it’s an experience of passion, it’s almost a torment to be subject to it, after the experience you can only think about that thing. I know it seems an odd choice, but if you look at the word in that light it’s kind of appropriate to the way Nathrakh do things.
OneMetalSo, how do you plan to follow up the record, are you in the process of writing new material?
DaveNope, we’ve done it.
MickWe recorded it in October and just recently finished it. It’s been re mastered about a million times, but it’s finished now.
DaveThe thing is, when an album comes out, I suppose it’s easy for people who aren’t making albums to assume that you finish it and a week later it comes out, but it’s not like that. We recorded Passion ages ago. I know it was only released in July, but we finished it around the start of the year, definitely more than a year ago now.
OneMetalSo what’s your writing process? Does Mick bring music to Dave and say ‘this is what I’ve written’ and then Dave writes the lyrics or does Dave have lyrical ideas and says to Mick ‘here’s what I’ve written, make something to fit it’?
MickWe usually have a general idea of what we’re doing to begin with. We have certain ideas, like Dave might say ‘let’s put this bit here’, or ‘let’s do something like this’, but they’re not really ideas for fully conceived songs, y’know?
DaveIt might be the idea of a sound or an atmosphere, but then, Mick just writes music and I just write lyrics, we don’t do them to fit together particularly, and then we get together in the studio, and Mick’s got a load of songs and I just make my stuff fit.
OneMetalYou arrange it as you go?
DaveYeah, kind of. I think it’s better that way, because it’s more spur of the moment.
OneMetalSo, lyrically you have this whole grindcore sensibility. You’ve spoken in the past about human nature being a source of negativity on the planet. Can you tell me a bit about what your current lyrical inspirations as far as that goes; is it something you still draw on for inspiration?
DaveWell, yeah. Because it’s the kind of thing that… Im trying to think of a good analogy to explain it. Imagine football. People didn’t just play football in 1904, and then knock it on the head. They found new things in it and it progressed in many ways. It’s like that with the lyrics. In brute terms they’re about the same stuff, but via loads of completely different ideas. I’ve been studying a lot of stuff I’d never even heard of before, so it’s a continually reinvented version of that general idea. Does that make sense?
OneMetalIt does. So, that’s as far as lyrics go, what about music? Where are your influences taking you and where do you see the Nathrakh sound going in future?
MickI have no idea. We’re pretty much an on the spot kind of band, really. We don’t think about it too much; we don’t even pay attention to what we’ve been listening to really. It comes to the time to write some music and well, I always feel like I write the same, but it just sounds different; well, I feel like it’s the same. I don’t think ‘Oh, I want to write some music that sounds like a new style of music’ or anything. You do take influences from different things you hear but it’s not…
DaveIt’s very subconscious.
MickYeah. Strangely enough I listen to less extreme metal and more electronic music. But we don’t sound like that, y’know?
OneMetalQuite. Just because you’re absorbing the influence, it doesn’t necessarily mean your next album’s going to come out exactly like that, right?
MickExactly. Most of the stuff that influenced me to write music is stuff that I listened to as a teenager, and it still does, really, when it comes down to writing music. I feel like I’ve been doing it long enough now that, I kind of have my own style, you know, you get comfortable.
DaveIt’s more production stuff now. Tracking what’s going on a lot more closely. Everything’s got to sound better than the last thing, because everyone’s always getting better at doing that.
OneMetalNope, I’ve got one more for you. We’re at a festival. Do you find festival crowds differ from crowds at your regular gigs. Do you have to work a bit harder to win over people who are just walking past, rather than people who’ve come specifically to see you?
DaveIt’s an odd thing. You would think that if you’re doing your own headline show that everyone’s come directly to see you, and that provokes a certain… readiness to react. But at a festival, everyone’s there to have fun and watch bands, and while obviously in many cases, they’re there to see their favourite bands, but there’s a current in it that they don’t really care who they’re watching, as long as it sounds good. So their reaction ends up pretty much the same, but for different reasons. Festivals tend to be fine, even though people are probably more here to see say, Ozzy and Guns n’ Roses more than they are to see us; those people standing there are still up for it.
MickThe only thing that isn’t as good is that there’s no crowd invasions, stage diving and things like that. Although the trade off is that you get an audience of thousands.
OneMetalNot every show can be a grind gig in a basement.
DaveTo be honest I think I’d rather play those shows more. I mean, festivals are cool, but I like it when there’s stage divers everywhere and general chaos that you can’t have at festivals, though festivals are good in their own right for their own reasons.
OneMetalAlright, well. That’s all I’ve got for you gentlemen, it’s been a pleasure.
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