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Interviews : “Another proper bite at the cherry” – Interview with Dave Hunt (Anaal Nathrakh)

By on March 8, 2019

Anaal Nathrakh is hitting Australia’s shores over this weekend, supporting their album A New Kind of Horror. I caught up with Dave Hunt to chat about the album, the tour and what makes Anaal Nathrakh tick.

We began by discussing his favourite things about their tenth and most recent album: “Partly the fact that it’s apparently our tenth album! That’s the kind of thing we didn’t know about. If we didn’t do interviews where people told us that kind of stuff, we wouldn’t have known that. So, it was kind of fun to think that it was our tenth album and, yeah, we’ve been going for like 20 years or something; kinda fun, also horrifically distressing [laughs]… Our perspective on that kind of thing is always a little bit different than someone who is a recipient of the work, you know, as a listener. Obviously when we hear an album we hear certain creative choice, or we hear something that sets off a memory of when we recorded it and that kind of thing. For me, yeah, I think it was the recording process itself was probably the best thing about it, the most special thing… For this one, this was the first time we were able to use Mick’s [Kennedy, Guitars etc.] proper studio over in California… I flew over there and stayed at his friend’s house and met a load of Mick’s American friends who I’d otherwise never have met including some quite special guys. The bottom line is, it’s kinda cool to be able to do that kind of thing… I don’t feel entitled to it, but it was a cool thing to be able to do. And I did my best to really focus and really tighten the album, which is something you can’t always do depending on the conditions you’re recording in and yeah, this really allowed us to zoom right in on it so hopefully, artistically speaking, it was productive as well, but it was all a superb process.

We then turned to the songwriting process. Anaal Nathrakh are known for the disparate influences that they combine into their music and Hunt was happy to elaborate on their process of transforming these influences into a coherent song. “I think the easiest answer to that is probably ‘instinctively’. We are pretty-open minded and listen to a lot of different stuff ourselves we don’t put limits or rules on what we can do, in Anaal Nathrakh particularly. We’re not going to release a Pink Floyd song or album or something like that, but within stuff that has that kind of atmosphere we use whatever tools we find at our disposal. We tend to have a sort of incremental approach, we build things one bit at a time and I like to be guided as to what the next thing – the next layer or whatever – be guided by what feels right given the context we’ve established thus far… we keep polishing the facets on a dime, so to speak, until you just get the feeling that now, that’s got everything it needs, that’s where it needs to be, that’s got a lot of feel to it and that’s when you know to stop, but until then you just go with what feels right.” Hunt also elaborated on the variety of vocal styles: “It’s kind of the same thing as I was saying about the music, there was never really the intention to do specific things vocally. I do like to try, if possible, on a new album, to have a new sound in there somewhere just to be a bit of a personal challenge, a little thing for me and Mick to make. It’s sort of matter of just responding instinctively to the music; when we’re doing the vocals and putting it together I don’t go in with a plan like ‘this song is going to have four vocal styles it’s going to be this, if there’s a chorus on the song’, I don’t do that with the songs. Sometimes it’s bit-by-bit, riff-by-riff even and just getting a feel and then going ‘Yeah, OK, what’s the best way, that I can come up with, to react to that that captures the same atmosphere and feels the right way to have vocals go with that piece of music’ and reacting in that sort of immediate, quite instinctual level, I think, makes it all make sense a bit more to the listener. Even though there’s disparate parts, I think it helps make it feel ‘right’ because that was the way that it was generated, to feel that in the first place.”

With all these vocal styles used in the band, I was curious how Hunt had honed his technique and how he cared for his voice on tour. “Again, very direct answer is I didn’t, and I don’t [laughs]. Technically speaking, I’m bloody awful, I don’t do things the way you’re supposed to do because I never learned how to do things properly. Which can make touring a bit of struggle, but you just have to take the best care of yourself you can and on tour sometimes it’s frustrating because you’ve gotta remember you’ve got another show on the next day. After a gig, you wanna stay out until six in the morning and have the best time of your life, but if you’re lucky enough to have those opportunities that do crop up, you’ve got to try and have a bit of discipline about it, in terms of doing stuff you’re not doing and maybe stopping doing some stuff.”

Turning to the tour, we discussed Hunt’s prior experience with Australian metal. “Basically, [I don’t know] that much, actually. There are obvious things like Sadistik Exekution and in the very distant past, I had an album called Scrolls of the Megilloth [Mortification]. Those guys had a black metal side project called Horde, I think, and I listened to a bit of that. But in terms of anything more recent than that kind of thing, to be honest I haven’t really got that much idea what’s come out of England or Sweden before even Australia! So yeah, it’s a bit of an unknown quantity.” Returning to Australia is something the band have been looking forward to: “We visited once and have done one show in Australia before, which is a pretty weird thing to do to go all that way for just one show, but yeah we played a show at the Dark Mofo festival in Hobart in Tasmania… So that one time, it was a bit of a shame to only be able to experience that one place but nonetheless, it’s cool, we were happy to do it. But now this kind of feels, it’s not unfinished business or part two or something like that because we wouldn’t presume to arrogantly say ‘yeah we’re going to go back’ or anything like that, but it feels like, we have the privilege of another proper bite at the cherry, put it that way. It’s definitely very cool to be heading back and to see things a bit more organically, you know, play some club shows or some proper extreme metal shows and see what’s going on on the mainland. We’re really looking forward to it… the fact that people want to come and see us is still something, even after all this time… we’re not naive, we’re aware we’ve done a thing or two over the years and you know we’ve got to a certain stage, but at the same time, it’s still a really humbling experience that we’re really gratified by. So, we’re really just looking forward to it, getting on and doing it”

Catch Anaal Nathrakh on their remaining Australian tour dates this week in Melbourne and Brisbane. Tickets on sale via Brimstone Bookings.

March 8th
Max Watt’s, Melbourne
w/ Hybrid Nightmares, Hadal Maw & Suldusk
Tickets

March 9th
Crowbar, Brisbane
w/ Hybrid Nightmares, Kaerulean & Consumed
Tickets

About

Ben is a metalhead originally from Sydney, who has now moved to Hobart to pursue a PhD in Australian extreme metal. When not studying, writing about or playing metal, he can be found playing video games, browsing Reddit, knitting, fending off his cat or helping out at his local church.