V.I.T.R.I.O.L. Of Anaal Nathrakh Discusses His Passions
One of the longest-running and intense bands out there, Anaal Nathrakh from the U.K. has released another little demon to the world (reviewed here). The two-piece, consisting of Irrumator and V.I.T.R.I.O.L., has remained somewhat mysterious throughout the years; playing only a few live shows, some festivals, and leaving it up the listener to decipher the lyrics. I had the opportunity to talk at length with vocalist V.I.T.R.I.O.L. about the new album "Passion," collaborators, and the theory of music in general.
Buick Mckane: Your latest album “Passion” will be coming out next month. What is the name about? What is the passion behind the music?
V.I.T.R.I.O.L.: I tend to, like…not so much play-on-words, but put interesting ways of using words. And passion nowadays tends to exist in a very shallow way, the way people tend to use the word. And so it’s buying a bunch of flowers for a girl, its being on the sideline every weekend to support your team, and things like that. But the word itself has a much richer origin. It’s originally Greek and the Greek word comes from “meant to suffer.” But you get things like Passion of the Christ. I mean, you’ve heard of that, have you?
V.I.T.R.I.O.L.: That sort of bit, it’s a discouraging sort of thing because to me, it’s not to do with really nice feelings. It’s to do with really intense feelings, and sometimes those can burn you as much as anything else that’ll do it for you. So I thought that was a nice sort of twist to put on the album by giving it that part. Plus it was a really direct title; none of this long-winded stuff. You just get what it is straight away.
Buick: That’s really interesting. Like when people say, “I’m so passionate about shoes.” You just want to slap them.
V.I.T.R.I.O.L.: Yeah, exactly. Actually that’s what I’m saying; there’s a lot more depth to it than something vacuous and ephemeral as fashion. I suppose if you’re the world’s greatest show designer, you might be passionate about shoes, but, yeah, I think you get the point.
Buick: Yeah, they get off the hook, about five people in the world.
V.I.T.R.I.O.L.: Yeah, that’s about it. It’s a short list.
Buick: Right. You also had a digipack of songs from some early demos you had called “Total Fucking Necro” released. Do you think you’re sound has changed since then?
V.I.T.R.I.O.L.: It’s kind of weird, really, because yes, it has changed in some ways. I mean we sound a lot better nowadays because we know how to produce things and the music has evolved over time a lot. But to us it doesn’t sound as much different as you might think because we still think about it in the same way as we did even though it’s ten years old and even the things off of “Total Fucking Necro.” But we still think, broadly speaking, in the same way. We just sort of have different weapons in our arsenal, you might say. We have a different kind of paint on our pallet. But the underlying idea of something that’s really intenseand just not nice. Music doesn’t want to be your friend. It’s pretty much the same to us. It’s a weirdly different, yet not that different sort of sound for us when we listen back to the old stuff, if that makes sense to anyone else.
Buick: And I know that yall don’t tour too much and the summer festivals are coming up so what are your plans for live shows after the album is released?
V.I.T.R.I.O.L.: Well at the moment, we’re just putting the finishing touches on some dates around Europe. So we’re doing, probably about halfway through May, we’re going around the U.K. a little and then we’re going out into mainland Europe. And then after that, aside from one or two one-off shows, that’s most of what we got planned so far. I mean, it’s an interesting prospect to do more. And, you know, for instance, we were over in the States in the state of California, and it’d be nice to get back to the states if we can. At the moment, there’s no concrete plans to do anymore than that, so we’ll see what happens. We haven’t said no to doing anymore, but we’ll see what happens.
Buick: Great. And I just read on your Facebook page that you’re working on a cover song. What are the details about that?
V.I.T.R.I.O.L.: I don’t know if you ever heard of Decibel Magazine, which you probably have. Well, they’re doing…I mean, I think it’s a pretty cool idea, they’re doing a flexidisk series. Its lightweight vinyls given away with the magazine. And so far they’ve had this new Napalm Death song and other pieces, and we’re doing a cover song for that. The only thing is, when will they get this thing published? Because we’re not supposed to tell anyone what it is until they announce it.
Buick: Can you give me a hint about, maybe, what genre the music is that you covered?
V.I.T.R.I.O.L.: Yeah, okay, I’ll give you a hint. Two-tone. That’s your hint.
Buick: Okay, great. I’ll leave it at that.
V.I.T.R.I.O.L.: If it was up to me, I’d tell you.
Buick: And it’s been known that yall will not publish your lyrics. After more than ten years, why do you still not publish them?
V.I.T.R.I.O.L.: We just don’t. We decided in the first place that we didn’t want to do it because…I don’t know. I don’t like making things too easy for people to understand. I mean, of course, this music, you don’t need to think when you listen to music because it’s an instinctive thing, you know. It’s an instinctive reaction you have to music. At the same time, if there is anything worth thinking about, I’d like people to think about it, to figure it out. And I think lyrics tend to make it something that you can just pick up, read, put to the side, and forget about. So that would bother me. But we really didn’t think much of it to begin with, but since we made that decision, we just haven’t felt the need to change it. I don’t know. Maybe it’s a slight error [by us] but it’s not being intentional…intentionally obscure. I mean, if you want to know what the songs are about, you can look up some of the song titles and try to figure out where they came from and read about that or something along those. We just decided not to, and we stuck to it ever since. Although, having said that, we have actually got the lyrics to one song in the liner notes because it was a song we did with a guest vocalist, a guy called Rainer [Landfermann]. He used to be in a band called Bethlehem. He’s from Germany and now he’s in Pavor. And before he would participate in doing the album, he sent me an email [stating], “I need to know what this is about. I need to know the ideas behind this because I need to know that it’s something I can get behind, that I can take on board and run with myself before I get involved.” Most people don’t put that much of themselves into it; they don’t get that involved. So I wrote a great big thing for him explaining the idea and gave him some ideas for lyrics to use. And then he took that away and wrote a load of his own lyrics and spent hours arranging how he wanted his vocals. He really threw himself into doing it. And at the end of that, I thought it’d be nice to recognize the collaboration between the two of us, and he put in a lot of work as well. So we’ll put the lyrics to that one in the liner notes. So there is a little nugget that you would miss on any of our previous albums.
Buick: I guess he wanted to find his passion for the song.
V.I.T.R.I.O.L.: Well exactly, yeah. I think that’s really cool. It shows a lot of enthusiasm on his part, I think. So I was quite impressed actually.
Buick: Would you ever like to work with him again?
V.I.T.R.I.O.L.: Absolutely. He was great. And I think what he’s done with the song is fantastic, and, like I said, I really like his attitude towards doing it. But whether or not we will, I don’t know. We’ll see. It would be cool to work with him again. But we don’t like to plan things very much. Everything is best for us if it’s a bit spontaneous and chaotic, spur-of-the-moment sort of thing. So we’ll see what happens.
Buick: Is there anyone that you would personally like to have guest on your albums in the future?
V.I.T.R.I.O.L.: There are a couple of people who I’ve asked in the past and couldn’t do it, so I’d like to have one of them if I’ve got the choice. There used to be this really horribly dark techno band, an American band called G.G.F.H. [Global Genocide Forget Heaven]. And the guy behind that called Ghost, I emailed him and asked if he’d be up for it, and he said yeah. And then we didn’t get a chance to do it on the album at the time. I think it was a bad time, it was a couple albums ago anyway. And then by the time we got to make the next album, I thought, “Right, yeah, now we’ve got the chance. We’ve got a bit more time. I can get in touch with the guy. And then I wrote him and he said he’d given up music and sold all his equipment; he turned his back on it. So that was a bit of a shame to miss out on that opportunity. So if we got the chance to do it again, I’d quite like to do that. And the other guy is actually Philip Best from Whitehouse. I’m not sure how well known they are over there, but they’re pretty much the most bleak and awful noise act; like pure noise, no music to it. And it’s just vile. And I did ask him and he said he didn’t have time to do it. Maybe one day in the future. And of course King Diamond. I’ve seen a few weeks ago that he became suddenly ill, but I hear he’s a lot better now, so keep our fingers crossed. When he’s back to full strength, maybe we’ll get the chance one day.
Buick: Great. I’d love to hear him sing on your stuff.
V.I.T.R.I.O.L.: So would I!
Buick: So is there anything else you would like to say>
V.I.T.R.I.O.L.: Not a great deal really. I hope people like the album. I think it will be great, especially if I’m talking to so many American writers. I’d like to get back over there before too long. So hopefully we’ll be able to do that.
Buick: Great. Thank you so much
V.I.T.R.I.O.L.: Thank you. Thanks for the support. Maybe one day we’ll see you.
Emily is an avid supporter of the New Orleans scene, often filming shows and conducting interviews with local bands to help promote their music. She also runs her own site dedicated to the New Orleans scene, Crescent City Chaos.
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