Rock Impressions

INTERVIEW WITH ANTIMATTER with Mick Moss (italian version)
by Giancarlo Bolther

Can you give us an introduction to your band with the history of your group? In particular you have worked with Duncan Patterson, could you tell us something more about your collaboration? Are you still in touch?
Antimatter is a project established in 1998 when my ex-partner Duncan Patterson heard my solo project and suggested we work together. I had been working rigidly since 1995 writing songs and recording demos whilst Duncan was planning to leave Anathema and continue writing himself. That’s how everything came about; it was a merging of two separate bodies of work. We released three albums like this, and I now carry Antimatter as my own since Duncan’s departure in 2005, releasing two further albums ‘Leaving Eden’ (2007) and now ‘Fear Of A Unique Identity’ (2012). The name ‘Antimatter’ came from Duncan. In 1999 we were both throwing names around for the project, I suggested ‘Absolution’ (years before the Muse album of the same name), and Duncan suggested ‘Antimatter’. Duncan and myself had both gone through very similar psychological experiences around that time, and the name ‘Antimatter’, suggesting inverted reality, was very apt, though either name would have fit the bill (and indeed if the project had been titled ‘Absolution’ there would have been less ambiguity about myself carrying on with the projects name in 2005). I’m still in touch with Duncan, we live very close to each other and remain good friends.

Four years since the last studio album, why so long and how much are you changed since then?
The years since the last studio album were very full. Compiling ‘Alternative Matter’ alone took a year out of my life due to the fact that I had a lot of old recordings to clean up and augment, a 100-page book to arrange, a DVD to author, a documentary to make. Apart from that I had a number 1 record with ‘Broken Smile’ (The Beautified Project), supported Marillion twice, by their request, I set up my own label ‘Music In Stone’ to release a live Antimatter album. I also had a nervous breakdown, bought a house and wrote two albums, one of which is ‘Fear Of A Unique Identity’, which I strove to make perfect, not a quick process. So, really that gap in between studio albums was quite full. It was hard getting back into writing and arranging after the break I took to work on ‘Live@An Club’ and ‘Alternative Matter’, as the creative process for me is something you develop like a muscle. If you don’t use that muscle then it becomes weak, so I had to flex things a little to get back into the swing of things. Once I was back in gear I found I was writing and working better more creatively than I possible ever had. Its easy for me to see the changes Ive gone through in the last 5 years as the music is much more energetic and layered now than it ever was.

Can you tell us about the songs from Fear of a Unique Identity?
The album explores the self-imposed pressure in the individual to conform to their perception of the masses as they feel like a freak, or there’s something wrong with them, if they’re ‘different’. The trade-off between someone’s uniqueness in character and what they see as the accepted standard in order to avoid drawing negative attention to themselves. I focus mainly on an urban environment and the various psyches within that, the roleplay that goes on either through desperation or simple lack of intelligence. We then pull back to a wider, more worldwide, more historical view of this kind of behaviour, and the dangers of conforming if the standard that is being conformed to is actually malignant.

Your new album is very atmospheric, sometimes it reminds to me the new Anathema, a band very important in music evolution, do you feel to be part of the same musical path?
Anathema are on a very different path to Antimatter both musically and conceptually. I know Danny Cavanagh and myself share some slight musical influences, so maybe from time to time they will shine through in our writing, but on the whole its hard for me to see a direct line between the two projects. At the moment Anathema are lyrically very into the self-help medium, whilst on my new album I’m making my own hypothesis about the darker side of sociology, psychology, politics. Musically it’s also hard to compare. You’re right about atmosphere though, I do tend to look for a certain feeling in the music and Anathema do the same, albeit a different feeling.

Where do you find inspiration for writing your lyrics and how do you go about the process of composing songs?
The desire to write comes from two different places. Lyrics come from a dark place, a feeling of anger, discontent with aspects of life, whereas music comes from a very positive place. Albums will pretty much always adhere to a concept now. ‘Leaving Eden’ was a concept album, so is ‘Fear …’, and I have had the theme for the next two albums mapped out for a long time. The process of composing usually starts with by myself channeling a song in one sitting, which is then augmented, arranged and added to over the coming weeks/months. But usually the nucleus comes out in one go, and I generally have the concept at the same time. This is not always the case, of course.

I like a lot the title of the album, what does it mean? It’s a concept album, what kind of message do you want to give?
The title refers to peoples fear of not blending in with the crowd. The message is quite clear, it lies in the albums title. Don’t censor or change yourself through fear or stupidity. It’s ok to be yourself (as long as your ‘self’ can practice positive morality) . Hopefully it might wake up a few people who are hiding behind ridiculously macho images and stifling their own spirt. And if that fails, and humans really do have an immovable tendency to adapt themselves to the collective personality, then shouldn’t we all strive make the collective personality a loving, enlightened collective that strives for good rather than the selfish, cold collective that dominates our urban areas? Change the dominant message.

Would you like to compare the new album with the previous?
There are threads that connect the new album to the last, and there are also threads from previous albums as well as new sounds and directions. In 2008, after Leaving Eden I knew I wanted to try something different. I wrote a song called ‘Eyes Burning Holes’ and created a demo for it, which sounded just like any track off ‘Leaving Eden’, and that really repulsed me. I took a bit of time off to let myself calm down and find a new angle. Then, as I mentioned earlier, I got drawn into a thousand other things, so when the urge to write and create came back I couldn’t, as I was too busy. This resulted in a pent-up energy in me that was never released. Once I had time to myself the music just came flying out, and I let it come in whatever form it wanted. It felt very much like when I was writing for ‘Saviour’, it was very free. I had realized that over the years the path from ‘Lights Out’ to ‘Leaving Eden’ had resulted in Antimatter’s sound being narrowed and refined, almost to a defining point with ‘Leaving Eden’, and I really needed to open the picture up. I’ve certainly achieved that with ‘Fear Of A Unique Identity’ and I’m sure fans will agree. I just keep moving from concept to concept. My songs on the first album were about love affairs and death, the second album was insanity and machismo.Third album was bereavement, alienation, malignant urban cloning and the Liverpool music scene. ‘Leaving Eden’ covered loss from all angles. What did seem constant for the first four albums was my lyrical approach when it came to writing about these subjects. It was all so personal. For ‘Fear’ I certainly made the conscious effort to open up my style of writing. It’s all a constant state of evolution. This has been most evident over the last three studio albums; each one seems to be nothing like the last. Theres a million things I want to try out so I’ll always keep changing, I hope.

Religion, spirituality and philosophy are faced in your albums, what do you think about these themes?
Philosophy is what has baked my head for the last 20 years and I can’t see that ever changing. As thoughtful creatures we should all be challenging ourselves and our perception from as many angles as possible in order to grow and become more understanding. Of course, the nature of philosophy is that we will never truly understand, but in its pursuit we can enlighten ourselves. Religion is a different matter, the polar opposite of philosophy in my opinion.

It seems to me that the interest for spiritual belief is increasing, do you feel the same and how much spiritual are you?
I was actually into spirituality 20 years ago. If I look back then I was by far the most spiritually minded person out of anybody I knew, and I was always trying to coax people to be the same, mostly unsuccessfully. Spirituality is something that I explored a long, long time ago and the things I learned then I have carried with me ever since, although I’m very calm and quiet about it. It seems everyone is talking about spirituality now, although it’s not something I choose to talk about much unless the subject is raised. Though there is an Antimatter album I have planned, the seventh album (after ‘The Judas Table’), which explores my spiritual side.

I saw you in a date in Vicenza in 2007 with Leafblade, for an acoustic live set, what do you remember about that tour?
Hmn, not much. I remember having a great time with Sean from Leafblade and really bonding with him. You can make great friendships out on the road when you are traveling with people, as long as the personal chemistry is right. I also remember meeting Vic Anselmo for the first time a few days later. My memories are foggy though!!

How do you live the day-to-day reality outside the band? What kind of person are you as men and as artists?
Like any person I’m up and down. Antimatter explores the darker side of me but that’s not to say I’m a dark person. I have a darkness, like any human, but it doesn’t account for 100% of my personality. Anyone who knows me is aware I try my best to lighten the mood as much as possible, and I have a sense of humour, and quite a strong one, I’m from Liverpool after all, we are known for it. From day to day I just continue my work on music, that’s what keeps me happy, sane. I also like to get outside once in a while and see the world, see other peoples faces.

All of us have had some hard times in their life, would you like to share some of yours with us, please?
I do, I share them as songs.

Which is the greatest satisfaction happened to you in your musical career?
Everything I achieve brings me satisfaction. Though the greatest satisfaction comes from being able to continue to make music that I’m proud of, and for this to be my way of living. I’m very lucky in that respect. I’ve worked hard for what I’ve achieved, of course.

Feel free to end this interview as you like...
Thanks! Be sure to check and/or for regular updates on live appearances and news. Thanks for everyone’s continued support and I hope to see some of you in our March 2013 gigs!! Keep checking online, thank you !!!


Reviews (only in italian): Saviour; Leaving Eden; Fear of a Unique Identity

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