Interview with Duncan Patterson

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Yazdan KM: Hello Mr. Patterson. Hope you’re doing fine. First of all I gotta say I’m deeply thankful that you agreed to do this interview with me and I’m sure that all the readers feel the same.

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DP: Thanks for the interest and the coverage.

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Yazdan KM: Let’s go back a little bit. Tell me what happened that made you interested in music and you decided to become a musician. Which bands influenced you on those times?

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DP: I became fascinated with music from a really young age when I figured out how to play my father’s vinyls on the old record player. I found The Beatles – Help as I thought that the cover looked funny, and I played it. It became my favorite album and is still in my top ten of all time to this day. I used to watch the Beatles cartoon on TV too and I decided that I wanted to be like them. As soon as my hands were big enough I started learning how to play the guitar and it all stemmed from there. I was introduced to Pink Floyd when I was about 12 years old and they blew me away, then I got into heavier stuff as well as Bob Dylan, Roy Harper, and some of the old acid house music back in the day. So that explains my eclectic musical taste. I haven’t really changed that much, even if I have explored different instrumentation and that I’m still doing what I always set out to do.

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Yazdan KM: You and your projects are vastly popular in Iran. But here people mainly don’t know that why you decided to leave anathema and they don’t know why Vincent said: “we don’t need Duncan anymore” when ironically you were the one who wrote around 80% of the Alternative 4 album. Most people still think you were kicked because Cavanagh Brothers wanted to change the sound and they don’t know you were the main reason of this changing! And also please tell me what happened to you after leaving Anathema.

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DP: That was a daft thing of Vinny to say, but he was influenced by some terrible people around that time. And it’s no coincidence that we quickly sorted out our differences when those people disappeared. Some people are easily influenced, especially when young and a bit lost. I received a lot of criticism then from people who were playing my songs every night on tour, who had never even played a note on the original songs. I’m just glad that I have never been in that position myself, inadequacy must be a terrible feeling. I wasn’t kicked out, I left of my own accord. Vinny actually wanted to continue the band with me but I decided against it. Anyway, enough about that. A lot of people seem more interested in that than the actual music itself. Its old old news, and we have all moved on from that and I must have answered more questions about that than I have about lyrics or concepts. Its mental.

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Yazdan KM:You started Antimatter project with Mick Moss and you left that band in 2004. Please tell me a little bit about Antimatter and the story behind you leaving the band.

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DP: I spent a lot of time with Mick around the time that I was quitting Anathema and he was recording a lot of music in his bedroom. He hardly ever went out in those days and was a bit of a recluse, but I used to go to his place with a bag full of Guinness and we’d listen to music, and he would play me the stuff he was writing. Gradually he started to write darker material which I really connected with, so I asked him if he wanted to do an album together with me and thats how the Antimatter thing started. It wasn’t easy to get him motivated at first, as it is difficult to do anything when you are stuck in a rut, but eventually he got up and into the whole thing. I pretty much looked after everything for years while Mick was learning about the whole music business, and I don’t think he realised how difficult it is to schedule everything (studio/gigs/equipment etc) until he had to do it himself. And before I quit the project he was unhappy with the way things were going. So because I was doing most of the work I felt quite upset by this and decided to finish the project. Friendship is more important than a ‘brand name’. After that, Mick asked if he could use the name Antimatter for his solo music and I said yes. I think he would get the recognition he deserves if he used his own name for his albums, but I guess its less pressure when you have a title instead. A lot of people are confused by this and think that Antimatter is a band, and not Micks solo project. I still get asked about it, as if I was still part of Antimatter. And some people even think that Danny Cavanagh is a member. I guess there is a wave of laziness in these times, and people don’t bother reading about bands that they like. Whereas when I was young, we were really enthusiastic about knowing details of our favorite musicians, and took pride in that.

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Yazdan KM: And we get to Ion. A totally different project comparing to your previous works. Tell me a little bit about this “cherished” project of yours and which musical cultures influenced you in this project?

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DP: I started Ion as a kind of ‘musical detox’. I wouldn’t say it is totally different than my previous stuff, but the instrumentation and lyrical direction is. It was at a time of a big change in my life. I got interested in energy healing and nutritional healing. I was learning to stay away from negative people and to not think negative thoughts. It was a magical time actually, as I saw a lot of bad people drop away from me. Almost like some kind of negativity filter. Musically, there’s a lot of celtic influence there, along with shamanic rhythms and dark classical stuff. Also some eastern influences which I picked up in Greece and Turkey. I am planning to release the third album in 2013.

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Yazdan KM: Ion music is cinematic. Like soundtrack of a movie. Have you ever participated in such activities? Do you even like writing music for movies?

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DP: I have done some music for a Palestinian documentary called Sons Of Eilaboun about a massacre in a small Palestinian village during the 1948 war. I would love to get into soundtrack work in the future.

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Yazdan KM: How does Duncan Patterson preview his own musical resume? Is he satisfied? Would it be right to sat Duncan Patterson is a brilliant musician who has been over-looked?

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DP: I’m satisfied so far, and I am proud of the way that I have gone about my business. I have worked hard to get where I am and have shaped a lot of other peoples careers too. It can take years to be acknowledged for the work that you do as a writer. Especially when you have been lied about and silenced, like I was. But I know that the truth will unravel in time. My time hasnt come yet and I’m due some good luck.

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Yazdan KM: There’s an interesting point in your resume; when you leave a band that band suddenly get so famous. Why do you think this is? Is there any relation between being and remaining independent and creativity in music?

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DP: I wouldn’t really agree with that. With Anathema, Alternative 4 was a big success for both fans and the media. That was the breakthrough album and I was very much a member then. Although Judgement had a huge promotional budget and attracted a load of weirdos, Alternative 4 was a huge album. The same applies to Antimatter – Lights Out, which was the best seller worldwide. The Antimatter thing still hasn’t broke through yet, and I think that is down to the constant Anathema connection that scares off some people. Mick deserves better than that, and Im sure it will come in time. The main thing really is the intervention of the internet since those times that make established bands seem bigger than they actually are. As for the creative/independent thing, both Mick Moss and Danny have always been more on the commercial side of things than I have. I don’t really like following the flock.

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Yazdan KM: So let’s get to your current project; Alternative 4. Please tell us about this band and specially please explain the story behind its name.

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DP: Basically I had to think of a name for my new band and Alternative 4 was by far the best idea. Both conceptually and with the huge irony in regards to the Anathema connection and people behaving like sheep. Mark and myself have been discussing doing a project together for some time now, and it was the right moment to do it when I started working on The Brink. I pieced the band together really quickly and kept it tight with just three people. I chose Mark and Mauro because I know that I can trust them, and they won’t just bail out and run off with other musicians that I introduce them to. That happened to me with Ion so I made sure I was never in that position again. We work together well. The album was written, recorded, and released in less than a year of its conception. Plus we did a European tour after rehearsing just twice.

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Yazdan KM: How was the reception for the album; The Brink between fans and critics?
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DP: The album has received great reviews so far. I was actually surprised by that, as it is an extreme album really, in terms of drearyness and monotony.

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Yazdan KM: Should we expect you to leave Alternative 4 too?

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DP: If I ever decide that the project has ran its course then Alternative 4 will cease to exist. We have a decent thing on the go now though, and everyone knows their place in the band. I always say that bands should only do 4 albums then quit before it goes stale. I’m all for progressing but I’d rather start a new project than cling onto a brand name out of fear or greed.

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Yazdan KM: How do you compare the music industry and generally music in current eras with the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s?

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DP: This is possibly the worst period for music in the history of the universe. A lot of The Brink is written about it. Albums are being devalued now with people just listening to the odd track on the internet. And the culture of leaking albums before the release, with pride, is pathetic. But as a musician I have no choice but to carry on. Music is in my blood and it always will be. I hope that things will renew and change for the better.

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Yazdan KM: Do you have any knowledge of Persian culture? What was that “Hail Persia” all about on your Facebook page?

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DP: I have had many messages of support from your people there and I appreciate it. It makes a nice change to chat with people who actually think, rather than the typical «Wow, do you know Vincent?» kind of messages that I have been plagued with.

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Yazdan KM: What about Kung Fu? Do you still practice?

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DP: I haven’t practiced for many years now but I still know how to defend myself. I think anyone who has practiced martial arts for a number of years will always have that instinct inside them. I went to a few mixed martial arts classes a while back, and it’s something that I’d like to get back into when I get settled down.

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Yazdan KM: Is there an upcoming album Alternative 4 album?

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DP: I’m currently working on the pre-production for the 2nd album which is titled The Obscurants. The general concept is about people who hide information and wisdom from others, deliberately covering things up. Musically it isn’t as extreme as The Brink, but it’s far from being fashionable or commercial. It’s a very strong album and I know it will surprise some people.

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Yazdan KM: Thank you Mr. Patterson for giving me your time.

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Duncan Patterson on Facebook

Duncan Patterson Wikipedia page

Alternative 4

Duncan Patterson official blog

Íon Website

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