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The following are excerpts from the most recent round of interviews. All were conducted after the release of the album 'A Profusion of Thought'

It has been a long time since the previous album Black Market Enlightenment  (2018) came out. What happened since this release?


Quite a lot has happened since then in my personal and professional life, and also on my political radar.... 
Personally... . it was not good a period whatsoever. I heard news of death, suicide, betrayal, and scandal. I caught covid, had a breakdown and saw deliberate lies spoken about myself in interviews by a competitive ex-colleague.


Politically... from a UK perspective it became evident at the start of this new decade that we were in the hands of, and politically entangled with, narcissists, sociopaths, psychopaths in positions of supreme power. People who had little or no respect for the citizens of their nations, yet who used nationalism as a political tool.


Professionally..... as far as music is concerned, it was a very fruitful time despite the obstacles. After 'Black Market...' came the live DVD 'An Epitaph' (featuring our performance with a string quartet in Ukraine from 2016). Once that was released, I moved onto 'A Profusion of Thought' and started planning the Antimatter 20th anniversary tours only to have Covid 19 come along and shit on everything. Everybody has their own story of this awful period, of course. Personally, as I said, I caught Coronavirus very early on and my lungs took a massive hit. Recovery took a long time with me being unable to walk for more than a few minutes without getting out of breath, and, obviously, as a touring singer this was a very scary time. Later on in the year I did a few guest vocals on peoples albums as a way to test my voice and get myself singing again, and then I just carried on singing for various bands as the requests just seemed to keep coming in. By the end of 2021 I had sang for Michal Lapaj, Oceans of Slumber, Clouds, Decembre Noir and also hooked up with Andrea Chiodetti (ex-The Foreshadowing) to co-write some songs for the album and EP of the MMXX project. (In fact. 'The Tower' from that album is a career highlight for me, and we have since formed our own project, my third after Antimatter and Sleeping Pulse, for which we have already written a lot of songs. It's kind of a melodic grunge metal mash-up, very exciting for me, and we'll get the debut album into a studio once it is ready.) After that I was invited to go and support Riverside and then Marillion, two tours which got me right back onto me feet again. So I came back home completely professionally rehabilitated thanks to Michal Lapaj and Steve Rothery and made it my mission to get this damn album recorded. In the end there were 4 years between the last album and this new one. It took much longer than it should have.


Let us focus on the new album. Can you tell something more about the title A Profusion Of Thought.


I've always gone through periods of being a prolific writer, and I've been writing for 30 years now, so inevitably this means that I have always had more songs than I have space on albums. Obviously if I carry on like this then I will die one day with a huge collection of music in my head that will just be wiped from existence along with me., so I made it my mission a few years back to rescue some of these songs from certain death. And that's the concept that ties these songs together and also where the title comes from... in English a 'profusion' of something means literally an abundance, so in this instance 'a profusion of thought' means (to myself and this album) 'an abundance of songwriting'. The relief I feel is almost overwhelming, to actually have these songs out in the real world.


You've got a lot of guests and friends involved in the album. Any fun stories about how they anyone got involved?


In reality, there's not too many guests on this album as I play the core instruments of guitar, bass and keyboards myself, as that's the working model that I have used for most Antimatter recordings over the last decade (as well as quite a few songs from the first two albums). I compose all of the drums myself too by manually playing them electronically on my demos, then bringing in a live drummer to play the parts in the studio for the subsequent album recordings. That's how I started my solo project back in 1995, and of course that solo project went on to become one half of Antimatter in 1998, and then continued to be Antimatter from 2005 onwards. Back to the subject of '95, when I started my project I was already exhausted from trying to get line-ups to stay together, as previous to that, as a teenager, I had already been in about 6 different line-ups/configurations and I figured in the end that if I just did everything myself then I wouldn't need band-mates and therefore nobody could quit. I wanted to make music as an escape, as therapy, and I didn't need anybody fucking that up for me. So I bought myself a 4-track, a drum machine, an electric guitar and started from zero, and that's how I've tried to keep it ever since.

 

For Antimatter albums, of course I do have a few guest musicians in to perform instruments that I can't, and that keeps things fresh for me. An example on the last album is Paul Thomas who played flute and saxophone, and on 'Black Market Enlightenment', Vardan Baghdasaryan who played Qamancha. These additions are the icing on the cake for me. As for Paul Thomas, I was watching an old late-80s episode of 'The Tube' (a famous old UK music TV show) last year and I was like ''Fuckinghell, is that Paul?''... and it was. There he was playing saxophone for Thomas Lang... 35 years ago. He hasn't changed.  


What emotions did these old songs invoke in you, when you look back at them after several years?

Well, seeing as I never thought they would ever leave the prison of my mind, I felt an utter disbelief that these songs were actually, finally, seeing the light of day, coming into the real world. It felt like I was living in an alternate universe, one where I had actually gotten to actually record and release these pieces. And then came a kind of fascination, like an archaeologist might feel when setting their eyes upon an artefact that had been dug up out of the ground. And then, finally, a really positive feeling of relief. Relief that the songs were finally out and that they (in my opinion) sounded really good.


What are the plans with video clips?


I made a promo video for the track 'Fold' myself in 6 days, working morning to night. This was just as Id finished the album so I was already kinda burned out, but I got on the coffee and saw the process through. It turned out great. I've always been interested in video, I went on a film course back in 1994 and I was pretty much just left to my own devices there, making a zero budget trash comedy for fun, editing on two VHS-S machines. Very primitive. As the years have rolled on I've always kept a hand in, writing scripts for Antimatter or Sleeping Pulse promos, making documentaries for bonus discs, video adverts for tours, backing videos for live appearances, so I still have the taste for it.

 

I'm currently planning another documentary at the moment which is quite an exciting prospect for me. What I love about my position right now is that I can pretty much do what I want in terms of creativity. Musically I have Antimatter, Sleeping Pulse and my new (as yet untitled) project with Andrea Chiodetti, my solo acoustic stuff and whatever guest vocals I care to do, plus I can keep a hand in video work if and when I want, so I guess I have the life I always wanted/needed as I'm obsessively creative almost to the point of it being detrimental. I was a part time roofer from 1996-2008, and while I was working I would always be composing in my head, working songs out, so I literally don't have a choice. It's not as if I can switch it off.


With making a living at music seemingly becoming more and more difficult, what steps do you believe should be taken to make things better financially for musicians?


That's a matter for each individual musician to figure out for themselves, as each one will differ in terms of what they want to achieve. Personally, I think it's obvious that the driving factor behind being a musician and playing or writing music should be the love of music and the urge for expression alone. Nothing else, certainly not money. Honestly, if money is your ambition then the music business is the wrong industry to enter as only a small percentage of musicians actually get to earn their living through their work. And make no mistake -there are people here who will rip you off. I've been ripped off in this business by strangers and also by people who I thought were friends, in fact moreso by people who I thought were friends.

 

So... what steps do I think should be taken to make things better financially for musicians? Get a day job. Money didn't really become involved in Antimatter until around the fifth album 'Fear Of A Unique Identity', that's when the project became 'professional' in my opinion, and by that time the project was over ten years old, and I'd been carrying it solo for over 5 years, so I was like ''Oh, okay, so this is my job now???''... it was a real shock to me and I do appreciate how lucky I have been in that respect, that my passion has become my occupation. Because up until then, as I've mentioned, I'd been working as a part time roofer, carrying buckets of hot tar up ladders (from which I still have a scar on my forehead), accidentally getting hit in the eye by nails, walking across wooden beams with rolls of felt on my shoulders, carrying 20kg propane gas bottles up ladders and fucking my spine up... occasionally brutal work but it kept me going financially and in my spare time I worked relentlessly on my music. 


The world becomes a less and less comfortable place to live, so do you feel an urge to write an album about things that happen on the outside? Or do you have enough of your own impressions and ideas which you need to release?

Well, I started writing more about society, psychology and a touch of the political after the release of Leaving Eden, so for the last 15 years I've been writing mainly about things that are on the outside. In fact it was strange revisiting these old songs as the angle of my older lyrics were very inward-looking. For example, the song 'Fold' is a very personal one that sees me at my most vulnerable.

 

The genesis, and indeed the story, of that track came about in 2005 between the release of the third and fourth Antimatter albums ('Planetary Confinement' and 'Leaving Eden') as I moved forward to continue the project alone. The first three Antimatter albums (recorded as a duo) were quite simply a spiral of debt. The trend wasn't good. From 'Saviour' to 'Lights Out' to the advance for 'Planetary Confinement', Antimatter was simply a financial red line on a graph going quickly and steadily down. Then, in the first half of 2005 my ex-partner decided to finally quit, which was whilst the project was in quite literally the most debt it had ever seen. Now, he left to form a new project, and what happens when you sign a new project (with a new name) to a label is you reset to zero, no historical debt and you start afresh. Personally, I had decided to continue with Antimatter, which was my decision... Antimatter was a duo of equal parts and one person leaving does not in any way mean that the project was over. And that's not a subjective opinion, either, that's the objective truth. So, yeah, I decided to continue. But in continuing with Antimatter, I also continued with the projects debt - there was no such financial reset for me. Now, the next album, the fourth release ('Leaving Eden'), was the last album on the contract with the record labels... and if that album continued that financial trend of downward spiral (which I fully expected it to) then I didn't have much faith in the contracts getting renewed and that would spell the end of a project that had been basically propping my mental health up for the last ten years. Hence the lyric ''this can't fold, or I'll fold too...''

There are twenty-one years between Antimatter’s debut Saviour and A Profusion of Thought. There are obvious differences between these albums: you write music alone now, it’s not as minimalistic as in 2001, arrangements have become richer and yet some songs sound gentler. But the emotional content is still very similar, your music as  emotionally touching as always. How far did you come from the point where you started the band?

I didnt start the band. The original 'band' (and I use that term very loosely) was a duo of which I was half. I started my half in 1995, 3 years before I teamed up with my ex partner by combining my project with his. lt was never originally meant to be that way, but thats how it turned out, two equal halves. And that, the combination of the two projects, that was named 'Antimatter'. I cant claim to have started my ex-partners half, similarly he can't claim to have started my half. Both would be absurd claims. We never wrote together. I have always written alone anyway, even when it was a duo, so the current model of 'Antimatter' is something I have been doing for nearly 30 years now. My music is less minimalistic and more progressive these days simply due to the fact that I have developed my style over the decades, that's just my own personal evolution as a writer and arranger. Plus I seem to be getting more and more intricate with my guitar parts on each subsequent album.

Do you remember where and when the melodies, you used on the new album, were born?

I have snapshots in my head of where I was sitting, what room I was in, what house I was in. I can pinpoint with pretty good accuracy what year each song came about. Yeah I remember it all. I remember my daughter being only around ten years old when I came up with the initial idea for 'Fold' She turns 30 next year...

What does the cover of the album represent? Did you come across the art or did you have it in mind and somebody created it for you?

Both, strangely enough. Very early on I had made the decision to paint the album cover myself rather than asking Mario Nevado (who did the previous two covers) purely as an independent move, and nothing to do with any discontent with Mario's work because I love his art and he's a great guy too. I planned the artwork in my head, which was to be an homage to the ‘Dead and Buried’ movie poster painted by Italian artist Dario Campanile. The poster, which haunted me in my early years, was that of a head tilted back coming up out of the ground produced in a blue/grey monochrome colour set. I wanted to paint a head in a similar position/angle but with deep red colours and with schematics and various chaos emanating from the head and connected to the universe, thus representing my own mind full of way too much music. I made a demo of the art, and then planned on painting it on canvass with acrylic paints. Then one day in late 2020 I opened social media and there was a post by Mario Nevado selling off some of his older pieces, and one of them was very, very close to the image I had been working on. It was such a bizarre coincidence, it really freaked me out. I contacted him immediately and told him I wanted the image, and explained that the album it was for was to be all old, unreleased Antimatter tracks. And it turn, that freaked Mario out, as he had painted that particular piece years ago whilst listening to old Antimatter music. How fucking weird is that.

Let us zoom in to some of the songs. For instance Heathen struck me, because it has such a grand momentum. Can you tell a little bit more about that song?

'Heathen' was written for the previous album 'Black Market Enlightenment', but I wrote so profusely for this particular album that I only included about two thirds of what I had composed on the final release. Also cut from the album were the songs 'Templates', 'Entheogen' (both which appear on 'A Profusion of Thought'), 'Refraction' and 'The Gilded Side' plus some soundtrack music for the accompanying documentary 'Finding Enlightenment' and lots of other partial songs too. But, yeah, 'Heathen' is a song about myself in my late teens, and it is a very sarcastic lyric, very critical of myself and my naivety in those years. It is the first time I have ever really gone in hard on myself lyrically. I love it. But in the end it had to get cut from 'Black Market...' because that progressive part in the middle, the kinda acid-jazz riffy section, needed way more time to figure out than I actually had, So, it was simply time restraints that caused it to be removed from the album. It was a pity at the time, but as I knew that the next album was to be a collection of unrecorded songs, all was not lost.

I remember how it was hard to categorize Antimatter in early ‘00s because the band was a real discovery for many metal fans and its name was associated with Anathema who followed a similar direction (in a wider sense). Moreover… even now I see strange reactions like “this or that band turned to be too mellow / too heavy / to electronic” regarding “experimental” albums released many years ago. Was it ever a problem for you – the association with Anathema and change of styles?

Anathema never had anything to do with me, that is my ex partners old band. So any Anathema comparisons back in the day were completely void when talking about my own solo Antimatter material. I just never took it seriously and got on with my own journey. I actually turned down an offer to join Anathema back in 2002 whilst they were doing very well and Antimatter was completely dead in the water, so let it never be questioned what my motives are when it comes to music. I wouldn't quit this project for anything, and it cannot be overstated how important my own songs are to me as my roots with them go as far back as Summer 1995. Almost 3 decades.

 

Back then, in '95, I had bought a bunch of equipment with the intention of forging ahead on a solo musical project whilst my private life and mental state were in ruins due to my girlfriend leaving me and taking our 1-year old daughter with her. We'd had a baby very young but I was committed, and I'm very family orientated, so I went from being a loving father in a family unit to being completely alone, overnight. I was devastated, and as a way to avoid routine panic attacks and obsessive bad thoughts I buried myself in my musical project for years as a means of creative therapy. By Summer '98 (three years later) I had written, arranged, recorded and performed the instrumentation on the demos of over a full albums worth of material, including 'Too Late', 'Saviour', 'Over Your Shoulder' and 'Angelic'. And then, that Summer, everything changed... my solo project became one half of 'Antimatter', contributing 5 out of 9 songs to the first album 'Saviour', and that's the way 'Antimatter' continued for the next two releases with, as I said earlier, my project being one half and my ex-partners project being the other half. I continued to put everything into my music throughout the next 7 years.

 

There's so much of my life in those songs, they continued to be a great source of comfort and solace, bringing us up to the point, as I mentioned, in 2005 where I found myself continuing Antimatter alone whilst the project was essentially on a downward trajectory. I continued with Antimatter as I had no intention of letting my project go. It was a part of me, and still is. Luckily, 'Leaving Eden' was the album that turned everything around and I've been blessed enough to be able to carry on with my life's work in an unbroken line.

What does influence you to create music nowadays? How does it differ from the times you were making “Saviour”? 

There's no difference, really, it's all still coming from the same place, the urge to be creative and a genuine love for music. Though with each subsequent album I seem to be getting increasingly obsessed with having little complexities here and there, and stretching myself more and more with the guitar playing.


Which brings back the most pleasant memories? 

I'm not sure that any album brings back pleasant memories per se, as each process has been fraught with one drama or another. But, again, if I was to pick one it would be 'Planetary Confinement' as that was a completely smooth recording process and had the least amount of problems when compared to the other seven. Plus it was a wonderful sounding session with all natural instruments...  my very first time working with violins, a personal welcome leap away from the heavy electronica of the previous albums. I worked by myself with three session musicians and came away with 4 recordings that I was really proud of back then. To this day I still think that the song 'Epitaph' is a high point, although unfortunately I also think that it is the one song that attracted the 'Saddest Band In The World' tag that I've spent the last 15 years trying to get away from (especially when journalists then began incorrectly stating that ''Antimatter call themselves the saddest band in the world''....)

What did you learn as a composer from these unreleased ideas. Do you think it will have an influence of your forthcoming records?


Well, this album kind of brought me full circle, putting me back in touch with the vibe of the earlier songs, moreso than the later pieces, something I wasn't really prepared for. In that respect I do think it will influence the next thing I do as Antimatter (when I eventually do get back around to another studio album). We will see what happens there, as like I said, I have other projects to get on with. As for what I learned as a composer,  I guess that would be that any piece of music that I have faith in can be brought to absolute fruition if I'm tenacious enough. Also that there's no expiry date on songs...

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