Liverpool born songwriter Duncan Patterson (formerly of Anathema, Antimatter) returns with new album “Grace Road” after a 5 year absence.
“Grace Road” is a lofi gothic opus which, at times, echoes Patterson’s compositions of days gone by.
Palestinian singer Enas Al-Said features throughout the album and brings a beautiful ethereal presence to the songs with her voice.
Greetings from Metalheads Forever Magazine, I’m Keith Clement, how are you today Duncan?
DP: Hello Keith. I’m ok mate, been out all day with the kids. Catching up with everything this evening.
March 21, 2022, you released your second solo album “Grace Road” can you tell me about the songwriting and production behind this?
DP: Most of the music on the album is fairly old. I wrote the title track when I found out that my father had died. That was back in 2013. “Absolut Absolutum” and “Walking Between Worlds” were roughly planned for the third Alternative 4 album but I decided to wrap up the band and do things a different way. I have these two notebooks full of lyrics (yes, real books. Pen and paper) and I had been noting down the song arrangements and stuff in these books. I decided to dig the books out sometime before the pandemic kicked off and finished writing the album that way. I didn’t have anything to record onto as I’m in Mexico and all my recording gear was in the UK. I finally managed to do two really rough demos on an old laptop using the most basic software, and then I approached a guy with a studio here about recording the album. Then the pandemic kicked off so all plans were scrapped. By the time I got around to planning the album again I decided to build my own little studio up here on the side of a mountain. I bought a lot of stuff from the market and pieced it all together myself, extremely DIY on every level haha. I started recording the album tracks then I came into contact with Enas (Al-Said, vocalist) and invited her to sing on one track, which became two, which became the whole album.
After 2016’s “The Eternity Suite” a long break, how does it feel to be back with an album?
DP: It feels good, a very positive feeling. A lot has happened since “The Eternity Suite” and I have a different kind of energy nowadays. After The Eternity Suite I had no choice but to take a long break. I was burnt out in so many ways and didn’t have the energy to do anything; I was in pure survival mode. It’s great to have renewed energy now. I feel music a lot more now than I ever did, and I have been studying a lot of things that I didn’t bother with before. I’m also totally independent now, which is something I should have done 20 years ago. No labels, no bandmates who think that my music is a bit too “out there”, no pressure to tour or sell thousands of records. It feels like it should have always been this way.
Was there any concept that was put behind “Grace Road”?
DP: Yeah, the album is based around the cycle of life and preparing for death, kind of in a gentle manner. Generational curses, wasting precious time on people out to make your life hell, grief, acceptance. I didn’t want to make a morbid negative album though, so I carefully put it together tastefully. “The Amber Line” is very dark, but it is more about acceptance and taking personal responsibility than anything vindictive.
How the touring is looks for you this year?
DP: I have no plans to tour at the moment.
Talking about the first single from the album “The Amber Line” which got the palestinian Singer Enas Al-Said, Can you tell me about the song, and the video on what it reflects on and how it was like to work with Enas on the single?
DP: It’s not a single as such; it was a preview track for people to listen to while the rest of the album was in progress. Enas has been a joy to work with. Everything is so simple and organic. We haven’t had to “try” hard at all to make things fit, it just works naturally. I chat with Enas and her husband Ahmad, who has also been a great help, regularly. We have a lot in common and have a genuine feel for music. It’s been a pleasure, really. “The Amber Line” is the darkest moment on the album though. It’s about trauma bonding and emotional abuse. When you ignore the warnings from people who genuinely care about you. That, basically. I’ve had a lot of messages from people who can relate to the lyrics and some found it a tough listen. I think it’s good to get these things out of our systems when needed, but it’s unhealthy to dwell and focus on it. We need to heal.
The album is amazing to listen to, taking the listener to a new world of music, emotions, melancholy, nostalgia, a bit of sadness, a great way to deliver the music, how do you feel about the creation of this amazing album?
DP: I’m happy with the way it turned out. I like the production, the vibe, the feel of the music and melodies. I managed to achieve what I set out to do, without having to compromise with people who are more commercially-minded.
Are you planning to work with your other bands and project, what would be some of the future plans for you?
DP: I have a new band Antifear with Darren White (original Anathema singer) and we have over 30 songs to work on. So that’s in the pipeline. We live in different continents though, so we can hopefully get together in the near future now that the covid situation seems to be lessening. I will continue to record in my studio too. I did a Roy Harper cover last week and I have a few other covers in mind for a future EP or something. Then when the time is right I will start writing a new solo album. I have one track written already but I’m going to take my foot off the pedal a bit and try to promote “Grace Road” first.
From the golden years of Anathema, in making some of the iconic music for the band, and with Antimatter, Ion and have worked with many other projects, how has the road been for you so far?
DP: It’s been interesting, to say the least. I’m glad that I got to do so much while I was so young. And I realized during my early 20s that I didn’t want to be part of the commercial music industry. Since then I’ve had some good times but also an abnormal amount of setbacks and bad luck. But at the same time I’ve made some bad decisions. Such is life.
Would you like to share some of the great moments that you had over the years?
DP: From the early years, my standout moments were playing in Romania and Brazil with Anathema in 1994. They were amazing trips for me as I got to stay and see the places, meet local people and not just the inside of a venue and a hotel. I was still a teenager and it really opened my eyes to see those parts of the world as they were back then. I’m still in contact with some people who I met while I was there. In later years I was playing with a band in Ireland called The Aftermath. It was only supposed to be a couple of gigs on bass as a favor, but it went on a lot longer. I had no pressure as it wasn’t my band or my music, but I loved their songs and was made up to be playing them live. We played all kinds of gigs, festivals, weddings. I remember those days fondly and I’m really grateful for that experience. I think if I hadn’t have met those lads there would be a void that I would still be yearning to fill.
What would be the future focus on music as a solo artist?
DP: As I said earlier, I have a few things in the pipeline with the cover versions and the new track. I’ll give “Grace Road” a bit more attention though before I get stuck into new material. It’s been a long time coming.
Finally what would be the message for the fans?
DP: Thanks for the support. I can only continue to do this as long as I have people who are interested. Nice one.
1. Absolut Absolutum
2. The Quiet Light
3. Walking Between Worlds
4. The Amber Line
5. Grace Road
Liverpool born songwriter Duncan Patterson has been active since the early 1990s. Signing his first record contract at the age of 17 he set out playing clubs and festivals around Europe and South America with his first band Anathema. After quitting the band in 1998 Patterson formed Antimatter, a musical entity intended to transcend genres and exist outside of the commercial music industry.
The music can be described as dark, emotive, often cinematic. Regardless of the instrumentation used, theres a unique aura to Patterson’s compositions.
After three albums with Antimatter he ventured further afield, collaborating with various artists including Irish alternative rockers The Aftermath who’s singles reached the national charts. 2007 saw a collaboration with German rapper Bushido with the track “Von der Skyline zum Bordstein zurück” reach number 6 in the German charts.
Patterson also composed and recorded albums with Íon and Alternative 4 before embarking on his solo career. Debut album “The Eternity Suite” was released in 2015, and 2022 welcomes the long awaited follow up “Grace Road”. 2022 will also see the debut release of Antifear, a collaboration with former Anathema vocalist Darren White.
Duncan Patterson – Vocals and all instruments
Enas Al-Said – Vocals
Alicia Mitchell – Backing vocals