An Interview With : Mick Kenney and Duncan Wilkins (Anaal Nathrakh)
11th May 2015, 11:30
Posted by Tristan


Walking out of the stuffy Black Heart into bright and breezy air of Camden finally a true sense of space is felt. Having just witnessed the earth shattering performance in the sweat box that is upstairs at the Black Heart I realise now that I have taken oxygen for granted… Flashback just a couple of hours before hand, due to go on stage later this evening Anaal Nathrakh are in town to deliver their unique brand of extreme metal to London’s audience. With this being the third date on their small UK stint, frontman Mick Kenney was in good spirits, taking a moment from the bustling pub and bringing with him band mate Duncan Wilkins we chatted about Napalm Death, the band’s news album Desideratum, people pronouncing the band’s name wrong and even got the interview turned around 360 degrees with Mick asking what I thought of certain elements… 

Mick 2

The Metalist : How has the tour been going so far, you’ve played select dates in England, where will it be next for you guys?

Mick : It’s been going really good! Can’t remember where we played haha, we haven’t done that many shows but they’ve all been really good.
Duncan : Three other shows we’ve done so far, Manchester and Glasgow
Mick : London tonight. London’s always been good for us. Then we’ve got a few days off and we go to Europe, which is pretty awesome! I haven’t been there for a while. After that we go to America. We’ve never been to America before, ,well we’ve played Maryland Deathfest before and played two shows in LA and that’s it, ever. So now we’ve got a tour which lasts two weeks. It’s good, its cool!
Duncan : Get our foot in the door!

The places that you have played, have they been fairly intimate like tonight’s venue?
Duncan : This is the smallest I think so far.
Mick : But that’s great for us, we usually play bigger venues but small are fucking ballistic.

Duncan : You go in there and think oh great! Once you’ve got 150 people in here fighting each other later on it’s going to be perfect, it doesn’t matter how big it is.

Mick : It’s a better vibe you know? It’s more fun for us. I mean I love playing festivals, they’re bigger and it’s awesome but small ones are more what we’re about.

You get into people’s face?

Mick : They get in our face haha! 

Duncan : MISSING  2:03

Touring is such a large part of a bands life as you began purely as a studio production what made you decide to not tour? 

Mick : Ok well, when we first started our band in 1998 back then it was pretty impossible. Me and Dave made our music because that’s what we wanted to make. The only way that we could do it was by the way that we had made it. We didn’t know anyone or think that anyone would be able to play that kind of stuff. Because back then you couldn’t, you go on YouTube these days and every kid can blast beat over 280 BPM or whatever and back then you couldn’t. 

Duncan : Or if they did, you just had no way of knowing about it.

Mick : Yeah, there was no way of knowing about it. We didn’t know anyone, didn’t have the internet, so we just made the music we can and after a while the guys from Napalm Death became friends for some unknown reason. Then they helped us out and that’s what made us start to play shows. Shane and Danny from Napalm Death played with us, for the first few shows and then we met our drummer Steve. I was recording his band and I was like “right I’m gonna steal that bloke” haha! Then basically we started playing shows and it was awesome! 

Ok, so it wasn’t a logistical thing or anything like that?

Mick : No, not at all.

As you had an appearance on John Peel’s show, you had decided to return to the live setting. What was it like talking to Peel himself? 

Mick : He wasn’t actually there!

Was he not? 

Mick : I think he died about the week after as well, he personally picked us. We used to be on a record label called Rage Of Achilles his name is Dinsdale and he used to work in a record store and apparently John Peel came into the record store and asked oh what’s cool and handed him the Total Fucking Necro CD and came back again and asked him that he wanted us to do a Peel Session. We did that, but he’s not actually there for the actual Peel Session, he just picks out the bands. 

Duncan : He’s like the curator!

Mick : He doesn’t do the recording or anything like that. It’s not like a live session, its pre recorded and then afterwards it’s aired. 

Ah right I see! 

Mick : But it was like one of the coolest things ever for me because my dad used to make me listen to John Peel when I was a kid, because my dad listened to John Peel when he was a kid! He was a fan of Jimi Hendrix and all that kind of stuff and when I was a little kid I used to like Napalm Death and Metallica and all those kind of Extreme Noise Terror… I found all that from that, then he would play that next to like reggae!

He’s a very eclectic kind of guy! Anaal Nathrakh would have been the one to choose! Am I saying that right? (AN AL NATH RAK) 

Mick : Spot on mate! Though some people say Anaal Nakhrath haha! 

Duncan : Some say Anal Nathrakh, that’s an annoying one!

Personally, this is going to make me sound like a wimp. I remember picking up In The Constellation Of The Black Widow and I just couldn’t get into it at the time!

Mick : Good! That’s the correct answer!

Now that I have matured and listened to more music overtime including more of your records. Do you think that the abrasive sound keeps you guys quite underground?

Mick : To be honest I don’t even really think about that.


Mick : No man, I mean that’s just what its supposed to sound like. That’s  what we sound like, if people don’t like it then fine!

Duncan : I would go somewhere right in the middle, again playing something like what you write and you’ll get 50% of people thinking “fuckin’ hell, I’m not gonna listen to that, what a racket!” then you’ve got “fuckin’ hell what a racket I’ll be listening to that!” 

Mick : It’s always the same thing, you have to do what you want to do artistically and creatively if people don’t like it, then I don’t care! Can I ask you a question?

Of course! 

Why didn’t you like it?

To be honest I think that it was the vocals that I couldn’t get past at the time. It was slightly too distorted for me, now I listen to heavier bands like Cannibal Corpse but at the time I was listening to Metalcore and all that sort of stuff.

Yeah totally! You’d probably never heard anything like it! 

I remember when I had heard it I thought “fuck me, this is the most insane thing I have ever heard!”

Mick : That’s the correct response that I want to get from people! 

Duncan : People will either then jump both feet into it or go running away screaming into the night screaming never listen to it again and maybe they might get the urge later on! 

Oh yea, I mean I kept the record and now I have a bit more of a taste for it. Anyway I digress, having been signed with so many labels in the past, Season Of Mist, Candlelight, what made you sign to Metal Blade and how has it been going so far?

Mick : With the new album I wanted to sign with an American label, we’ve been going for a really long time and Europe is pretty OK for us right now but America isn’t. So we wanted to sign to an American label to get more of a push there and also because they’re fuckin’ really good label, I’m just stoked to be there. Label mates with King Diamond (shows King Diamon pin proudly) haha! That’s basically why we signed to them! 

That seems a lot more prevalent now as you’re heading over to the States has Metal Blade helped out with that? 

Mick : Well they gave us a bunch of money to help with flights and everything, its more our booking agent, it’s just something that we have wanted to do for a long time. We’re playing Maryland Deathfest you see, so we thought if we’re going to be there then we might as well play a bunch of shows there! It’s worked out pretty good, we’ve toured Canada before just not America. The response that we get from our Facebook is just crazy, I think its something like 60% of our fan base is in America! And we’ve never been there, so we think that it’s about time.

Duncan : We’ve heard from years and years ago, why aren’t you playing America, why aren’t you playing America, why aren’t you playin America?? Now it’s why aren’t you playing this specific town in America, why aren’t you playing my hometown you fuckers!

Mick : We’re not coming to see you then if you’re not playing down the street! haha! 

You guys have got a reputation for being absolutely devastating live, how? What do you do?

Duncan : We grew up on old Napalm Death videos pretty much haha!

Mick : Old Napalm Death videos, Extreme Noise Terror videos, I think that we’re a bit more Crusty Punk. I mean we get classed as a Black Metal band and I guess we are but, attitude wise I we’re more of a punk band I think. That’s not a choice it’s just the way that we are. I think that makes us a little bit different.

From how extreme the music is, it’s similar to grindcore! 

Duncan & Mick : It’s definitely similar to grindcore!

Duncan : It’s closer to that than black metal, with the style of the riffs perhaps, but the heart of it is grindcore I think.

Onto Desideratum, what does it mean exactly?

Mick : It means something that you want or desire, but you can’t get! Something that you want but you can’t get.

How have people been reacting to it? What are the themes on the record, is it similar to the old record? 

Mick : You’re asking the wrong person man haha! I think that the reaction was super awesome, when it came out everyone was super crazy. I don’t live in this country, he gets more of the response. (points to Duncan)

Duncan : Well, I wouldn’t even say that but in terms of themes of it is Dave’s side, it’s like a 50/50 split when they write. Mick will write the music, Dave will do the vocals, it’s very much set positions. 

I was listening to Desideratum today and there are elements of Dub Steb in it

Mick : Electronics on there, everyone always says that but we’ve always had that since our very first album! There’s a fuckin’ drum ‘n’ bass section on one of the songs.

What made you have that as an influence, did you want to throw a curve ball in?

Mick : It’s just what I listen to! It’s what I like, this part would be fuckin’ cool if it hard some crazy break beat hard kick drums, we don’t think about it. We listen to all different kinds of music, we don’t really listen to all that much metal really! We’ve always been the same, everyone in the band listen to all different genres of music. 

So you all take in the different genres you’ve been listeining to?

Mick : It’s not even really like that, we just write what sounds right at the time. People always say “oh dubstep”, it’s not dub step.

Duncan : It’s just a hard version of electronics isn’t it! Dub Step using utilise beats like that.

Mick : One of Duncan and Dave the singer’s favourite bands is a band called Whitehouse and that just like power violence noise and we’re influenced by that kind of stuff. Which is already prevalent on the original album but it’s just a wall of noise which comes from that kind of music. People think that if you’re in a metal band then that’s what you listen to, it is but its not.

You guys have all got a wide variety of influences, do you think that the people who listen to it have a wide influence?

Mick : I don’t know mate.

Duncan : It’s up to them. I would like them to, I would like to think that they do. As much as you personally might listen to a lot of other stuff, you do find that there is a lot of people that will slate you if there’s anything that deviates just a touch from what they expect you to be. You don’t write music to order or to please  people, apart from yourself.

Mick : I was brought up listening to raga muffin music and blues and ska music and punk, so you know..

Anaal Nathrakh is very experimental, was it hard starting up as such an experimental band?

Mick : No, not at all. Me and Dave were already in a band before this band, when we were sixteen or something and it was almost kind of the same. We got to a point where it was like you know what fuck it im just gonna do this. I wrote the first demo, then Dave came over and sang on it and just said that’s it! Let’s do that! And it’s pretty much sounds exactly the same and it still does, which is pretty unique I guess.

Do you feel that with each release the band has grown? Has it been a steady growth? 

Mick : It’s definitely been a steady growth for sure, I think we did get a bit of popularity pretty quick. We got Terrorizer magazine and even Kerrang! When our first album came out we had a big thing in Kerrang! I think people just saw it as something new and fresh or something. Right from the start people were like this band’s dfferent they’re cool, I guess.

So where does the name Anaal Nathrakh originate from? Is it from Lord Of The Rings?

Mick : (Looks at me as though I have just walked off the moon) No ahah! 

I wasn’t sure!

Mick : He said was it from Lord Of The Rings? 

Duncan : Oooh no!

Mick : Its an old English dialect which means serpents breath, or dragons breath.

So Celtic kind of thing?

Mick : Yeah! It’s actually spelt wrong as well haha! It’s like a spell thing from a movie and my dad use to walk around the house doing it. I was like that sounds fuckin’ cool so I wrote it down later about five years later I found out its spelt completely wrong! But fuck it who cares! 

Well you’ve made it your own now! 

Mick : Yeah! It’s actually spelt Anaial

Duncan : There’s a C in it as well somewhere I think!

Being from Birmingham yourselves do people lump you into the same category as Napalm Death?

Mick : I would like to think so, I don’t know man! We did have something in, Terrorizer I think it was, that said that this band should be recognized along with bands like Napalm Death and stuff like that. The bloodline, basically . I mean I’m super stoked, we are like a direct reaction to bands that we were surrounded by I didn’t think about it at the time but we totally are. 

I was going to say when did the surrounding of being in Birminham influence your sound?

Mick : I don’t think it was that, my favourite band when I was like 12,13 years old was Napalm Death. I didn’t realise they were from Birmingham until I saw him walking down the street! I saw him and was like “That’s Shane from Napalm Death!” 


Mick : Yeah didn’t know him! I was working at his recording studio and he kept coming in. So I made friends with him and all that sort of stuff, people say “oh the surroundings” but no, for me anyway it wasn’t that I just liked music. You get on with things. 

Anaal Nathrakh are a unique package you meld so many different genres, Industrial, Black Metal, Death Metal… Do you find it hard to be put into a specific genre? Do you not want to be put into a specific genre?

Mick : I always tell people that we are extreme metal, whatever you want to call it. I’m kind of glad that we’re not classed as a certain thing as it makes you more individual.

Duncan : I would say that there is very very few bands that are any good that specifically go out and say “right I’m going to be a blackened death metal band this week”, you’re just going to be you! Others will just make up their own genres for you. None of us are worried that people think were in a Black Metal band, “this riff sounds a little bit too grindcore best not play this”. Not at all, let the other guys figure it out.

What does the future hold for Anaal Nathrakh? You’ve said you’re heading to the states now, will we be hearing a new album in the near future?

Mick : Yep! Always, we’ve got that American tour, we’ve already started writing the new album. I don’t know what it’s going to sound like yet or anything but I’ve started writing stuff, I’ve  been having a tickle! 

Do you write whilst being on the road?

Mick : No, I just write at home, but I think I want it to be a bit more extreme. Which is normal. I think on the last album we’ve reached a point where its been really extreme but also really listenable at the same time which is what I’ve always wanted but I think that I want the next one to be a little more unlistenable. Bit more Constellation…

What has been an album that you have been really digging over the last kind of year?

Mick : To be honest, I haven’t listened to anything for so long!

Really, you don’t listen to music?

Mick : I don’t get time man! I’m always recording bands or doing stuff… He’s a better person to talk to, he knows everything! (points to Duncan)

Duncan : I dunno as a band but myself?  The new Napalm was really good, the last Lethal Mugs album brilliant , the last Ministry Ring!

Mick : We do like a bit of Tommy Lee Sparta,

Duncan :Fuck yea him, he’s like ragga but hes got an evil ragga band.

Mick : It’s like black metal raggamuffin music, he wears corpse paint and all his songs are about getting his dick sucked!

Excellent! On that note I think that concludes our interview

Mick & Duncan : Hahaha

 Anaal Nathrakh’s new album Desideratum is out now via Metal Blade.