I had just come out of isolation before the pandemic hit: Duncan Patterson

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Duncan Patterson talks about his new project along Darren White and his new solo album

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After exiling himself from the musical world for five years, Duncan Patterson decided to return to compose again, however, just when he decided to return, a pandemic hit the world and delayed the plans to record his new album: Grace Road, which he was going to record last year.

However, the creative drive has been so strong that Patterson continued to compose, now alongside Darren White, with whom he shared credits on Anathema years ago. What started as an idea back in 1994 has now taken shape under the name Antifear. Under this new project Patterson and White have worked remotely gathering ideas for what will be a new album.

Duncan Patterson tells us in this interview about these two projects and how his creative process has been developing in recent months.


Since when have you been in Monterrey, how have your days been there?

Duncan Patterson: I’ve been here for over 5 years this time, but I have visited Monterrey many times. I have had every kind of adventure and drama possible, both good and bad. Pros and cons, like everywhere.

What stage are you now at for the new material you are working on? Are you already recording or something?

DP: I have about thirty tracks demoed right now. That includes five tracks from my solo album ‘Grace Road’ that I was due to record last year, but the pandemic forced me to change plans. I have everything finished with that album, lyrics, melodies and so on. For the Antifear stuff we are still working on lyrics and vocal arrangements. We almost have too much music to choose from at this point, so we have decided to concentrate on four tracks for two upcoming 7″s.

Do you direct your creative process towards a specific sound or is it something that develops autonomously?

DP: With my solo stuff I have a general ‘mood’ rather than a specific sound, then build the sounds around that. For example, if I have a piano track I may decide to leave it bare if I want it to feel ‘vulnerable’ or so. Or could add a nice string arrangement to colour it up. It depends on the mood. I usually stick to the same toolbox with each album though when it comes to instrumentation. With the Antifear stuff we have discussed the kind of sound we want to go for. It’s a basic toolbox of drums, bass, guitars and vocals. We will tastefully add other instruments here and there but generally its a basic punk rock set up.

For many artists, the confinement caused by the pandemic did not change their work style much because they were already used to working in isolation. Was that your case? How have the last months been creatively speaking?

DP: I had just come out of isolation before the pandemic hit. A five year self-imposed exile from music. I wasn’t sure if I would find the energy and inspiration ever again but I did. I have written around twenty songs during the pandemic, so it isn’t doing my creative mind any harm.

What do you consider to have been the most recurring themes that have influenced you in recent times composing this work?

DP: Lies and injustice have played a big part. And having empathy for a friend in need who has suffered a grave injustice. I’m not writing the lyrics for the Antifear stuff, so it’s a feeling that I’m putting into the actual music. Like a call to arms kind of thing. Ready to fight.

Has it happened to you that an idea occurs to you and then you are not able to remember it; how do you manage to prevent this?

DP: Millions of times. I must have lost and forgotten a wealth of material over the years. I used to write everything down in notebooks, pen and paper. Then I switched to computers, now I’m back to pen and paper again. So I used a notebook here plus a ton of bad quality videos on my phone when I quickly want to record a riff or melody. Because I’m not writing lyrics this time I need to use ‘working titles’ for the demo tracks. I name them in a way that stops me forgetting anything that I can’t add to the recordings yet.

How has been the interaction with Darren White? Do you consider that you are the same people as when you first worked and this is reflected in the music?

DP: I think we are the same people deep down but thirty years have passed since we first recorded and toured together. We were teenage boys then who hadn’t seen much of the world. We have both travelled extensively over the years, aside from touring, and learned a hell of a lot along the way. Travelling the world with a band is a totally different thing. There’s that fan/artist dynamic, which I have never been comfortable with, plus there are a lot of smiley vultures in and around the music business. When you travel properly you get to experience the real people and real culture, and I’m not talking about package holidays and tourist traps. As well as that, we have seen the music industry for what it really is. As teenagers we were bright eyed and maybe a bit overzealous at times. Now we have a set plan and aren’t prepared to take any shit. As for the music, I’m probably writing the kind of stuff I wanted to write when I was young but, so I’m regressing in a way. As for the lyrics, they are coming from a man with a lot of experience in the world and a degree in ancient civilizations and that, so I’m sure this will all come out.

Are you working remotely or do you have the opportunity to see each other in person?

DP: We are working remotely right now. It’s impossible for either of us to jump on a plane and cross the ocean. I was due to fly to the UK last summer but the pandemic ruined the plans. If we have to record this way for the 7″s then so be it, but there’s no way I will record a full album remotely.

Will you invite someone else to participate in this work or will it just be the two of you?

DP: We still need to figure out the logistics of this, and a lot depends on the situation with the pandemic. We may use a session drummer for the 7″s then have a full time drummer when it’s time to record the album. Same goes for an additional guitarist. I don’t want to record all the guitars, and we have the perfect person who wants to do it, but we may have to wait til the album recording for this.

Are you planning just one full-length album or could your creative process lead to more?

DP: I’d like to do four albums and numerous 7″s and splits. We already have a lot of material and I’m still writing a lot now. Let’s see what happens.

Do you plan to release this new album independently or with the support of a label?

DP: We have discussed this and decided to speak to labels regarding the full length album. We already have a few companies interested. We are speaking with underground labels for the 7″s and I also have my own label Strangelight Records if we need another outlet for anything. If we lived in the same country and planned on touring extensively, then I’d love to do it full on DIY. But we have families and it’s impossible to run a full time record label from Mexico, unless I paid people to do it in Europe which would defeat the object of being independent. So the plan is to release the two vinyls and see what comes of it.

Do you have any tentative date to finish it all and be able to launch it?

DP: No, there’s no pressure for anything. I’m sure the first four tracks will be ready soon enough though.

Where can people be aware of the progress of your work?

DP: I always update my Facebook music page, plus there is an Antifear Facebook page too. Everything will be posted there as it happens.

As an artist, what is your opinion of the current state of the artistic union as a result of the pandemic with space closures and financial difficulties; do you think art should be considered as a basic necessity product?

DP: I think everyone must be patient and realistic. None of us have any experience in this so we must adapt. It’s sad to see venues closing and people who took heavy financial losses with flights being cancelled etc. but I’m not shedding any tears for wealthy musicians who have been putting a fake begging bowl out, preying on naive fans. They will still receive royalties while a lot of people are jobless.

Thank you for your answers! Any final words for readers?

DP: Thanks for the interest and please follow the Facebook pages for updates. Take care all!

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