Interview:Duncan Patterson (ALTERNATIVE 4,Ion,ex-Anathema,Antimatter)


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HIT CHANNEL INTERVIEW: October 2011. Hit Channel had the luck to talk one more time, with an extremely talented and intelligent person: Duncan Patterson (ex-Anathema,Ion,Antimatter).Duncan’s new band Alternative 4 released their debut album “The Brink”. Listen to it!! It will be out in 15th November 2011. Read below the very interesting things he told us


Are you anxious for the response Alternative 4’s ‘The Brink’ album, will meet?

I’m not really anxious, I’m happy that the creative process is over and hope that the album is made available to those who will appreciate it. So far I have had good and accurate feedback from people who understand what it’s about, and those who can link it to my previous works.


How much necessary were all these travels during ‘The Brink’ recordings? Was travelling an additional inspiration for the music of this album?

The travels were necessary as the 3 of us live in different countries. There was no inspiration for the album because of this, as the album was already written before I set off to record it. We did the drum takes in Ireland as Mauro lives in Dublin and my close friends have a studio in Longford, in the midlands of Ireland. They have a great drum room there and Mick Cronin, the engineer, is also a drummer. So it was an ideal place to track the drums. For the guitars and vocals I decided to go to Melbourne where Mark lives, and we ran through all the stuff together. Mark is a good studio engineer himself so between us we worked on the parts and got them nailed down. After that I took everything over to Portugal where I was working in a nice atmosphere for the mix with Paulo Basilio, who is now going to be our second guitarist for the upcoming tour in December.


Could you give us some few infos about the lyrical content of ‘The Brink’ album?

Theres a consistant theme running through the album. Basically about the abuse of power, the insane clamour for ‘fame’ where people will do anything to see themselves as being more important than others. And about the people who believe that.


1. The Brink: This is a short poem about the quest for ‘fame’ that is in the forefront of many musicians minds. Theres an old saying ‘popularity is glory’s small change’ which I used in this one.


2. False Light: This track is basically about the falsity of the ‘celebrity’ and tricking people into believing that this makes them worthy of following, and more importantly – believing. I drew parallels to organised religion, and also my own unfortunate story of where I was written out of the history of two bands that I played an important part in. ‘False light’ is also a legal term.”False light cases are about damage to a person’s personal feelings or dignity, whereas defamation is about damage to a person’s reputation”. Those interested in thinking will be able to figure it out.


3. Alternate: Alternate is about being brave enough to change your situation when things are not going well. In my own experience its better to walk away than to keep banging your head against a wall. Again it is related to the illusion of ‘fame’ and what people will do to achieve it.


4. Underlooked: This is about someone who gains popularity, fame, and fortune by default, and their creative output is just stolen from other people. Again I have written about people not thinking for themselves and just believing what is placed in front of them by the media.


duncan45. Still Waters: This is a personal story about realising recently that I was still suffering from an old massive injustice, even after all of the forgiveness and moving on. I’m still affected to this day by the actions of other peoples envy and fear, and pure insensitivity. I allowed it to happen though. It was still there with me, and as the old saying goes ‘Still waters run deep’ which describes the situation perfectly. I’m using this run of media to clear my name once and for all. I was seriously ill for a while, from around this time last year which took which has taken almost a year to recover, and my life ‘flashed before me’ only in slow motion, and I was left to dwell on many things for a long time. I don’t want to leave this Earth having the official version of my life being complete revisionist bullshit and nasty rumours. And I’m still here to tell the tale, and I have every intention of doing so now.


6. The Dumbing Down

i. The Travesty Waltz: This is a short poem about revisionist nonsense, put to a bad quality waltz.

ii. Steakknifes Theme: This is where a dark sense of humour comes into play. Its a private joke basically.

iii. Silent Approval: ‘Committed to ignorance, you let the lying dogs sleep.’ It is self-expanatory really. It is about mass ignorance, allowing people in a so-called higher position to get away with murder. Sometimes literally.


7. Automata: Is about following, being told what to wear, what to listen to, what to eat. Not being conscious of what is really going on. Again, thats the general theme of the album.


8. Autonoma: An instrumental. The basic theme is the struggle to become independent again after years of conditioning and programming. Its kind of like an aural cold turkey in a way, it takes time and patience to break habits. So I made it quite drawn-out and uncomfortable, but it ends with a positive vibe.


9. The Brink (reprise): This poem is spoken over a long reflection of what has already been written. 2 chords for 14 minutes. For some people this will be too extreme, whereas others will naturally be able to chill out to it.


How hard you had to search to find these two great musicians who participate in ‘The Brink’: Mauro Frison (drums) and Mark Kelson (vocals/guitar)? They are from distant places of the world..

When I played in Argentina last year, Mauro played drums for me in two Buenos Aires gigs. He was very organised and had everything rehearsed perfectly. I knew that I could trust him to put the effort into a project that is important to me, so I invited him to join the band. With Mark, we had been speaking about doing an album together for years. And this felt like the right time to get him involved. Nevermind the distance, we are proving that we can do it despite that.


duncan3How difficult is the fact that one person (you) arrange all the business/promo/financial details,except ofcourse the music part?

Well I actually signed to Avantgarde Music so that they can handle that side of things. I deal with them directly to sort everything out, but the business and promo side is their job. I just keep an eye on everything. Of course I do a lot of promotion myself and I enjoy putting the extra effort in. I will appreciate the chance to relax though once the tour is over and I dont have any work on for a while. There are actually three of us that are full time members, and once things start rolling we will all be putting a shift in to promote the album and that. As we are from different continents we all have a lot of different contacts, which is very handy for us.


 What expectations do you have from the forthcoming Alternative 4 tour? Do you see these shows as a challenge to gain more listeners?

I don’t know if we will gain more listeners, as I guess that the people who will show up will have already heard some music from us. Maybe friends of friends will come and hear us for the first time though. I don’t know what to expect really as these are really strange days, but I hope that we can actually enjoy ourselves and enjoy the communication with the people who come to see us.


How long will be the duration of your set in this tour? Will you do any covers? And if yes, which?

The set is over an hour. We may do a couple of covers, as I have some in mind, but the people who show up at the gigs can find that out for themselves. We will also play a few old tracks of mine in this format and I really want to do them justice this time. I’ve heard other people playing some of them and its never felt quite right. My music is very simple, but its not so easy to get the dynamics and the subtleties right. Which, to me, are the most important details.


You grew up in Liverpool but you have travelled a lot in your life. Do you think your music will be different if you had grown up in a different place or this is irrelevant?

That’s impossible to know. My father’s side of the family were all Irish musicians so maybe its in the blood anyway. I grew up being obsessed with The Beatles from a very early age. I guess coming from Liverpool made that feel more special. It’s no coincidence that Roger Waters (Pink Floyd’s main songwriter and bassist), who is my all time massive influence, was also obsessed with The Beatles, especially Lennon. As are a lot of my favourite writers.


You used the ‘Eye of the Providence’ for the album cover. What this means to you? Are you interested in occult?

The general theme for the album is about the abuse of power and the control over people who dont think for themselves. The artwork theme matches that, and hopefully it will provoke people to question things and try to work it out. Though I’m often told by many people that they’re not interested in the writers actual meaning of the lyrics, and that they prefer to make their own interpretations, which I find ridiculous. Its like ‘You’re my favourite writer, but I have absolutely no idea what your lyrics are about, and have no interest in finding out what you are trying to say’. I don’t understand that at all, but each to their own I guess.


duncan2After this tour,which is your next step: Booking festival shows? Doing a second Alternative 4 album or a third Ion album?What?

My next step is to relax and recharge, then decide what to do. I have the concept for the next Íon album but I don’t have a record deal yet, and I don’t have the energy to release it myself. We’re gonna have to see what happens with this new album now and see what invitations we get, if any. Nothing is planned as yet though we will be playing live next year at some point.


Do you think the fact that Greece is on the verge of default is another example that Greek people don’t keep their promises?

To me, Greece has always been chaotic and disorganised. I could write a book about the amount of ridiculous situations that I have been in in that country. Even getting on a train is a huge task when all the seats are treble-booked and that. It makes me anxious just thinking about it. Though I hope that you guys don’t suffer too much and the crisis passes sooner.


Which was the last great album you listened to?

I recently discovered ‘Zwischenwelt – Paranormale Aktivitat’ which is a great album. Interesting use of sounds and gets rather spooky.


Close the interview the way you like..

Thanks again for the coverage and I hope some people from Greece can make the trip to Sofia or Istanbul to see us. Cheers and good luck!


A big “THANK YOU” to Duncan Patterson for his great answers.

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