Sonisphere UK 2011 Interview: Anterior – James Cook

Anterior developed swiftly on the encounter of four 17 year old school friends, a realization of potential produced a tight line up, composing and playing in their own ferocious style. Anterior successfully captured local promoter’s interest bringing about some memorable early shows, and bigger supports with the likes of 3 Inches Of Blood and Skindred soon followed. Their first official songs were recorded with producer Tim Hamill and were released online via the band’s MySpace.

Social networking sites gave Anterior immediate attention worldwide, sparking offers from labels, which ended with finally signing a worldwide deal with Metal Blade Records in December 2006 which then led to the release of their album ‘This Age Of Silence’ 12th June 2007.

The album received vast critical acclaim from magazines such as; Kerrang, Metal Hammer, Terrorizer and Rock Sound. Soon after their first tour in support of the album with The Black Dahlia Murder, former Mendeed lead guitarist and long-time friend, Steven Nixon, was made a permanent addition to Anterior.

They continued to play shows all over the UK during 2008 before their original drummer departed Anterior, which forced the band to use fill in drummers on the remaining shows. Capitalising on the success of their debut album, the 2009 touring schedule included a sold out UK tour with All That Remains and The Haunted, a Metal Blade tour with label mates The Rotted and Malefice, and a festival appearance at Bloodstock Open Air. While writing new material, they successfully completed their first few headline dates in December with James Cook filling in on drums. From these dates, the band garnered astonishing live reviews and a bigger following, which aided in confirming James Cook as the new full time drummer.

In 2010, Anterior took time off to complete writing for their second album. Recording for their second album began with acclaimed producer Scott Atkins (Behemoth, Sylosis). The new line up recorded together for the first time and with a new engineer at the helm, the album soon took a new direction. After months of recording and concise engineering, Anterior ended up with a more refined record and a huge progression from their previous offering. The result – a thundering new album entitled Echoes Of The Fallen.

With a release set for the 12th September, I had the chance to catch up with the bands most recent addition, drummer James Cook, at Sonisphere to talk to him about the new album and lots more.

Make sure to check out the bands MySpace, Facebook and Twitter profiles and order your copy of their new album here.

Listen to their new single ‘Tyranny’ below and click on the downwards arrow on the player to grab your free download of the song right now!

EspyRock: How you doing man?

James Cook: Slightly hungover but I’m a slight hungover person so it’s okay. Always a happy hungover but last night is an absolute blur, all I remember is that I had to have our tech help me back to the tent, it wasn’t a good situation with all of the guy-ropes so I hit the deck quite a few times [laughs].

So you looking forward to play tomorrow?

Very much so. This is my first ever festival experience and I’m playing it so it’s sensational, just absolutely nuts. I look forward to every gig but this is a bit special.

Who are you looking forward to seeing then?

I’m looking forward to seeing Periphery, I really want to see Periphery because I’m a bit of a tech-head so I can’t wait to see them. I saw Richard Cheese and I was very happy to be able to see him but I would also like to see Bill Bailey tonight as well.

It sound be fun to see what sort of metal covers he comes out with.

Exactly. I think I’ve come here for exactly the wrongs reasons, I want to see the funny side of things.

You don’t have that far of a walk either, just over in the tent through the bar and you can catch all the other comedians.

I know, I will need to sneak away at some point. I missed Architects earlier also now thinking about it because I was doing press so that would have been a band I would’ve wanted to see.

Anterior BandYou’ll have a sort of small festival experience later this year also when you play Goatstock.

Yeah that’s a charity festival and we’re doing that coming off a European tour in September/October. We’re looking forward to that one especially because it’s in Wales, our home crowd, as I say that in a cockney northern accent [laughs] but that’s the bands home crowd and it always works out well when we play that venue [Bogiez]. I think it was the same venue that we played with Sylosis in February and it was an absolutely great gig.

You have the new album coming out soon, ‘Echoes Of The Fallen’, so what can you tell us about it?

I think it’s always like everyone says you know ‘oh the intense bits are more intense’ but it is. I think there is a little more groove to it as well but with ‘This Age Of Silence’ it was a little more full on as there are times I can sit back and think ‘I’m not playing double bass drum, that’s quite nice’ [laughs]. The way we’ve went with it is a lot more intelligent.

Was that just a case of how long you spent with each song or a different process to the writing which helped structure it differently?

Yeah we spent a lot of time thinking about the songs, a lot of time thinking about the songs as it has been four years since the last album [laughs]. I joined in 2009 and that’s when we first started to work on the new songs and we had a great situation with our producer [Scott Atkins] to just sit there and be like ‘cool, that sounds awesome but try this one’ and I think in the studio I was doing around four different bits just for one section just to see what works and what doesn’t work.

What was it like working with him then if you were doing so many different variations to every bit of every song, do you think he helped you?

He definitely helped. He drove me in the right direction but at times he was a fuck, the most devastating bastard ever just sitting there going ‘meh, carry on’ and I’m like ‘fuck, it can’t be that bad’ [laughs]. He did drive me in the right away as I was doing ten to twelve hour days in the studio just because the time after you had warmed up and got to a good level, you just wanted to carry on and keep going. It actually didn’t work out well in the end of it because I came back from doing recording and I lay in bed having chest pains and a numb and tingling left arm. I didn’t know what was going on, I actually thought I was having a heart attack. I went to hospital and it turned out that I had actually torn most of the muscle from the left hand side of my chest and strained my left arm.

And that was just from recording?

Just from recording yeah. Absolutely awesome!

You hear of producers pushing artists but I can’t remember hearing anyone pushing someone to the point they tear the muscles in their chest.

I know man [laughs]. Where the studio is out in the countryside, he goes ‘go warm up for an hour’ but because it was cold out there, you warm up and your muscles are still not ready and it was just absolutely devastating. You’d go out into the studio and go ‘fucking hell its cold in here’ and then run back into where I was in the steam room and it was awesome. But I think the worst point of being in the studio was the fact I was doing ten to twelve hour days just locked in a glass booth, on my own, not doing anything, not talking to anyone just thinking ‘what can I do?’ Playing drums and drinking water was all I could do.

You managed to debut four of the new songs at the Sonisphere warm up gig that you did the other night so how did they go down?

They went down really well because there’s a few of the songs with a massive death metal feel, just destroying because they are what they are. But yeah they are doing really really well and the reaction we’ve had so far from the likes of Metal Hammer who’ve said we’re taking a good new approach is exactly what we want. We want people to stand up and notice what we are doing.

Anterior Echoes Of The Fallen ArtworkI need to ask about the artwork because of the devil saint.

Basically it’s the Saint of Death. That’s what the last song [on the new album] is about, I can’t remember what it’s called because it’s something Spanish, ‘Casel de Doritios’ or something [laughs], I’m not too sure (song is called ‘Senora De Las Sombras’). But basically the last song on the album is all about being chased by the Saint of Death and the album artwork just shows the Saint of Death standing on top of a mountain with a line of people just walking to their deaths. The kind of base to the album is about people’s apathy towards forward movement in life. You can do something so why not do it to your full intent. It’s like some people who can play drums who decide to just play in a little pub band but no, if you can play drums then play them to your full ability and use that for something. Especially from where some of the guys come from in Wales, there are a lot of people that could do a lot more with their lives but they are happy just to sit in their little trench.

I suppose that sort of message is perfectly timed right now, especially here in the UK with so many people just prepared to just get on by, not even wanting to move to a level in which they can be comfortable but just get past and remain there without ever excelling in life and eventually die.

Yeah exactly, that’s the right interpretation and that’s what the album is about for me.

As you stated you only joined the band in 2009 and by then the band had already signed to Metal Blade early in their career so what was it like for you to come into the band knowing there was already a high level of support on the business side of things also?

Yeah they did get signed up very very quickly and for me as a drummer, a metal drummer, walking into a band signed to Metal Blade is like ‘WHAT!?’ I’ve been in so many bands and never been signed and then all of a sudden I get into a band and not only are they signed but they are signed to Metal Blade. There are so many bands signed to that label I love like [The] Black Dahlia [Murder], Unearth, just so many bands like that and to think I’m on the same label as them just doesn’t make any sense [laughs]. I’m just a stupid London lad [laughs].

With those bands you were in before, were you trying to work full time with them or did you have a normal steady job?

I was working full time in a drum shop and doing covers gigs as well because covers gigs are good to do. I do the covers gigs for my pocket and I do these gigs for my heart if that makes sense.

Yeah of course, you need to keep earning to survive but at the end of the day this with Anterior is what you really want to do, this is your passion.


What was it like then jumping from the job and the odd covers gig to becoming a full time musician because it must be some change in lifestyle and I imagine it would have taken some time to get used to?

Yeah well it destroyed the left hand side of my body for one [laughs] but it went from like one or two gigs per month to ten nights in a row so yeah way different. You get used to it and you quickly learn that it’s part and parcel because the singer has got to get used to using his voice like that every night and I’ve got to get used to pretty much jogging on the spot every night [laughs].

How do you feel that you fit in to the band then when you joined considering the material you were originally playing wasn’t yours in any form?

They had been through a few drummers but it really easy as I went down for my audition and spent three days with them so we’d play during the day and then drink during the night. They said to me to learn these three songs for the audition but I just learnt the full album while I was there [laughs] then I went down and there we go. I love the fact that I’ve only known these guys for two years but, and I know it’s a cliché, they feel like brothers to me and when we got together it just felt absolutely right and it was amazing.

Anterior Sonisphere UK 2011There is a question I’m asking everyone across the weekend to wrap up the interviews and that is if you could go back to when you first started out as a musician, considering where you came from with covers bands to now this, what is the one piece of advice you would give yourself?

Save some fucking money! [laughs] That’s the only thing, no matter who we’re signed to and how many gigs we do, we do put a lot into it. We work hard, not just playing wise but we have to work hard to keep ourselves going and it really is hard work. People just think ‘oh you’re signed so it must be really easy for you’ and it isn’t.

And the only way you actually earn now is by touring so it’s not like an easy going job where you are guaranteed a wage at the end of the month.

Yeah exactly! People seem to think when you are on tour that you don’t have to spend at all but you still have to eat during the day, fuel and all that. So the thing is when people see you’re in this kind of band they think you don’t have a day job but you have to have a day job! That’s one of the reasons I’m in a covers band because it’s good easy money.

Oh so you still actually do that?

Yeah, I can go play a wedding and then come play Sonisphere [laughs]. It’s like ‘what is this?’ [laughs] It’s a bit different and there’s a few less drums as well so it’s a bit different but yeah it pays [laughs].

That’s perfect mate, thanks for taking some time out talk to me man.

No worries thank you man.


About ??

Michael is the owner and creator of EspyRock. He is your general all round geek; sports fan; TV show fanatic. You can find him sharing his thoughts on his personal Twitter account. Contact Michael on Twitter or via Email.

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