“We were name-checked on American Dad!" We chat to Dave Hunt, frontman of beloved British extreme metallers Anaal Nathrakh, about filthy music, cartoons and "unapologetically juvenile" album covers

Dave from Anaal Nathrakh
(Image credit: Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns via Getty Images)

Formed in the late 90s in Birmingham, England, Anaal Nathrakh soon established themselves as one of the most essential British extreme metal bands of the New Millennium, their compelling blend of death, black, grindcore, industrial and even symphonic metal pushing them past many of their peers. After almost 25 years and eleven studio albums, however, the future of Anaal Nathrakh looks a little uncertain. We caught up with frontman Dave Hunt to find out what's been going on. 

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When you played London’s Scala in 2022 without co-founder Mick Kenney, there was uncertainty about whether Anaal would continue. What’s the plan going forwards? 

“Some work that Mick did during the pandemic really took off, and basically takes up all of his time. After releasing [2020’s] Endarkenment, it felt like we hadn’t done justice to our work. There was just no prospect of Mick being available for live stuff, but it’s good for me personally to try and work some of this [material] out of my head.”

How did it feel on the night?

“Well, it was a one-off plan [to have a stand-in for Mick], but the response was positive. Mick and I had a chat, and the feeling was that we didn’t want to say that that was it. But we did know that it would be a long time until Mick would be able to participate again. To go touring effectively on Endarkenment for the next 10 years would be taking the piss, but hopefully we can go out there and give people something they want to see. We’re gonna do some stuff in 2024, and I’d have to think long and hard before going beyond that.”

Endarkenment’s cover is a pig with cocks in its eyes! How much of that is because you’re still getting a kick out of putting these laughably extreme images in people’s faces? 

“Probably about two-thirds! There’s an unapologetically juvenile way we talk about these things. It’s got meaning, it’s intended to say this and that, but at the end of the day it’s a pig’s head with cocks in its eyes. And why not have something that’s more than one thing at once? It’s hilariously confrontational.”

‘Anaal Nathrakh’ has become a byword for filthy music. How did you feel about getting name-checked on American Dad? 

“We were name-checked on American Dad! Thanks for reminding me of that! They probably got the words from the same spell book we took it from, but even if so, we’ve managed to penetrate areas of culture you might not have expected us to.”

Endarkenment is an album about anti-enlightenment and people constructing and clinging to their own ‘facts’. Did it feel like you had inadvertently made a prophetic album?

“Yes, is the simple answer. We were recording that in late 2019, and with the very obvious thing that happened [in 2020], when we finished the recording, everything that we were talking about on the album seemed to go into overdrive. If you take people creating their own ‘facts’ to Trump saying ‘bleach will sort it out!’, it’s like everything we’d thought got ramped up the point of being cartoonish.”

Over the years, what are the most ridiculous things you’ve seen on the extreme metal circuit?

“We played with Watain underneath a shopping mall in Tokyo, and had building complaints through three feet of concrete walls about the smell [of meat and blood]. We ended up spraying a can of Lynx around the edge of the dressing room door every time someone came in, like an airlock! Then we played Dark Mofo festival in Tasmania, in this Bond villain lair-turned-modern-art-gallery with a fully functioning digestive system [an installation called Cloaca Professional, aka ‘the poo machine’ - Modern Art Ed] making the whole area smell powerfully of shit.”

Is there still a possibility that Anaal Nathrakh could record more albums or reconvene creatively?

“Last time we spoke about it, yeah. I live in Birmingham and Mick lives somewhere near Los Angeles, so it’s not like we’re around each other’s houses for a cup of sugar every day, but we talk regularly and that was still the plan. It’s possible that we would end up doing something in the studio and then I would continue with it in this live format. It’s very much ‘we will see what we will see’. It ain’t over ’til it’s over, and the spirit is still there, but if anything has been learned from the past few years it’s to not try and predict how things are going to work out.”

Originally published in Metal Hammer #381

Perran Helyes

Beginning contributing to Metal Hammer in 2023, Perran has been a regular writer for Knotfest since 2020 interviewing icons like King Diamond, Winston McCall, and K.K. Downing, but specialising in the dark, doomed, and dingy. After joining the show in 2018, he took over the running of the That’s Not Metal podcast in 2020 bringing open, anti-gatekeeping coverage of the best heavy bands to as many who will listen, and as the natural bedfellow of extreme and dark music devotes most remaining brain-space to gothic and splatter horror and the places where those things entwine. 

With contributions from