While it’s amusing to think of Dani with one foot up on a boardroom table, urging his colleagues to ‘open that shit up’, it’s clear the unification of these two sides of his life made the management of his struggles, and music that articulates them, possible. So, too, did the success of Black Flame, an album that seemed a culmination of Bury Tomorrow’s capabilities. Their frontman, however, knew they could do more. The first taste of how right he was came during BT’s European tour last winter in support of Black Flame, at the beginning of which the band released The Grey (VIXI), Cannibal’s fascinating, feral first taste, and a song Dani would delve into during all 19 shows on the jaunt. “I’d built it up within the set,” he recalls now. “It’s rare when you’re in a band as long as we’ve been to have those new moments of being taken aback, but the emotion was palpable. That’s when I knew something was different.”
The reactions vindicated the crushing honesty of the album Dani knew he had in the can, and the decision his bandmates – guitarists Kristan Dawson and Jason Cameron, Dani’s bassist brother Davyd, and drummer Adam Jackson – had made to “surrender” this album to his preoccupations. “They said, ‘Shall we go whole hog on this album and you do you?’, which was a very selfless thing for them to do as musicians, though we’re five partners on this record.”
Dani ‘doing’ Dani resulted in Better Below, arguably Cannibal’s darkest and most unambiguous offering, which the frontman describes as dealing with times “when there’s no clarity in your mindset, just despair.” He didn’t connect with the song during the demo stage, sidelining it in favour of more immediate material, which he’d record with a handheld mic to replicate the intensity of being on-stage. The exhaustive process meant Dani was physically and mentally drained by the time he reconnected with the track, resulting in lyrics and a performance coming direct from a mind raw from exertion. “The floodgates were open,” he exhales deeply. “I figured if I was going to talk about things, I might as well be as blatant as I can be on the topic of hiding. Better Below is very specific in its intent, but it also spans all of the diagnoses I’ve had over the years, harking back when I used to hide having anorexia, to not comprehending my depression, to not knowing what was going on when I hit crisis point and found out I had generalised anxiety disorder.”
Even hearing these experiences anecdotally, let alone on the ferocious album they’ve informed, is thoroughly bruising. How, then, does Dani feel about the prospect of discussing and performing these songs for at least a couple of years? “I reduce my anxiety by talking about it,” he replies quickly, smiling, having clearly asked himself this several times. “Selfishly, what I got from this album was the ability to complete it and put it to bed. I put my money where my mouth is and used my platform to open up a conversation. And I knew that in taking this path, and making this album, I’d open myself up to answering lots of questions about difficult things, but I knew I could do that.”
“I’m going to have peaks and troughs throughout my entire life,” he reasons, light streaming through the blinds. “But now I have the tools to be able to navigate that and keep myself safe.”
Cannibal is out July 3 via Music For Nations and is available for pre-order now.
Read this next: