You guys have been going on for so long now. Do other bands still influence you?
No, not so much. We've now found our own way in doing music. We've got a style of our own, and it's not altered by outside anymore. Of course we do have influences that we've had from the beginning. I started out as a heavy metal kid, buying Number Of The Beast in '82 on the day it came out. Nick was a big fan of Venom and other obscure music, and Greg started out as a punkrocker, as a fan of Discharge. And those influences stick with you, even if you mature musically like we did. But the new stuff doesn't affect our music anymore. Of course we listen to music, but it doesn't consciously alter our way of making music.
When people talk about PL, Nick's progression is one of the most touched subjects.
Yeah, Nick sings a lot different these days than he did in the beginning. That's because over the years Nick has become more comfortable in his singing. He's able to do more with his voice nowadays. That's also one of the reasons why our music isn't that aggressive anymore, because you can't really put extreme aggression into the music without growling. You have to be more gently and put more balance in the music. That's something that we had to work on to find a proper balance.
Your has some aggressive vocals, but none of them are the deathgrunts that Nick was famous for. Do you think that he'll ever do them again?
Well, while we were recording this album, Cathedral was recording their album in the studio next to ours. Nick did some grunts on their CD and in exchange Lee Dorrian did some backgroundvocals on our cd. But that was a one-off thing. Nick doesn't grunt anymore, because it's getting harder and harder for him to use his raw voice. I don't even think that he could do them live anymore. It really hurts his throat if he tries, and the last thing he wants is to is to permanently damage his voice. It's quite hard for him, really. Because a lot of people want to hear him do the low vocals again.
Doesn't that give you a problem if you want to play the old songs live?
Well, we don't really play a lot of old songs anymore, especially not from the first two albums. Sometimes we play As I Die, True Believe and Eternal, but that's about it. We play them a little bit slower and less heavy, and Nick sings them less rough to fit them in.
Don't you think that the older fans will hold the lack of old songs against you?
Well, you can't please everyone. We've got about a hundred songs, and with each new album it becomes harder to choose a setlist. So we have to make a mix, and usually the more recent songs are greater in number. We once tried to do a setlist with old material, but that didn't work out at all. Two people in the front were going completely nuts, and the rest of the crowd were bored to death because they didn't know any of the material. And when you play live you shouldn't only take into account what you want to play, but also what the audience wants to hear.
And do you think that Paradise Lost has a different audience now than five years ago?
Well, certainly a different audience than ten years ago. The people that come to see us now are mainly the ones who're really into the stuff on Icon, Draconian Times and One Second. Whereas five years ago people were more into the stuff from Gothic, the death doom stuff. So it's definitely a different audience. Some fans from ten years ago got a job, got kids and grew out of music. And other new fans learned about our music and seemingly appreciated it, and that's the group of people that now go out and see us at our concerts. But we've also have a group of fans who have been with us from the beginning. Who, like us, started out listening to extreme metal, but when they grew up started to appreciate other music too. Because people change over time.
With all the changes made to the band, do you still consider Paradise Lost metal?
Well, yeah. I still consider us a metalband. It's true that we did so many different things, in fact we did a bit of everything. But it has always in a metal framework, with the right mentality. That's where we all come from: a metal background. I'm the oldest bandmember, I'm 32 right now, and like the rest of the guys I've always listened to metal. Metal will always be a part of Paradise Lost, even though it's not always that obvious..
Has there ever been a moment when you didn't consider yourself a metalband anymore?
Ehr….. no, not really. It is true that Host wasn't a metal-CD at all. There wasn't a single bit of metal on it, even though it was probably the most depressing record that we've ever done. But Host was definitely done with a heavy metal mentality. It had the power and the passion that I normally associate with metal, just not done in the heavy metal way if heavy metal means fast drums and fast solo's. So I do think that we were still a metalband at the time, it just wasn't expressed in raging guitars.
No matter how much you guys altered your music throughout the years, one element has always drawn a red line through it: it has always been depressing. Could you guys even be capable of writing a happy CD?
Capable: yes. Willing: no.
Well… actually, now that I think about it, I don't even think that we're capable of doing a happy record, because that's not the kind of musicians that we are. In this band we channel this darker side of life into our music. Dark emotions, like anger, misery, despair. Of course there's more to us than those emotions. If you'd get to know us personally you'd discover that we have our happy moments too, moments when we laugh and smile like every other person. But when we come together we use our darkest moods to come up with music. That's who we are, we just love dark music.
Where does this love for dark music come from? Is it because of the miserable British weather?
Well, other people in Britain tend to say that it's because we're from Yorkshire. Yorkshire is a sad place, where many bands like us come from. Cathedral is from Yorkshire, as well as the Sisters Of Mercy (and the Toy Dolls). Hahaa, perhaps there's something in the water, I don't know.
You've got nine of those depressive albums out. I'm wondering, which one sold the most? What was your most successful album to date?
Probably One Second, followed by Icon. I don't know for sure, because by now we've heard so many sales-figures. You know how it goes, one person tells you this, the other person tells you something else. You don't really know who to believe in this business. But I'm pretty sure that One Second sold the most.
And how did your last two albums sell?
They sold okay, but not as much as One Second. But they weren't the worst selling albums either. The one that sold the least was our debut LP, Lost Paradise.
Yeah, really. That LP may have a cult-status, but it never really sold very well.
Will you be visiting the Netherlands on your next tour?
Yeah, I hope so. We all have a special bond with your country, because it was one of the first that accepted us. In fact, the first time that I left England was for a gig on Dutch grounds. One of the best moments in my life was when we played at Dynamo '95. At first I didn't have a clue how many people were out there, because I hadn't been on the field all day. We walked on the stag, and to our staggering surprise there were more than 150.000 people there! That was amazing, I was smiling all along.
Despite your warm feelings for our country, your last gig here wasn't such a success.
Yes, I remember that gig. Every time we have some big gigs planned we like to do a couple of warming up gigs in your region. The last time we played there was in Helmond, and we played for a crowd of eighty people. That was a bit of a let down. I spoke to a guy in the audience afterwards, he told me that the venue was in the middle of nowhere, and that there wasn't any promotion done. The only way you could find out about it was through the internet. So that secret gig was a bit TOO secret, hehehe. But fortunately these gigs are an exception rather than a rule.
When you play a gig to such a small crowd, doesn't it ever make you wonder if you've perhaps lost touch with your audience?
No, not really. We've always had a large fan-base. Thing is, you just can't prevent things like this from happening. We have managers who book our gigs, so we have no control over it. Most of the time it works out right, just every now and then there's an incident like this. But usually we play for big crowds.
And what do you prefer, playing to a huge crowd, or to a middle-size one?
That doesn't really matter to me, really. Even if we play for five people, as long as those five people have a good time it's alright. At Dynamo we've played for more than hundred-thousand fans and that was one of the best shows we've ever played. But we've also done a gig in Sweden once where we had a turnout of 150 people, and that was one of our best shows. So you can't put a number on the fun factor. The most important thing is that everybody who paid for a ticket gets his money's worth and enjoys himself.
You guys are veterans of metal. Do you get to hear any of the newer bands yourself?
Well, yes. Mostly on festivals, where they share a stage with us. And every now and then we get to hear some new stuff on CD's that people give to us. I don't really follow what's going on otherwise anymore, because I rarely have the time for it. I'm away from home most of the time, so I don't have a lot of opportunity to hunt after new groups.
And what kind of music do you listen to yourself?
That depends on the mood that I'm in. To me, music is about atmosphere, so my choice for music depends on how I feel. Sometimes I listen to classical music, sometimes to the new Slayer, sometimes to the new Queens Of The Stoneage.
A lot of newer bands have felt influenced by Paradise Lost. What do you think of this?
That's the biggest compliment that anyone could ever give me. It's really cool that people are so touched by what we've done that they pull out their instruments and try to do something like it. I know that there are a lot of very good young bands around that are influenced by us. I won't mention any names, but some of them are really good. Again, some of those bands I get to see on festivals, and from some we're handed a CD. And a very, very small number of them may one day end up opening for us on one of our tours.