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My Dying Bride

My Dying Bride is het boegbeeld van de Engelse doom metal scene. Toen in 1992 'As The Flower Withers' uitkwam was dit geen enkelvoudige release maar het begin van een genre dat wereldwijd navolging en aanhangers zou vergaren. Drie kernwoorden zijn hier van toepassing: duister, intens, melancholie. In die eerste jaren bracht de combinatie van viool en death/doom een revolutie teweeg qua cross over. Toen deze viool uit de muziek verdween leidde dit tot het experimentele '34.788%…complete', maar de groep herpakte zich en leverde met de laatste albums terug klassiekers in het genre af. In februari 2004 kunnen we een nieuw album verwachten en dus greep ik de gelegenheid aan om met Andrew en Adrian te keuvelen over de stand van zaken. Met dank aan Michiel B. en zijn vriendin voor de assistentie.

Door: Vera | Archiveer onder

The new album is delayed until February 2004. How come? What's the reason for it?

Andrew: 'Two reasons we've got, although both are about the same subject. The first reason was the artwork, we didn't feel was finished. The second reason to have a February release was we refused to rush the artwork. The deadline that Peaceville gave us was unworkable because we were unaware of any deadlines until one week before the deadline. We weren't ready and we don't want to rush it. The music is finished, everything recorded, the mix, that's been done for a while. Then Peaceville came up to do it next year, which is the right thing to do, I'm not bothered because of the delay. They can plan, we have lots of time for the artwork and it gives everybody a little more breathing space. The album is very good and we want the artwork to reflect that'.
Adrian: 'It feels better to take your time and come up with something good, than to rush anything'.

band imageIs the artwork once again done by your lead singer Aaron?

Andrew: 'Lots of it. We are also in the process of doing a video for one of the songs of the new album. We're doing this small Halloween tour, as we call it. The video will be done by a chap who did the artwork for 'Like Gods Of The Sun', a friend of ours Andy Green. He is doing some initial stuff that is fantastic, you'll see. There will be some filming tonight but not for the video. We are not going to have some live footage on the video. We film it separately'.

Tonight there is also a DVD recording?

Andrew: 'There is about 7 cameras: six major film cameras and one handheld camera. There is a lot of stuff in there tonight, you'll see'.
Adrian: 'That is also a reason why the artwork is delayed. We got so many things going on: we were recording the music, artwork for the CD, for the DVD, filming the DVD, the video that we are doing…everything all at once'.

What are you going to use the video for?

Andrew: 'It is going to be like a promo video'.

Do you still have channels in England into metal?

Andrew: 'It is coming back. Kerrang is now one of the major heavy metal/rock channels and after a while they will expand. As for regular TV: there's a few major channels that asked us, because they play nu metal stuff these days. It is helping. We may dislike it 'cause it is bollocks, but it helps real heavy metal get back in the mainstream. Because when MTV stopped being a rock channel, the video budget was destroyed, it didn't exist anymore'.

Did you release a video on the last few albums?

Andrew: 'No, the last one was on 'Like Gods Of The Sun' (For You – Vera). We have always been around doing this kind of music and we still consider ourselves as an underground band. It is a very specific market for My Dying Bride. But now it seems worth taking the risk of spending some money on it. Cradle Of Filth has made some videos and they are a hot band now. I think if they can do that, we should be able to do it too'.

They are not that much doom metal bands anymore in Yorkshire I think, or am I wrong?

Andrew: 'No. The Prophecy is one of them. There's a couple of other bands but they get lashed away by My Dying Bride or Anathema or Paradise Lost. It is difficult being a doom band in Yorkshire cause that's nothing special to do when you are born in Yorkshire. They want to be different, they want to be noticed. But the Prophecy, they go against the grain but they love My Dying Bride. We worked quite close before they became the Prophecy, we knew them for a long time. We influenced them even more than we realize I think. And they are proud to be a doom metal band of Yorkshire. It is a good tradition and they are a great band'.

This year you started up a label, Blackdoom Records…

Andrew: 'Me together with Hamish, the other guitar player, yes'.

Are you about to sign other bands as The Prophecy for it?

Andrew: 'Possibly. A Polish band at the moment but I don't want to mention any names because it may not happen for sure. It is not doom, it is a different kind of music. Like a horror soundtrack, it is quite twisted in places but it is dark'.

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Does it affect the band when you have a record label?

Andrew: 'In priority orders, My Dying Bride always comes first and then Blackdoom Records can fill us around because it is still new and we are not in a rush to make any money, we're not in a hurry to sign lots of bands. We only sign a band when it's special or different. But if something needs to be done for My Dying Bride it stops and all the bands we've talked with know that. There is no hidden bullshit. Of course My Dying Bride will help Blackdoom Records because it is my money I'm spending on the record label. But I don't want to be in business desperately because I just love the music that The Prophecy and the other band makes. I don't want to stop being involved in the scene. I just love that stuff and maybe in a couple of years or ten years when My Dying Bride stops and pauses I can still be involved with something else on a different side, having learnt now what it's all about'.

Can you tell us a bit about the music on the new record?

Andrew: 'It is much heavier. Probably more like 'As The Flower Withers'.
Adrian: 'A blackened record. There are no hugely quick parts, just great slabs of blackness. We took our time, we did everything as slow as it needed to. And it turned out fantastic. Even some stuff you wouldn't expect, twisted on how doom should be. We are going to play three new songs tonight'.

Hehe, that was my next question! (hilarity) Over to another one: as you are going to record the show tonight, are you planning something special like playing real old songs you haven't played for years?

Adrian: 'We spread our songs. It gets worse the more we record. We have a huge catalogue and everybody has a different song he wants to hear. On festivals it is even worse when you only have half an hour or 40 minutes. So at some point you have to decide. We are going to come on a point when we can only play one song from each album'.
Andrew: 'We are not treating this gig in different ways as the last one or the one in London. That would be unfair because everyone is paying for a show. The same set will be played. We are doing the original 'Sear Me' of the first LP. We haven't played it for about ten, twelve years. Now we do it and people seem to like that, it is a good one to play. That's mainly the difference apart from the new stuff no one has heard. It's a good set tonight. And it goes quite fast once we get started for one hour and a half, very little gaps in between the songs. It is powerful. Yesterday was excellent'.

Do you have an idea of the reactions on the new songs?

Andrew: 'I remember last time the CD wasn't finished and sometimes I made up the lyrics just before we went on stage. We did that for a couple of times but now Aaron will feel quite comfortable because it's completely finished. We cannot change anything anymore. You can check it out during the soundcheck. Like yesterday, for these people we are just another band. That means a lot when they stay and you see tapping feet cause maybe they don't understand the songs, they may not understand the band but they do understand the feeling. It sounds good!'

What struck me too, you always do short tours…

Adrian: 'That's because we work. We all have regular jobs. This bus and all looks very glamorous, and I guess it is compared to a transit van. We did that transit van thing in the past. There's no bands doing long tours through Europe anymore except for real established bands'.
Andrew: 'What happened, and you know even more than me that there are so many labels and bands, smaller labels everywhere. It is a love thing now, it is too risky. The cake is split into more slices these days. But ages ago we decided to do shortened tours cause we prefer it. We think that works better. Less is more. By not turning up for a while, when you do finally get there people will show up cause you haven't been there for ten years. Most of our gigs are only reachable by plane. We don't take any merchandise. Like Greece and Portugal, we just jumped on a plane, we took our equipment, we took our passports and that's it. While the money is in the merchandise, once again it all looks very glamorous, stepping on a plane and so, but we do it because we love it. When we come back we have to work and in the evening back to heavy metal. We have two different lives'.
Adrian: 'We played in Leipzig earlier this year at the Full Force Festival. It was a 14 hours travel just to be on stage for 40 minutes. And then 14 hours back. But it was worth doing'.
Andrew: 'It is like you people writing for a website, come on an interview and taking your time, on the other side there's we, idiots, who love it as well, and we all get together and celebrate doom metal. You've got to love it, doom metal on particular is not a commercial option. And you got to be cause you are dedicated to it. No one is really making any money out of it, except for some record labels, but you do it cause you love it. You have to, otherwise you'll be unhappy with the results apart from the musical results'.

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You started with the band when there was no internet at all. So I guess you must have seen the evolution of websites and internet as no one else. What do you think about it?

Adrian: 'Our website is done by a good Dutch lad. We don't pay him for it, he just likes the band. When we see him we give him a couple of beers or so. It is fantastic. But there is nothing commercial about the website'.

But it is a good thing for publicity…

Andrew: 'It is normal now that you have a website. It is like having glass in your windows. You MUST have a website, it's nothing to think about someday…it has to be there. Like, I mean…everybody knows what set we are going to play tonight. People in Jamaica, even the guys on the space shuttle they can find out if Aaron fell down if they want. The whole world can tell what we did. There's digital cameras in the audience and so on. It is a bit frightening to me cause I like privacy. Anybody can see what anybody else is doing'.

Another aspect of the internet is the exchange of music…

Andrew: 'It makes little difference to me. Lots of bands are sending me tapes now and I link them on MP3. It makes it easy to check out bands. Smaller bands will continue to make no money at all. I've got copies myself at home in my collection but if I like the band enough I will buy the original. But that's probably because I'm in a band'.
Adrian: 'It is human nature if you can get something for free then you do. It is not victimize to them. I mean, you don't have to break in the shop, wait for the alarm to go off, steal a CD. It is just download the files from your computer at home. We don't worry about it cause there is nothing you can do about it. The only time it ever comes up is in interviews'.

You still have everything in your own hands: the artwork, no manager involved?

Andrew: 'We are self managed. We organize everything'.
Adrian: 'Never seen the wisdom of paying someone in between. If you want to talk to the band, then just talk to the band, not to someone else'.
Andrew: 'We do have a tour manager though, cause it's fucking hard work'.

But that's also an ex member of My Dying Bride (Calvin, ex guitar player – Vera)

Adrian: 'He does a lot of work otherwise we are exhausted by the time we have to play. Now we can sit and relax'.
Andrew: 'And he is good at it cause he is coming from the band. An established member, he was in it for a long time. He knows what we've been through. He knows exactly what we can and cannot take, our levels. Before we had tours when things went drastically wrong. We don't even ask him questions anymore, he comes up and tells us what we want to know'.
Adrian: 'On tour, all you need to know is where the venue is, where the food is and at what time things happen. That's all you need. The rest…if you want to go shopping, just go'.

Does Aaron's graphic website still exists?

Andrew: 'It is still there. But it is dead for now. The project is not dead, I think he's just looking for a server'.

We talked about tour life. Three days on the road might be a bit too short. Next time they'll try to do more dates.

Andrew: 'We just get into the swing of things and then we have to go back. But first there was only the London show. Then they added two extra days'.
Adrian: 'One of two concerts in each country is the best. Then everybody enjoys it and people come to see you'.

Why did you choose Hof ter Lo to film the DVD?

Andrew: 'At the Peacefest this gig was the best one. I don't know why but it turned out that way, from the band's point of view looked this the best one to us. And the reason why this one is filmed is simply because it has two shows in front of, to work some cobwebs away. Because the new songs, OK we know them but you never can tell what they're doing. Live is live and you have to check them out. It gives the sound engineer and the lighting guy enough time to visualize, only when you see it happen you can understand what the band is doing. There is always a learning curve. Some routine gives the band the opportunity to relax and ignore all these cameras'.

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All went well, the show was ace, you can read it on the gig's review. My Dying Bride stays the kings of doom metal. Let's hope they will return soon but first we can enjoy their 'thirteenth chapter' in February 2004!

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