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Cradle Of Filth

Cradle Of Filth heeft zijn oude demonummers van ‘Total Fucking Darkness’opnieuw uitgebracht, maar in alle eerlijkheid is elke reden om een interview met zanger Dani op te zetten legitiem. Hij is met recht de enige echte superster in extreme metal en de enige (het vertrek van Paul Allender was toen nog niet officieel) die de hele geschiedenis van de band heeft beleefd. En hoe gedraagt die zich? Uiteraard super ontspannen, het zijn juist de “net-niet” gevallen die van kleine dingetjes van slag raken, maar niet Dani. Een kleine verschuiving van data zorgde ervoor dat ik een dag van tevoren ineens door hem gebeld wordt, praktisch onvoorbereid en zonder de juiste spullen bij de hand. “Geen enkel probleem, neem je tijd, ik bel je over vijf minuten nog wel een keer, als dat genoeg tijd is voor je”. En die open en vriendelijke houding, in combinatie met zijn soms genadeloze antwoorden, maken hem tot een gast die iedereen wel wil interviewen. En uiteraard wilde ik het hoe en waarom van zijn soms wel erg pompeuze teksten nu ook wel eens weten. Het heeft iets te maken met olifanten, als ik het me goed herinner.

Door: Ramon | Archiveer onder black metal

Welcome, have you done a lot of interviews already?
Well, you are the second today in a total of four, so it’s not too bad. It varies, we wanted to keep this release low profile, but for a regular release it can be eight or nine on a day, up to a hundred…

Hahaha, I bet. Did you feel there was a big demand for this legendary demos to get out?
It was a labour of love, initially. I am actually friends with Paul (Ryan, R.-LoM) again. We lost track of eachother, but a mutual friend reintroduced us to eachother. And we talked about it over some beers and a curry, like old friends reminiscing the past memories. Things like what we did back then and we were shocked that it was twenty years already. Cacophonous Records (which released the debut “The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh”) was ran by Frater Nihil, who Paul was still in contact with and he now runs Mordgrimm Records. So we thought it would be nice to bring this out, low profile in a small edition of only 666 hand-numbered vinyl pieces. We did not think many people would care about our old demos, but the response kind of surprised me. It was great. So we still have the limited gatefold vinyl edition of 666 pieces, but we pressed four thousand more on vinyl, which has a blue colour, and also ten thousand CDs.

Was that also to give the fans something real, rather than just the digital files?
That was the original idea. I myself have not bought or listened to vinyl in over a decade, probably longer, but Paul is a real vinyl fanatic. So we sought after the songs and it turned out some of the original tracks were erased or taped over by something else. But we managed to salvage the most and we even found songs I completely forgot about. So that is what you get here. I think it is fun. But again, I never saw the demand coming.

Don’t you think it is balls out to show the songs without a big production and approve of them?
Yeah… but I find it cool at the same time as well. My sense of nostalgia applies for the fans too. The feedback so far is cool, I think part of that has to do with the fact that it is different. And vinyl to some is a novelty now, as are the songs to some. It is very collectible. If say Slayer would bring their demos out I would have bought it.

I get the point, I have that with Venom on vinyl, since the sound was not perfect to start with, it ads something special…
Ha, funny you should mention that. I was listening to ‘Warhead’ on vinyl at the wrong speed back in the days. I played it too fast. I thought it sounded great, until somebody pointed me out it was the wrong speed.

Some would say that is what happened to your vocals…
Hahaha, maybe, yes.

Back in that time of ‘Total Fucking Darkness’, did you sort of already envisioned what direction you wanted the band to head into?
I think everyone who starts a band thinks of big, massive stages. But the thing is, you never know where it is going to get you. My girlfriend of the time, who is now my wife, she had a shitty job. But we agreed that I would take a year off to work on the band. After that, I was intending either to go back into journalism, or to go back to the university. And it was really, really hard working in that year, but it caught on.

Now you got this release out, will you be doing some of these songs live that are not on a regular set, nowadays?
We wanted to take a break. We did not think of this release as a big thing at first. So it is a lot busier for us all the sudden. On top of that, we have written fifteen new songs for the new album, already. So we are working on that too, which we never intended on this short notice. We still have to work a lot on them, we have fifteen songs, but we still have no idea of what the album will sound like. Anything can change it, something I see, feel, the mood that I am in, anything. So that is going on at the same time. And since there is now interest in the demos… we did not intend to tour, but we just got back from a tour with Behemoth and now we will be doing a number of shows in Russia. We did do ‘Summer Dying Fest’ by the way. And we might put in some of the older songs. Don’t know yet.

band image

You play in Russia, you are aware that, effective this week, swearing and cursing is a violation of the law and saying “fuck” on stage could get you incarcerated?
I am very much aware of that. I try to follow developments as much as I can already, but in this particular case, one of my best friends has a dual-identity. He has both a British and a Ukrainian passport. So there was a worry he would be drafted back for the army. There is little change on that happening, but that made it relevant for me to follow. I heard this story of the Scorpions drummer though, who got arrested for offending Islam. How stupid can you be? To lower your pants and talk foul at them, in fucking Dubai of all places. I heard he drank five glasses of wine on the plane.

That is hardly an excuse, that would not knock YOU down, would it?
Nooooooo, five wines is a warm up, hehehehe. But to be arrested in such a country, you know it is not the same there as it is here. You know that you will get into big trouble for that.

I heard some stories about how Nick (Barker, the old drummer for Cradle Of Filth) got arrested for wearing an offensive “Jesus Is A Cunt” shirt on an airport too..
Yeah, but I hardly think that would happen in England nowadays. We went through quite some stories by now as a band. It is always a thing when you travel. Ha, I remember when we did our first tour in America. It was four shows and we had some days off in between the shows, so it had sort of a holiday feeling to it. And at some point, we were flying from, I think it was from San Francisco to Chicago, and the flight attendant came over to me saying “your friend locked himself in the restroom and he is not responding”. So we literally had to take the hinges out and there he was, lying in his own sick, COMPLETELY passed out drunk.

Sounds like a holiday, yes. Looking back on the history of the band, you and Paul (Allender) saw quite some faces come and go. Do you think on a long term most people don’t have what it takes to live as a travelling musician?
Yeah, that is how things turn out. We have only sacked one person throughout the history of the band. But yeah, I guess the lifestyle of a travelling band can be either disappointing or take its toll at some point, others think they can do it better themselves. Well, best of luck. You see, this is not a nine to five thing. I can envy some of my friends that do that, although some might envy me. I hear people say that they go to bed around ten every evening. I usually have to work until two in the night. I am blessed with the life I have, but there is a lot more to it than the outside world sees. It can be tough, yes. But still, I have the best job in the world... besides being an astronaut.


It just jumps into my mind that Glen Benton (Deicide) would never concur to that, as it would bring him too close to heaven. That would be acknowledging, wouldn’t it?
Yeah, let him go on with the fairytale. Well, let us not take him too seriously, shall we? If he would have kept his famous promise (of committing suicide. R-LoM), that would have saved us from some very shitty albums, hahaha

Something I always wanted to ask, your musical style is travelling in between many styles, like black metal, thrash metal, gothic and so on, why is it you never wanted to confess colours and adopt one specific style?
That is mainly because everybody else has got an opinion anyway. Some think they actually know you better than you do yourself, by claiming a specific genre for you. They never say that about Metallica, they never say that about Iron Maiden. They never are associated as “San Francisco Bay Area Thrash Metal” or the “New Wave Of British Heavy Metal” band. None of that. And I myself like all kinds of music. Everything, really. Well, not everything, I hate reggae, but…

You are now getting closer to be called my friend?
Hehehe thanks, but the thing is, my father liked reggae a lot. And he had a big collection, which he always used to play. We live in dreary England, and summer music does not go with that. And I had to listen to it a lot, while I never liked it in the first place. Maybe if I would live in some place warm I would.

Paul (Allender) lives in Florida now, correct me if I am wrong.
Yeah, in fact I have had many offers from David Vincent of Morbid Angel, who was trying to pull me into Florida too. He was some sort of a real estate broker at the time.

Yeah, seriously. He had all these building projects he sent me to persuade me to buy a house there. Of course that never came to be, but he did try to sell me a house. But we bought another house recently. Well, not another as in a second, but a new house. I would not be inclined to ask MTV in to show my house or anything. I prefer to let my private life be somewhat of a mystery from now on. But if you look around my new place, there is actually a lot of fine art in it these days.

One more thing on the side: I saw you as a contestant of BBC show Never Mind The Buzzcocks. Are you always that competitive?
I was rubbish on that show to be fair.

You did not recognise the lyrics for your own song “Lord Abortion”, if I remember correctly.
No, and I probably would not know the words to it now. I am the only person banned from the show, by the way. The presenter, Mark Lamar, he was trying to make fun of me all the time and I went “whatever”, but after a while, they are feeding you drinks and I was getting a bit drunk, I was in the green room area, out of the sight of the cameras and I had enough of it. So I got back to him and he actually took a hit at my face. And he was screaming stuff like how I would never ever work for BBC again. The irony is that he no longer works for the BBC either now. So who was he to say?

note: and there is footage of what went ahead of that too:

Fun story. Back to the release: was your stardom rising a bit already in your demo era?
The demo blessed us with being taken on board of The Syndicate, which is a production and promotion company. They worked with bands like Napalm Death, Carcass, Cannibal Corpse, Bolt Thrower and so on. So they took us in, which really opened up doors for us. That was the time I took a break for the band for a year and it worked out, partly thanks to them. We pulled it of. It just shows that if you have a goal and you put a lot of effort into it…

I know what you are going to say, but we both know that is not entirely true, is it?

You know just as well as I do that there are loads of bands out there, no matter how hard they work, they will never reach the status you have.
Eeerm, maybe you are right, haha. But the thing is, being in a band is more work and shit than others think. You got to get through that.

Do you feel a lot of guys tried to copy you? How does that make you feel?
Do you mean Dimmu Borgir now?

Well, I am not going to be that specific, nor will I ask you to do the same.
No, the thing is, there just seem to be way too many bands out there. There are no revenues, there are no album sales, yet there are more bands out there than ever. And very little of that still surprises, at least not me. A band like Ghostcraft is an exception, they are okay, but there is too much. But there is no new Metallica. Me and Paul were talking this over, if you want to do a big festival there is only so many bands to invite. And even that is no guarantee anymore. There are no new names coming up.

So true, Rammstein is the only band from the last fifteen to twenty years to make it to small stadiums and that is about it. Who do you like to open up for on a festival the best, then?
Maiden obviously. We have in the past, but in all honesty, nobody gives a fuck about what you are doing when they are coming up. Whatever you do, they are just shouting “Maiden, Maiden” in between your set.

Another thing, what was the appeal in disturbing art for you?
What do you mean with “disturbing”?

Well, you tend to picture yourself and your music in a way that might be shocking to some.
Nothing is shocking. That is not my idea, or my intention either. I think it is way cleverer to be on the borderline, rather than just to be provocative and shocking.

Yes, that is how you often approach your erotic lyrics too, don’t you? You seem to be very careful for them not to become vulgar.
It is very easy to be vulgar. It is a lot harder to be a bit more restrained. The books I like to read, which is mostly late nineteenth century horror, they could not address these topics in the time they were living. So in order to still talk about it, they had to be very careful with the words they picked. I like that a lot. There is a certain amount of elegance and eloquence to that.

Hold on please, I am writing along. “Elegance and eloquence”…
No, elephants!

Are you trying to take advantage of the fact I am not a native English speaker?
I suppose I am, yes, hahaha. But that is what I like the best, for the words not to become, like you said it, too vulgar. That is the easy way. Anyone can do that. I like the delicacy of it more.

Job well done. Back to the ‘Total Fucking Darkness’ demos, is this to keep fans warm for the new release?
It was never destined to make money with it. We just liked to do it ourselves. I did not think people would be any interested, but they are, so. As for the album, I am so psyched about how the new songs are taking shape. It is amazing. We got too many ideas, written in only eight weeks. We might have to do a triple album, hahaha. But I cannot tell too much about it now, things will change for sure over the course. You know, in the band, it is just people working their whim, I am working my whim too. There is just so much drive and energy in the band. If I was not in this band, they could still continue.

I seriously doubt that, who could take over?
Well, it might turn out differently, but it could with these members. We have had the privilege of working with some great musicians in the past and we still have.

Will you be doing a concept like with Elisabeth Bathory or Gilles de Rais more often? And what persons (fictional or real) would be suitable for that?
Oooh, I think the whole concept thing has bled to death in my hands. But I got plenty of lyrical ideas. You do not really know how it is going to turn out. Everything is influential on what it eventually turns out to be. I am a forty year old man now, I have other interest than I used to have. I write lyrics after the music is done, because I never want to force any of them in the band in any direction, although maybe songs might be reshaped after my ideas come up, but that is organic. So that works through, but anything that happens in between does. The weather, something I read, something that happens to me or around me, anything.

We just wait and see, then. Keep us posted. Thanks for your time and is there anything you would like to say to close it down?
Yeah, thanks for your support, man! And to the fans, things change from day to day with Cradle Of Filth. There is a lot of talk going around, but if you want to know what really is going on, check out our official Facebook page, or check out my official Facebook page, so you can keep posted of what is really going on. Take care!

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