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Cradle Of Filth

Met het verschijnen van ‘Hammer Of The Witches’ zette Cradle Of Filth, in nieuwe bezetting, zichzelf weer volledig op de kaart. Dat schept echter ook verwachtingen bij nieuwe releases. En nu is dat moment aangebroken, met het verschijnen van ‘Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness Of Decay’. Ik kreeg zelf sterk het idee dat de band dichter na elkaar toe is gegroeid als muzikanten en dat je dat terug kon horen op de schijf. Daarnaast is het redelijk prominent inzetten van een koor erg interessant en de duidelijke signatuur van ‘Hammer Of The Witches’ hier en daar bijzonder goed terug te horen. Ik sprak zanger Dani Filth, het enig overgebleven lid sinds de oprichting en de visionair achter de band, wiens rol ongetwijfeld niet zo bescheiden kan zijn als hij daar in dat hotel in Düsseldorf wil doen geloven. Saillant detail is overigens dat tijdens ons interview pal voor de ingang een taxi volledig afbrandt. Maar wij zaten in de bubbel van het interview, waarbij opvalt dat Filth echt minimaal oogcontact maakt en volledig in zijn verhaal blijft zitten, ook als je hem af en toe onderbreekt. Je mag zelf invullen wat dat betekent, dan hebben wij het intussen even over het nieuwe Cradle Of Filth album.

Door: Ramon | Archiveer onder black metal

Welcome to Lords Of Metal, the recorder is now running, so anything you say can and will be used against you, but that’s nothing new, I suppose. You just released ‘Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness Of Decay’… catchy title.
Yes, “Cryptoriana” as in “Victoriana”, the basis is Victorian. Victorians were avid disciples of everything that had to do with the supernatural, spiritualism, mesmerism, table turing, sceances, ghost dances, communication with the dead, and they loved the penny dreadfuls and memento mori. They were fascinated with these topics, you know, Egyptology was big. Behind the façade of the great empire, they had this unnatural predisposition for the macabre. And when we were writing this album, I was reading a lot of collected ghost stories from the likes of M.R. James, who was actually an Edwardian, Arthur Conan Doyle, writers like that. And when the idea started to present itself to start writing the record, it felt as obvious, fertile grounds to base the album on. All the stories, all the songs, the stages, it’s all built on Victorian. “Cryptoriana”, just means the infatuation with death.

When you have a topic, or an angle like that, does the limitation also give the extra space, or how do I call it?..
Yeah absolutely, it gives you focus.

That was the word I think I was looking for.
I presented to the graphic artist, who is the same artist as for ‘Hammer Of The Witches’…

Oh, hence the naked woman again on the cover?
Yeah, there is nothing wrong with that, is there? But then I found out he was also a video director. SO not only did he do the artwork, he did the video as well. It kind of put everything in the same basket, which sometimes is a good thing, sometimes it’s a bad thing, but in this occasion it is a brilliant thing. He shot a lot of the stills for the booklet from the video shot.

The video was delayed, right?
Oh no, the video is finished. It’s delayed because it wasn’t finished when it was supposed to be finished, that’s all. It was late by a day, that was down to post-production issues. Everything is huge, it’s a big, grandiose imagining of the subject matter. And some things had to be taken out, just so that the borders… it was a forest essentially, built inside the studio, so we had a few things that had to be taken out. So details made us miss it by a day

I also like the all black painted face, in fact, you are always renewing that, the make-up, but you make it in such a way it all fits together with the attire, as always. How do you keep reinventing your total styling?
I am quite visual in my look on things. My wife helps design a lot of the costumes, my costume at least. We try to think ahead of the game. The press is now, the release is coming, just ahead of the European tour, we are almost ready to go. I think we will go January or something, mid-march is America. We are under new management now and we are getting used to how he works. He worked under Ron Smallwood, which is the manager for Iron Maiden. He’s got a different way of working than we are used to, he is very full-on.

You have to excuse me, my hay fever is coming back again to me

Do you need some time for yourself?
Oh, no no no, absolutely not, we can go on, I am just holding down some sneezes. It’s a terrible feeling.

Well, as long as you don’t sneeze in my face, don’t feel bothered and let it all out.
Hahahahaha, no, I’m allright. So anyway, it’s all about pre-planning,. The delay with the video was a small glitch, but not an unforeseen one. But the video is amazing, the PR guy from Nuclear Blast will show it to you after the interview (see enclosed video, R.-LoM).

Is it strange to have the album all done, do all the interviews now and shoot the videos, while the audience itself has to wait for months after you are ready, while you are kind of anticipating the reactions, while fans cannot get hold of it?
Yeah, I know, it’s strange and also the journalists get to hear it, which is obviously strange for the fans, they get drips and drabs of information. But even so, I find it odd that journalists didn’t get the bonus material. I was obviously going to talk to you about the cover of ‘Alison Hell’, by Annihilator.

Oh really, hahaha. It was almost a Lizzy Borden song by the way?
Oh really?

Yes, Jeff Waters thought of selling it. He got offered about 500 Canadian Dollars for the song and the thought that he had written a song like that once, he could do another one. But on the last moments he had second thoughts and kept it. Best decision in his, I’d reckon.
Yeah, yeah, definitely, wow. Well we have wanted to do it for ages and in the last couple of years we bumped into Jeff Waters twice and the last time being on the 70,000 Tons Of Metal Cruise and we told him it was out intentions. And it fits in very well with the rest of the album. It’s very story-like, it’s got crazy, intricate melodic guitars, it’s creepy, it’s got a good chorus. It’s not out of place. If someone was to listen to it and didn’t know it was a cover, they would probably pass it off as a Cradle song.

I am sure it will sound like one, I mean, I assume you use keys and make it your own. In fact, I think that is the only purpose of a cover, to make it your own and to pay homage to it, or else it becomes a parody or just a lesser version.
Well, we’ve been pretty faithful to it. There is a minimum of keyboard lines to it, a tiny bit of female vocal and it picks the drums up for the last four bars (drums on the table), you know, that kind of pace. But it’s pretty true to the original in every other account.

I am looking forward to hearing it. How have the first reactions to the album been so far?
Well, they seem good, but no one is going to tell in your face it is shit, are they? (laugh hard). I hope not

Well, I think ‘Hammer Of The Witches’ was such an outstanding album that I had to lower my expectations a bit for this one. But I only started to like that one that much after a while. And I am not to that point with this album yet, in all honesty, but that doesn’t mean anything. I only got this about a week before the interview. ‘Hammer Of The Witches’ had to grow on me too, this one is only halfway that process I guess.
Yeah, of course, you have to get used to it.

Yes, that is the honest answer, but I do already hear this is a very fat album. And, what stroke me too, which is actually a question I had prepared, how do you always manage to maintain your own identity, without repeating yourself, and with new members coming in so often?
It’s a lengthy process, isn’t it? And it is not an easy process either, or else other people would be doing exactly the same thing. This time in fact, we went to Brno in the Czech Republic, it was common ground as that is where Ashok (guitars) and Martin (drums) live. So we took some time there to socialize, have a few beers, share ideas. It was useful, we had the nucleus of an album, about ten songs were, three songs were already written for ‘Hammer Of The Witches’, one being ‘Achingly Beautiful’, but they weren’t in the right place at that time. And we reworked them there and they fit better, like their time had come. We also have written some songs for this album that might never see the light of day, we just don’t know.

We had the album done but this time we had September, October and November to polish the record. Even in the mix we were changing things. For example ‘Vengeful Spirit’, it wasn’t quite hitting the nail on the head the way we were hoping. And the producer suggested changing the female vocals and long story short, we went through a lot of possible candidates, but we ended up asking Liv Kristine again, with whom we had done ‘Nymphetamine’ and it created a more malevolent character in the song, and we had to rework the song a little bit, to make her part work better. We worked with the same producer, which made sense to us, but it is not a matter of repeating, as this is another album. Our guitarists have tried different thing, tried different recording techniques, different pedals, all kinds of things.

Although you are the one with the helicopter view, as you have been in the band always, you don’t interfere with that process, do you?
No, god no, it’s not my job to do that, I am not the guitarist.

No, but I know you play a little guitar, and I assume…
… I play a little guitar, very badly, yeah. Literally terribly. No, guitars are completely up to them.

But then again, you are the keeper of the identity of the band, don’t you feel like that?

So it would be obvious if you have a saying in the music.
Of course, the studio we use is closer to me than anyone else. So I was a constant ghost there, I haunted the place, but we demoed the whole thing and I knew what was coming from the guitarists. But the way we work now, even in the mix, nothing is set, we can change a little single note if we want, which we did. We used e-mailed a small part which was then glued in.

Amazing how these things are now so easy, with computers, while you could not think of doing stuff like this in the early days, right?
We had done this before, on the master of ‘Cruelty and The Beast’ (1998) we literally, we had realized one of the riffs on the tape wasn’t long enough, so we cut the tape in half during the mastering, to add on to this part of the song. The guy who was doing the master, “the mastering guy said “in all my 25 years of working I have never seen anything like this before in a mastering”, but it worked.

Sorry, I am really bothered by the heat, this is the first time I wear pants in three months, I have been wearing shorts, and I am really hot now. But go on.

band image

With members in Czech Republic and in Canada, I don’t suppose there is a lot of jamming, is there?
We get together before every tour. We got a new crew and we came together recently. We are testing new in-ear systems to evaluate ourselves from a monitor engineer, we can do it ourselves basically, with a stage hand. So we all convened a studio close to my house and rehearsed for a week and warmed up for the show, a festival in Romania. Those are the key moments for us. I am confident enough in this band to go on tour without rehearsing now, but those moments are important.

But the writing is file sharing most of the time, I take it, right?
Yeah, most of the times. And when we get together we can experiment with them a bit, or try something completely new. My other band, Devilment, they all live in a ten mile radius from me.

What will be the other singles from the album, is that already known?
Probably ‘Vengeful Spirit’, because it is a comfortable song to cut down. More than five minutes songs are not played on radio, especially in America.

Yes, all the songs are seven minutes plus, right?
Yeah! We have to do radio edits of some songs in a way they don’t sound like they have been edited.

Why are they always this long, ‘Forrest Whipers My Name’ for instance wasn’t that long?
Yeah, I don’t know, it’s just how things grow.

The thing that keeps coming back in your career is the general fears of man, right? Do you have any irrational fears?
An IRRATIONAL fear? No I think all my fears are pretty rational (laughs).

Which are?
No, I am not giving those away. Women in bikinis, terrified of them, do not put me in a room full of women in bikinis (laughs).

I am not getting this answer from you, am I?
Well… normality scares me, you know, lack of control, those sort of things. Irrational things are like fears of UFOs, spider invasions even, but nothing like that. I don’t think I got anything irrational, no. Sorry (laugh).

Well, you sort of faced most of your fears by now, right?
Pretty much.

Right, you told me last time that you don’t have any time to be involved in any new movie projects, but you did a double voice acting part in a movie, ‘Realm Of The Dead”, for which David Vincent did the narrative role.
Yeah, when I was talking about the other thing, it was more as an actor. I did do a small acting part in a film called ‘Baphomet’. But I was talking in the context of being involved with the movie and developing it, that’s about a year process. If you are lucky.

You did two parts in that movie, right?
Yeah, it took a good part of the day. There is a second part of that movie in development, which is good, so I get to go to London Comic Con, and stuff like that. That’s good fun. I was away during the red carpet thing. I just assumed Dave Vincent and Jill Janus were going, but they never got there either, which was a bit strange. None of the main cast were actually there.

You used new voices for it, right?
Kinda, yeah. I enjoyed it, the story is great. I liked the comic book. It’s essentially the universal monsters in it.

Ok, back to the album, because that is what we were brought here to promote, right?

How do you think this one compares to ‘Hammer Of The Witches’?
Well, it’s hard to step away from it and judge otherwise for me. It’s just a different record. I think it may be a bit more complex, barren in mind the Victorian theme… I think it is a little bit more intricate. He guitar playing, there is more melodies and solos.

You also create more space for solos since Paul (Allender) left, right?
Well, it was something Paul didn’t really like doing. He wrote songs that didn’t demand solos. Solos are great if they are played right of add to the atmosphere, rather than to have on just for the sake of it.

Well, there is no point in that, is there?
No, absolutely not. I might as well start whistling. But another aspect, I think it is quite old-school in many places, I screamed more on this album, than I have on the last albums. ‘Death And The Maiden’ is very demanding, very heavy, vocal-wise.

I think that is the most hypnotising song.
Pardon? You think so? Someone said the exact same thing earlier today. So it must be true, then.

Was it anyone you take seriously?
Fairly (laughs). Well, you both agree on that.

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Would you think Lindsay has enough vocal parts now Liv Kristine has taken over one song?
I think there’s enough parts for her. We also have a choir on there and there is a lot of lead soprano, which is very ghostly sounding. Whenever there is a ghostly scene in a movie, where a ghost or vampire appears, there’s a graveyard scene, or whatever, you always get that lovely lilting soprano thing. I always associated with Victorian as well, partially because of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’, and ‘Camilla’, and so on. So there is emphasis on it.

This is always a difficult one, but do you have any favourites on the album, that will definitely make it to the live set?
Eeeeern, the fact it is my favourite doesn’t mean they will make it to the live set. My favourite songs never make it to the live set, generally. I like ‘You Will Know The Lion By Its Claw’, the subject matter in the song is about the annexations of Africa, during Victorian times, building the railroad. Essentially it is about industrialism versus nature. You know, how the lion’s hunting ground is being invaded, he is inflicting his vengeance. The whole sort of “don’t tread on me” attitude.

Although I can imagine that is an important subject to you, but I can imagine there is not a lot of space for you to deal with them in Cradle Of Filth songs, is there?
Well, not really. Cradle, one string to the bow is that the lyrics are quite poetic, it’s full of metaphors and euphemisms. But it’s got a big chorus, it has a, like, ‘Dusk… And Her Embrace’ kind of foot on it with a black metal ending.

And what would be your all-time favourite Cradle song?
Oh that is a difficult question.

Thank you. I guess it depends on your mood, right?
Definitely. I like ‘Funeral In Carpathia’, ‘Under The Huntress Moon’, ‘Of Dark Blood And Fucking’, yeah, it depends. There is a lot more.

Does it depend on how fans react to them live?
No, no, no, it’s just what I like.

How hard does it become to choose songs that will…
Ooooh increasingly hard. Unless you can stretch up the set for hours, but it’s not a question of being Dream Theater. So, it’s definitely getting harder and harder. There are songs fans expect you to play, at a minimum. But you always have to add new songs of the last album to it. But not for sake. I understand that, if Maiden would miss out a whole bit from ‘Powerslave’ to ‘Seventh Son…’, you’d be a bit disappointed.

I had a note in the corner of my interview sheet about the fact that the rapper Kanye West wore your t-shirt. Should I ask you about it, probably not, right?
It was strange, wasn’t it?

I saw all these kids in Ramones t-shirts here in Dusseldorf, which in a way is cool, it’s not because they probably can’t tell a song or a member, it is because they have my name on it
Hahahaha, yes, one of the main characters of ‘The Walking Dead’, seventh season, was wearing a Cradle Of Filth shirt. I had given up on the series, but now I am picking it up again, from where I left, because I want to see that happen. I really got into it. I am now at series five, so I have some catching up to do.

Thanks for your time, you may close the interview down!
There is all kinds of news coming up, about the tour, about the record, it is very well-sounding, very interesting. We’re really proud of it. We have been anticipating the release for a while. The shit is only starting to hit the van now, although it is out in two months. Thank you for your readers, and you for the interview, brilliant, thanks man! Now let’s get that selfie.

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