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Interviews   

Cradle Of Filth, a big fish in a small pond


You are all regular listeners of my Journal du Hard (what do you mean no?) so you are bound to have heard your dearest servant making fun of various bands’ press releases describing their new album as the most extreme, most violent, most brutal, most difficult piece in their career. So basically it is always the most in everything. Cradle of Filth’s latest EP, Dark, Darkly Venus Aversa, is one of these, however, the album is in fact good and does contain some intense tracks and aggressive riffs.

A little while ago, Cradle Of Filth left Roadrunner to join Peaceville Records because they preferred to be “a big fish in a small pond” rather than “a small fish in a big pond”. Is this due to lack of ambition or an effective calculation to glorify their work? According to the successful promotion that was made for this album, we sway largely towards the second option. Does this mean that Benzema should do the same by leaving Real Madrid to sign up with Arles-Avignon?

We also went on to mention the issues of stability within the English band’s line-up with the shy and honest guitarist Paul Allender. Issues which turn out not really to be issues since the band has always managed to promptly recover. Either way, Paul admits that the intensity of Cradle’s working rhythm generates pressure which very few are able to endure long term. In conclusion, the interview inevitably ended with a girly mention of make-up between two fashion victims.

Darkly, Darkly Venus Aversa was released on the 1st of November, a tour will be coming soon and according to Paul, Cradle Of Filth are hoping to get through all of the summer festivals. Perhaps the announcement from Hellfest next Friday giving out the names of the second list of acts will confirm this…

« When we first started on Roadrunner it was brilliant, they really pushed the boat out and helped us out. But towards the end they just seemed to be concentrating more on their bigger bands rather than us. […] (Peaceville) are a smaller label, this time we were like a big fish in a small pond and so we are priority which allows us better things than we ever had before with Roadrunner.  »

Radio Metal : You’ve worked on the promotion of the album with Nuclear Blast, Peaceville and also with your own structure, Abracadaver. It’s all a bit confusing! Could you explain how these partnerships work together, in particular for those who aren’t insiders of the music business?

Paul Allender (guitar) : Well we chaperone imprint on Snapper basically, and Snapper bought Peaceville as well so when we set up with them everything sort of glided together. By having our own imprint and releasing the new album through Peaceville/Snapper/Abracadaver, it gave us a little more control over everything. Whereas when we were on our previous label, Roadrunner, we were in control but there were some particular things in which we didn’t have much of a say. So by having our own imprint, it gives us a lot more control.

Dani stated that you want to move away from the narrow-minded artistic restrictions imposed by big record labels. Did Roadrunner Records raise any objections regarding the musical features of the previous albums?

No not at all. I don’t really class Roadrunner as a major as such. However, when we were on Sony, they had more control over stuff but they didn’t really know what to do with us to be honest. With Roadrunner it was more like being a small fish in a big pond because they have bands like Slipknot and various others. When we first started on Roadrunner it was brilliant, they really pushed the boat out and helped us out. But towards the end they just seemed to be concentrating more on their bigger bands rather than us. So we decided that instead of signing a few more albums with them, we decided to go over to Peaceville. Even though they are a smaller label, this time we were like a big fish in a small pond and so we are priority which allows us better things than we ever had before with Roadrunner. For example, our special editions that are coming out are amazing. We have a sixty-four page special edition book coming out with three CDs that contain a bunch of extra tracks and some videos. There is even a t-shirt that comes with this and a hologram with the album cover on it, so this is all sorts of amazing stuff that we have gotten through Snapper but we never would have gotten through Roadrunner.

In terms of rhythm, Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa is your most brutal and fast-paced album to date. What was your motivation for going this way?

Well it is just a progression from the last album to be honest. For the very first track on the album was consciously made the decision to have a very fast song. The song is broken into three sections and this is the first time that I have ever played a song that has more than two keyboard sections or interludes in it. That was done on purpose; however, the album simply progressed from that moment onwards. This is the reason why it is more symphonic, it has some really good harmonies and it is overall a more cohesive album. The last album Godspeed On The Devil’s Thunder was more brutish and rough whereas this one have a nicer twist to it but it is darker and a lot faster.

On this new album, all the features that are characteristic of Cradle of Filth are pushed to new extremes. Do you regard this record as the culmination of your musical journey?

(laughs) It’s funny that you should say that because lots of people have hinted towards that idea. In other interviews that I have done for this album, people have said that it seems as though the band has gone back to what we used to do. I don’t really see this personally and I think that it would be a bit silly to go backwards. So maybe I suppose. A lot of fans near where I live have said that there are elements of Dusk and her Embrace or Cruelty and the Beast in this album, which I suppose is a good thing, but we just wrote an album which we were completely into and we just let it unfold as we were writing it. This is the way that it has turned out and if people are thinking that then it is a good thing.

It seems like a lot of work was done of the riffs and they are amazing. Was this a goal you set yourself when you started composing – as though you wanted to remind the listener that Cradle is not just about orchestrations and ambiences but also about pure metal?

Crickey! (laughs) We never really had any goals as such, we just started writing! When I write, I don’t just write guitar riffs, I have a tendency to write ambiences, if that makes sense. I write one line or riff and then I instantly think about what the other instruments are going to do. I think about how the keyboards and the orchestration will fit in with the guitar riffs and the drums. When I get all of the elements back from the other band members, I usually sit down and arrange everything until I have a song structure. Obviously the riffs have to be able to stand out on their own too. Then when we go into the studio, a lot of stuff gets taken out, because at the end of the day, we are a metal band so if the guitars are not loud enough then we have to make adjustments.

« We also hope to hit all of the summer festivals next year too. »

I suppose this is an album that you will enjoy playing live slightly more than the previous ones precisely because of the guitar riffs?

Yes I suppose, although I love playing all of Cradle’s stuff live. There is a lot more guitar this time in the melody lines and harmonies so I am really looking forward to playing live. It has been almost a year since we last played live since it was at Bloodstock in the UK. We have four set lists prepared for the next live session so that if fans come to see us in a town close to somewhere we have already played, then they will see a different set list. We did this on purpose. We have different songs from the album that will be played on different nights so that the audience get to hear a good assortment of songs.

You declared on your website that you were eager to play these songs live. So, what’s the situation? Your MySpace page only reveals a few dates South America at the moment…

Nothing has really been confirmed for the moment except South America in December, then we will be in North America after the 1st of February and then during April time we will come to Europe. We also hope to hit all of the summer festivals next year too. The only reason that they are not online is because nothing has been confirmed yet, but we will be coming to Europe around April.

Do you know which bands will be supporting you?

No, not yet. Behemoth were supposed to be supporting us for the European tour but unfortunately because of the singer’s current situation, this will not be the case. Otherwise, we don’t know yet so we will have to wait for bands to come forward and we will choose which ones we want to come with us.

Do you have any idea who?

No! (laughs) I tend never to think about these things because I am usually more worried about the music.

Do you know which bands you think might fit the job?

Although this is not going to happen, there was talk about Dimmu Borgir touring with us. Obviously, this is not happening though because they are touring now. Otherwise, I don’t really know. If Behemoth could have joined us it would have been another black metal band I guess but that is all I know.

Dani Filth has published some messages giving details about what you wanted to talk about in this album; Lilith, the first wife of Adam. What motivated this choice?

This is a subject that we always wanted to hit upon. I suppose that the way the songs came out and the way I arranged them ended up like a Cruelty and the Beast style record. The obvious choice would have been to write about Lilith. But I don’t really know because he hasn’t actually told me a lot about it either, he has kept the subject pretty closed. All that know is that Dani called me up and said that he wanted to do “this, this and this”, so we spoke about it and then I just let him get on with it because there is no point in questioning the concept of things when he is so good at doing what he does.

Cradle of filth’s concept albums are usually based on the past. Don’t you think it is possible to write a modern tale with this kind of romantic, vampiric atmosphere? Is this a kind of mood that can only be found in the past?

Yes because I don’t think that modern stuff would work to be honest. Modern things would not fit with the way that our songs are written and the way our music is orchestral. Our music sits better within past themes like history and mythology with Lilith and Gilles de Rais for example. I don’t know what we could write about or how you could cast our music to a more modern subject.

« For argument’s sake, the amount of stuff that I get people to do when I am in the full flow of things is too vast and some people don’t have the same work ethics as people like Dani or myself so they can’t keep up. […] most of my best work comes from times of pressure and stress. « 

Do you think Cradle Of Filth’s line up will finally stabilize?

Yeah I can’t see why not until someone decides to leave! (laughs). We don’t like it when people have to go obviously. The problem is that we have such a heavy work load; especially Dani and myself who have great quality control, so unfortunately a lot of people are unable to handle the pressure. This is the reason why they leave and it is not through a fault of ours. For argument’s sake, the amount of stuff that I get people to do when I am in the full flow of things is too vast and some people don’t have the same work ethics as people like Dani or myself so they can’t keep up.

Are you saying that people leave the band because they are under too much pressure?

Yes pretty much.

How come?

Well I don’t know because each person is different. I can handle pressure and stress, and this is when I work best, in fact most of my best work comes from times of pressure and stress. On the other hand, some people can’t do that. The size of the band now means that we have to work even harder now to keep it together because if you don’t then you cannot maintain the level that the band has reached.

Is this not because they didn’t have time to adjust to this pressure and so they decided to leave too soon?

Possibly. Then again amongst some of the other members we had one of them who left to finish his university degree and then another one left to become a piano teacher. They obviously had other jobs on the side whilst they were in the band and they preferred to do that instead.

Aren’t you bored of searching for new members when previous ones leave?

No not really because when one leaves, we usually get someone who used to be in the band to replace him anyway. So we already know that they can play and they are not actually brand new members.

« The whole Dimmu versus Cradle thing has been generated by the press and that’s all it is. There are no issues between any of us at all. I have Dimmu albums and I think that they are a good band, although they are not really the style of music that I listen to and I know that the Dimmu guys have our albums because they have told us they do! »

Both the new Cradle Of Filth album and the new Dimmu Borgir album are out almost simultaneously. Is there somehow a kind of competition between the two bands, since both bands are the most popular symphonic black metal bands.

No, no competition at all. As far as I am concerned I think that they sound completely different to us. There is absolutely no competition at all between the two bands. The whole Dimmu versus Cradle thing has been generated by the press and that’s all it is. There are no issues between any of us at all. I have Dimmu albums and I think that they are a good band, although they are not really the style of music that I listen to and I know that the Dimmu guys have our albums because they have told us they do!

Now, the stupid question of the interview : on the mini website that has been created for the new album, there is a video with some interviews of the band talking about the album. Do you really need to have your make-up on to do that?

We were actually half way through a photo shoot so we didn’t actually put the make-up on for the interview. The interview and the photo shoot were organised on the same day by the label so that we could get them done simultaneously. The make-up and clothes were put on for the photo shoot only and not just for the interview.

Do you ever remove your make-up to go to the supermarket?

Of course I do! I only wear the make-up for work, meaning for the band and professional photo shoots for the album etc. I am sitting in a hotel room, with black trousers and a Friction t-shirt with no make-up on right now, so yeah! (laughs). Even during all of our press interviews, we don’t wear make-up. The make-up is only put on for live shows, video shoots or professional photo shoots for the albums or merchandise.

On a more serious note, while watching the video and we also noticed this in other appearances made by the band, it looks as though you guys aren’t really at ease with that kind of process…

No not really. Filmed interviews are especially difficult and I never feel comfortable doing them. It is just something that I was never able to get used to. I don’t mind face to face interviews but as soon as there is a camera facing me I find it a lot harder. I’m ok for doing video shoots though because I’m with the rest of the band but I don’t like it individually.

Well you play live in front of thousands of people…

That doesn’t bother me at all because I am with the rest of the band and we are all together like a unit that is locked really tight. We all know what everyone else is doing and the people are not just looking at you but at the whole band instead.

So you would be more afraid if you were playing on stage alone?

That would be a nightmare! (laughs)

Interview conducted in october, 2010 by phone.

Transcription : Izzy
Myspace Cradle Of Filth : www.myspace.com/cradleoffilth



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