Dani Filth has led his legendary gothic black metal outfit CRADLE OF FILTH on an unstoppable black crusade for the best part of three decades. Even so, they’ve been in even better health than usual lately, so we sat down with the iconic frontman to talk about this renaissance and their upcoming new album Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay.
So, first things, you’ve got a new album coming out, Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay. Are you excited about it?
Dani: I was excited about it, the novelty’s wearing a little thin now! Yeah, of course I’m excited about it, I really want our fans to enjoy it. And I think they will enjoy it and I know they are enjoying it because it’s been leaked already.
How do you deal with stuff like that happening?
Dani: I’m furious to be honest. You wouldn’t go into a supermarket and decide you can’t be arsed to pay for this bottle of wine or melon or whatever it is and walk out. But people seem to think it’s free. It’s annoying. I’m not going to hide my distaste about it, it’s frustrating. But what can you do about it at the end of the day?
Understandable. Moving on, obviously the themes and imagery are a lot of what make CRADLE OF FILTH what it is, and whereas the last album was built on a lot of medieval themes with the Crusades and witchcraft, this one’s coming more from the Victorian era. What kind of ideas from that time have fed into what you’ve written this time around?
Dani: I’ve studied Victoriana at college, English literature. I live in a Victorian house. When it came down to writing this album actually I had a bit of a panic attack because it seemed quite quick off the back of the last record as well as working on DEVILMENT, and my wife just went “What are you reading right now?” I was reading loads of Victorian ghost stories so thought, why not.
Is it something you had to spend a lot of time researching?
Dani: Well I’ve been reading Victorian stuff for yonks. E.F. Benson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, I was going to say M.R. James but he’s Edwardian, but all those kinds of writers.
You’ve mentioned that the song Achingly Beautiful was a song that had been written for Hammer of the Witches and not made it onto the album. Did you then have to adapt it in any way so that it would fit with the themes of the new album rather than that one?
Dani: It was a bit of a case of square pegs and round holes. Yeah, it didn’t make the last record because it wasn’t developed enough. I loved it because I love the lyricism and the mood of it, it’s very old school. We developed it further, we really wanted to make it work, and it’s still one of my favourite songs. Totally old school CRADLE OF FILTH and that’s the essence I saw in it at first. There’s a lot of modern stuff on this album so I think it needs a track like Achingly Beautiful that is like that.
Hammer of the Witches in a way felt like a return to a kind of classic CRADLE sound in a lot of ways but bringing it into a modern era. A lot of people who were maybe into you on older albums but had lost interest were won over again by that album. Did that album feel particularly good for you?
Dani: We’d just had a general line-up change and everybody in the band now is just so passionate about what they do and about the ideology of CRADLE. It makes me feel good obviously. At one point with the band we only had one guitarist which was never what the band was supposed to be, so I think the twin guitar is something that harks back to the early days of CRADLE and that’s why people draw the association. That’s the CRADLE they remember. We had a lot of fun with that album. Everyone in line-up now is not only really into CRADLE but massive metal fans in general, they know what’s going on. When you get to my age which is 44, you just learn to appreciate things. I love what I do, and I appreciate it, and when you’ve got good people around you like I have, it’s the best job in the world. Well, apart from like a porn auteur or something, it’s second to that.
That album was the first with that line-up and now the line-up is more firmly established, was writing Cryptoriana that bit more confident?
Dani: I think so, yes. We actually went to the Czech Republic as we’ve got two people in the band now who are Czech, our Czech-mates. We spent a week over there in Brno rehearsing and drinking quite a bit, because Star of Brno is probably the best beer in the world. The idea was that we might have a bit written by the end of it, but everybody worked so hard, that we turned up and ended up with an album and a half’s worth. It’s never easy to write an album, if it easy I wouldn’t be bloody doing it, but this worked really well.
It’s always impressive the consistency at which CRADLE OF FILTH put out albums. It’s incredible to think that the gap between Manticore and Hammer was the longest between CRADLE OF FILTH albums ever and that wasn’t even three full years, while some other bands take four, five, six, whatever.
Dani: It’s nice to hear that because we don’t always get the best press, which is the only press I like! But yeah, the gap was because of the renewal. We were going on tour with BEHEMOTH and suddenly found out that we didn’t have guitarists. Paul Allender moved to America and couldn’t do the tour, and then we found out our other guitarist James McIlroy had a neck injury so he couldn’t do it either. We literally just drafted two people in at the last minute so we could do the tour, but amazingly they stuck and it’s been brilliant since. We were very fortunate.
The songs are a bit longer this time around with only eight tracks making up a fairly similar run-time to previous CRADLE albums that have had a lot more.
Dani: We’ve always done stuff like instrumental intros and interludes, and this time the songs had those as part of their structure anyway so it was unnecessary to put those in.
That again harks back to albums like Cruelty and the Beast where you have a song like Bathory Aria that goes through all of these different, sweeping sections.
Dani: That song goes on for about eight weeks! Actually we recorded it in ’98 and it’s still going on now.
Something else that’s notable about CRADLE OF FILTH that bands like SLIPKNOT or MARILYN MANSON have too is that you can look at a picture of them and know exactly what album cycle they were on by the look they have. When you put out the first promo pictures for this album and you had the jet-black skin and the red eyes which you’ve also got in the music video it was really striking. Where do these ideas come from? Is that a look you’re gonna be taking on stage?
Dani: I doubt that, the amount of effort that took to get off! We did that photoshoot at about 3 o’clock in the morning and my flight was at about half 7, and I was still picking bits off of me. This sounds awful and I said this earlier on to someone and she was a bit disappointed, but I leave most of the ideas up to the designers and makeup artists. All of my ideas get quashed because they’re rubbish and they go “nah, I’ve got a much better idea” and do it literally there and then. The photo you’re referring to we did plan in advance but that’s pretty much what happens. We’ve gotten some stick in the past saying that we look like so-and-so and I’m just thinking, “Blame the bloody make-up woman because I came up with an idea and they didn’t like it!” It’s a lot of good fun though, this was a really good video shoot. It wasn’t Bark at the Moon though, that’s the next step!
Obviously horror, whether that be modern horror or centuries old, is a huge influence on CRADLE OF FILTH. Are you still continuing to discover new things in that vein that are continuing to inspire you creatively and feed into your work?
Dani: I just read so much. Everybody discovers new things every day don’t they? I am a reader, just a massive nerd really when it comes down to it. I like what I do.
Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay is set for release on September 22nd via Nuclear Blast Records.
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