WORDS: James Weaver
CRADLE OF FILTH are a staple of British metal. Since their emergence onto the scene back in 1991, the band have redefined extreme music. After a nine year absence, the band have returned to perform in Manchester and before the show we spoke to Lindsay Schoolcraft about the band’s latest record Hammer of the Witches, the modern metal scene and why social media is a necessary evil.
So this is the first time CRADLE OF FILTH have played Manchester in around nine years. How does it feel to be back doing a UK tour?
Lindsay: It feels right! CRADLE OF FILTH is from the UK, we’re from Ipswich and we’ve really been badgered online by the UK fans like they go “why aren’t you touring the UK”. This happened especially when we did the tour with BEHEMOTH last February and we got some backlash because we only did the one show in London at The Forum. But if you looked up that tour, BEHEMOTH didn’t even play Poland so it’s not really up to us at the end of the day. But it does feel good, everyone is really excited, we’re seeing a lot of friends, family and old band members!
So it has been quite a surreal experience?
Lindsay: Yeah definitely.
And of course you are on the road with NE OBLIVISCARIS, how’s the tour gone so far?
Lindsay: Good, a lot of fun really! They are really sweet guys and they are a really talented band. They’ve been winning over a lot of our fans, especially the proggy fans! We’ve know about them for a long time, almost three years ago when we played Australia they won a contest to open for us and that was the beginning of the launch of their career but I can’t take credit for it. But yeah, I am really happy to see how far they have come and they are on fire right now.
Yeah, NE OBLIVISCARIS are quite different to CRADLE OF FILTH in the sense that they are quite progressive. Do you find with this tour you’ve had quite a diverse crowd?
Lindsay: Yeah, we’ve had all ages and we’ve had a bunch of drag queens see us in Glasgow! We’ve had everybody and everything you can think of and it’s been really cool.
This tour is in support of this year’s Hammer of the Witches, how have fans taken to the new material?
Lindsay: Good! Better than expected really, we were so nervous right before we released it. But the four of us, the older members, were influenced by a lot of older Cradle and we just thought we are going to put that into our own interpretation and our drummer helped us through it. The fans love it, it’s been really overwhelming! We are really happy, you have an idea in your mind thinking “it’s going to go okay I hope” and when it exceeds your middle thought it is like “oh my gosh”. It feels good!
With it being your eleventh record, is it a challenge to create setlists for tours?
Lindsay: Yeah, we had a lot of email battles. We all put forward what we wanted in the set but I stayed out of it because I trust the guys. I have a lot of responsibility in the band on the visual end of things, so I just let them decide what they want to do. I trust them because they know what they want to bring forward and then we just narrow it down and vote. Some things make it and some things don’t.
So with Hammer of the Witches, what influences did you bring when it came down to writing that record?
Lindsay: We went back to what we like but I think for a lot of it we were very inspired by one another and what we were putting forth. It was written on the internet over file sharing and email, so any time we would hear something we would just put forward our own ideas. We are all six very different band members with six very different backgrounds, influences and training. Some of us graduated university with a BA in music, some of us are self taught, some of us are in the middle. Like me, I dropped out of university to join the band! It was a good choice, but yeah, I think we took that and we just wrote together and added our own opinions. So there is some newer stuff on there and some older stuff that’s been inspiring us. It’s a good combination of all of that.
With CRADLE OF FILTH being active since the early 1990s, they are very much a staple of British metal. How would you personally describe the scene today?
Lindsay: It’s a little more laid-back, it’s not as crazy but it is still rowdy. I find that it’s different and I feel that the internet and social media has changed the ideas of the band versus fan relationship versus what the scene is about. It’s different, I feel that there was more disconnection from the bands and their fans twenty years ago from what Dani has told me about in our conversations to now where they know where we are. We take a picture in some place and like five minutes later they are there as they want to meet us. It is fun and it is sweet, our fans are very cool and the scene is pretty tight. People are there and they know their stuff.
So do you think social media is a useful tool for bands to connect with their fans?
Lindsay: It is. I think social media is a necessary evil. After a while it does get pretty exhausting, I have days where I am really sick of it. But it is important and through it we’ve met some incredible fans that we’ve brought onboard as make-up artists or we’ve brought onboard as performers. I think that is important for people who want to work together and collaborate.
And with this tour you ran a competition for the opening band. What was the decision behind this? Was it to give a smaller band the chance to play on a bigger stage?
Lindsay: Yeah, that was essentially it. There was actually two other acts, I won’t say who, but they were supposed to come with us but their label wouldn’t give them the money and it was very sad. We were like what’s our options now? We discussed it and then Dani brought it to forefront about two months ago and said “I think we should do a competition and bring in some new acts”. It was a long process, there was 400 submissions and there were so many bands to go through. At the end of it, I think we’ve picked some solid acts, so far we’ve only played with SHE MUST BURN and they are phenomenal, I think you guys are really going to enjoy them.
It must have been a real honour to receive around 400 submissions?
Lindsay: Yeah it was crazy, we didn’t think we’d get that many! There was even some from North America who were applying and were willing to fly out to do the tour.
So finally, what else can fans expect from CRADLE OF FILTH in the coming year?
Lindsay: Our stage performance is definitely going up, we’ve hired a lot more people to work with us. It’s a slow process, you have to bring in things piece by piece, it’s not going to happen overnight. But just to look forward to really good performances and to see a really good show, that’s what we’ve been working towards.
Thank you for speaking to us Lindsay, it has been a real pleasure
Lindsay: Thank you!