British metal icons Cradle of Filth have been riding a high tide of excitement since last year's release of their tenth album, The Manticore and Other Horrors. They hit an unexpected complication, however, with the unfortunate cancellation of the band's North American tour due to immigration issues, resulting in the band having to realign their Spring 2013 plans.
Frontman Dani Filth called into the Crave offices in punctual form from his home in England, putting the aloof time-challenged rock star cliche to shame as he discussed the band's newfound creative freedom, their upcoming new video, and why letting your kid listen to One Direction isn't necessarily the worst thing in the world.
Kudos to you for taking the risks you have on the last Cradle of Filth record, something I assume was brought about by certain changes happening within the band…
Well yeah, it was a catalyst for many things, really. There wasn't a lot of expectation on us doing another album when we did, which made it easier without the peer pressure or people trying to push their direction onto it. I know we've released albums quite successfully every two years or so, but this time we weren't necessarily going to do that. But then the tour cycle finished slightly earlier, and I guess we found ourselves sort of twiddling our thumbs. And although we do live in different countries, between the UK, Milwaukee and the Czech Republic and beyond, I guess we started getting itchy feet and started to write. It was a prolific time, sort of an inspirational time of the year with Halloween and Guy Fawkes and the build-up to Christmas. It just sort of rolled on from there, and because there was no mountain of expectations for us to get started on anything yet, we had a bit of free reign. But that's what you get when you write ten albums anyway (laughs).
The creative freedom seems to suit you well.
We felt like we were quite free in what we wanted to do. That extended to the fact that we demo'd everything extensively, and pretty much went straight back into the studio with them. We knew what we were doing completely, and we were able to do it in two studios running concurrently side by side about ten miles apart in the English countryside. So I was singing at the same time the drums were being tracked. So we were sort of folding the space-time continuum in half, not having to wait for the guitars and the bass and the drums and the keyboards and the girl vocals and everything. So it wasn't 'oh shit, I've only got two weeks to finish everything'. It was more relaxed because there was less time constraint, and it felt a lot easier because of that. Well, it's never easy, but it was easier. It afforded us certain luxuries that we wouldn't have had on a really tight schedule.
You shot the video for "For Your Vulgar Delectation" recently….
Yeah, we just completed that on Sunday, and it's gonna be a hell of a video. We did all the outdoor shooting for it prior to going on the European tour, a few days after Halloween last year. It was shot on the grounds of this big house with a forest, and we got to set a zombie on fire who was coming out of the grave. I got shot, all kinds of cool things happened like that. And it was only last Sunday that we did the studio shoot. It took some preparation to build the forest and the interior of the film studio but it was brilliant, really cool.
The zombie slayer woman you see in the first one, she comes transformed in the second half and becomes my pet, as it were. There's a lot of really cool shit going on in that video, I'm really excited about that.
With a purist trend leaning towards actual performance in music videos, sort of the straightforward live shots, it's refreshing to see a band like Cradle of Filth go in the complete opposite direction with a full theatrical production. It serves bands much better, it seems, to embrace all the artistic avenues they can run down.
I agree, but the music scene is suffering many other things, and with the demise of the multimillion dollar makers there are all kinds of standards falling by the wayside. I get this from a lot of bands bigger and smaller than Cradle whom I know, whose record company doesn't put that much money into videos anymore, there's nowhere to place them.
It's all about YouTube now, and people are already fatigued to hell with the music video trailers and flash teases and so on.
YouTube is a massive benefit, but rock stations don't really exist much anymore for videos, and so budgets are much smaller. So we've had a smaller budget on this one than we've had before, but a lot more people working on it that we know. I dragged in some people that I knew, who knew other people in the film industry, so we got a lot of cool favors and people who just wanted to work on it, thinking 'wow, this is going to be good fun'. There's one woman in particular, one of the makeup artists, who worked on one of these period English dramas with fake frocks, wigs and what have you. And she's perfect to get the visuals for someone who's going to have their throat ripped out by a zombie. So we've been very lucky in that respect. It takes a lot of planning, but if you put your mind to it…
I'm sure it's a much more rewarding feeling as well, making it more of a family team effort than a big studio production.
Oh absolutely. I even asked friends from a few local bands to come by and be some zombies. It was really cool, a really great atmosphere.
Do you have any plans to put more videos together after this one?
Hopefully we'll be able to leap off the back of this one into another. We've been known to do about three videos per album.
Is there any bonus material left from the record that hasn't seen the light of day? What will come of it?
I think the record company had planned to do a digital release of the album, a re-release, but there's no extra tracks planned there. There are, however, twelve or thirteen demos that are obviously different and a good deal more underground sounding. And then there'll be the two videos and a couple documentaries with behind the scenes things. More artwork, things like that. But as it is, no new songs. On the album we tried to make it all-in on what it was. Obviously we didn't want to spread our butter to thinly, as they say.
I'm curious about the cultural differences, with band members living in different countries and continents overall. Is there any sort of grace period of re-establishment when you all get back together for a tour or to record?
No, no, that doesn't last very long, because even on a seven week tour is enough to get to know someone really well. You're practically living on top of each other on the tour bus, you might as well be living in a graveyard with someone. But God do I love American audiences, while in Europe you've got stricter style limitations in extreme music. You're classified as this, you've gotta go out with those, because it's a smaller place and there's more tours going around. In America, the concept is a bit more liberal.
We've done tours in the past with CKY, Type-O Negative, Bleeding Through and so many others, quite a plethora of different bands. Sure, they're all heavy bands, all extreme and metal and so on, but I'm surprised when I come to America and you get hardcore punk kids showing up who are into Misfits and the Ramones and that sort of heavier stuff. Then you get the gothic crowds and the death metal elite, and they all sort of get on well together in the pit. I'd say American audiences are really unique in that aspect.
It's been great to see the musical walls break down between styles and genres. In the past 3-5 years, a real shift has taken place in the world of electronic music, where people are now working together who would've been seen as stylistic rivals or completely different worlds not so long ago. These camps being bitterly opposed to one another, where you can't listen to trance if you're into house and so on, it's all folding into each other now. The merging is now celebrated, and people are thrilled to see it meshing together. But with metal there's still a little bit of that resentful holding out.
It's not as bad as it used to be though, to be fair. I think we've moved on and people are a little bit more liberal. Back in the day it used to be the thrashers versus the glammers, and nowadays anybody's welcome. It's not an embarrassment to say yeah, I love Motley Crue's 'Shout at the Devil'. Whereas in the past, you'd have been lambasted and probably crucified for having that in your collection.
It's just about image as much as anything else.
What's on your immediate horizon?
Aside from Cradle of Filth I'm doing a couple other bands, one of which being a supergroupy type thing that will probably only play a couple festivals and maybe a few other shows.
You've got a teenager now – how do you help steer the ship of artistic influence, so they don't fall victim to the vapid shitpop?
It really depends on the circles they hang around. My daughter doesn't smoke, doesn't drink… she doesn't even like fizzy drinks. But she's got a lot of good friends. When the hormones change and they start bubbling and they start turning into adults, anything can go. I remember I was pretty riotous. So fingers crossed, we'll see how it goes (laughs). But she listens to One Direction and all that, it's just a case of letting them find their own way.
When I was a kid my dad was really into reggae music, he used to collect it and play it in the house a lot, and now the nearest whim of a reggae record and I'm violently ill.
Keep up with the band at the official Cradle of Filth website!