“We’re a lot more focused metal band now (laughs) well, we’ve always been a metal band despite what people say, if they want to tag us then fair enough, but we’ve always been a metal band and always will be.”
From album press release: Cradle of Filth formed in Suffolk in 1991 and after a string of demo recordings released their debut album, ‘The Principle of Evil Made Flesh’ in 1994. The band have gone on to become one of the UK’s most successful metal acts, known for their dynamic symphonic style of gothic black metal, along with the dark poetic lyrics from the hand of enigmatic front-man Dani Filth. Now with their new album ‘The Manticore And Other Horrors’ it possesses an altogether new atmosphere for the band, incorporating a heavier, faster NWOBBM (New Wave of British Black Metal) punk vibe that is both current and cruel, blended with ornate orchestration and the quirky immediateness of 2000’s Midian opus.
We had a great chat with Cradle of Filth guitarist Paul Allender about the band’s new album ‘The Manticore And Other Horrors’, the sound of the band, an ever changing fan base and tribute bands…
Hey Paul, thanks for taking the time to chat today. So your new album has just been released in Australia – however it’s been released earlier in other parts of the world. From what you’ve heard/seen, what has the response been to the album so far?
To be honest I don’t know… it’s only been out a few days. Through some of the comments I’ve seen from fans I’ve talked to they really like it, but the press seem to be getting into it way much more than the fans do (laughs) which is really good to know, but the press are completely all over it, they love it, saying it’s finally gone back to true to form and various other things which is great. It was purposely done like that so the way I started writing it and how I wanted it to come across is how it worked.
Over the course of the bands history, you’ve managed to musically keep adapting and changing things up and this new album does that by bringing an increased level of intensity – is that a true summation of what you really tried to shoot for on the album?
For this album? Yeah totally. I wanted it to be really aggressive and I felt like over the last few albums it got really nice, like all nice smooth edges and stuff. The aggression and the anger side of it wasn’t there anymore, so I decided I wanted to do or try to do an album that has more of the original influences, like the punk influence off the first album, that whole punk hardcore influence and I wanted it to sound more aggressive as well and get back more of the spikiness in the band that we’d seem to have lost you know?
On this album, yourself and Martin composed all the music – whereas on past albums that seems to have been more of a whole of band affair. Was that a specific decision you had made for this album, to write this way?
Beforehand, one reason why we did it, well because half the players are session players anyway and half the time they’re not free to do stuff, so what hat we did, me and Martin ended up doing this one, but before we ended up doing group sessions and stuff and I felt like if we’d all done an album all of us again, we’d have come up with the same old stuff over and over again. Something had to be changed, not in a bad way, but something had to be like ‘no, no it has to go in this direction’ because otherwise I felt we’d have come up with another album like the last couple we’ve released.
One of the things that strikes me on this album is that the guitars really seemed to leap out of the speakers and are highly prominent was that something you wanted to do?
Yeah, at the end of the day I’m a believer in any metal band you need to hear the guitars (laughs) so it wasn’t a conscious thing, actually to be honest it was more of a conscious thing that the producer was doing, Scott Atkins, he really wanted the guitars out there and he was the one really pushing for the groove and stuff and a bit more stuff that we used to do back in the day, even on the demos, that type of stuff. So he kind of steered in that direction which is really good.
You also were involved in producing the album – how was that experience and balancing between obviously also being an integral part of the writing and recording process?
It was quite different to be honest because even though I live in the States , I was constantly on the phone and Skype with the producer and constantly with Martin as well and when we were writing the tracks, so it was quite simple. By the time we actually got in the studio, myself, Martin and the producer all knew what the music would sound like before we got there, so we were part of it from the actual beginning. So when it came time to actually record it, me and Martin recorded it live we kind of knew what it was going to sound like already, so it’s kind of the producing that had already been done. Apart from just getting the heads and the guitar sounds, everything was already done before we got in there.
So where did you record this album – was it a specific block of time you hit the studio, or was it done in between touring?
No, we set up a time, me and Martin spent seven months writing the music and then after that went straight in the studio and spent two months I think it was, well I wasn’t in there for two months, but the whole process was two months including the mixing you know?
Do you record live?
This one was actually recorded live, a lot of it was recorded live, hence the reason why you’ve got the really good organic feel to it, it sounds like a band, it doesn’t sound all processed and produced.
Is that the way you’ll continue to do it now?
Oh hell yeah! Even on this one I even tried to get in to a studio that we could record it on tape and leave digital behind, but trying to find a studio that does it on tape and when we did find one, they wanted stupid amounts of money for the tape and we were like nah forget about it. I think this album would’ve had a warmer feel if we’d done it on tape.
From a guitar playing point of view specifically within Cradle Of Filth, where would you say you are at here in 2012, compared to the early days?
We’re a lot more focused metal band now (laughs) well, we’ve always been a metal band despite what people say, if they want to tag us then fair enough, but we’ve always been a metal band and always will be. Now we’ve kind of focussed on it a little bit more, as at the end of the day there’s people out there doing a lot of the keyboard stuff and the orchestral stuff still and other bands in the same scene as us still doing it, so I can’t see the point in doing something that’s already been done, so we decided to made a conscious effort to go off in a different direction as we always do. We’re definitely a metal band for sure.
For over twenty years the band has been going strong – how do you compare the level of interest in the band here in 2012 compared to the early days?
It’s very hard to say really as there’s a lot of factors involved really, I don’t know, the interest is still the same, but record sales for arguments sake, the internet has completely killed record sales, full stop, and compared to what it used to be, when the internet wasn’t around it used to be brilliant. You had people tape trading, but it wasn’t as immediate and fast as what the internet is, but as far as sales are concerned, it’s really damaged record sales. Shows, people still come out to shows and still buy merch, so the interest is kinda still there but it’s different and there’s a lot of other factors in place, so you can’t look at any band, like us and say well we’re smaller now because of this, this and this, but back then we never had the internet, never had x, x, and x you know? So it’s really hard to say, I personally think it’s the same.
Do you feel the increased level of interest in the pop culture to all things horror has maybe helped or hindered all things Cradle Of Filth?
I know there’s a lot to do with Vampires and Zombies out there now isn’t it? I don’t know, it might bring a bit more attention, we’ve actually just shot our new video and it’s like a small zombie film, s we’ve done something a bit different then, at least for us, so I think the whole zombie thing, vampire thing and the dark atmosphere stuff around may help us to be honest.
Which track is the video for?
‘For Your Vulgar Delectation’ a real punky one, it’s good though, we’ve got a guy in, a special guys that did I think it was ‘Gladiator’ I could be wrong but I think it was… he did some amazing work, we’ve got zombies set on fire, we had people being set on fire properly, we’ve got hands coming out of the ground, people eating brains and blood and guts flying everywhere, it was fucking great! It’s like a five minute long zombie film.
The first film clip for the album was for ‘Frost On Her Pillow’ how did you come up with the concept for the video?
It was kind of like a modern day ‘Red Riding Hood’, obviously we didn’t have the wolf in it, but it was loosely based on Red Riding Hood to match the lyrics, but instead the wolf was a big voodoo guy bringing her back to life.
You mentioned that you see the fanbase kind of staying the same, but have you noticed the demographics in your fanbase changing over the years also?
Oh no, well the thing is they’re either getting younger or we’re getting older (laughs), it’s one or the other, knowing that you’ve got twelve or thirteen year olds in to your music, it’s great but you’re like ‘Holy Shit, that’s young’ but then I remember that I got in to metal when I was twelve, so obviously I thought ‘fuckin’ hell, that’s really young’ but the fanbase does seem to be getting younger, but, we’ve still got people that got in to the band in ’94, they’ve followed us, they come to every show and they’re the same age as us. That’s really cool.
Anyone that springs to mind that took you by surprise as being a fan of Cradle Of Filth?
Hmm… I know Doug Bradley is, he’s been on our records, I don’t know, the thing is I can’t remember their names (laughs) there have been a couple of people where I’ve been ‘like, really? You like Cradle of Filth?’ it’s not so much famous people, it’s more like doctors and lawyers and stuff. Like I’ll go to the dentist and you tell them you’re in a band, they say ‘what band?’ and you tell them and they say ‘Fuckin’ hell, I just bought your last album, it’s brilliant’ and I’m like ‘really?’
Free dental work?
(laughs) exactly! That kind of stuff just really takes you by surprise.
What touring plans do you guys have on the back of this album – are there extensive International touring plans in the works for next year and of course, will you work Australia in?
I’m hoping we’ll come to Australia, but unfortunately that’s down to the powers that be ie the promoters and booking agents. We’re touring, I actually flew to England to rehearse as our first show is on Wednesday in Holland and we’re on a European tour for seven weeks. Then we’ve got a month off then we do America through February and March. April we’re doing South America and hopefully, it hasn’t been confirmed yet, but China and Indonesia and I think if we do those, it might make sense to do Australia as well.
So are there any territories that you haven’t been to that you’ll be touring?
Well we’ve never done China and we’ve never done Indonesia (laughs). So that will be really, really cool to see what they’re like down there because in Indonesia they did a Cradle of Filth tribute band but they did it as a huge festival and there was a tribute band playing loads of our stuff, basically playing one of our gigs and the festival completely sold out. That was with a tribute band. It’s mental isn’t it?
You’d want to hope that you guys get there and do the same…
(laughs) yeah I know, hopefully.
Three people turn up and well, yeah…
(laughs) bring on the tribute band, they’re much better.
Lastly, do you have a message for your fans?
I just want to say thank you for the support that everyone has given us and if it wasn’t for you guys, the fans of the band, we wouldn’t be able to do this, it’s because of you the reason we can keep writing music for you. I hope you like the new album, we’re completely in to it and believe me if you can see us live, it’s gonna rock like fuck, it really is. We did rehearsals today and holy shit, the fuckin’ roof lifted off, it fuckin’ rocked big time.
Well good luck with the album and thanks for your time Paul, was a pleasure.
Thanks man, thank you very much. Yeah, it was an absolute pleasure, it was fun, was really, really good, thank you.
Band members: Dani Filth – Vocals, Paul Allender – Guitar, Daniel Firth – Bass, James McIlroy – Guitar, Martin Skaroupka – Drums, Caroline Campbell – Live Keys
Latest release: The Manticore And Other Horrors (Roadrunner Records Australia)