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Getting Filthy With Cradle of Filth's Dani Filth

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Tuesday, June 11, 2002 @ 3:41 PM


Cradle of Filth's Dani Filth O

They are “the biggest black metal band in the world.” And now English fiends Cradle of Filth are “the first black metal band in the world to sign with a major label.” The band inked a worldwide deal with Sony last summer and are now in the process of putting material together for what will be an historic new album, currently titled Damnation And A Day.

The deal culminates a rather remarkable decade-long run for a band that began as something of a rag-tag circus act, led by charismatic frontman Dani Filth, which combined Kiss-like theatrics, gothic symphonics, vampirism, dark eroticism and black metal blasphemy. As the once-influential Norwegian scene degenerated into internecine conflict, arson and homicide, Cradle provided a certain comic relief with their hyper-speed caterwauling and flair for the ostentatious.

Even though The Principle of Evil Made Flesh and Vempire perhaps drew more interest for their blood-covered lesbian cover art as anything else, black metal fans did take notice. And despite nearly imploding under the weight of line-up turmoil and business trouble, the band got their shit together and offered the monumental Dusk And Her Embrace in 1996, an which displayed their true grandeur, majesty and power really for the first time.

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Dusk was followed in 1998 by the even more accomplished Cruelty And The Beast, a labrynthian thematic work based on the life and crimes of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who bathed in the blood of slaughtered virgins in the hope of achieving eternal youth. The band made their U.S. debut in its wake.

By now, Cradle of Filth were emerging as a worldwide phenomenon. Buoyed by a penchant for drama and controversy and ceaseless self-promotion, the band brought black metal up from the underground in Europe and made headway in Japan, the U.S., Australia and South America. Their “Jesus Is A Cunt” T-shirts got school kids in trouble in Florida, England and beyond and the PanDaemonAeon home video cracked the Billboard chart in America and saw the band dabble in splatter movie mayhem for the first time.

More line-up turmoil ensued, but despite the loss of tornadic drummer Nicholas Barker, Cradle emerged with their strongest line up yet with the addition of ex-At The Gates/Haunted drummer Adrian Erlandsson, ex-My Dying Bride keyboardist Martin Powell and the return of prodigal guitarist Paul Allender. With the Midian album in 2000, and the extensive touring that followed, Cradle of Filth established themselves as black metal’s reigning kings.

With work commencing on their major label debut, Cradle and their old indie Music For Nations, are tying up some loose ends with the Heavy Left-Handed and Candid DVD and the Lovecraft & Witch Hearts best-of double CD that was issued in the U.S. on June 11. Also becoming available recently was Dani Filth’s film debut in Cradle of Fear, a grisly, contemporary take on the horror anthology directed by Alex Chandon, who’s fondness for atrocity and arterial spray knows no bounds.

On the phone from his home in the English countryside, amiable frontman Dani Filth reminisces about the days of old of Cradle of Filth and looks ahead at the unprecedented next phase in the band’s career.

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KNAC.COM: As busy as you guys are, how is everything going?
Dani Filth: Everything is fine. We’re about three-quarters of the way through the process of writing for our next album. What we’re really wrapped up with at the moment is constantly writing for this new record.
We were offered the Ozzfest in America for this summer, which is a bit of a shit because all the good things come at once. But we have to prioritize and the album is first on our agenda. It would have been great. Hopefully we’ll do the next one. Ozzfest would have been great, but the album will be greater.

KNAC.COM: Are you still maintaining the concept album “concept?”
Filth: It is, but let me say that despite it being a concept record, we’re not letting the concept bog down the content. In fact, it’s more concise a record really, more songs, it will be longer, but the songs themselves will be more concise. I think we’re written about 15 songs, and they all come in at about an average of 5-1/2 minutes a song.
So it’s streamlined a lot. When I say streamlined, I mean perhaps seven or eight time changes per song. Which might seem like a lot, but we’re not talking about Green Day here (laughs). Maybe that’s where we’re going wrong (laughs).
I would say the record is a lot heavier, and it’s more diverse at the same time. From those brutally heavy songs it goes right through to some quite catchy tunes. So it’s not a departure for us at all, thought it may surprise some people. It’s very hard to say exactly how it’s going to come out because we haven’t actually finished writing it.

KNAC.COM: Are recording as you write?
Filth: We’re demoing as write. We’re due to go into the studio at the beginning of July, for a couple of months. It’s sounding good so far, it’s sounding really, really good. In fact, we’re also incorporating a proper choir and orchestra on this record as well.

KNAC.COM: Aren’t you trying to hook up with the Prague Symphony?
Filth: Well, hopefully. Either that or a Hungarian string quartet or orchestra, whatever. We really want to do it right this time. It won’t be the whole album, we’re looking at the links and dropdowns in tracks where it usually would go solely into keyboards or keys and drums. But it’s sounding good, it’s very atmospheric, this record, and there’s a lot of different flavors.

”We’re perfectionists, we want it to be good. We have to please ourselves before we can please our fans, and everybody else can go to hell.”
KNAC.COM: Having seen you live and watching your new DVD, Martin only plays keyboards. Will he ever be playing strings with you in concert like he did with My Dying Bride?
Filth: I don’t even know if he’ll even be playing them on the record. I don’t know what it is with Martin, but since leaving My Dying Bride I think him and the actual violin just don’t see eye to eye anymore (laughs). He likes arranging it, but he doesn’t seem to like playing it. That was his job in My Dying Bride, for the most part, he’s more of an integral part of this band.

KNAC.COM: Have the Sony people be hovering around as you’ve been putting the new material together?
Filth: They’ve asked for a few demos and they’re fond of what they’ve heard. They’re letting us get on with what we need to do, that’s one of the reasons behind signing with them.

KNAC.COM: Is putting this record together any different than any of the others?
Filth: No it’s been as difficult, but as rewarding as any other time. We obviously know each other better this time and know how to work. There’s a lot riding on this album, well there is with every release. We’re perfectionists, we want it to be good. We have to please ourselves before we can please our fans, and everybody else can go to hell.

KNAC.COM: Did other big labels express interest in you?
Filth: There were a couple, but that was the one that interested us the most because it was the new label manager, the managing director, who approached us. And it’s ironic, really, because he was only signing like three or four bands a year, and usually they’re stuff like Steps and Five and all these dodgy boy bands. I think the most of the company was like “what the fuck” when they realized that his new main priority was a band called Cradle of Filth. We’re not good looking enough to be a boy band and we’re shitty dancers as well.

KNAC.COM: Does being the first black metal band to sign with a major mean anything to you?
Filth: It does in a way, but not in a bad way. If the major labels are going after our stuff, then maybe they’ll pick up another band and the scene will grow and it will just be more beneficial.

KNAC.COM: As big as Cradle has become, had you completely outgrown the independent/underground system?
Filth: I don’t know. Our values are still the same, no matter what anybody else may say. For example, when we were doing our first album and we were signed to this shitty little label, our goals were the same as they are now. And if we’d looked forward and seen the position that we are now in, then I think we would been very happy because we wanted to be able to have a budget large enough to incorporate an orchestra or to record somewhere quite luxurious in England, so it was atmospheric, and have a choice of what producer to use and blah, blah, blah. We haven’t sold out, we’ve just got bigger and the reason we’ve got bigger is because people have bought our records. And at the end of the day it all comes back to music and that’s what we’re in it for, we love the music. Unfortunately we can’t be writing music if we’re flipping burgers, so we need to make money. Being on Sony will give us the advantage of putting our art into practice and be able to do the things that perhaps before we could only dream about.

KNAC.COM: Who is going to produce your record and where will it be recorded?
Filth: That’s in the finishing stages of the debate at the moment, so I won’t go into it too much because, well, it’s called Sud’s Law in England. If you mention something that you hope to have happen in the future, you jinx it. So I’ll just keep in under wraps.

KNAC.COM: Without giving it all away, what is Damnation And A Day’s storyline?
Filth: The concept is like a modern evaluation of the fallen angel myth. The first half of it is from a historical point and the second moves along a first-hand perspective. It’s an exploration of someone’s damnation. I think that should be a vague enough explanation (laughs).

KNAC.COM: When do you hope to have the record ready?
Filth: Originally the release date was for Halloween, although it will probably be moved back to the first of the year because I don’t think we can make Halloween and no one releases anything around Christmas. I should imagine a single or an EP of tracks from the album should come out before that.

KNAC.COM: Do you have another bass player now?
Filth: Yeah, it’s the same guy who came to America with us last time [Dave Pybus, ex of Anathema]. When it came to choosing a replacement [for the departed Robin Graves] we couldn’t see the wood through the trees and we had someone right under our noses that had been with us for a year, so he’s a pretty full-fledged member of the team.

KNAC.COM: That position aside, your line up’s been rather stable for a while after all the changes you went through earlier in your career.
Filth: Yeah, it’s good. I don’t think people realize how long a year is to a band, especially if you’re touring or writing a lot. And last year was a bit of both. So that 3-1/2 to 4 years, where we did have the stability environment, seemed like a lifetime.

KNAC.COM: Black metal bands, especially the better-known ones, all seem to be plagued by line-up turmoil. Any theories on that?
Filth: I don’t think it’s particularly just black metal. In our case it’s an intense experience. The music is intense, the lifestyle is intense and it’s a lot of hard work. I really do feel that, in the past, people have not been able to keep up with the pace.

KNAC.COM: Everyone is keeping pace now?
Filth: Oh yeah, of course. We’re all very excited about it. In fact we just took a week out not long ago to the morbid depths of Wales to a studio there and locked ourselves away so we could finish the actual structuring of the songs.
It was a kind of humbling experience and got us very much back in the mood of being a band again because when we’re off tour everyone’s off with their respective girlfriends and wives and we only see each other as much as is completely necessary because on tour, obviously, everyone’s living out of each other’s pockets. So that honed us back into that killer instinct, as it were.

KNAC.COM: Tell me a little bit about the greatest hits package you have coming out?
Filth: That’s a double package and the artwork is fantastic and the track listing is synthesized from the Music For Nations albums, our label over here, that’s everything from Dusk And Her Embrace through Midian. The second disc is like Japanese imports, B-sides, remixes – new remixes, fresh ones that people have done – and cover versions, things like that. I think the full running total is about 150 minutes. I think it’s being retailed at the normal price of a CD, so you won’t have to pay box set prices for it or something ridiculous like that.
The thing was, people must think, ‘A best of, it’s a cash in.’ But when aren’t they? (laughs) And to be quite frank, because we’ve signed to a new label, Music For Nations were releasing it whether we liked it or not. The idea was to go onboard with them and try an elaborate on the release and make it worthwhile for the fans to buy. If we hadn’t gotten involved, it could have been a bit more of a sorry affair. Our involvement was purely aesthetic, to make sure that the fans weren’t ripped off.

KNAC.COM: Is the movie you did, Cradle of Fear, finally available?
Filth: That’s right, it’s been released over here, you can rent it at Blockbuster and get it on DVD and it’s doing pretty well. In fact, just a few weeks ago I went over to Italy to do a load of press and signings for with the producer [Alex Chandon]. He’s in Cannes next week and I think he’s going to be talking to some American distribution companies, so hopefully in the next couple months it will come out over there.
Funnily enough, it’s been released totally uncut over here by the Board of Film Classification, which is amazing given the content. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, it’s like putting a stamp on it, ‘Must try harder to offend next time,’ (laughs). But I don’t know how things will go in America, because it’s pretty full on.
Anyone who wants to get an advance look at it can go to www.cradleoffear.com. You can also order copies from there if you like what you see.

KNAC.COM: I’ve been to the Web site and you can see little snippets in the uncut “Scorched Earth Erotica” video on the DVD and it certainly looks pretty nasty.
Filth: It’s pretty underground, but it’s good. It’s very concise. It’s won a few awards and it’s actually a really good film. Not only is it gory, but it actually has a killer storyline. So much so that one of the stories, Alex has been asked to develop to the tune about 2 million pounds ($4.5-plus million), which is a pretty average budget for an underground film, although Cradle of Fear cost a damn lot less than that, like 1/20th (laughs).

KNAC.COM: Maybe we’ve got another Peter Jackson [“Lord of the Rings”] in the making. He got his start making low-budget splatter movies [“Bad Taste,” “Dead-Alive”].
Filth: (laughs) Yeah, I guess we’ll see. Right now there’s just talk of a “Cradle of Fear II,” but I suppose that’s a start.

KNAC.COM: Do you have designs on doing more acting, or was this just something you did for fun?
Filth: Yeah, and I think you get the impression after watching the film that it is fun. Everybody enjoyed themselves, you can tell, that film comes across that everybody was enjoying themselves and was really into the making of this film. But I think that other than “Cradle of Fear II,” I know where my forte lies (laughs).

KNAC.COM: Did you also enjoy making the DVD?
Filth: Oh yeah. It was a lot of hard work, at least the documentary part. I think it gives people a real perspective on the band, and since we haven’t played a lot of shows in America, people can see what we’re all about before the new album comes out.

KNAC.COM: Obviously the concert footage on the DVD was professionally shot, but what about the documentary stuff? It looks pretty raw. Did you have a crew follow you around or is it all stuff you did with your own cameras?
Filth: It was a mixture of both, it was footage other people had shot that we managed to get back and there was a couple of occasions where a cameraman was with us, he was a friend, or it was the band. That’s my favorite part of the DVD, I kind of put that together.
I wanted to be insightful, I wanted people to get not only behind the scenes, but to be able to see people’s characters. And I wanted it to be kind of funny and off the wall and candid in order that people who take our music very seriously, as we do, could see that we’re as human as everyone else and deep down there is a humor and another side of the band.
Most of that was totally candid, whereas sometimes if you have a camera around it can be a bit contrived, like in bed with Madonna for god’s sake. In her movie, she was mugging for the camera through the whole fucking thing. That’s why I like this; it’s completely genuine footage. Sure we could have smashed up TVs and rigged a lot of stuff up, but I thought this was genuinely insightful.

KNAC.COM: Instead, you’ve people passing out drunk in the street, getting thrown out of bars and stumbling around the bus.
Filth: Well that goes without saying for any band, you know (laughs).


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