November 16, 2016 Interview – Dani Filth of Cradle of Filth & Devilment
Always burning the midnight oil, British Lyricist and Vocalist Dani Filth seems to always be dishing out new material. Dedicating the majority of his creative impulses to the monster known as Cradle of Filth, in recent years he found a new path to trail with his other band Devilment. A different direction from Cradle of Filth, Devilment released their debut album, The Great and Secret Show, in 2014. Received positively, the album was a grand introduction to listeners, and now, in 2016, they return with their more cohesive Devilment II: The Mephisto Waltzes. An album written and recorded in between a busy touring schedule in support of Cradle of Filth’s Hammer of the Witches, Dani Filth is elate to see the Devilment’s latest effort see the light of day. Recently we sat down with the well-spoken musician to talk about the story behind Devilment II: The Mephisto Waltzes, approaching Cradle of Filth and Devilment as two different entities, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – Last we spoke, you were on tour supporting the latest Cradle of Filth 2015 album, Hammer of the Witches. Now you set to return with a new Devilment album. First, tell us, what was it like returning to the US with Cradle of Filth for the first time in a while?
Dani Filth – Great, I really enjoyed it. Well, it wasn’t for want, trying to be fair. Even that was a nightmare, because last time we had to cancel because immigration held up our visas for so long. We had no idea how long they were going to take. Subsequently, we cancelled, and then they turned up like a week and a half later. This time we were going to be forewarned, but they managed to lose my visa over Christmas. So I spent most of Christmas really worrying about where my visa was and why it had been delayed, etc. Even then, it turned up late and we had to cancel four shows, it was a nightmare trying to get to The States.
When we got to The States, they took me to one side in Charlotte, and I was thinking, “I’m not going to get in!” They asked, “We seen you’ve had a visa refused, why is that? Are you criminals?” We actually didn’t get it refused, we gave it back, because we knew we were cancelling a tour. We refused the visa, it was pointless to continue. We had to tell the truth, we cancelled a tour, and we didn’t need the visa. Luckily, there was no luck about it, that was the truth of the matter. It did feel like literally waiting for treacle just to make it happen, but it was worth every second of it. It was a fantastic tour and we were so very lucky that we got to do 70,000 Tons of Metal, the Heavy Metal boat trip to Barbados, or the Caribbean at least. Yeah, it was awesome.
CrypticRock.com – Well that is good, we could only hope that the United States government does as good a job of venting the real criminals coming into the country.
Dani Filth – That is why I was like, it was insane, literally insane. It’s a big tour bringing in a lot of money, when you boil it down to promotion, the venues, the staff at venues, the fans. When you actually eek out, there is a lot of money at stake. They don’t make it easy. It’s easier for you to come over to our country, it really is. I think your visas are pennies as well. Ours are really expensive and they make such a deal out of it.
CrypticRock.com – Wow, well glad you finally did. With Devilment, you are set to release Devilment II: The Mephisto Waltzes on November 18th via Nuclear Blast. What was the writing and recording process like this time around?
Dani Filth – Well, much like the Cradle one, I just had to fit it in between everything. It was good, we played to different strengths in our new album. We have a new drummer, not because our old drummer was fired, he just literally handed it over to a drummer that he recommended. He had things going on – work, family – and he couldn’t commit. He was very sorry about it and I still play soccer with him on a Wednesday night and what have you. Rather than the first album, where people came and joined, like Laura and Colin on guitars, they joined mid-writing. A lot of the stuff had already been written toward that album. This time it was from scratch, so I guess they felt less like passengers and more like part of the band. Like I said, we built on the strengths of the original album.
You will see a noticeable amount of female vocals in a few choruses and there is more elegant guitar work and everything has just improved. We just cut the chaff from the wheat, which means we got rid of the shit stuff and just made it as lean as we could. We were still working on stuff in the studio as well, that is not because we were running late, we were literally being so clinical with everything. We felt, “Really, is that good, is this the best we can do with a song”? A couple of songs were dissected later and rebuilt, it was a lot of work. We were just trying to make an album that everybody was really proud of, that was very catchy, heavy as fuck, but catchy. I think we definitely did that. There’s a lot of styles, it’s a very eclectic mix of tracks. What we had to do is make sure that we didn’t stray too far from being Devilment. It’s ok writing another, second album and experimenting a little bit, but you don’t want people to go, “It’s a little bit far away from why I got into the first record.” You have to have an eye on that as well.
CrypticRock.com – Right, exactly. Obviously there was more chemistry, more comfort with everyone going into this record, and that shows in the music as well. Through most of your writing career, your albums have always had a cohesive theme around them. What can you tell us about the theme surrounding The Mephisto Waltzes?
Dani Filth – The Mephisto Waltzes is inspired by the four waltzes of Franz Liszt, which are called the Mephisto Waltzes. It concerns the story of Faust Mephisto, the guy that sold his soul to the devil. The Mephisto Waltzes (1971) is also an American Horror movie that was based on Franz Liszt’s waltzes. It’s an occult murder mystery and the protagonist of the film, the lead character, is a concert pianist and he sells his soul to be the best he can be. Our interpretation suggested the tracks on the album are all tunes linked to devilish endeavors like Grimoire or a book of spells.
Essentially, it’s an album built on assertive emotions, injustices, and infatuations, retributions, obsessiveness, depression. There is a lot of dark stuff, but it’s a positive record that builds off of that, everything is about overcoming all of those emotions. Exploring them and celebrating in them in some places. It’s celebratory, there is a lot of stuff about overcoming fears, overcoming boundaries and borders. I would hate to say it is a feel-good record with Pop sensibilities, but mathematically, yeah, it is, if you would boil it down in an equation. It’s a fucking heavy record, but it does have Pop sensibilities with big choruses and it’s very catchy. At the essence of the heart of it, it is about triumph over tragedy.
CrypticRock.com – It sounds very compelling and a very interesting record thematically. It is heavy, but most so, there are very good song structures through the album. You have said it was important for the band to release a follow-up album, otherwise many would have seen it as a side-project. That in mind, do you approach Devilment any different than you do Cradle of Filth?
Dani Filth – Obviously it’s a different kettle of fish. Actually, we are writing the new Cradle album at the moment; it’s fast, organic, very melodic, and haunting. It carries a very Victorian Gothic Horror theme. At the moment, I am totally immersed in lots of 19th century authors – Arthur Conan Doyle, E.F. Benson, Rider Haggard, that sort of thing. I’m not liking myself to these people by any means, but people have asked, and this is the comparison that I make. Cradle of Filth would be like Bodel, Poe, Lovecraft, Shelley, Byron, that sort of era, or that sort of ilk. Whereas Devilment Sylvia Plath, Tim Burton, Neil Gaiman. It would be more modern and surreal, I wouldn’t say tongue-in-cheek, but Devilment, the terminology, does suggests Machiavellian mischievousness. Our logo doesn’t have massive inverted crosses and skulls dripping blood and virgins shackled, although we have tried it.
CrypticRock.com – (laughs) Understood, it must be fun to have a different outlet like that.
Dani Filth – Yes, well it was fun. (laughs) I am just busy now all the time since.
CrypticRock.com – You do seem very busy. We had spoken about the idea of a new Hellraiser and Doug Bradley returning to the saga. It seems production has gone a different route, Doug is not involved. What have you heard about this forthcoming Hellraiser, if you have heard anything?
Dani Filth – What I’ve heard is it was going in the right direction, but it seems to have hit another brick wall as far as I’m concerned. The new one, I was reading with great interest about. I was thinking this is a bit fishy. I don’t know if it made it or not, but the budget was pathetic, then I read it was a fan-driven thing. It’s just going to be another what it looks like, and I hope I am wrong, a straight to DVD release. That’s as far as I’ve got in my investigation. This massive grandiose mega blockbuster, but with underground sensibilities with Clive Barker behind it. All these great Horror directors dying for the position of directing it, it all dissipated and now nobody could agree on anything. It just ended up being another Hellraiser whatever it is, 25 now.
CrypticRock.com – (laughs) That is really unfortunate that it has gone this direction.
Dani Filth – I don’t want to say for gospel, it may surprise us. I wasn’t impressed by The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker. I actually read that on tour in Europe last year, I just found like he had a bit of disdain for the subject matter. It read very childish, it didn’t have the usual color, ornamentation, and flair that you would attribute to his earlier work. It just came across as a bit puerile for some reason.
CrypticRock.com – Noted about the book. It is still sad about the Hellraiser thing. It would have been nice to see the series actually go in the right direction again.
Dani Filth – Yeah, it would have been good. Christ, even getting Rob Zombie to have done it, it would have been better with some of the shit that’s been put out.
CrypticRock.com – (laughs) That is for sure. As we spoke in the past about your favorite Horror films. Tell us, have you seen any Horror films of late that you enjoyed?
Dani Filth – Yeah, every now and then. The remake of Martyrs (2015) was quite good, not as good as the original. I really enjoyed It Follows (2014), that’s was cool. I don’t know, every now and then you see something that you think was pretty good, but mainly TV series. Like Ash vs. Evil Dead or Stranger Things, that sort of thing. A couple of good Gothic-like Horror type things. I saw Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, the new Tim Burton movie. It’s not exactly Horror but, for a children’s movie, it’s quite cool, quite Addams Family-esque. It’s an amalgam of a lot of his different movies that he’s done, so I enjoyed that. I know there have been some movies, but nothing springs immediately to mind though.
CrypticRock.com – Good list of choices. It is difficult finding new, quality Horror movies. Did you catch Penny Dreadful, and if so, what did you think of it?
Dani Filth – I really enjoyed it. There was two things I didn’t like about it. I didn’t like the way it ended. I know the director said that he felt like you couldn’t write anymore about it, but I am sure there are avenues to explore. It felt like they just cut it a bit short. I loved all the characters, but I didn’t like Josh Hartnett when he turned into a Werewolf. I thought he looked comical. I thought they could have made him look a little bit like the Werewolves from The Howling (1981), Dog Soldiers (2002), or An American Werewolf in London (1981). In the end, he just looked like Oliver Reed in The Curse of the Werewolf (1961). That was the problem with The Wolfman (2010) as well. Andy Hopkins, when he turned as well, he just grew his beard a bit and lots of hair in his ears and stuff, it looked ridiculous. Other than that, the rest of Penny Dreadful was great.
CrypticRock.com – It is a shame that Penny Dreadful ended so abruptly like that, but it seems like the best quality Horror themed stories are mostly in television now a days.
Dani Filth – That’s where the money is. People are not going to invest a huge amount of money. Underworld: Blood Wars is coming out, that might be quite cool, it might be good. There’s a few movies I’ve noticed that are sort of coming through. My daughter always goes to see some of them.