November 29, 2017 Interview – Dani Filth Talks Decay
Cradle of Filth are a band who require little introduction: an amalgam of all the best, heaviest, and darkest forms of Metal. Formed in 1991 across that beautiful blue pond in England, over the next twenty-six years, the band would produce eleven elaborate albums – ranging from 1994’s The Principle of Evil Made Flesh to 2015’s Hammer of the Witches. With many conceptual offerings that run the gamut of sonic stylings, the band create a macabre musical entity that refuses to be pigeonholed. Always with Vocalist/Lyricist Dani Filth at the helm, Cradle of Filth have led a storied career that has placed them at the uppermost echelon of their craft.
In September 2017, the band – Filth, Guitarists Richard Shaw and Marek ‘Ashok’ Šmerda, Bassist Daniel Firth, Drummer Martin ‘Marthus’ Škaroupka, and Narrative Vocalist Lindsay Schoolcraft – released their twelfth studio offering, Cryptoriana: The Seductiveness of Decay, a gorgeous blend of Victorian and Gothic imagery, poetic Horror elements, and Filth’s spine-tingling screams. Honored to share a moment of this sage and congenial musician’s time, CrypticRock caught up with Dani Filth recently to discuss the new album, literature, a 2018 U.S. tour, the 20th anniversary of Cruelty and the Beast, and, of course, Horror films.
CrypticRock.com – Cradle of Filth are a group that has been around for nearly thirty years now, and has just released its twelfth studio album. You continually push the bar higher for yourselves while keeping fans on their toes. What is that like for you, as the artist, and what inspires you to continually delve deeper?
Dani Filth – Firstly, it’s not quite thirty years! (Laughs) It’s probably closer, from our inception, to about twenty-seven years, which I know is not a great deal, but it is; in the long run it is. I think with twelve albums under your belt and quite an extensive career, it’s very important, obviously, to switch things up a bit and not just continue releasing albums that sound the same: you want to experiment a little bit within the confines of your scene, you want to appease the fans.
I think, recently, the line-up shift within the band – which has been in place now for about five years – has really upped the ante. We want to appease ourselves, as well. We obviously want to keep moving forward, and we’ve never really liked doing two albums in the same vein, anyway: our fans kind of demand it! Henceforth, why we’re quite prolific, in the productive sense of the word. If you don’t take too long of a break, you don’t stagnate: you continue to keep pushing forward.
CrypticRock.com – What does Extreme Metal mean in 2017, where everything has already been done a thousand times?
Dani Filth – I think Extreme Metal, in general… my opinion of it is that I listen to a vast array of different bands, not necessarily all in the same genre, but they would fit under the umbrella of being called Extreme Metal. Mind you, I listen to all kinds of things! I don’t think Extreme Metal is necessarily just Black Metal, Thrash, Death Metal, or whatever else you want to label different sub-genres.
I think it’s quite healthy, the scene. It hasn’t died out: there’s a lot of Extreme Metal bands putting out some really ground-breaking albums, and ground-breaking would suggest that everything hasn’t been done to death. Not everything! A lot of stuff nowadays is an amalgam of lots of different things you’ve heard, but you put it out in a different context. It’s like everything in life! I’m sure every variety of spoon, knife, and fork haven’t been thought of; I’m sure some person will be making them in an array of styles that are quite refreshing.
CrypticRock.com – Who are some of the bands under that umbrella of Extreme Metal that you enjoy?
Dani Filth – Well, I like Satyricon, Nile, Black Dahlia Murder. I’m trying to, I’ve forgotten the band’s name! (Laughs) I was just about to say… Bloodclot, although that’s more veering on Hardcore. Cro-Mags, Wolves in the Throne Room. Then, some of these bands that replicate an older sound like Grotesque, but I think that’s just the person in me that reminisces about the good old times of early Death Metal. Paradise Lost are bringing out new albums, Carcass. There are plenty of bands out there that are doing well. I mean, look at Arch Enemy, they are doing very well!
CrypticRock.com – Okay, so Cryptoriana: The Seductiveness of Decay is a gorgeously done album, haunting and poetic in nature, and it came out roughly one month ago. How has the reception been from fans as well as critics?
Dani Filth – Well, I’ve done so many interviews! The critics – unless, of course, they’re speaking a load of rubbish – have been very favorable toward the album, there’s been thumbs-up all along the way. See, you cannot make a complete diagnosis of the reaction until you’ve got the reaction from the fans!
What little amount of fans I’ve spoken to or read online, everybody seems to be really liking it; they liken it to a renaissance in Cradle of Filth history. It’s all been very positive! I’ve read a couple of very scathing reviews, but they were that scathing that I don’t think they were interested in the music but just undermining the band in general. It’s all been very good, yeah!
CrypticRock.com – This is the second album with your current line-up of Cradle of Filth, so what was the writing and recording process like this time around?
Dani Filth – I would never say it was easy! If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. It was comfortable because it was the same line-up, same producer, same studio. Which is very beneficial, as a musician, because you become comfortable with your surroundings and get a better performance out of it. The producer is also a very good friend of mine and he doesn’t suffer fools gladly, he will definitely tell you if he thinks an idea is shit or not. Which helps: he’s not pandering to you.
The whole band actually convened in the Czech Republic last summer as a sort of team-building exercise and a way to collate ideas for an album. Obviously, we’re all based, we’re all scattered across the known universe – Scotland, Czech Republic, and England. It was a way to collate ideas and everybody had done so much pre-production – as in coming out with riffs or whole songs or just bits to fill the puzzle out – that at the end of the two weeks in Brno in the Czech Republic, we literally had about 90% of the album in place. Then, we just had to take it away, polish it; it would further mutate and get polished in the studio. Overall, I think from its initial inception to the finished article, it was a lot of hard work, but gratifying!
CrypticRock.com – It paid off in a truly awesome album!
Dani Filth – Yeah, It was enjoyable! I think people can tell the band are enjoying themselves a lot.
CrypticRock.com – Obviously there is a heavy homage to all things Victorian and Gothic throughout the album, with heavy Horror elements embedded in the lyrics; which are, as always, very poetic. It is very obvious that you are an avid reader, so who are some of your favorite Victorian and/or Gothic authors?
Dani Filth – I would say people like E.F. Benson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde, Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen, Bram Stoker obviously. I was going to say Edgar Allan Poe, but that was slightly later, as was M.R. James. I think that’s a good smattering!
CrypticRock.com – You do a cover of Annihilator’s “Alison Hell” on the album. Why did you select that particular track to cover?
Dani Filth – Well, we’ve been a fan of the band for ages and we’ve always wanted to cover that song! The opportunity to put out a cover as a bonus track hasn’t always been first and foremost in our thoughts, but we thought about doing it this time primarily because the song fits very well with the rest of the material.
Plus, we also bumped into Jeff Waters, the guitarist of Annihilator, on several occasions and happened to mention that we were interested in covering “Alison Hell.” He was like, “Yeah, you guys should do it, you’d do a really good job!” So, yeah, between those two reasons we just thought it would be perfect timing to do it. Since recording the track and putting it out, Jeff has actually commented on his Facebook site, on the official Annihilator site that he thought it was the best cover anybody had done of an Annihilator song. Which is obviously good news for us!
CrypticRock.com – That is great news!
Dani Filth – Yeah, we played it quite close to the original: we didn’t go super crazy, we didn’t overload it with keyboards and anything else or change too much about it; we thought the original was good enough. The time since that particular track came out – which is about thirty years ago – I think it’s long enough for us to put our own slight slant on it.
CrypticRock.com – A lyric video was recently released back in September for “Achingly Beautiful.” Will that be the next single with an actual video to follow soon?
Dani Filth – Well, no, obviously because we’ve just undertaken a lyric video, but we are planning to shoot another video which will coincide with our American tour; which is yet to be announced. I can formally say that it’s going to be happening in April , end of March to the end of April. The video I think will be coinciding with that will probably – not 100% here – be the track “Vengeful Spirit.” We will be recording it, I’m sorry, filming it again in Latvia with the Artist/Video Producer Arthur Berzinsh. So it will be a follow-on from “Heartbreak and Séance,” which is a very cinematic endeavor.
CrypticRock.com – It is a beautifully done video! Now, in a recent French interview, you mentioned that there are plans to remix and re-release 1998’s Cruelty and the Beast in 2018?
Dani Filth – Absolutely!
CrypticRock.com – Is that going to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the album?
Dani Filth – Yes, it is! We’ve already submitted a mix to the record company, Sony, that will be putting it out; because Sony bought out Music for Nations, which is the label we were on at the time. We didn’t want to give it to just anybody, so the band wanted to be involved. We wanted to use the same producer that was responsible for the last few Cradle albums, because, primarily, we didn’t want to lose the atmosphere; we wanted obviously to improve the sound quality and remix it to a more modern standard.
That can also make it very sterile and lacking in atmosphere – and the original album is just dripping with it – so we wanted to walk that fine line between boosting the production but not losing the feel. In fact, after the U.K. tour which starts in about a week-and-a-half and finishes mid-November, I’ve got about a month in the studio to be working with the producer on the remix and that. So I’m pretty excited about that! Hopefully we’re also going to renew the artwork, but keep it in the same vein; a close interpretation of the original artwork.
CrypticRock.com – That is a really good idea.
Dani Filth – I think if you’re going to go half-Hulk, you might as well go full-Hulk.
CrypticRock.com – Cradle of Filth’s tour docket is already full into March 2018 with shows in your native UK, throughout Europe, even in Japan and as far off as Israel. You already mentioned that we can expect to see you in The States in April. Any idea who you might be bringing on-board for the forthcoming tour?
Dani Filth – Well, it’s under-wraps at the moment because it’s something that’s being sorted as we speak. We’re just putting the finishing touches to that with the booking agent and our management; etcetera, etcetera. They believe in total synergy: releasing all of the information at the same time. So, yeah, it’s kind of getting there at the moment: it’s not far off. I think we’re about a week away from announcing.
CrypticRock.com – There is no question fans will look forward to those details! We come to our very last question. In previous interviews with CrypticRock, you expressed an affection for Horror cinema and literature. Have you seen any new films in either genre that you enjoyed, and/or read any new books in either genre recently that are worth noting?
Dani Filth – Yeah, I’ve read a few Laird Barron books, which is an author that I can recommend. Recently, I actually went to see a really good movie the other night, which was called The Ritual. It is a British Horror movie about this group of people that go on a camping trip in deepest, darkest Sweden. It brings to mind a little bit of The Blair Witch, but – considering I hated The Blair Witch – this is just so much better. It’s not found camera footage for a start. It blossoms more so you actually get to see the horror, but the build-up is just and it’s really a good, terrifying movie. I really enjoyed it! I think it should probably be out right now in cinemas.
Let me think, I caught up with The Walking Dead. I’m watching The Mist at the moment, but it’s very, very slow; I’m not overly convinced I’m enjoying that. I’m about to watch a new season of The Walking Dead and American Horror Story. There’s been some good Horror movies: I saw Mother! (2017), which was a little strange but still quite cool. Get Out (2017) was another good film and Split (2016). Some of the more independent Horror releases have been really good, but I’m not overly into these sort of Slasher/Teen stuff like Scream and that which has bled into Netflix series.
CrypticRock.com – Did you happen to see It (2017)?
Dani Filth – I saw It, yeah, I was going to say It: I did enjoy it! It had a real Stranger Things vibe, as well as sharing an actor.