Just a few hours before their gig in London, I joined Cradle Of Filth at the Electric Ballroom. Once reached the backstage, where the band were getting ready for the show, the guitarist Richard Shaw gave me a warm welcome and was really nice to answered to our questions…
Thank you for your time, Richard! Cradle Of Filth released, on September, “Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay”, how was the composition of this album? Can you talk about it?
It all started after the U.S. and Russian tours on 2016, we all started writing separately. How it works for Cradle of Filth is I write a couple of songs, I have the music for a couple of songs, the bass player will, the guitar player will, the drummer will, and we’re just bring our ideas together. Once we’re happy with them individually and we’re happy musically with it, Dani goes away and write all the lyrics.
So that process can take a good few months of solid writing before we’re really really happy with the end result and start recording the album. So, that’s how it kind of worked out this time around, very similar to the previous album, “Hammer Of The Witches”.
And there was the same line up…
Yes, same line up! The “Hammer Of The Witches” was a case where me and Ashok have been in the band a few months when we’re asked to start writing, which with “Cryptoriana” we’ve been in the band a good few years, so the chemistry was there a lot more and we thought we could really push each other a little bit more as well. So, I like to think “Cryptoriana” is a better album for that reason: we could really push each of his technical ability and song writing abilities and write the best album we could.
What’s about the lyrics of the album? I know it’s about Victorian era…
Yeah, when we started to finish the music, I know Danny was like thinking “Oh no, I have to get some lyrics because the music came together quicker than we thought it would…” and I think it was Tony, his wife, who actually suggested some belong to Victorian era. He read a lot of a Victorian literature, and he was struggling for what to think about and Tony just suggested “Well, the stuff you’re reading right now, is there anything you can do from there?” and he kind of went with a kind of Victorian obsession like death, the cold, the sounds and the supernatural, and it almost seems tailor-made for a Cradle of Filth album, so yeah, I know a lot of that went into the lyric writing over on.
You collaborate with Liv Kristine for “Vengeful Spirit”, how this collaboration was born?
Well, “Vengeful Spirit” was a song that I brought forward to the band, I wrote the music for, and then when Danny got the lyrics together he knew he wanted it almost like a duet. Originally Linsday, our keyboard player, was doing the part vocals but it wasn’t quite working as well as Dani thought it would. Nothing against Linsday, obviously, everyone’s got a very particular voice, Lindsey’s got a voice really incredible, but for this particular track you almost need a light, a character that Lindsay wasn’t quite evoking. So, Scott, our producer, suggested to our band to get Liv involved. And she did a fantastic job!
About Scott Atkins, your producer, how is working with him?
It’s great working with Scott because he really knows what he wants and, as a guitar player, it’s great working with him ‘cause he’s a guitarist as well. So he’s really getting the tones and gain, the playing as good and as tight as possible, and he’s got a really good ear for what the song’s missing. Even when we demo, even when we think we’ve got the song finished, he’s like “Need something here, need something there…” and he’s really good at pushing you to find those moments as it is especially as a guitarist, those little guitar parts he’s like “I wouldn’t necessarily make it like this, I want to try something like that…”
He works on a same level that I do, in which your reference abandon an album or a particular sound from this player or about our taste, and he’s really really good at that, and we both come speak the same musical language, in that sense, and try to find it very easy going to work with him. I actually enjoy to make albums with him.
What’s the worst part on recording an album?
There isn’t a worst part! I just enjoy making music and do a whole recording process, but I suppose it’s a fact that I’m away from my family for a little bit, like I was there recording my guitar parts for eight days,and it’s like eight days away from friends and family and you’re very much in the studio, you don’t really see anybody, it’s a very closed-off environment. So when you come out the studio it’s like “Oh no, I have to go back to normal life now, this is really strange!” but that’s probably the only downside of it, but I do enjoy the fact we are closed-off at the same time, like we’re here to make an album, make the music and make it as good as we possibly can do.
So there isn’t really a downside, you must be really really picky! [laughs]
So, you really enjoy the studio part…
And also the live part, I guess…
The live part is my favorite. The hard work, to me, goes into making the album and writing it, and once it’s recorded and it’s out there, you can’t change it. It has to be perfect, it has to be right, because years after Cradle will breakup or years after we go on or whatever, the music is what we got left behind, but I prefer the live side of things, it’s a moment in time that we shared, with the band, with the crowd and it’s a moment in life, to me, and a serious moment.
Live is where it all comes together. It’s just a whole different beast, really! You supposed to make an album way so close off from everything, live it’s complete opposite: reopen everybody together.
And everyone is looking at you on stage, and you have to do your best…
There is that kind of pressure of it, but I like it! When there is a great crowd, you feed off that crowd, with this energy, and so when you get a crowd that’s “not so good”, you kind of feel like you have to do more. The group best gigs are the ones where it just comes naturally and everyone’s on the same page and there’s a great great feeling!
Do you have any funny or just particular episode that happened before a live? For example, for some bands blamed of Satanism, just before the gig it came a priest to bless the stage… Never happened something like that?
[laughs] Nothing like that! We had one Christian group preaching outside the venue, when we were in America.
I think it’s even on YouTube, edited out, the part where I was talking to them, and I made them all coffee, I made them all food, and they said “Oh you’re so lovely! Thank you! That’s very Christian of you!” and I answered “Oh thank you very much!” and then they asked “You’re obviously from the U.K., why you are over here?” and I said “Ah, I play guitar with the band that’s playing tonight…” and they literally dropped the coffee, like I’ve poisoned them and then “Demon! Get back for me, demon!” and I said “I’ve just been talking to you for the last hour, feeding you, you were calling me such a Christian lovely person…” soon as I mentioned I was in the band Cradle Of Filth they didn’t want to talk to me!
Yeah, sure! That was very judgemental to be honest…
…and not Christian at all…
Exactly! You know, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” They were very quick to judge me as soon as I said that, when they had a completely different opinion of me before, so I just thought “It’s really strange”… but now it’s just funny! [laughs]
In the Vinyl and deluxe version there is a cover, you recorded already several ones, of different artists, how do you choose a cover to record?
We just listened to music. You know, after show, we put a song on the iPod on shuffle, or something like that, we say “this would be cool!” or “I want to do that one!”, but with “Alison Hell” Dani had in his mind that he wanted to cover that for years, may way before me and Ashok were joining the band, and it just never seemed like the right time. I remember first joining the band, being on the tour-bus, and Dani “Oh I love this song, I’d love to cover it!” and it was like three years later we finally get to record it, so I don’t know why it took so long, but I know he’s wanted to do it for a while. We love Annihilator, they are a great band and Jeff Waters is such a great player. So it’s something we all got into and really enjoyed it, it’s kind of came around naturally when the record would need an extra track, like “Right now, it’s the time to do Alison Hell.”
And Dani was happy about that?
He’s really happy because finally got to do it! Anyway he’s got a big list of covers that I love to do and we always still talk about it. We’ll see…
Any anticipation for the next one? Did you already talk about it?
I’m not going to say it… Just in case! It’s something very different…
Something like “Temptation”?
It’s not even a pop song, it’s nothing like that… It’s from a soundtrack we’d love to do. But I don’t want to say out loud just in case people go “I’m going to do that” and if we never do it, there will be fans going “oh you always said you got to do that!” and we’re like “No no no…” [laughs] We want to do a base case of where we could do it. But there are a loads of bands I’m a fan of, I’ve heard their interviews saying “I would love to do this” or “I’d love to do this song” and they never do it. I mean, just in case! [laughs]
You’re about to play in London, are you excited?
Yes, very excited! We’ve just been soundcheck and the place is pretty big and I’ve got a lot friends and family coming down. It’s this point the tour feels really really good, it feels like we’re firing on all cylinders… I’m really excited for the show!
Last time you did a great show at Koko, is it special for you guys to play here?
Yes, London crowds! They’re almost treated so many bands coming all the time. I live in the middle of the country, where we get a lot of bands coming through, but I have to travel to see a lot of my favorite bands, where it is in London and you kind of take it for granted a lot of big bands come to London, when they do U.K. tour. They always come here, so we always feel like we do need to put in a little bit more of a show, instead of just another Friday night in London. Most probably twenty bands for you could have gone to see, why do people want to see the Cradle Of Filth? We need to give them something extra.
But I love London, it’s always been because London is such a great city, not saying anything bad about the other cities, but it’s just something about London and the musical history in this place. It’s just fascinating, to me. Makes it an exciting city to think “I’m going to be playing on the same stage of some of my heroes”. You can’t really say that about other places in the U.K. but in London, so that excite me as a fan of music as well as performer.
It’s just fascinating place to live or wherever you go is just culture, every kind of culture and every style in music, makes it a very exciting city.
How do you decide a setlist for a gig?
Good question! It usually starts with Dani and our drummer Martin. We need to discuss for a second that Martin knows everything about Cradle, he’s the biggest Cradle Of Filth fan in the world and he’s in a band! He knows when certain songs were played last and, as an old school fan, he wants to hear some more obscure tracks that never been heard before live, so sometimes he makes some notes at itself like “This song has never been performed live so let’s do that! Well, let’s see how long the song is…” like somewhat “Bathory Aria” is eleven minutes long, if you play that was like we couldn’t, and we always have to put in the hits before, they have to go in there. So that’s how it’s that usually happens and then when those who have decided what they would like: we do talk about it and go on “Well I’d like to put this in”, “We could try this…” and “Good idea, I didn’t think about that one…” and so we do talk about it a lot, but it usually starts with Danny and Martin discussing it and gain it together.
And after the rest of the band is saying its opinion…
Yeah, like if we go “Mhh I don’t know, I don’t think that song is going to go down well…” which is what was happening like a week before the tour started and we’re still talking about the sound, what’s going to work, what doesn’t… Then we get into rehearsals and we go what it feels good as well. You can think it sounds really great but sometimes it just doesn’t come across as well live as it does on record. Sometimes is the opposite. Sometimes something on record it’s like “Mmh, it’s OK…” but when you try live, it’s “Wow! A whole different animal!”
So, you don’t know really what this is going to be until you get on the road and then when will find tune in a little bit and try few different songs throughout it all.
I’ve notice the cover of the new album is a reference to The Birth of Venus by Botticelli, why this kind of choice?
It was kind of between Dani and Arthur, the artist that did the artwork of “Hammer Of The Witches” and I was so blown away with the artwork that it was like a bit of a no-brainier for me to do the next album, to do Cryptoriana. He did the music video for “Heartbreak and Seance” and his vision is almost taken traditional pieces of art, almost modernising or making a twist on them, and that’s what it’s so fascinating about its own. I’m not even sure how Dani came across him but I’m really glad he did, because he’s always like a perfect artist for Cradle of Filth vision thru Gothic style, for taking traditional work and spinning it on his head in a more Gothic way.
Any plan for the future, after the world tour?
We’ll be touring on till May, when we’ll finish in Australia, then we’ve got a few festivals lined up, and then we’ll be straight to write in the next album, I would assume, ready for 2019, and another world tour follow that up. So, it’ll be a good nine months to a year, we will be off, I would suggest, like writing and demo-ing the next album. I think that’s the big plan!
Don’t miss Cradle Of Filth live on tour: http://www.cradleoffilth.com/tour