Jay Rollins talks with Dani Filth
about Euronymous, Inspiration, and Poetry.
For a quarter century Cradle of Filth have scored the soundtrack to the magnificent macabre literary tales penned by the renowned English authors. Artistically an elegant exploration of darker shades expressed through musical extremes. This current lineup showcases a band that has matured past their initial designation of black metal into an extreme band that draws upon broader influences regularly.
Although the metal community is quick to condemn artists in pop culture for misrepresenting our subculture by wearing merchandise they likely know little about, I’m not surprised this trend is taking place and furthermore do not believe it is entirely disingenuous. Billie Eilish certainly has darker overtones than expected from the mainstream. Kanye West, who notoriously sported CoF merch, put out an album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy that conceptually explored darker subject matter. Sonically of course very different from CoF but in presentation of beautiful dark ornate imagery, I think Kanye may have borrowed some.
Metalheads Forever is here with Cradle of Filth’s theatrical mastermind Dani Filth. Thank you for joining me.
The band’s concept was seeded by John Milton’s most notable work, Paradise Lost, and you have been well-known for your literary influences throughout Cradle of Filth’s career. Cryptoriana and Damnation and a Day are prime examples. Have you ever considered William Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell as source material or perhaps something from Thomas Hardy?
Uh, not really no. I mean there’s many influences in our music. Cryptoriana wasn’t based solely on one thing or another it was sort of a collage of various influences picked up from
the Victorian era, Victorian authors, Victorian literature, etc. All sorts of things are being taken into account, even Damnation and a Day wasn’t solely Miltonic.
Nice. A few months back you mentioned that while on the road you are collecting new material for recording sessions which will hopefully commence by the end of 2019. Have you spent much time writing in the last few months?
It’s quite difficult being very prolific on the road. The gigs are full on, we have meet and greets, press, so it’s been difficult. You know you always set out with the intention of doing these great moral things, and basically you never get around to doing half of the things you set out to do. For example, a tour diary. You say you’re going to do this, then just naturally, it’s like getting to the gym is few and far between, if you’re lucky. Toward the back end of the tour people are tired or their girlfriends come out and they just want to go out and enjoy themselves for a day because they’re tired, you know what I mean? We have been working, it hasn’t been totally prolific per say, but we’ve got some great ideas. We had ideas prior to coming out on tour regardless, so we’re a good way into the writing. As for a theme I’m still a little bit uncertain to be honest, even if it was a not very busy tour, I don’t work very well on the road. I have to have my space in my house for the weird shit, ha ha.
Gotta be in your zone in order to get the creative juices for theme for that level.
Yeah I just prefer it to be honest, I don’t write down ideas when I get them.
Something that I noticed throughout your other interviews when you are talking about the “Jesus is a Cunt” shirt and general associations with Satan is that it appears as though you equate Satan with a sense of anarchism more so than sacrilege. Do you think that is a fair statement through your art at least?
Well I think it’s a little of both to be honest, but in reference to the Jesus shirt it was more anarchic at the time. It was just aiming at a well-known institution, really. But obviously you know I would say more Luciferian than Satanic, but I’ve dabbled in all kinds of stuff and I read all kinds of stuff. I have quite a general belief about things.
Interesting. Cradle of Filth’s current lineup is the most consistent since the band’s inception and things seem healthy between you all. I was happy to read that you were spending time in Canada visiting Lindsay. Do things feel like more of a collaborative effort now that there has been a steady team for a few years?
Well it’s always been collaborative but moreso now than before. Generally if you averaged out people’s contribution, each member contributes two or three songs for each album cycle, if you were to boil it down. I’m not saying whole songs but if you were to work out the riff ratio it would be about two-three songs per person. So yeah, it’s pretty evenly balanced because of really great musicians in the band. Well, they’re all great musicians in the band and we get along fabulously. I mean it’s the third last day of the American tour, it’s gig 33 and we’re far from killing one another! But give it time, we’ve only got two days at home and then we go out, play the Cruelty [and the Beast] set in Europe, do six of those and a festival, then go down to South America for another six weeks, back for four days, and then out to Russia.
Yeah if you were to interview me at that point I’d probably have a knife in my neck.
Ha ha ha, very different answer to the question.
Dani you just left Canada as part of the North American leg of the Second Coming of Vice tour with Wednesday 13 and Raven Black in tow. I’m sure the shows were nothing short of a full on spectacle especially considering who you had out with you. Now that we are saturated in social media, do you think it is possible for bands to create the same level of mysticism and allure as when you began?
Well I think it was more accidental for most people because of the lack of access to materials for bands. It was very easy for a band to get away with one or two murky photos in the woods. Nowadays if you really wanted to you could find out what school people went to. You know Euronymous, well everybody knows now, but I mean it’s easy to follow things up. Yeah so obviously nowadays there’s more access to your music, but again I think that triumphs over the fact that mysticism has been truly lost, I think. I mean you can generate a little bit, like for newcomers just seeing a band live. Then you’ve got people totally, I mean you can still be blown away by that aspect if you’re unfamiliar with a band’s work. But familiarity kind of defies mysticism, you know what I mean? It’s like religion and spirituality would all be torn of thunder by being revealed to the light.
Just access to information like you say just naturally takes away mysticism in general, almost.
Nice. In an interview for Bravewords Jeff Waters mentioned that “Alison Hell” was supposed to be featured on a Devilment album. Then it appeared on Cradle of Filth’s last release. Is there any reason you decided to use it for Cryptoriana instead or if it was just what you were doing at the time?
It was always an ambition, well not an ambition, but we’d always wanted to do a cover of “Alison Hell.” It’s been a favorite since I’ve been a youth, it’s not the only cover that we’ve wanted to do in the past, there’s a host of other stuff that we still want to do. [Alison Hell] was encouraged by the fact that we’ve bumped into Jeff on several occasions and we’ve mentioned it to him and he’s said “yeah man you gotta do it, it’s gonna be great.” So we thought yeah it’s perfect, it fits into the material for Cryptoriana perfectly, sort of ghosts, and you know it’s a very cinematic track, haunting. And like I say it fits very well with the musicianship of the rest of the record, so it just seemed perfect. It was considered for the project Devilment. To be fair the reason we didn’t do it was because it was too far away from what we were doing in Devilment. It would be like Rammstein covering Aretha Franklin, it just wasn’t right.
It just fit better with Cradle of Filth. Awesome.
I didn’t know yourself and Euronymous had regular communication. In those early letters with pen pal Euronymous are there any nuggets of wisdom he shared that helped you shape your career?
Um, not really, we only conversed for about five letters. It was really about just distributing our demo in Norway, and he was impressed by it, and it was just pleasantries really. I was speaking with a lot of people at that point, Hervé from Osmose Records, other underground bands and zines, things like that, so he was just another person that was interested. Because this was kind of pre- everything coming out and being a bit of a spectacle in Norway, so he was just another distributor. A good, interesting person, quite very likeable, and like I say he was very much into the Cradle of Filth aesthetic. He’d be turning over in his grave if he saw where we were now, ha ha ha. At least we haven’t had a Hollywood movie made about us. I wasn’t a massive fan of Mayhem at the time. Well I mean they were alright, I’ve still got the original Deathcrush, you know the pink covered one, and at the time it was just considered and reviewed as a poorly sounding thrash record, but how times change.
Yeah now it’s revered in some circles.
And before I let you go, as a poetry nut myself who’s working on my own collection of poems, I have been wondering what ever happened to Across The River Bedlam, was that ever released?
No, but I actually had a conversation with someone that was going to put it out the other day, he was asking, and I said no man every time I try nibbling away at it, it feels forced. Like, “oh you’ve gotta get this down,” so I couldn’t do it. I’ve always said there’s a time and place for everything and there’s only so many hours in a day but I always thought poetry really came from the heart, not from the pocket. So, with that in mind I just haven’t got off my ass to actually finish the bloody thing. I mean I’ve written a bunch of stuff, actually for my new girlfriend, which I’m told is quite good. When I’ve re-read [the poems] back, they will fit quite nicely into [Across The River Bedlam], it’s not too mushy. I want to finish it but it’s just every time I’ve put my mind to it I’m always doing something else. It’s always something like lyrics for the band, other projects, sort of no rest for the wicked. It will eventually get released, I don’t want people to be like “oh yeah that was okay.” I’m not making a big thing about it, you know what I mean? That’s the point here, it will probably slip under the radar.
Nice, it’s a project from the heart that you’re going to whittle away at on your own time, by the sounds of things.
Awesome. Dani, thanks again for taking time out for Metalheads Forever. I look forward to the next album, and I will try my best to make sure that Across the River Bedlam doesn’t slip under my radar because I’ve been looking forward to that for a couple of years now.
Okay, brilliant thank you, thanks for the interview.
Cheers, have a great one.