The always perplexing CRADLE OF FILTH return with an ambiguous new album. Truly, can anyone in fact blame another for having sold-out his music, when he has, since long, shifted to a course that many fans find unappealing which leads away from known paths. Many questions and not enough time as we talk with the semi-fatigued Paul Allender in a concert venue in Spain, with the soundcheck in the background being heard; a constant reminder of the time passing by.
Marilena Smyrnioti: So, how´s the tour going?
Paul Allender: It´s going really well. We´ve tried lot´s of songs live and it´s going really well, people seem be into it and it´s going really well indeed.
Marilena: How were people reacting to the new songs before the album was out?
Paul: The songs of the new album, especially live, are accepted really well which is really cool because it was a bit of a gamble for us to put out an album like "Thornography". And it went really well.
Marilena: A gamble? Can you elaborate?
Paul: The new album is a bit different from what we usually do, so we decided to go for it, even though it was completely different. We decided to write music which was more based on the kind of music we were listening to when we were growing up as kids. That´s pretty much it. And we´re glad that it´s going well indeed.
Marilena: It really is different. There are more rock parts, Danni uses different vocals, the songs have simpler structures...
Paul: We are evolving as a band. We didn´t want to carry on doing the same stuff we were doing. The only way a band survives is by evolving. This was more of an evolution from "Nymphetamine". This was the only way we could have gone with "Thornography" se we decided to continue with that direction.
Marilena: So, you felt like this change was something necessary at that point?
Paul: Yes, totally. We really wanted to push our playing skills a little further and bring heavy metal back to the scene we are in.
Marilena: And what scene is that, exactly?
Paul: We´re an extreme heavy metal band! We´re not a black metal band, not a goth band, just an extreme heavy metal band.
Marilena: That´s a diplomatic answer! So, can you talk to me a bit about the title of the album, the lyrics, what does it talk about... There seem to be a lot of references from literature.
Paul: There are these references to Byron Â–Dani is totally into himÂ–, but, to be perfectly honest Danni is the one who writes all the lyrics, so we tend not to get involved with that. It´s like I´m the main songwriter in the band, I write the music and Danni writes the lyrics. I know for sure that the album isn´t a concept album, because it takes a lot to do a concept album. But, we´re pretty much leaving it up to the individual to make up their own minds about how they want to interpret it. The title "Thornography" can bring up to mind many things. There are so many things on this album, so many styles of music that we´re pretty much leaving everything up to the individual. We don´t want to limit ourselves to certain labels "we´re this, we´re that". The listener will decide about that. Now, about the title, it was kind of based on a sexual perversion and on religion, but, like a said, it´s up to whoever reads it to make their own minds up.
Marilena: CRADLE OF FILTH have always had a sensual element present in their music since day one and the title reminds very much of that. How big a part does the sensual side play in your music?
Paul: In the actual writing of the music it doesn´t. However in the lyrics it does. The lyrics have always been based on the sensual side of humanity, on the female form. The female form can be really beautiful and really hellish as well. It is a human form that can actually really flip from one to the other and that´s really impressive. I suppose that´s where we´re basing all that sensual stuff in our lyrics. The female form is pretty much a powerful entity and that´s why we´re doing it.
Marilena: You say that it has to do mainly with your lyrics, however one can trace this sensual element in your music as well, especially in your older albums. I remember Dani saying in a interview quite a few years ago that he´d consider a live show successful when half of the audience will want to kill each other and half of the audience will want to fuck each other.
Paul: I suppose, but that´s was the old band. We´ve involved since then so now, when I´m writing music, all I think about is whether it makes me feel good and which mood it puts me in when I listen to it. If it puts me in a mood that feels right, as far as I´m concerned, it´s perfect.
Marilena: So, since you write most of the music yourself, how did the other members of the band and especially Danni react when you presented them the newer ideas of "Thornography"?
Paul: They loved it. Basically I come up with the ideas for the whole structures of the songs, I give them to him and he just basically puts the lyrics on the songs. That´s how we work.
Marilena: To be honest, when I first listened to the melodic vocal lines I thought it was somebody else singing. I guess it was him right? It sure took you many albums to try something similar, given the fact that he´s obviously good at it.
Paul: It couldn´t have been anybody else! Well, he´s good.
Marilena: So, why hadn´t you expressed this lyrical side of the band in the past?
Paul: To be fair, in anything before "Nymphetamine" we couldn´t actually do it. It wouldn´t sit right on the previous albums, it wouldn´t work. It just so happens that the way "Thornography" turns out, there´s room for that style of vocals. For example, let´s say you want to put guitar solos wherever you feel like it. You can´t do that, it´s not going to work. You have to have specific areas written especially for leads. We had specific riffs written especially for that type of vocals. So, in the past, to be honest, we couldn´t actually do it. Danni couldn´t have done this style of vocals before, it wouldn´t fit.
Marilena: So, what did you have in mind musically speaking when you were writing the album?
Paul: IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST, MOTORHEAD, all the old ´80s metal thrash bands. You know, early ´80s, DESTRUCTION Â– like stuff. This is totally what we´re into, we wanted to make this album as a hail to all the albums we loved listening to when we were growing up, when we were kids.
Marilena: You´ve done that before. This time it´s far more that that, I think.
Paul: It´s has to do with the direction. We wanted to write an album that people would actually remember. We have done it in the past sort of, but not as extremely as in "Thornography".
Marilena: So, you´re touring and you have once again a new line up. Adrian left the band, and quite recently, from what I know.
Paul: Adrian left very recently, just now, really. He was doing a lot of drum clinics for this drum company that has endorsed him and that was getting in the way of the band. Basically he just wanted to listen to drum clinics instead of coming on a tour with CRADLE. That´s fair enough. He also has a band together with his wife, as well. It´s totally up to him really. What he wanted to do in his part time was actually interfering with the band and we can´t put the band on hold. Now however we´ve got another guy called Martin. He´s from Czechoslovakia and he´s absolutely phenomenal. He´s got a huge response on the tour so far.
Marilena: I know, I read some extraordinary comments about him on the internet from people that have seen you live. How did you hook up with him?
Paul: Charles, our guitar player, was planning to start a band 4-5 years ago. Martin had gotten in contact with him and he had auditioned him. So, when we got to the situation where we needed a drummer, he told us he knew a guy. Martin flew over, and he introduced him to us. Martin is a huge fan of the band anyhow, he knows all the CRADLE OF FILTH songs, every single one. So, we got straight down to rehearsals and it´s like we´d never been apart. When we played, it just went perfect.
Marilena: You also have a new face playing keyboards in live shows...
Paul: Martin left ages ago! Yes, we have a girl replacing him, Rosie Smith. We found her in a music college in England. At the moment she´s just playing live with us. But when we get down to recording our next album Â–I´ve already been writing some stuffÂ– she´ll a big part of the keyboard parts there.
Marilena: How did you find her? Did she audition?
Paul: Actually, we were looking for someone to play keyboards during the live shows and our sound engineer, who comes on the road with us, knew her. He said he knew someone who was really good so she came along, we auditioned her and she´s really good. She did a really good job, she sounds fine, so we decided to use her.
Marilena: You said you´re already working on the new album?
Paul: Yes. But we´re first going to get done with all the touring, get home and then we´ll start writing.
Marilena: So, have you any ideas about how it´s going to sound?
Paul: Yes, we´ve got a few.
Marilena: And are you going to share them with us?
Paul: Ehm, no!
Marilena: I thought so! So, how´s the collaboration with Roadrunner?
Paul: It´s going well. It´s one of the best labels we´ve been on. They´re a very metal based label and it´s really good for as, since we´re trying to break into America as well. Actually, we´re on NY Roadrunner, which is international. It´s going really well, the relationship is good, it´s really good for us.
Marilena: Would you ever consider again going to a multi-national label, as you´d done with SONY?
Paul: No, we´ve learned our lesson with that one! SONY didn´t do much for us. They didn´t know how to work us of how to portray the band, they didn´t know what magazines to put us in, they really didn´t know what to do with us.
Marilena: From what I read you´ve got some leftover tracks and there is going to be a release of something to include them...
Paul: We´ve got some leftover tracks, we just finished mixing them, but whether they´ll actually come out, I don´t know about that. There might be a special edition some day or something, we´re not sure yet. At the moment they´re just sitting there waiting to find a use.
Marilena: I was wondering, do you know/ remember if "From Cradle To Enslave" was a leftover track? Because many bands release the as EP´s and most EP´s are rather useless, however "From The Cradle..." must have been one of the most successful EPs in the history of metal music.
Paul: I really don´t know, to be honest. But, the songs we have as leftovers right now are mostly really fast songs that didn´t fit the album and remind a lot of what CRADLE was like. We might release them as a special edition, as an EP Â–as you saidÂ– or whatever.
Marilena: Apart from Danni, you´re the oldest member of the band. Can you tell me a few brief words about each CRADLE album and about how the band has progressed musically?
Paul: In "Principle..." we were obviously just kids entering the scene and at the time this was something a bit different. "Vempire" didn´t actually exist. It was just songs from "Dusk... And Her Embrace" that we went to record in the studio. After that I left the band for a little bit and that´s when "Vempire" was released, for contract reasons to get off the label and then they went on with "Dusk..." which was re-recorded at the time. When I returned to the band we recorded "Midian" which was yet another turning point for the band, a bit different again and we went on from there to "Damnation And A Day", "Nymphetamine" and now "Thornography". I think the band has done a huge evolving circle and as a band we were talking about it with each other and how "Thornography" is similar to "Principle" as in how it´s played and how the song structures are like. It has pretty much evolved all the way round again.
Marilena: Especially "Principles..." and "Dusk..." are considered to be amongst the most influential albums in black metal. How do you feel about having something like this to live up to?
Paul: To be honest, we don´t think about it. We don´t know what actually goes on when the curtain is down or how big the band is, how many records we sell or how many tickets. We don´t care about that. All we care about is whether that band sounds really good or whether we like the songs we are playing. We constantly push the band, we concentrate on the working side of the band and we leave albums sale figures and all that stuff to other people. We don´t actually comprehend how big the band is. We are wrapped up in our own little world. We are so concentrated on pushing the band further and further. The only time when we notice how big the band is, is when we play live.
Marilena: You can´t avoid facing that when you´re playing in front of so many people.
Paul: You can´t. But we don´t say "this album is going to be like this because we have this huge name to live up to". This album is going to sound like this only if we like it, do you understand what I mean?
Marilena: Your music has always been very accessible, even though it´s extreme and that´s not common. What do you think is the element that makes it so accessible?
Paul: To be honest, I don´t really know! We just write music that we like. And I suppose that we have a writing style that people can relate to. We write music because we like it, as I said before. We like hook lines, we like guitar harmonies, we like the bombacities and all that stuff. It so happens that other people like it as well, and that´s good.
Marilena: Apart from you and a couple of other bands, there is no black metal scene in England. Why is that?
Paul: I don´t know. There just never was, it never hooked up in England.
Marilena: That´s rare, considering the fact that you´ve had followers from everywhere and not from your own country.
Paul: Englishmen are more interested in what they get on TV. We´ve got CRADLE fans of course, but it´s nothing compared to what´s happening to the rest of Europe, or America, for that matter. Unfortunately there has never been much of a scene, ever, really.
Marilena: And recently I was thinking that apart from the really big bands like NAPALM DEATH and BOLT THROWER, there are no newcomers.
Paul: England at the moment is based on emo music. That´s all there is. If you´re an American band, you´ll do really well in England but if you´re an English band you won´t! It´s just the way it works, for some reason. It´s stupid, but it´s what happens.
Marilena: So, what is the first single going to be?
Paul: We´ve done a video for "Temptation" (HEAVEN 17 cover). It´s basically based on the Garden of Eden and it´s shot really really good by Adam Mason. The video is amazing. It´s very good indeed.
Marilena: Most of your videos are more like short films rather than music videos. You seem to put a lot of effort into them.
Paul: The "Temptation" video is really cool.
Marilena: Is it a concept you came up with of the director?
Paul: The director came up with it. We´ve got a lot to worry about at the moment already!
Marilena: So, what are your plans from now on?
Paul: We´re going to finish the European tour and then we´re off to America on the end of January. We´ll be touring all next year and then we´ll get back on the studio again. Personally I´ve teamed up with a photographer called Cindy Frey and she´s taking photographs so we can do a lot of artwork. We´ll get together doing a dark art exhibition in London soon. I´m pretty tied up with this and with all the band stuff. It´s going to be really busy.
Marilena: You also had some projects, right?
Paul: Yes, but that was before joining CRADLE again.
Marilena: So now they´re not active or you´re just not in them?
Paul: They´re not active. They pretty much split up when I came back to CRADLE.
Marilena: That´s it from me. Thank you!
Paul: I hope everybody liked the new album and come see us when we play live and all that stuff. We really appreciate are fans, we wouldn´t be here if it wasn´t for all these people, so, respect for all our fans!