Dani Filth – Cradle Of Filth ‘The Good Thing About Metal is That it’s Quite Loyal’
One of the extreme metal world’s biggest mainstream success stories, Cradle of Filth have continuously pushed the boundaries of what a heavy band can be and achieve with their hybrid extreme/black/gothic metal sound. With 30+ years of hard-earned experience and a slew of bonafide metal anthems under their leather belts, Cradle of Filth have weathered lineup changes, polarising fan reactions and label issues on the path to their legendary status.
Having freshly released their first live record in over two decades, Trouble And Their Double Lives, Wall of Sound were lucky enough to chat with founding member, band leader and all-round lovely chap Dani Filth. We delve into Cradle’s newest band members, life on the road post-Covid, Cradle’s next studio record, the upcoming Sick New World festival in Las Vegas, future Australian tour plans – and yes, of course – the headline-conquering, eyebrow-raising Ed Sheeran collab. As to why drop a new live record now and why the long time between drinks, Dani reveals that the unexpected downtime thanks to Covid was a major factor;
The long wait would be because we’ve been quite prolific releasing standard albums in general, and just haven’t had the time or the inclination to release one. (It was) just one of those things, but this was very fortuitous. It came out of a suggestion, mainly because of the pandemic and we found ourselves behind, as most people did, by a year. Our previous album Existence Is Futile was delayed by a year. Our move from Nuclear Blast to Napalm Records, our new home, delayed by a year.
With the world essentially on hiatus, what was at first a suggestion, became a fully-fledged new Cradle of Filth project, with fresh material being used:
We found ourselves with some spare time, and it was suggested by our sound engineer. “Why don’t you release a live album? I’ve recorded much of the world tour, so you have all these shows and I’ll send you all the files”. So we gave them to our studio engineer (Scott Atkins) and slowly but surely worked through them with a shopping list of everything we wanted to put on there. Obviously we knew it was going to be a double album, it’d be pointless otherwise. I wanted to put ‘Bathory Aria’ on there so that was going to take up half an album! There was a criteria from the band. No previous repeats from previous live records, we needed fan favourites, the rarer tracks and the ones we wanted on there, so there was quite a list. And then the opportunity arose to put new some new tracks on there. So we parted ways with two members of the band, so we pressed reset on writing a new album, and thought what’s the point of putting two songs that were written with a previous lineup. But we still wanted to find a home for the songs cause they were really good and we thought this was perfect. It kinda gives a window into Cradle’s live experience it also gave an insight into what Cradle were doing in 2021/2022, so it’s kinda best of both worlds. It was circumstantial – I don’t when else we would have gotten to release a live album. But a lot of work went into it – it wasn’t like a second thought. Once we decided we sunk our teeth into the whole affair. It was just weird having Existence Is Futile recorded and sitting around for a whole year, to start with. That was just unprecedented – and also I got quite bored with the album. By the time everyone got to hear it, I was well into writing a new one. So that was another reason why we wanted to air new material as well on the live record.
The two new tracks on the album – the excellent ‘She is a Fire’ and the brooding ‘Demon Prince Regent’ – are more of the closing of a chapter of Cradle of Filth, than a sign of things to come;
(The new material) isn’t a million miles away – we’re not dipping into the reggae realm or anything like that, but I wouldn’t say the new songs are representative of the new album – the new album is going to be more of a Dusk… And Her Embrace / New Wave of British Heavy Metal vibe with lots of interesting melodic riffs. It’s just got a vibe and there’s a lot going on – fast bits, slow bits.
With fresh blood injected into the Cradle of Filth machine, progress never stops, with Dani giving us further insight into the groups forthcoming 14th record – due for exhuming in 2024.
In one to two weeks’ time we go to play Sick New World festival in Las Vegas (May 13th). When we touch down in England on the Monday we begin recording our new album. Which will take us over the (UK) Summer really, we’ll be in (the studio) for three or four months. So we’re moving on – the new album is written. Well, 99.7% written. We’re still putting the final polishes to it, and will continue to do so when we’re in the studio as well.
Newest members – guitarist Donny Burbage and keyboardist/vocalist Zoe Marie Federoff – are also far from merely learning their assigned parts, with both musicians already contributing to the new material. As for their entry into the group, as odd as it may sound, their nationalities initially played a key factor.
They’ve been part of writing process. They’ve been in the band now for just over a year. They joined as there was a necessity to get American players, because of the Visa situation at the time. We were left in the lurch by the lineup changes, and subsequently, we were due to supporting Danzig in America and we still wanted to do this tour. There wasn’t enough time to turn Visas around, so we found two people from America who we just assumed would be for a temporary basis. But they were great, and when people get into the Cradle of Filth family they tend to stay in there. They had the whole year to become accustomed to Cradle and our way of thinking and our way of writing, and obviously, they did the Danzig tour, the Summer festivals, we supported Judas Priest, and then we went out a did a massive European tour as well, so they’ve had plenty of opportunity to become part of the ‘Borg! So they have contributed as much you’d expect in the band – it’s not one or two people, it’s a collaborative affair.
As an extremely well-toured, internationally-diverse band, getting back onto the road in late 2021 after being laid off due to Covid was an effort unto itself – especially in North America. And the struggles continue still:
We had to get special visas, which meant they cost a lot of money and also meant we had to go through a special meeting in Ireland to get them. You had to bring something to the table for America – they weren’t letting tourists in – but you had people who were in the ‘higher bracket’ of earning of their money. Fortunately, we fitted into that category, and it was a lot of work. They had a lot of Covid protocols in place in the venues. And subsequently in that very first tour, we had Once Human and 3Teeth opening – and both of them contracted the Covid virus on tour, and had to leave the tour. We were lucky enough, none of our crew, nothing, were hindered by it, as it could have easily gone wrong. I’ve heard that they’re talking in Congress about charging more for them – that’s the problem. It’s not getting hold of them, it’s the cost of them. They’re talking about doubling the price for them – we’re talking thousands to get into America.
Having seen the music industry change and change and change over the previous years, Dani and Cradle of Filth release the importance of deluxe editions of albums in the modern age.
Myself and King of God Seed were talking about it a while back and we pinpointed on 2006/2007 when things started to changed and the digital format took precedence to physical copies, and the music industry turned on it’s head. Because of the digital age bands aren’t really getting paid. We had 24 million-plus plays on Spotify last year, and I literally didn’t have enough money to cover a meal for myself and my girlfriend.
The good thing about metal is that it’s quite loyal – people like collecting things. It’s very bitchy, metal – don’t get me wrong. But when somebody does like a band, they really do get immersed in it; they want all the products and the collectable items, so that’s part and parcel of the music industry of the present.
You can’t blame record companies for wanting to this. But nothing goes under the radar with our band. And don’t get me wrong, I’m the first person to say ‘I don’t like this, this is a stupid suggestion’ – we’re not fucking prostitutes! Everything receives the Cradle of Filth seal of approval, and is of top most quality as well. And at the end of the day, we may offer four variants of the vinyl colour and a box set, aside from the digital platforms and the CD release, but people don’t have to buy them, they’re just there if you want them.
As for the said boxset edition Trouble And Their Double Lives, the Cradle of Filth branded earplugs might be it’s most interesting inclusion:
Well I guess a lot of people might need earplugs when listening to Cradle! We were also going to include a roll of toilet, for whatever nefarious purposes they could be put towards.
As a band who have consistently toured the world for literally decades at this point, Dani Filth is certainly a leading authority when it comes to the trials and tribulations that come with touring musicians. Merch cuts in music venues have seemingly become the norm, with acts feeling the crunch, especially in London venues owned by British telecom giants O2. Dani, unsurprisingly, has strong views on the situation – perhaps too strong:
I’ve got so much to talk about that – but I can’t. I’d end up being in a legal dispute; I’ve been sworn to keep my mouth shut about O2 and what I think about them. Personally yeah we noticed it when we played said venue. Other than that – nothing. The States was fine. We just got back from a co-headline tour with DevilDriver, we did a full European tour with Alcest in support last October for a month, and apart from said venue, hadn’t noticed it.
But of course, it’s being enforced, because venues are trying to claw money back any which way they can, and of course at the end of the day it’s two lots of people – the fans and band – that it hits. It’s expensive enough going to concerts somewhere like London anyway, especially if you live anywhere else in the country. Hotels are extortionate – they’re twice the price of anywhere else. It’s an expensive prospect going to a show in London. So upping the price of merchandise as well, I just find it the final nail in the coffin. It’s ridiculous.
The most immediate thing on Cradle’s radar is the aforementioned Sick New World festival happening in Las Vegas this weekend. It’s packed, very late 90s/nu-metal themed bill is filled with bands that usually wouldn’t share the stage with Cradle – a fact that isn’t lost of Dani:
It’s like this 90’s themed thing – there’s like 100s of bands. We’re like the only black metal band on there – I don’t know how we managed to get on to it. It’s going to be a good weekend – it would have been better over the whole weekend, but who am I to say? There’s a lot of bands I wanted to go and see – including Sisters of Mercy. I’m actually flying my girlfriend over and she grew up with a lot of those bands, so I’m not planning on her coming to watch us! Lacuna Coil, The 69 Eyes, Ministry, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult; there are some underground acts – but there’s a lot of nu-metal. A lot. Which isn’t my bag. It will be strange – but fun.
The most headline-grabbing event of Cradle of Filth’s recent career is undoubtedly their frankly bonkers, as of the time of publishing, yet-to-be-released Ed Sheeran collaboration. Though, as Dani explains, it’s worlds away from a throwaway, joke track:
It’s a charity single, I reconvene in the studio on Friday (May 5th) to mix the song, and then it goes to the necessary parties and management and record companies to argue how the format comes out.
He has a charity, we have a charity, and so we hope we’re going to do some good with it. It’s a great song; it’s Ed Sheeran and it’s Cradle of Filth and it’s a preposterous juxtaposition and that’s the beauty of it. It’s not a comedy thing.
The choice to do it for charity just seemed like a good vehicle, and we’re going to avoid people saying that we’re jumping on the bandwagon. Previously I’ve done stuff with some different bands – The 69 Eyes, Bring Me The Horizon, Twiztid. I like the marriage of extremes – and I don’t think you can get more of a strange juxtaposition than one of the biggest artists in the world and Cradle of Filth.
Of course, there was more than just mutual respect from both parties, with both band and Sheeran having a strong geographical bond. But, more interestingly, in a roundabout Cradle of Filth perhaps played a pivotal part in the singer-songwriter’s career:
There was a connection there, because we both live in the same County in England. Ed grew up a Cradle of Filth fan, and was due to do some work experience for his college working on our album back in the day. But we were just rehearsing at the studio, and the engineer lied to him about us actually recording there, so when he found out he ended up working at a desk job at the local council. At which point he was like ‘fuck this I never want to do this again’. Ironically, if he had gone to the studio we were working in he probably would have given up music for life! Instead he goes to work at the local council and then becomes one of the biggest pop stars in the world.
With Cradle hitting the road hard post-Covid, an Australian tour is hopefully not too far off in the distance despite their already packed itinerary:
It is definitely happening next year – everything’s happening for us next year. We’ve only got a handful of Summer festival appearances this year as we’re in the studio doing this album, September we go down to South America, and then end of September to October we do the second leg of the Double Trouble Live tour with DevilDriver in the US, and we’re hoping to bring that to Australia. There’s talk about it already, but there’s only been talk, but we know we’ve got a window to come down to that side of the world – Japan, Australia, New Zealand, maybe the Philippines, South Korea. Hopefully the first or second quarter of next year – this year is our creative year, next year is our ‘putting it into motion’ year.
With Sick New World still clearly sitting on his mind, Dani leaves us with the knowledge that even the greats have to deal with the nightmare of clashing acts at festivals – especially if your band is on the lineup:
No matter what festival I play, it’s always like ‘oh my god the only band I want to see on the bill! Oh look, they’re playing exactly the same fucking time as us. What a complete surprise’. That generally always happens – or they play right before we play, whilst we’re getting ready. There’s been a few times when I’ve been late to the stage – which you can’t do at festivals, by the way – because I’ve been in full makeup, side of stage for another band and gone ‘shit, look at the time!’ and had to be shuttled over in a desperate panic.
Interview by Andrew Kapper. Twitter: @andrew_kapper
Cradle of Filth’s Trouble And Their Double Lives is out now via Napalm Records
Cradle of Filth – Trouble And Their Double Lives tracklisting:
1. She is a Fire (New Studio Track)
2. Heaven Torn Asunder
3. Blackest Magick in Practice
4. Honey and Sulphur
5. Nymphetamine (Fix)
6. Born in a Burial Gown
7. Desire in Violent Overture
8. Bathory Aria
9. The Death of Love
10. Demon Prince Regent (New Studio Track)
11. Heartbreak and Seance
12. Right Wing of the Garden Triptych
13. The Promise of Fever
14. Haunted Shores
15. Gilded Cunt
16. Saffron’s Curse
17. Lustmord and Wargasm (The Lick of Carnivorous Winds)
18. You will Know the Lion by his Claw