Today we find ourselves talking to a very humble and relaxed Andrew Craighan about the incredibly difficult circumstances surrounding My Dying Bride’s journey over the last five years, the rebirth of the band’s energy and the unmistakable quality of the new album ‘The Ghost of Orion‘.
OD – My Dying Bride has finally returned with a new album. Now, there’s a sentence I never thought I’d hear myself say in 2020. This has been a very turbulent journey from the last album to the present day. Was there ever a time that you thought it was never gonna happen?
ANDREW – Yes, on a number of occasions. We were in positions where I thought to myself: “This might never recover.” My main concern was not necessarily people leaving at such short notice, but more Aaron’s state of mind because while he was away dealing with his daughter’s illness, we were on what we considered, ‘total radio silence‘ because we wouldn’t contact him unless he reached out to us.
I personally didn’t want to talk about it online, but I had come to the conclusion that he may have changed so much from his experience that perhaps My Dying Bride was almost insignificant; when compared to what he had been through.
I have to admit, there were genuinely times where I thought the band was never-ever going to release an album again. I am amazed that not only have we got an album, but it’s been fairly well-received to date. I honestly can’t even put how I feel about that into words.
OD – New album ‘The Ghost of Orion’ is out on March 6th and this will be the bands first release since 2015’s ‘Feel the Misery’. As mentioned, a lot of things have happened to the band and now, with this new album, does it feel like a ‘re-birth‘ or a ‘new beginning‘; so to speak?
ANDREW – It does. I think what’s helped that feeling was the delay. It felt like we were in a coma. We were just frozen, nothing happening at all. We were all kind of waiting to see where Aaron was at with it all and where is energy was for this to continue. Then, of course, there is the question; “Do we have anything to work with?“.
The music was plodding along and we were slowly building that and when it finally started to take shape, an album started to grow out of some small ideas. At this time it really did feel like a new beginning. Especially when we shot the video for “You’re Broken Shore” (see below).
This was the very first time we were all in the same room as each other and there was a real welcome vibe in the atmosphere. It just felt really right. At that point, I started to dream again that it might work.
Just after the video was filmed, it really did feel that we doing something new and exciting again.
OD – With the inclusion of Lena Abe (Bass), Jeff Singer (drums), Jo Quail (Cellist) and Shaun MacGowan (violins and keys), did the connection between all come together almost immediately and if so, did you feel that the next chapter of My Dying Bride was ready to emerge or was there a little more to that?
ANDREW – It felt very naturally good straight away. I had worked individually with all of these musicians in one capacity or another, and I was really comfortable from the get-go.
When we got to the point where we were about to shoot the video (‘My Broken Shore‘), everybody just knew what they had to do, and they just perfectly got on with it; without any drama or tears. And when it came to everybody helping one another, it was just a natural instinct and worked out so very well.
We’re not very big on the idea of videos, but it’s a necessary evil in today’s industry. Overall, it was a really positive experience and it just came together so well. It felt really good and I can’t overstate that. I’m a bit old fashioned when it comes to things like this and I joined a band to be in a band and at that point, it really did feel like a band again.
OD – How did Lindy-Fay Hella (Wardruna) come about to be on the album and was the music composed with her very voice in mind?
ANDREW – Now, that would be cleaver for us to have planned to have Lindy involved when we were writing [Laughing]. Lindy became involved in another way. When we were writing what became ‘The Solace‘, we decided that it would sound fantastic with female vocals. The second step was to jump on the styles and we were looking at a kind of Lisa Gerrard, Dead Can Dance style vocal sound.
We played some vocalist side by side and it didn’t do what we expected and that’s when our tour manager (Who is a huge Wardruna fan. Almost to the level of stalking [Laughing]) suggested we approached Lindy and I was familiar with her as I’ve seen Wardruna a few times.
I felt that her style would really fit the song, so we simply just asked her and we sent the music, which she loved from the start. She then came back to us and said: “Normally, I would give 2/3 different options for you to choose, or perhaps mix the options together, but in this case, I can’t get this one vocal line out of my head. I wake up hearing it, and I just can’t hear anything else when it comes to the music“.
For me, that’s just a sign that it’s the right vocal and that’s what we went with. The first time I heard it, I just knew that was the right choice. It is fucking fantastic. We were just blown away. The first time I heard it, all my hair fell out and grew back again [Laughing].
The performance you hear on the album is exactly the one that she did. The original vocal line. It’s amazing.
OD – So we can get a perspective on the album, how long were these songs in existence prior to the recording? For instance, was everything written long after ‘Feel The Misery’, or were there some imprints leftover from that era?
ANDREW – No, there’s nothing at all from ‘Feel The Misery‘ sessions, but it didn’t make it. Oddly, I have some demos and ideas from that era that need’s throwing away [Laughing]. I do write a lot of music and tend to have more than we necessarily need.
This is a totally clean album with all new ideas that started around about 2017 and then in 2018 these ideas started being ‘fleshed out‘ till 2019 when they were recorded, and the final balance of the music was set. Any changes that were happening at that point, were happening when we were recording. But the actual music was completed by the end of 2018, so they existed for a whole year and then the vocals and violin etc were added afterwards.
This album has been sat in the shadows for quite some time. We were losing our minds with it all and really thought it was never going to happen. There was nothing we could do. We had no choice with the events that were happening. There was no way around the situation and it wasn’t like we were just sitting around. We did what we could with the time that was there.
We made the best of the situation and just hoped that things would get better for Aaron and especially his daughter, and thankfully, she’s all clear now and we can begin to move forward again. Thankfully Aaron is back and he’s more energised and into it than ever before.
OD – Vocally the ‘Death Metal’ presence if very much alive on the album as is the haunting and beautifully painful phrases, did Aaron (Stainthorpe) experiment with each of the tracks, because the overall finished album sounds so very delicate and carefully assembled?
ANDREW – Yes. More so than ever before. Part of the thinking behind that was, we were forced to change working with a new producer our normal guy just couldn’t schedule the time to work on the album, so we were forced to look elsewhere and that’s when we approached Mark Mynett of Mynetaur Productions.
We discussed how we wanted the sound of the album to be and Mark had worked with Rotting Christ and I said I explained that I wanted the production to be on a level of their album. Death/Extreme Metal, but very polished and clean and he just knew exactly what we were talking about.
We left him in charge and said: “Just make it happen!” and I’m not gonna lie, Mark made Aaron’s life a misery. He had him lay down vocal lines up to 16/17 times, just to make sure they were locked in, and if the phrasing wasn’t right, he made him go back and do them all over again. Aaron was going mental, but the results are there to see. It wasn’t pretty, but he just had to get back in there and do it. A lot of special attention was paid to the vocals, and it shows.
We’re a bit of a ‘demo-mentally‘ band and when it came to the vocals we said; “Let’s try something different“. Luckily, it all worked out so very well.
OD -When you look back to 1993’s ‘Turn Loose The Swans’ and you’ve seen the ‘Doom’ genre evolve to what it is today, do you feel that you pioneered the ‘gothic doom’ sound that is very much evident in so many bands today?
ANDREW – I hear that a lot more than I ever expected. Other people that listen to a lot more music than myself, have said to me that our influence is detected throughout the scene.
Without doing any studying of the different sub-genres in metal, I can’t personally tell, but with so many people telling me this, I am starting to believe that there may be something in what they are saying. I’m trying not to think of it too much because I don’t want to take anything that may not be ‘due‘ to me if you know what I mean.
But if other people are saying it and that’s the way they feel, then I’m very happy about that. I honestly don’t pay enough attention to this type of stuff, and I actually tend to avoid a lot of bands that would be considered to be part of the same genre as us because I don’t want to accidentally steal a riff that has become buried in my subconscious [Laughing].
OD – When ‘Your Broken Shore’ was released, was there any trepidation as to what people would make of it or does that type of stuff; not really affect you?
ANDREW – Yes, we’ve had so much time to live with this album and we knew what we were doing. We already had played out the good, bad and indifferent scenarios in my mind and by the time the single was due for release, I had already prepared myself for the worst.
To be honest, I didn’t really prepare for anything else [Laughs]. When the single actually came out, I wasn’t around to judge or gauge what was happening because I was at work.
When I got home, there were loads of messages and a lot of them were very complimentary and extremely positive. At this point, it was clear that the majority of our fans really like it. With any new birth, there are no guarantees that it’s going to be accepted into the welcoming arms of the fans and it’s just a risk that we (and any other band) have to endure whenever they are releasing new music.
OD – Besides HRH Goth Festival on September 12 and 13 at London’s Forum Kentish Town and the Sheffield O2 Academy will we be seeing MDB at any other festivals during the Summer?
ANDREW – The short answer is ‘No’!. Partially the reason is fear and a little bit of trepidation within the band itself. The reason for this is because we’ve been out of the loop for so long, I don’t think we’re ready for a full tour; mentally and physically speaking.
I think we need a few shows just to get under our belts before we can approach the concept of a long-winded run of dates. We have been offered a few shows, and to be honest, there are more confirmed than what the public can see on our social media pages right now, but we just can’t talk about them at the moment.
So, to get you up to speed, there are more shows in the mix and none of them will be our own ‘headliner‘ shows with our own support. I don’t know if this will take, legs but there is already talk of perhaps teaming up with Paradise Lost in 2021 and doing a package tour to bring back that ‘Yorkshire Doom‘ sound. And if that is going to happen, as I said it will be in 2021.
My Dying Bride – ‘The Ghost of Orion‘ will be released on March 6th via Nuclear Blast. Pre-order from a selection of formats and exclusive vinyl pressings here.
Check out the new video for ‘Tired of Tears‘ below;