As we sit patiently waiting in the darkly lit bowels of the Academy, the entire building rumbles with the relentless pounding of drums being sound-checked above us in the main venue hall and act as a sort of fitting entrance upon the arrival of the man himself.
OD – First off let’s talk about your highly anticipated return to Ireland. What took you so long to get back here?
DANI – We have just been really busy touring the rest of the world I guess! We’re only complicit for what ever is offered to us as a band. To be honest with you, if anyone is to blame it would be the promoters. We decide where we want to go and we get a little choice in those areas but only when the offers are there in the first place. We generally take up all the offers that may be on the table but in this case with Ireland, we just hadn’t been asked back for a long time.
OD – New album Hammer of Witches is a total belter of an album which can be referred to almost as ‘Midian 2.0’ that everyone has been craving. Can you tell me a little about the writing process behind the album and the move back to duel guitar based compositions?
DANI – Well, that was a necessity that was born from the fact that our previous guitarist (Paul Allender 91-94 / 00-14) moved to America and lost interest and our second guitarist James (McIlroy 03-05 / 09 – 14) was forced to leave due to a severe neck injury and he was out of the equation for a big co-headline tour with Behemoth, so we had to get two new guitarists in for that and the band just grew from there writing as a six piece.
Some of the newer members are fans of the band so they had a vested interest in trying to retain the flavor of some of our previous albums. We get on pretty famously as well, which is great and with that in mind, the writing process has been quite cordial and fun. For example we’re going to Brno in the Czech Republic after a Slovakian Festival (More Than Festival) later in the year where we will be finishing off a load of ideas that we have and will be a major step in the right direction regarding the bulk of the writing process for the next record.
We have done a lot of touring as this current line up, obviously with the new album coming out. We did a full European tour as well as a full Russian tour and also the co-headline tour with Behemoth that I mentioned earlier. That’s not even counting the amount of Summer Festivals that we have performed at over the last few years and this is the penultimate show from a six week tour of North American and Canada. We just came straight from New York to play Hammerfest in North Wales and a few more shows before we get to go home.
OD – Do you think that the music was always going to move in this direction or did the stars align among the current members in terms of good chemistry?
DANI – Well I think it’s not just that alone! I think that we were almost alienated by our previous guitarist Paul (Allender) because he wanted to do the bulk of the work and we have always been a two guitar band which have mostly been famed for. Now, with that in mind and a whole new line up and the fact that our drummer Martin (Skaroupka 06 – present) also writes keyboards; along with our current keyboardist Lindsay (Schoolcraft 2013 – present) so we’ve got a lot of contributing factors. Also it’s worth commenting on the chemistry that we have with our producer Scott Atkins, who also worked with us on the Devilment stuff, he gets very involved with the whole writing process also.
For example on the latest record, we had to sideline three songs, one of which was my favourite and I saw the potential in it but had to think of what was best for the band and seriously consider all the opinions including Scott’s. Cradle of Filth today is really functioning more as a unit and obviously that was a catalyst toward how the record would sound.
OD – Does it bother you that you spend so much time crafting complex lyrics and music only to have it ripped off the internet in such a blazé, carefree fashion by some of the fans?
DANI – It did at one point, however now I just really do it for myself. I have kind of entrapped myself from doing that. I wouldn’t just throw out lyrics but really consider what’s right for what ever project that I may be writing for; be it Cradle of Filth or Devilment. I have built almost a fortress for myself when it comes to being a lyricist. The reason being, is that the diehard fans expect a certain quality and it’s my job to fulfill that expectation for them.
OD – How do you feel about being voted as Suffolk’s greatest icon?
DANI – (Laughing) Yes, that was a very stupid competition that I happen to have won, which is quiet funny.
OD – Did they name a park bench after you or something like that?
DANI – You’re not far off it! They named a swimming pool after me. It’s a Victorian swimming pool to be precise! I actually received a letter from the Swimming pool, I hope they don’t name it after me as that would be strange, as it’s not far from my house.
OD – The street preachers that decided to picket outside your show in Atlanta recently, reminded me of the controversy over the ‘Jesus is a Cunt’ t-shirt from back in the day. Who’s idea was it for that shirt and did you ever think that people would still be banging on about it today?
DANI – We have actually been selling them on this particular tour and they are still selling well. I can roughly remember how the whole thing came about as it was years ago but I remember that it was prior to us going on tour with Emperor back in 1993 and we were just talking about stuff with our then drummer (William ‘Was’ Sarginson) and bass player Robin Graves and we just it just came about in conversation which made us laugh hysterically and we just though, ‘you know what? Lets put it on a T-shirt and see what happens’!
The idea was more anarchic than Satanic I suppose. There was a rebellious streak to the behavior behind it. It could have been anything really, like “Hitler is a Cunt”, but there was just something about that slogan that had the ‘wow factor’ if you know what I mean. Also, I think that artwork on the front with the Nun masturbating was a nice touch (laughs).
OD – You could always update it and have “Trump is a Cunt”!
DANI – (laughs) Yea, we could do but that would just be silly really. I mean don’t get me wrong, Trump is a cunt but I think that the original still works really well and has become somewhat of a staple in it’s own right and sort of iconic.
OD – With the bands numerous band personnel and record label changes, you have earned yourself a somewhat tyrannical title or leader, who is the biggest tyrant you have met in your career as a musician?
DANI – Well, first off; I’m not a tyrant at all it’s just that record labels change their personnel all the time. The last departures from the band was one leaving to go to American to form another band and working in a studio because he doesn’t want to tour! Not my fault! The other guy had the neck injury and was put out for two years! That’s not my fault either! If anything, I’m actually holding this band together. You can speak to anybody else and they will tell you that we write as a unit and I just do my bit.
OD – Well, you have always said from the start that Cradle of Filth is a democracy.
DANI – Yes, it is a democracy and presently the six people in this band understand that and everybody else can fuck off if they don’t believe that’s the case! Regarding the second part of that questions, I’ve definitely met some tyrants in other bands but I won’t be naming them; because I still know them.
OD – With the heavy TV rotation that Ghost in the Fog and the huge move to Sony Records in mind, would you prefer to keep your role in the Black Metal scene more underground if you could have made the same living from it, or did you always envision Cradle of Filth charging towards a more mainstream metal environment?
DANI – Nobody knew where anything was going to go and looking back on the bands that had already established names in the Black Metal underground scene; attempted to do the exact same thing that we had done. Either people’s rants towards us were born out of jealously, because I can’t think why some other people would undertake the same level of success and outlets such as the book, movie and TV appearances. That’s just born out of being successful, I can’t help that. Anyone that starts a professional band, that’s what they set out to do – to be successful and make a living from it.
All of those people that were in their bedrooms with a tennis racket in front of the mirror pretending to be in Slayer, don’t tell me for one second that they never though of having success and being in a successful band where you actually get to make a living! Who doesn’t want to be on stage in front of sold out venues?
OD – How important is a ‘Martin’ or a ‘Lindsay’ when recording something as grandiose as Damnation in a Day and will we ever see anything of that scale again?
DANI – Possibly, it’s not entirely out of the question. You have to remember, we were signed to Sony Records during that period and had Sony’s vast wealth behind us and rather than splurge the whole amount on luxury yachts, we took the money and headed over to Budapest to work with 101 piece orchestra, spent a long period of time in a residential studio in East Sussex and generally had a lot of people involved with the making of that album.
Although some people say that the album duration is a tad too long, it doesn’t stop me from definitely wanting to do something grandiose like that again somewhere down the line. I’ve heard some of the new material that is being written at the moment and it’s going to be epic record and it will be a considerable step up with what we have already done with Hammer of the Witches but we’re not going to rush it by any means. We’ll be lucky to get into the studio by the end of the year.
OD – Cradle has always prided itself on the packaging and presentation of your albums, how important was that back in the day as opposed to the present financial stability of the band in today’s current music industry landscape?
DANI – I think that it’s the same for any band and any record label. There is stuff put out there that caters for the die-hard fans and collectors. Unfortunately when you look at the actual man hours that go into designing these products when compared to the the units sold, it works out around the average minimum wage. In fact everything that we do kind of works out around the minimum wage when you add up the time and effort we put into each project and tour. We do spend a lot of time putting things together, for example The Gospel of Filth took five years to write and design and the special editions; although €70 each, did not sell anywhere near the average €20 version that usually go to Amazon etc..
The materials used from the leather binding and the glue we used was very expensive. I just think these are special things that we can give back to the fans and it’s an area where record companies especially make their money from in light of the free file sharing that’s happening every day. Nowadays, you can’t just give people an album, there has to be different versions, some with extra bonus tracks and others with variations on the artwork or in a special box or something like that.
OD – With Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir now signed to Nuclear Blast, do you ever envision doing a co-headline tour together?
DANI – Possibly yea, that would be great but financially speaking, I don’t really thing that it would work. The Behemoth tour was alright but they were doing that tour and just needed a band with them. It would not work in America, as they are a bit more eclectic in tastes. For example we just returned from there with Butcher Babies and Ne Obliviscaris supporting us and on previous U.S. tours we have had support from Satyricon , 69 Eyes, GWAR and CKY. There’s a little bit more of a mixed bag over there and to be honest I like personally like that, rather than touring with a band that have a very similar sound to what we do. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ruling it out! If a tour with Dimmu Bogir came about it would be great!
OD – Cradle of Filth are no strangers to concept albums, do you feel that you can write better material when you have a story that you can sink your teeth into?
DANI – I think it’s harder work for us to be fair, because you can’t move songs around at the last minute if you have written a story. It is a lot more work that is easier in one sense because you have a grand overarching theme but the problems that arise from doing something like that are countless as I know well since we have done four concept albums. It’s easier to do just a general melee of songs.
Speaking of albums, by favorite album of all time is Jeff Wayne, War of the Worlds which we are planning to do a track from that also down the line as I have a contact for Jeff Wyne, we’re gonna do ‘Forever Autumn’ but keep the whole orchestral part with Richard Burton sequence in there as well.
OD – Do you see yourself doing anymore films like Cradle of Fear?
DANI – Well, we were going to do Cradle of Fear 2 but the first movie was done on deferred payment from a lot of people that I knew who were just starting out at film school. If we were to do another one, we would have to fund it ourselves and even a very basic film production your looking at 2 million upwards. It was a really successful film and our career just catapulted after that so again, I’m not ruling it out. Who knows what’s going to happen. It will be more labor of love than anything else and my focus is on the band right now.
OD – Are you still in touch with Bam Margera (ex Jackass / pro Skater) and is he as much as a douche as he comes across on TV?
DANI – No, Bam is a really nice guy and we have a lot of fun together. He was supposed to come and visit us on the Philadelphia show but we had to cancel due to the American embassy fucking up our visas! We plan to get back over there for part two of the tour possibly later this year.
OD – Finally, what have you got planned for after this run of dates before the you get out on the road again?
DANI – I’m going to take at least a week off and then I have to start getting these ideas together for Devilment as we are planning to get back into the studio to work on a new album. Cradle of Filth will be hitting Russia at the end April and I’m also going to be getting a holiday in there somewhere before hand!
Words – Michael Wall
Transcription – Oran O’Beirne
© OVERDRIVE 2016