Cradle of Filth have been pioneers in the heavy metal scene for nearly a quarter of a century and are currently counting down to their 11th studio album ‘Hammer of the Witches’ to be released on July 10th.
Thanks to Nuclear Blast and our good friend John Howarth, we were very, very excited to get the amazing opportunity to talk to frontman Dani Filth himself about the new album, the IT Crowd and a few fans ideas for an album.
SR: Your newest album ‘Hammer of the Witches’ is coming out in just over a month on July 10th, do you expect different reactions/ reception or do you go through similar motions with every release?
DF. I think we go through similar emotions per release, despite it being our 11th album you just don’t get used to the fact that people are just so flippant. Our fans especially are very sensitive and very fussy because they have a lot of feelings about our music. They’re very fussy about what they expect a record to be so every time there is a bit of reticent with every release, but with this one as we’re now about 6 weeks into doing press I can kind of get the gist from what the press are saying because journalists are the only ones who’ve really heard it and it all seems to be really positive- so that’s a good thing. Obviously there are a lot of expectations from the fans but we please ourselves first but we want to please our fans as well.
It’s the 11th album and there is a level of uncertainty and excitement and expectation- it doesn’t really change.
SR: With the creation of your latest album, you really listen and took note from your newest members- who originally were fans and get their perspective of where to go with it from a fan would want. Was it difficult to open your mind up freely at all in a sense to listen to them?
DF. Yeah totally, we don’t do that with every record. The difference being this time we had a lot going on prior to going into the album because we have gotten two new guitarists for a co-headline tour we did with Behemoth at the beginning of last year, that being because our other guitarists pulled out with some personal issues, he didn’t really want to tour and James suffered a quite extensive neck injury and required surgery- they had to replace some disks in his neck so he was out of commission for quite a while. So that being said we had to find two members- which was really hard but fortunately we found two really, really good ones, who, like you say, were fans of the band, and on that tour we were playing a lot of old stuff so we had to spring-board from the word go really. We were in that mindset, but when it came to writing which was quite immediate after the tour, the impetuous was already there and everybody already knew what to do with it. It was a sense of freedom really, because most of the albums are really governed by one person really, whereas everybody contributed to this one.
We actually went to the studio with 16 tracks as opposed, there’s 13 including the bonus material and we didn’t know what those bonus tracks were going to be about a week before the actual mastering, we just couldn’t decide the running order because it’s not an a-z concept album, so it wasn’t about matter to where which songs went where- well it obviously did otherwise we would have chosen beforehand. There is nothing less on those songs like quality or musicianship, some people might prefer them. There was a song that was my favourite called Achingly Beautiful but the producer wanted to try obviously try and concentrate on quality over quantity to get the album perfect.
SR: You’ve said the concepts through this album is loosely based on the book “The ‘Malleus Maleficarum’ which is basically about the torture of witches and how to punish them legally. How much research goes into a topic before or during the song writing process?
DF. The thing is it leant on that topic, the songs are more focused on really dark fantasy so there is a lot of elements of truth behind the writing because I kind of create stories with them. The title Malleus Maleficarum directly translates to hammer of the Witches which by their definition was like the judges gavel- the hammer was in the authorities hand to root out and persecute witchcraft wherever they found it. Our translation is Hammer FOR the Witches- it’s a time for retribution and the revolution, renewal because obviously we live in more lenient times apparently, so that book which I’ve had for ages, Cradle of Filth kind of dip their toes in the water of demonology and witchcraft throughout all our albums, but it was the music that inspired us to take that as a work, take that premise as a backing to create these tracks. It‘s not a full concept album and I’ve talked about the main themes but there is a track for example called Onward Christian Soldiers which concerns itself with the crusades, but it draws parallels also with the turmoil that is still going on in the world today even though hundreds of years have passed since crusades by advancing technologically, through race, putting the man on the moon, putting TV on your watches – spiritually we’re still in a bit of a cesspool.
“…We actually have changed people’s lives, but for the better…”
There is a lot of research but I’m always reading or I’m always researching and I’ve always been into this kind of thing. I’ve got tonnes and tonnes and tonnes of books on the subject, so it’s not something new the ideology behind the album is fresh.
People will be mistaken into thinking it’s a concept album anyway because of the artwork done by Artūrs Berzinsh who is incredible and he’s done this amazing job of collating and illustrating all the ideology behind the songs and making it appear.
SR: Are there any topics or genres you’d like to experiment with in future albums?
DF. Oh, I don’t know, it’s a bit early for that [laughs].
People suggest all kinds of weird and wonderful things. I had this suggestion which I laughed at, I laughed my ass off. It was a double album called “Jekyll and Heidi” about this well-to-do 19th century doctor, who by day practices from the elite of London and at night he’s a raving transsexual murderer. [Laughs]
SR: You should do that, it would be amazing!
DF. Everybody says that… yeah, okay. [Laughs]
SR: There was an episode of the comedy The IT Crowd where Richmond- played by Noel Fielding, who was just a normal business man and then listened to Cradle a Filth and then suddenly turned Goth and basically ruined his life, I wonder if this has ever actually occurred?
DF. No, no the opposite actually. We always get contacted with really heartfelt messages. We actually have changed people’s lives, but for the better. People like near suicide, or especially from parents as well who’s sons or daughters have been going through some turbulent issues or whatever and then they really got into the band and sort of followed up on the lyricism and suddenly became really good at school and stuff- I’ve had quite a few of those actually, which is bizarre. I’m sure there is actually dozens of worse cases but we don’t hear about those.
I recall though, we were in the studio and I think we were recording Thornography, so it would have been 2006 and somebody said “oh you’re going to have a mention on this programme tonight”, and we tuned in and we were like [snorts] laughing our assess off, it was hilarious.
SR: I have a couple of fan questions the first one being “about the ethical side to the film “Cradle of Fear” it seems like it had a karma effect to it, as in sickos getting killed in sick ways”. And the other wants to know if you will branch out into other media such as your films again soon?
DF. Well, in answer to the first one- yeah I guess it does have this comeuppance in it, it follows similar themes throughout the album about reprisal and avenge and revolution. Yeah, it’s almost like a little moral story, I think it’s called a portmanteau, which is like a series of interconnecting stories that all build up into a climax. There was talk of doing a second one but because we borrowed a lot of people from a lot of different films like a lot were doing Saving Private Ryan, they worked on other films and by the third payment they would get paid when the film started to make money, which it did and which they did I don’t think we could actually work that way again. Even if we were to borrow the money, movie companies don’t want to really extend into “low budget” independent movies, and movies are expensive. You’re talking upward of two million dollars straight off. It was a real headache and the thing is although I would love to do it, it would mean taking possibly a year or two out of our music industry and I just haven’t had the opportunity since then, I’ve been so busy.
If the opportunity arose, obviously.
SR: Do you have any pre-show rituals?
DF. Well we have sort of six things that we have gotten into the habit of having. When you’re on tour which we will be soon on this album- that’s the plan. We’re in the middle of sorting stuff out with our booking agent, firstly for Europe and South American, but then from America to Australasia and Asia etc. Yeah you fall into this habit of like, you always need two hours, it doesn’t matter what’s going on, I always need two hours to get ready, not just that but to like prepare yourself. I always have this nightmare of going on stage in your underpants, so it’s an element of that. just being prepared, warming up, do a lot of steaming, just getting into the vibe of it, the music etc. if there is every like a signing or interviews I need two hours and they always look at you like you’re completely mad.
SR: Any fan stories?
DF. Well there has been plenty. Funnily enough there was this guy in Sydney who was at a signing session, I think it was at Lethal Records back in the day, I don’t know if I just made that up, anyway I’d already fucked up that morning because I had severe jetlag and we stayed at this posh hotel and we had a signing at this store, consequentially I just couldn’t wake up. The tour manager was just banging on the door and I was like “yeah, yeah whatever” and stumbled into the bathroom, put the bath on to run and went back to bed. Next thing I know there were like people screaming, all this thumping and that, and I jumped out of bed straight into a puddle of boiling water because the bath had just filled up, overflowed and flooded the entire floor so I was in quite a bit of trouble for that. My tour manager scolded all his arm trying to pull the plug out after he kicked the door in. Then we had to do the signing and there was a guy there who’d had his leg amputated so he had this prosthetic leg and he wanted us to sign it. Cue 7 or 8 hours later when we’re playing the show and this bloody leg comes flying onto the stage. [Laughs] I’m thinking “okay, right… you got it signed but you don’t want it anymore.”
SR: If there was any song in the world you wish you’d written, what would it have been?
DF. Oh, probably Thriller [Michael Jackson] because then I would have gotten to work with Vincent Price, and despite the ever diminishing nose, I would have been fucking rolling in money.
‘Hammer of the Witches’ will be released on 10 July 2015.