Cradle of Filth comes clean
by Naughty Mickie
Photography by: Caroline Traitlerof DarkScene Magazine
Everyone has a least one guilty pleasure and, although I openly confess a love for dark chocolate, I secretly have a shadowy spot in my heart for Cradle of Filth. The group's notoriety almost caused the cancellation of the Milwaukee Metalfest, their music has been banned from a large number of radio stations for "obscene lyrical content" and their video for "Babalon AD (So Glad For The Madness)" from their recent release, "Damnation and a Day" (Red Ink/Epic), has been refused play on MTV due to "suggestive themes." Yet, COF was the first black metal band to sign with a major label (Sony Music worldwide) and to also have their full-length video to chart on Billboard (debuting at #12). Their lyrics have also been featured in the London Dome as part of a British language festival and the band has had a BBC Television program made about them.
But it was none of this, even the controversy, that piqued my interest and has held it throughout their career-- it was their music. Metal laid over full orchestras and twisted hard. Call it rebellion against my years spent dancing ballet or my obsession for the fringes of humanity; whatever, I was thrilled to speak with bassist David Pubis, who called me from his home in England.
Pubis, aka Dave Pybus, has done time in Anul Death, Darkened, Hatebreeders (Misfit cover band), Dreambreed and Anathema. After leaving Anathema, he landed a gig helping out COF.
"I sessioned with Cradle of Filth for 10 months," says Pubis, adding that they let him join after he confronted them as to whether they were going to keep him. "They hadn't found anyone else."
COF's current lineup is Pubis, vocalist Dani Filth, guitarist Paul, keyboardist Martin Foul and drummer Adrian. I decide to get straight to what drew me to them and find our how they write.
"We're like a three piece band, guitar, bass and drums," Pubis explains. "We come up with ideas together and then use computers to create riffs and other ideas. It's like a bedroom recording."
Then they take the CD that they have created to rehearsal to work it more.
"It can take a week to two months to create a song," says Pubis.
I remark that "Damnation and a Day" was even more of an effort, as it is a concept album.
"We didn't plan it that way, it just happened. I think it's two songs too long. I don't know which songs I'd cut, but 77 minutes is too long, unless you are a fan. I'm not a fan of the band," Pubis admits, leaving me wondering if he's just ribbing me.
COF obviously cannot cart around the 40-piece orchestra and 32-voice choir from Budapest, Hungary as they trek on the Ozzfest tour, but that doesn't mean their sound should suffer. The orchestration on the record will be simulated in concert, using a computer and a click track.
"We have been practicing with it for a week and it's pretty good," Pubis tells me. He also warns Ozzfest fans that COF is hoping to shake them up with their performance and appearance.
Despite all the scare tactics, Pubis came to music like many artists.
"My parents gave me a guitar for my 16th birthday. I don't know why. I listened to bands like AC/DC and Iron Maiden so I guess they thought I would want one," says Pubis, who took up singing as well two years later. "I started singing because my band's singer left and no one else had the bullocks. I've been playing the bass for five years.
"I left school at 16 and studied graphic design at the uni(versity). I wanted to be a painter," continues Pubis.
It wasn't a bad move, as after completing his studies, Pubis worked at Peaceville Records as a graphic designer for four years, "I met a lot of bands."
"Do you have any hobbies?" I ask.
"Sleep," Pubis laughs and then admits that he enjoys going out, drinking and seeing bands. "I don't want to ruin the band's mystique, but we're really normal."
Pubis relishes in going to clubs incognito (sans makeup) so he won't be recognized.
"My friends say, 'Oh, you're a big rockstar.' But I don't want to talk about work." Pubis adds, "I'm really shy."
We chat about clubs and bands and Pubis tells me, "I like all the bands that aren't around any more like Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Bad Religion. I also like System of a Down."
Then he shares a story. One time when COF was backstage putting on their makeup ("it takes an hour to get ready") Two guys came back and talked to them, asking for their autographs. After the two fans left, Pubis learned that they were from System of a Down.
"It's healthier than it was a few years ago," Pubis says about the music scene. He was so dismayed with the scene that he had stopped buying albums, but his attitude has recently changed and he's shopping again. Pubis feels that nu metal has disappeared a little, but he likes the variety of bands and the fact that they can play together, "A lot of boundries are being broken."
Pubis feels that people are more open-minded now. For example, "If I say I like System of a Down, people won't think I'm a whimp. But I don't give a fuck what they think."
Pubis uses the Internet only for information. When he left Anathema, Pubis saw that people wrote all kinds of messages on board, including some that were supposedly from him, spreading mean rumors about the split.
"It's cool for contacting friends and getting information," comments Pubis, who has friends all over the world who he keeps in touch with via e-mail.
Bringing up Anathema again, brings to mind how different the two bands sound. I ask Pubis about it.
"Anathema was like Pink Floyd, moody and slow. The music could make you cry. Cradle is raw and hard-core and I want that in my life right now." And despite being able to go easily from one musical style to another, Pubis remains humble, "I don't feel talented, I have to work three times harder than everyone else. I'm just very lucky."
Pubis' parents are proud of his career. They originally encouraged him to keep a real view of things, but after they saw him perform at the London Marquee (the same venue graced by Jimi Hendrix and a long list of other stars), they accepted it as his calling.
"I had to prove I could do this. I have a lot of brothers and they are all builders and bar workers, I'm a rockstar," says Pubis.
"What's in your future?" I query.
"Get drunk tonight and laid, if I'm lucky, but that probably won't happen." Pubis admits that he actually has plans to go out with the crew, "I feel more comfortable with the crew."
After that, he's going to pack and leave on tour. COF is already writing for next album, they have six songs and will probably start working on the effort fresh off the road.
Pubis confides to me that he isn't very lucky when it comes to women, but he takes it in stride. We discuss relationships and he tells me that he wants an independent woman, adding that it might be better if they didn't live close to each other either. Pubis says that he enjoys the chase and to feel like he wants someone. He advises me that men are bad, they're slobs and lack manners and that most of them aren't good for women.
I guess I wouldn't be helping the mystique of COF either if I was to add that Pubis was a gentleman and very polite when we spoke. Clinching the deal was his gracious invitation to meet up at Ozzfest, if the band's performance didn't scare me off, for a drink. I'll be there, Dave, after all, how can I refuse a shock rocker who leaves me with this final thought?
"I want to be normal and have a normal life," Pubis ends.
Get scared by Cradle of Filth at www.cradleoffilth.com
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