Black is golden for
Cradle of Filth

By Naughty Mickie

Formed in Suffolk, England in 1991, Cradle of Filth's music is dark metal, but with a twist-- they have made their mark by composing gorgeous classical arrangements and placing their scorching grooves over the top. As the band has evolved, the compositions have become more entwined, leading to greater orchestral influences in the guitars, as well serving for intros and interludes. A female vocalist with an operatic voice adds background and solo touches to the low vocals, screams and growls of Cradle's lead singer.

Their stage show has been known to incorporate esoteric sideshow-style performers, but more recently they have scaled it down to only the band and a multi-media influx. Cradle's overall musical tone and lyrics come from dark themes, horror and goth, drawing inspiration from literature, film and the band's haunted homeland. Metal Hammer magazine cites the group as the most successful British metal band since Iron Maiden and their 2004 album, "Nymphetamine," was nominated for a Grammy.

Cradle of Filth's lineup includes vocalist Dani Filth, guitarists Paul Allender and Charles Hedger, bassist David Pybus and drummer Adrian Erlandsson. They have been touring for some time in support of "Thornography" (Roadrunner). But what makes this interview extra special, is I'm a huge fan. In fact, it was a little hard not to gush when I heard Dani Filth's voice on the phone.

"I guess it's because my dad was into it, he was into music in general, a record collector and then it went from there," Filth begins. "My friends in school were into metal and when I gravitated towards that, it was suddenly, wow, a whole new area to discover. It suited the things that I was into like horror films and literature, it all connected.

"I actually played violin first," Filth continues. "I was never quite good at it and when I moved to secondary school I gave it up. When I was 14, I started singing for various bands at school and then Cradle of Filth came about because I met a few other musicians who were into the same things and it went from there really. I went into a musical career as opposed to journalism."

Filth went straight into music after completing school, occasionally working to make ends meet.

"It was actually my wife, who was my girlfriend, who held down a couple of crappy jobs in order that we could have a year or two to build the band up and not look back from there," Filth explains. "And fortunately once you've got that mindset on and we put those ideas with it, it worked. Actually, there were a lot of more factors to it than that, but primarily it was that drive that initially led to the formation of the band as we are today."

I ask him about Cradle's writing process.

"You start singing with the nucleus of the music, well, I do really, although that's not always the case because my voice never can be that fresh, but it's easier," Filth replies. "You get an idea from a song basically because there are more people writing the music than are the lyrics so it's kind of easier that way round. The ideas come to you at some point along the line, when half of the music has been written or there's a pattern or things come to light from the band."

"They come from loads of things," Filth says of his ideas. "I'm into a lot of different stuff-- I'm a big horror movie fan, more gothic horror than gore, and the environment in which we live, we live in a very haunted part of England, that's always been a bearing on the lyricism, books."

So where does he think Cradle stands in the music scene today?

"We're somewhere near the top I hope," Filth laughs. "I don't know. We're on the road at the moment with CKY and Gwar, so that's quite varied in itself. I like to think that as a band we transcend into different genres and bring two different kinds of people together, much like someone like Maiden or Misfits do. I think its great that somebody can on actually stumble upon band that's not really one thing or another."

To what do you attribute your staying power, I ask.

"I don't know," Filth says.

"Hard work?" I suggest.

"Yeah, that's definitely one attribute of the band. We do have quite high outbursts," Filth agrees. Then he comments about he feels today. "I was lying in bed quite sick. In Florida you get in really hot, humid conditions and then go to ice cold bloody blaaah. It's really humid down here."

I thank him for taking time to speak with me and Filth apologizes and encourages me to continue. I want to know about his other projects.

"We just finished, well published, 'Gospel of Filth,' which is a story of the dark arts with Gavin Baddeley. I'm pretty much coming to the end of a poetry book that I've been sort of nibbling at for the last couple of years for five minutes here and there," Filth tells me. "We did the Cradle of Filth movie, we were going to do a second, but we couldn't raise the capital because the first happened and we had problems where people were kind of paid after the act as it were in between working on other movies. But I do voiceovers and stuff. Things will pop up. I was approached to do a musical for 'War of the Worlds,' Wells' version by a composer called Jeff Wayne and it was a big influence on Cradle of Filth, Jeff's 'War of the Worlds' soundtrack. Unfortunately there were tours that came up and that got in the way of that."

Knowing Filth writes, I wonder if he is still into journalism.

"From time to time, I get approached," Filth responds. "You know you can't turn down people like Hustler really when they want you say things. But it's easier if immerse yourself as well, it's harder to go back to it, it's easier when you immerse, you're actually improving your art. You've got to keep working at it, much like it is when you're on a tour. You kind of get into a pattern where you're constantly working at it, then it sort of lays shallow, it sort of dies down and limps a bit. I guess it's about keeping it afloat."

"So what do you do for fun?" I ask.

"All kinds of stuff. I collect antiquities, I like shopping, I like driving my cars, I like taking my wife and my daughter out,

socializing and blah, blah, blah," Filth laughs. "I've got a custom Audi GT and a Mini Cooper S. I am planning to buy an AC Cobra replica as soon as I can find somewhere to store it."

We return to Cradle and their stage show.

"It's kind of broken down, you can't really compete with Gwar anyway." Filth explains, "But when I say broken down, I mean we don't have excess stage performers, but we do carry the big light show, we've got projection screens and all that, so it's not underdeveloped by any means. Our set list is a great set list."

"How would I explain your show to a first-timer?" I ask, knowing some of my friends might go with me to the concert.

"It's certainly loud and aggressive and theatrical. Yes, it's all high octane energy and it's best described by the state of my body today," chuckles Filth.

The future is wide open for Filth and Cradle. He has approached by some television companies and the band is already writing material for a new album and will be in the studio by the end of January.

"I guess if that doesn't happen, we'll be spending a lot of time in the rehearsal room," Filth adds.

He also is going to finish his books. And there's a special edition of "Thornography" set for release in February. It has six new songs and three videos.

"We recorded a bunch of stuff while we were doing the record and we've done it before on several LPs. I guess it's a kind of way to reaffirm the album," states Filth. "There's enough new material there to warrant a repurchase, there's some new art. Could we get someone to rebuy, yeah, they're into 'Thornography' anyway, but then there's the people who haven't gotten it."

OK, now for a tough question-- I know that Filth adds humor in when he writes for magazines, but does he put humor in his lyrics?

"No," Filth says solemnly. "I think we can be mistaken for being slightly comical because we're really down-to-earth people and in English sarcasm comes second nature. But no, no, humor doesn't enter the lyricism. Any artist is allowed to express themselves outside of their art and it's not all doom and gloom with us, it's our escape. We have what we do and we're happy about it."

"Well, of course, you have normal lives," I reply.

"Well, not so normal," says Filth.

I ask him for any final thoughts.

"Would I sound extremely boorish if I said no?" Filth asks.

"No, but do you have any words for your fans?" I offer.

"We absolutely love touring the States," Filth responds. "It's really cool seeing people at shows, especially when we're on a tour like this with different genres and so many of our fans turn up. It's always enlightening. I'm not sure that the fans know how appreciative we are of it. We try to take time after the the shows to go out and sign and talk to people, so that we're not some vicious entity."

Before letting him go, I tell Filth that I hope he feels better soon.

"No, you really can't help it," Filth replies. "You're on a bus with loads of people and some days you feel sort of sick and other days you're not. I feel kind of bad about it. It strikes you at inopportune moments, there's not really a good day for it. People come to see you play every night and they want to see you at 100 percent every night. It's just absurd going from bloody hot tropical humid to ice cold bloody you know, air con and stuff. Your body, you put it through so much on the road.

"I've done the road thing enough to be able to upright and know what to do and what's good and have your own little routines and feel-good things. I'm not drinking on this tour, I've been tee-total, but every now and then you slip and you should know better, but you go with the moment and then you suffer for it," Filth laughs. "But no, no, this is all self-inflected. I got too crazy on stage and I'm standing up like a stinking bag of bones."

"Yes, I understand. I know how performers can overdo it on stage. I do the same thing myself sometimes," I say.

"Exactly. That's one reason why I've given up the drinking as well. I'm just getting too old for that fucking-- I can't have a half-hangover day," Filth chuckles.

With that, we bid each other good bye. Not much later, I attended "Viva La Bands" with Vains of Jenna, CKY, Gwar and Cradle of Filth. The Wiltern was packed and the show was terrific. And my friends who had not even heard of Cradle before asked me when they're coming back around.

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