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Cradle Of Filth    
cradle of filth
I met Dani Filth at the offices of Koch Records in downtown New York on a sunny weekday afternoon. Having never met this modern-day heavy metal icon before going into the interview, I was curious what sort of personality I was about to encounter. Any fears I had of him being some kind of pretentious egoist were completely unfounded. Rather, I found Dani to be a pleasant and enthusiastic interview subject who cared deeply about Cradle of Filth, its fans, and how his art was received by his audience. He was, for example, proud of the artwork for 'Midian' and was genuinely psyched to tell me about his film project, 'Cradle of Fear'. Dani was there in the midst of a multi-day promotional trip to the Big Apple, and seemed to be enjoying the city, spending time checking out bands and shopping for DVD's for his daughter. In short, I quickly discovered that Dani isn't only the ringleader of the dark circus known as Cradle of Filth, he is also a pretty cool guy. So, after a few minutes of general talk about New York, his trip, his family, and, of course, heavy metal, we got down to the business at hand.

Metal Update: Who is Cradle of Filth?

Dani Filth: What do you mean? Who is actually in the lineup?

MU: Who is Cradle of Filth? Who is essential to the name? I guess I'm really asking this: Is it the Dani Filth Show?

DF: Cradle of Filth - the name itself and logo, etc. - is bigger than the sum of its parts. It's hard to walk away and analyze youself, 'cause then you start getting into the realm of something contrived or pretentious.

MU: But there's been a lot of lineup changes . . .

DF: There hasn't been a whole bunch. This is what I keep saying to people. There was a buildup until a point last year when we got rid of the root problem behind those lineup changes. And people always look at me like I'm some tyrannical dictator in the band, which is just bullshit. This is a democracy. A demon-ocracy, if you will. (laughs) And everyone's always encouraged me. That's probably why it looks to some people like it's always been loads of different people. For example, after the initial lineup change last year, we took some time to find the perfect members. But in that time, we still had to keep going. So, we would, for example, bring in a few people that would, you know, act as a stand-in guitarist if we had to play a show. For example, in the last video, this guy Dave is drumming, but everybody is under the impression - well, I, at least, was under the impression - that he was always just a stand-in. What are we going to do in the video, block 'em out?

MU: Well, could Cradle of Filth go on without Dani Filth?

DF: I don't know. (pauses) I don't know.

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MU: Is Cradle of Filth a black metal band?

DF: In atmosphere, in essence . . . I dare say we are. Much in the same way as I consider Danzig and Misfits and even gothic bands like Bauhaus have been of the atmosphere. But I think it's a really tight label now. If metal is to grow, if there is going to be a resurgence of metal and it's going to get back to the level it was at in the eighties, then I think genres and word bites need to be broken down. Black, death, doom, punk. I think that stuff all has to be transcended.

MU: It's all metal.

DF: At the end of the day, yeah. I think we've grown out of that trend of glamsters versus thrashers and that. If the music's good, the music's good. I mean, I'd like Cradle of Filth to just be known as Cradle of Filth, pretentious as it may be. Or as a metal band. Because that's essentially what we are. And we do transcend those - we have elements of goth and black metal and. . .

MU: Do you feel a connection to the Norwegian black metal bands?

DF: Well, we're still friends with a lot of bands. Immortal. Dark Funeral. Emperor.

MU: I'm told you're a big eighties metal fan like me.

DF: Yes I am. Originally, I liked Ozzy, 'Bark At the Moon'. Iron Maiden, obviously. Slayer. Venom. Then it grew into like Celtic Frost and the whole thrash explosion. Suicidal Tendencies. Darkness. Violence. Kreator. Destruction. Sodom.

MU: So where does the whole goth / vampire element come in? When I was into the bands you just described, Bauhaus and Siouxsie and the Banshees weren't a part of my scene.

DF: They weren't a part of my scene either. The thing was, I liked the imagery, I liked what they were trying to achieve, but I didn't like the music and I thought that it was kinda whacked. Of course I liked Sisters of Mercy, but the original goth - The Cure, The Batcave in London, I wasn't really into it. I'm not overly into it now. I prefer the heaviness of metal.

MU: Are goth kids listening to Cradle of Filth?

DF: Well goth itself is now kinda meta . . . metal-morphasized. I mean, I really like Darkwave. I really like that electronic Darkwave stuff as well. But there is this big goth metal movement in Europe - bands like Therion and Moonspell and Lacuna Coil and etc., etc., etc. That's where goth and metal meet. And I think they meet on the borders of this Darkwave stuff as well. I mean it's all cut from the same bone.

MU: You were talking before about metal getting back to where it was in the eighties. Where was metal in the eighties? Where was it that we are trying to get back to now?

DF: Well, it was in stadiums.

MU: I saw Halford the other night playing in a club to maybe 300 people. But I also saw him three months ago at Madison Square Garden with Iron Maiden and Queensryche. The latter feels like the level you're talking about.

DF: Yeah. Of course. It's getting bigger in Europe. We were special guests at Dynamo last year. Played in front of tons of people. It was huge - a rush. I mean, Monster Magnet played beneath us. But that's not the point. The point was, the equivalent festival here in the states is what, Milwaukee? And there, you play to like. . .

MU: You played Milwaukee in 1999. Good experience or bad?

DF: We had a good tour after Milwaukee, but Milwaukee was a bit of a disaster last year. The first time we played Milwaukee was good, in 1997, when we were special guests to Venom. This time we headlined one night, and because the venue had been moved because of whatever - anyway, it was just shitty. The PA kinda blew. The Misfits - it was the worst time I'd ever seen them, and I know it was the worst time people had seen us. It was fucking inaudible literally on stage. Guitars were going out half-power. The whole thing is just so badly put together anyway. Unless Jack Koshick gets his act together, I don't think we'd want to play there again. There's like a 100 bands and nobody knows what the fuck they're doing. Just people all over the place, you know what I mean? I mean, it's great, don't get me wrong. I love going there and the people are great, but it's just the inadequacy. I mean that might be due partly to the Governor of Wisconsin trying to get more votes for the moral majority by singling out the immoral minority. Forcing the venue to be moved at a very late date. Maybe that was part of the confusion, but it was really disorganized.

MU: Is Cradle of Filth at the forefront of the movement to bring metal back to where it was in the 1980's?

DF: I'd like to think so. But I don't want to come across as precocious, or pretentious, or garnering self-praise.

MU: But you are in a unique position.

DF: We sort of exist in the netherworld between the mainstream and the underground.

MU: Are you an underground band?

DF: At heart, yes. I mean, nothing's changed. All the mud that's thrown at us still doesn't stick. We still maintain our own credibility. We stick to our guns. And quite frankly, now that we've got this new lineup which I think is a very rock-solid lineup - and yes, it is a democracy - and everybody is picked for their job, and everybody works together toward a common goal - I've already started writing for another album and this one's not even out yet. I just think that the passion, the feeling - it's almost like this [Midian] is a first album for us. That's how exciting it is. Because everybody's got the same drive, the same hunger again. Which, by the fifth album, may peter out. We still feel like we are part of the underground. We haven't changed, as people.

cradle of filth

MU: How many records did 'Cruelty' sell in the U.S.?

DF: 100,000, I think.

MU: That's a lot of records. But MTV still doesn't know who you are?

DF: Well, they know about us, but they don't appreciate us, put it that way. It is a peculiar situation to be in. But the good thing is, we have got all these advantages. Like on the new album, we had Doug Bradley who played Pinhead from Hellraiser as guest narrator. We got JJ Potter doing all the artwork which is really lavish. We got to use John Fryer, who worked with Nine Inch Nails and White Zombie to produce the album. We had to use Parkhead Studios, which is a quite famous studio on a battle site in England, Norman Conquests, all that. We've had involvement with this film director Alex Shamdin, who not only directed the first video but also did a video for us last week for a song called "The Ghost in the Fog." We've just been part of a British horror film by the same director called Cradle of Fear. Which was originally a vehicle for both him and us. But has now grown into a full-fledged British horror release. At you'll see the trailer and all this fucked up shit. It was originally going to coincide with the album's release, but because it has grown so much, they're going to be editing up until Christmas. I think it is only going to be available on DVD and VHS formats via that one web-site address because it is a really brutal film. Very psychological, the storyline is brilliant, but it's brutal.

MU: Morbid Angel is touring with Pantera. Can the Cradle of Filth U.S. hockey arena tour be too far behind?

DF: I don't know. If we aren't headlining, unless it's a big massive festival that's so well put together like Dynamo, it does mean that we don't get the money (especially in America), and we can't bring out the right show. If it was with the right band and it wasn't gonna be detrimental to the stage production . . .

MU: How important is the "show" to Cradle of Filth? I know I appreciated seeing Maiden recently with Eddie running out and whatnot - it seemed larger than life!

DF: Well that's the point. Metal is supposed to be over the top - and yes, I can respect bands who just get up there in jeans and t-shirts - that's what we're about. We're a theatrical band. We are larger than life. We are multifaceted. We are a monster of many parts. I say, in a way, there's only four things a band has to worry about with a release. That's primarily the music, of which we write it for ourselves. Then our fans, and everybody else can go to hell. The artwork, which obviously reflects the music, and is like a mirror for it. The lyricism, and themeage outside that, or the way you project the album after the initial release. There's really only those four things you have to worry about. I think that all of them are very important. When I was a kid, I liked Maiden. And each Maiden release was like a fuckin' event for me. I desperately waited for it. That was magic.

MU: You know there's kids who feel the same way about Cradle of Filth. But like all of the more popular metal bands, you've been attacked by some fans as being a sell-out. Does that bother you?

DF: You can't win everything. At the end of the day, I've got bigger things to worry about now. I've got a daughter now. I'm not going to lose any sleep over - I lose sleep over her, obviously, she keeps waking me up - but I'm not going to lose any sleep over people slaggin' us off. I mean, at least you're talking about us. I mean, this band is like Catholicism, it's a beast of two hearts. Love and Death. Sex and Violence. Light and Shade. Sometimes we can be shocking and other times we can be that dark, gothic, romantic, mystical creature like 'Dusk and Her Embrace' portrays with its artwork and lyricism. At the time it kind of heralded the Byron Shelley period of literature. It's so contrived if you just go out and shock people for the sake of it. And if people really want us to shock them, fuckin' we could shock people!

cradle of filth

MU: Don't you think you already do shock people?

DF: Yeah, but it's like anything. Sometimes you get out of the proverbial wrong side of the grave. And when you do that, you might be in a bad mood. Walking round the office with a proverbial black storm cloud over your head. It's very much the same way. Sometimes you feel like being really fuckin' "Rrrrrrrrrrr," and other times it's a very relaxing - it's very much a middle ground. Middle ground breeds normality in my book.

MU: What's Satan got to do with it?

DF: Well, other than the fact that we often drink with him on a Friday night? Well, Satan himself is an archetype, it's a word bite. The way that "car" is a word bite for all different types of models. Essentially it spells adversity. I would actually say that I was more of a Luciferian, which is the guy prior to Satan. I mean, I believe in all of those forces. I've been privy to some of them at times. But Luciferians - you know, the shining rebel angel that was cast down. His name was tarnished. He was given horns and a tail and cloven hooves. Basically a halo with flies hung above his head. He was hung about churches, because it was a way that religion could control people through fear. And it was a way that you could get rid of the Pagan people as well.

MU: Is it true that you were going to play Israel this year?

DF: We're due to play on November 1st, which is essentially Samhain, but . . . fuck, like, as if we're gonna go over there . . .

MU: It's dangerous.

DF: I know. We were gonna open with "Nocturnal Supremecy" but we were gonna rename it "Burn the Promised Land" (laughs). But due to the current climate . . .

MU: Those problems are all about religion.

DF: It goes deeper. It's based on religion. I don't want to get involved. We're not a political band. We're not a racist band or anything like that. But it gets down to the fact that somebody reclaimed a country that essentially was theirs as prophesized and these people are obviously fucked off 'cause their country has been taken away and some of their civil liberties. I mean there's a fucking war zone brewing out there. There always is in the middle east.

MU: The devil's keeping his eye on that place 24/7.

DF: I dare say he is.

MU: What will you teach your daughter about religion?

DF: I'll let her make up her own mind. I'm not going to force her into anything. I'm not going to force her into anything at all.

MU: Are you going to expose her to any . . .say, "nontraditional" ideas?

DF: This is the irony of it. She loves Winnie the Pooh. And she loves The Simpsons. And she loves Disney. And Stuart Little. And stuff like that. And she'll dance to it, and that's what you expect from kids. But then at the same time, she'll be dancing around the kitchen to the new Nile album. At the moment she is too young to understand the difference. And that innocence is worth protecting.

MU: Well if your daughter is listening to Nile what are you dancing around the kitchen listening to?

DF: Nile (laughs). And the Winnie the Pooh soundtrack. (laughs) New Misfits record. New Bad Religion record. New Morbid Angel record. This remix album called 'War of the Worlds'. New Destruction album. And then the old favorites.

MU: Are you carrying the torch for the old British metal like Sabbath, Maiden and Priest?

DF: I feel a connection but I think we're far removed. It would be a bit too much for me to think that we're good enough to be associated with those bands. But yeah, I'd like to carry the torch. Not only for England, but for metal in general. There's so much we can do with this form of music. And this is only the beginning, hopefully. Unless somebody chops our heads off, or half the band suddenly goes on a pilgrimage to Tibet. We have so many good ideas, in fact, there aren't enough hours in the day. The past month, I'm surprised I just haven't dropped down dead. As you can see, I look fuckin' knackered. It's been press trips in Spain, Holland, Italy, France, Germany, we've got Sweden, Norway and Denmark coming up, Finland, this week in America. In between that, working on filming for that horror film. Shooting our video last week. Rehearsing for the tour. Putting all the artwork together, the merchandising for the new album. . .

MU: Wow. When will you have time to tour?

cradle of filth

DF: Well right now there's talk of us coming in and doing a one-off webcast in New York in mid-January. March/April time, we're due to come in and do a full American tour. And don't get me wrong, we love touring, but we're gonna split it up. Because we don't want a fucking eight week tour. I don't want to put the band in a position where we're not delivering 100% each night because we're tired. I don't want to put the band in a position where we hate the fucking sight of each other, because at the moment, we're great friends. And as soon as you lose that friendship or that fire, things start going wrong. And as people have nicely pointed out in the past - hey, nobody ever gives our bass player, Robert, any stick! He's been there a long time! (laughs)

MU: So what other tour plans are there?

DF: After what was supposed to be Israel, we do two shows in Greece. We actually haven't played Greece, although we've toured Europe extensively and literally played every country, everything but Greece, for whatever reason. Floods, last time. Russia. Iceland, believe it or not. Japan. Australia, we're supposed to do South America, South Africa, Canada - but that's all part and parcel of this continent. Obviously the European tour starts November 17th for a month. Then who knows? Timbuktu? Mars? We'll have to see.


METAL JUDGMENT Review of Cradle of Filth 'Midian'






Interview: Eric German [ ]
Editor: Brant Wintersteen [ ]
Live Photography: Cynthia Pelzner [ ]
Webmaster: WAR [ ]

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