Cradle of Filth’s Dani Filth Talks ‘Manticore’ Album, 2013 Tour, Bizarre Gifts From Fans + More
Speaking with musicians such as Cradle of Filth vocalist Dani Filth is one of the true pleasures of music journalism. Although kind and soft-spoken, Filth always has some brilliantly deranged stories up his sleeve. Earlier, we posted a story where the vocalist was stalked by a woman who claimed to be the reincarnation of serial killer Elizabeth Bathory, along with Dani being trapped in a car with her estranged boyfriend in an unbelievable case of coincidence. Now, we bring you the full interview with Dani Filth, which is filled with additional gems from the extreme metal mastermind.
Along with talking about Cradle of Filth’s newest album, ‘The Manticore and Other Horrors,’ Dani Filth told us about his Halloween plans for this year, an upcoming 2013 North American tour, bizarre gifts from people including a leg bone from a fan’s dead grandmother + much more.
Please enjoy our exclusive and in-depth interview with Dani Filth … if you dare.
So last time we spoke, we talked a little about Bad Religion and how great that band is, and when I listened to your new record, ‘The Manticore and Other Horrors,’ I felt like it had a bit of a punk edge to it. Is that fair to say?
Yeah, it’s certainly got this agro sort of hardcore element to some of the riffs, but I also think, aside from the traditional Cradle of Filth sound, I think there’s a little bit of new wave British heavy metal in there as well; a distinctive British vibe, and I wouldn’t say any of this is contrived. I think the punk element came from the fact that our guitarist Paul [Allender] wanted to revisit some of the ideas or the riffs that we had on stuff like ‘The Principle of Evil Made Flesh’ and more of our earlier works.
When you compare the ‘Manticore’ record to your previous works, do you feel like this one is a little more accessible to people who might shy away from the more gothic elements of metal music?
I suppose you could say that. The album itself is splattered with a selection of different ingredients, I suppose. They all add up to a slightly different bigger picture and I think the idea sort of moved away from the last record. It was very different, very capsulated, but there was a real emphasis on keeping the songs different from one another, but essentially listenable. It’s obviously a Cradle of Filth record, but I wanted people to hear why I’m singing more. I think we as a band got to that point where we wanted to do something that’s very memorable; heavy, because we are an extreme metal band after all and always have been, but we wanted people to go, “Wow that song’s killer. I can hear it. I can listen to the words, etc.”
Was this your drummer Marthus’ first album that he solely did the orchestration on?
Yes, yes it was. We kept everything very, very in-house. We recorded the album essentially as a three-piece and we drafted in a different bass player to play on the record because we parted company with our previous bass player, Dave. We used someone who worked at one of the studios; we used two studios simultaneously because we demoed everything. It cut the length of the actual recording down, essentially folding it in half. Recording-wise, there were four of us, but writing-wise, three. Carolyn (backing vocals), our new bass player Daniel, and our other guitarist, [James McIlroy] are involved in other bands and they all have other jobs, so for the band, it just felt it would be more completed, but the nucleus was writing and it was really relaxed because of that.
That makes sense, because I was wondering why there was just the three of you in your latest photo shoot.
It just made sense, you know? I think when you get to your tenth album, we suddenly realized we’ve been around long enough, we’ve got a big enough fan base to be able to do what we want to do and to other bands it might seem like a radical decision to show three as opposed to six, but it was one of those things where we just thought, “F— it.” I mean, at this point, we’re dragging in people who weren’t involved in the record. It also gave a new perspective on the imagery and what have you. Our new video we just shot for ‘Frost on Her Pillow’ is available on our website and has now gone to various outlets to be played, but that features six musicians on it, so we haven’t totally shied away from it. On the next one we’re about to shoot, which is just prior to going on our forthcoming European tour, I don’t even know if its even going to have the band in it at all. It’s just going to be a bit of a horror fest. It’s two sides of the coin, really.
Speaking of the ‘Frost on Her Pillow’ video, it’s very quintessential Cradle of Filth and the imagery is fantastic. Can you tell us a little about the concept of that video?
Well, it was just something that was reminiscent of what’s happening in the lyrics. It’s very dark in a sexual way, I suppose, and we couldn’t transcribe it exactly. It’s the director Stuart Birchall’s interpretation of the lyrics. Essentially, it’s about a bride that’s died and her lover, who is a cruel lover and ‘Dracula’-esque, condemns her for leaving him and he haunts her by using voodoo. She’s haunted in such a way that she’s stalked by a succubus.
So you know, videos don’t really need to have a story. I think everybody looks at us lyrically-wise and thematic-wise, especially on the cinematic side of things; they always look and ask, “What’s the story this time? What’s happening?” Whereas a lot of bands don’t go so much into the story. Obviously we’ve done quite a few concept records in the past, and people to inspect everything we do, storyboard it, and have it from A to Z, whereas other bands may just say, “Well, that’s just random imagery, that’s a video, that’s what happens.” [Laughs] But we can get lambasted by some people saying, “What do you mean there’s no combination to this imagery?! Why is there not a story?!” I think it’s so with videos, since you have such a short window to project them, you can be a bit liberal and you can leave it to the listener’s discretion as to how they interpret the video.
Leave something to the imagination, absolutely. You’re going on a European tour very shortly. Is there going to be a US or North American tour anytime soon?
There is, and the dates are now being penciled in by our booking agent. It looks more than likely that we’ll be headlining with Decapitated, the Faceless, and the Agonist as support, which I think is a really strong lineup. We’re headlining a package tour here, which is not too much our tour; it’s something a promoter has put together and we’ve got some very strange dates. We’ve got one date in France, but five in Spain; Eastern countries like Belarus, and then in Finland and all around Scandinavia. It’s a very sort of meandering, topsy-turvy tour, but we have God Seed, which is former members of Gorgoroth and Rotting Christ, and then there’s a couple of bands that kind of flip-flop. They do some dates but not the others but it promises to be a very cool tour, and with the American tour, were penciled in to go down to Mexico first and it’s going to start mid-February around Valentine’s Day-ish.
With your particular singing style, you have a tremendous range, and I think a lot of people have debated about how many octaves you can cover. How many octaves is your range?
Oh, I’ve got no idea. High’s, low’s and in between; that’s how I see it. The thing is, and it happens a lot amongst our fans as well; especially with this record I think because it’s grounded, it’s heavy, and it’s screamy and rough and that, but it’s very singy as well and I think there’s a few people that say, “Oh, I want him to scream all the time, I want him to do this, I want him to do that,” and they immediately assume you’ve lost your voice when you don’t do it. They don’t seem to sit back and think, “Maybe he just doesn’t want to do it all the time. Perhaps the songs benefit from having this new style.” That’s how it was written, that’s how it was addressed, so you kind of dig your own grave. That terminology makes me think, because you’ve done the very high stuff and done the very low stuff, people start, “Well, I want more of this, I want more of that,” but no, I couldn’t tell you about the octave range. I just say high and low.
Well, anyone who listens to the record will know that you’re still hitting those tea kettle-like high notes without any issue.
Yeah, with this album, it’s an evidently Cradle of Filth affair. There’s no mistaking that, I just think the songwriting is just a bit stronger and a little bit different. Because we recorded in two studios, it gave us a little but longer. We weren’t curtailed by having a definitive, “You’ve only got two weeks left,” because it sort of folded in on itself, rather than me following the guitars and drums in that extended time period, I was doing it at the same time in a separate studio not very far away from Springvale Studios, the one where we rehearsed and demoed in, and Grindstone Studios, where we finished the mixing after the guitars and drums and everything was done. It just gave us that comfort zone where we knew that we weren’t under loads of pressure, so it made the mix a lot more relaxed and a lot more fun and let us experiment with a few things. We weren’t pressed to the nines. It was one of the first times where we haven’t been.
I remember a pretty long time ago seeing a tour of your house on television. I remember very distinctly you having a skeleton in the floor of your kitchen, and I wanted to know if there are any new interesting additions you’ve added throughout the years.
[Laughs] Well, we were actually moving at one point, and then the move kind of fell through because the old gentlemen that we were buying the house off of suddenly had second thoughts after about a year of us waiting. I can’t really think of what’s new. I’ve got a Dalek from ‘Doctor Who,’ which I bought from the BBC a few years ago. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched ‘Dr. Who,’ but it’s an enemy of the doctor, it’s like this robot thing, like six foot tall, black, with swiveling guns and everything. It’s pretty cool, and he speaks. He’s got an infrared thing, so you can do it anywhere in the house. It shouts out and screams, “Exterminate!”
It’s no secret that you’re a big fan of Halloween. I read online that you were married on Halloween and of course ‘Manticore’ is coming out the day before Halloween. Do you have any special plans for this year?
Yeah, me and my wife are staying up in London and we’re going to this thing called the ‘London Bridge Experience.’ It’s called ‘The Crypts’ and it’s like a live horror thing. You’re sort of stranded inside in the dark with lots of actors and things like that. Then we’re going on a London ghost bus. We go around to very famous sights and they tell you the history, and on the way back they have an impromptu seance with special effects and sounds. It’s going to be cool and we’ve got a cool hotel and that, but yeah, like you pointed out, there’s a lot happening around then. There’s a launch party and then we’re shooting a second video before we head out on tour, and that’s going to start late in the afternoon and film all through the night. The final sequence is going to be shot in the dawn; hopefully it doesn’t piss with rain, and then we have rehearsals up to the point when we go on tour. You do have to make an effort for Halloween.
Being a father, how has it been being able to share Halloween with your daughter as she’s growing up?
Of course it’s been important and she loves it as well. I mean, it’s like all holidays for kids, isn’t it? It’s great. It’s an exciting part of the year, because in England, literally a week afterwards, we have Guy Fawkes Night, so you have Halloween and then you have this week of everybody lighting fireworks off and burning effigies and stuff, and then you have the run-up to Christmas, so the winter is pretty magical period for children. Well, f— children, it’s a magical period for the whole lot of us. It’s been good to enjoy that.
You obviously have very dedicated and loving fans. What has been the strangest fan interaction you’ve encountered throughout your career?
I always get, which I really like, I always get odd presents. In Texas we got a rattlesnake and another time we got a necklace made out of chicken’s feet; very ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre,’ I know. I’ve actually got them in my office, in front of me. And then a leg bone from someone’s grandma that they dug up. [Laughs]
They dug it up and gave it to you?
Yeah, it was pretty unique; I’ll put it that way. And then dolls and paintings and stuff like that which is all really cool, I love it.
Is it difficult to get a human leg bone through customs?
Well, obviously not. [Laughs] But they probably thought it was something else. I bought a bat; a vampire bat I bought in Philadelphia once at ‘Armed & Dangerous.’ It literally went through the [x-ray] scanner, and it was a bat, there was no mistaking it, and they still asked what it was. It was ridiculous; really ridiculous. It was like, “What else could it be?”
Cradle of Filth’s newest album, ‘The Manticore and Other Horrors,’ is now available wherever music is sold. To buy a copy of the album, click here.