Interview by Alan Daly
© Olga Kuzmenko
Photos by Olga Kuzmenko
On the day of their triumphant return to Dublin after almost fifteen years, we caught up with Lindsay Schoolcraft (keys/vocals) of Cradle of Filth, to find out about their tour and plans to work on a follow up to their 2015 album Hammer of the Witches.
Alan: Welcome to Dublin. It’s a pleasure to meet you albeit a bit unexpected as we were due to chat with Dani, but that’s all cool. So you have been in the band since 2103, so you definitely weren’t in Dublin with Cradle of Filth before…
Lindsay: No, this is my first time.
Alan: I think it’s almost fifteen years since Cradle played in Dublin…
Lindsay: That’s insane. That’s too long! That’s wrong!
Alan: We wondered why that might be. Do you have any idea why the band may not have visited in so long?
Lindsay: I don’t even know. I’ve always wanted to come here. I’m so happy to be here, but I think it’s just to do with how the tours were planned and the way they were booked. It had nothing to do with not wanting to come here. Obviously we wanted to come here for a long time. We got confirmation that we were going to make it at the end of this tour, and we were all so excited. We’re sad that we weren’t here sooner.
Alan: Well we’re delighted that you’re here now. You’re just finished a tour of North America. How did that go?
Lindsay: Really good, thank you. It was a lot of work. It’s not as laid back as when we tour Europe. Europe is very laid back. We were just rushing through America, non-stop. Pretty much living on buses, and then the venues. Didn’t get to do a lot of sight-seeing. The only time I really had any time off was in Texas and it was in the middle of nowhere, so I just went to shopping centres. Nothing too special.
Alan: How would you compare the American audiences to the European audiences?
Lindsay: I really can’t because it just depends on the areas. In some places, people are more enthusiastic than others and in some places people just stood around with their arms crossed and were just spectators. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but you find that everywhere in the world.
Alan: And you’re off to Russia and Eastern Europe in May. Have you played there before?
Lindsay: Yeah. We’ve done Russia before. There were some Eastern European dates on the last European tour that we did just before Christmas. I love it there. It’s beautiful. It’s a different world. I’m excited to go back to Russia. At the end of 2014 we did three weeks in Russia, but this time it’s only about two weeks and we’re going with Xandria from Germany. I didn’t get my photo in front of the Kremlin last time, so I’m hoping to get it this time.
Alan: With Russia in May, and the last couple of shows for a while this week… Can we speculate that there might be some writing or recording in between for a follow-up to Hammer of the Witches?
Lindsay: Yeah. Actually, we already started discussing it. We have some remnants of demos that we left over from last time, but some members like our bassist Daniel Firth have already gone ahead and started composing things. I’ve a few ideas. They’re rough. I really haven’t had the time to properly formulate any of them, being away from the studio, so it’s really difficult on the road. But we kind of all agreed that we would start working on things if we want to, but have these next six to eight weeks to just do our own thing, relax, spend time with family. Just take some down time. I’m involved in two other projects outside Cradle of Filth, and I really enjoy working on them, so I’m just going to take this time to work on those, and I know the other guys want some downtime before the craziness starts. We’ve decided that the end of August is when we’re going to get together and really start. We’re going to take a week together as a writing band and really bring together our ideas and formulate them at that point and the demo process, so it gives us lots of time. After Russia is when the chaos starts.
Alan: Looking back over the historical album release dates, Cradle have released albums almost every two years, so a mid 2017 release would be in keeping with that pattern.
Lindsay: Yeah, that’s what we’re hoping for too. It takes time. I didn’t think that Hammer of the Witches would come together as quickly as it did. From the time me and Daniel started demo-ing it together, it was about fourteen months, but the proper demo-ing up until the end was less than a year. I couldn’t believe how quickly we had brought it together. It was unbelievable. Who knows? Now that we know what we can do and how efficient we are, probably mid-2017. I can’t really put a time on it, but we’ll see.
Alan: Great. And Hammer of the Witches was really well received and got great reviews. Do you think that the current lineup write particularly well together?
Lindsay: Yeah, thank you. We were happy with it. I can’t believe how well it was received, because even the day before it came out we were so nervous. We were like “Oh my God. What if everyone hates it?”. But it was from the heart and we all had something to prove, and we all love being in the band and we all love heavy metal music and we all know that Cradle has its own legacy and sound to keep up on.
Alan: So there were a few tracks left over from Hammer of the Witches…
Lindsay: Quite a few actually. Enough for another album, but we were like “Oh we have to strengthen these”.
Alan: I saw specifically that you recorded an Annihilator cover ‘Alice in Hell’…
Lindsay: Yeah, we got the permission from the band to do it and they’re excited about it, but we just ran out of time. We could have done another original or we could do the cover, but we really believed in having more originals. We even have ideas for other covers. I don’t want to give away too much, but Dani’s pretty stoked about a specific cover that we’re doing. But I can’t say what it is!
Alan: There was mention of an EP with the Annihilator cover and a couple of the leftover tracks…
Lindsay: We’ve been playing with ideas. There’s so many things that we want to do, but when it comes down to it, another full-length is what seems to be what will happen. At the end of the day that’s the best thing to do for a band. Now that the opportunity has presented itself and we have a chance to write together for a week at the end of the year, I think that’s what we’re going to focus on.
Alan: How do you persuade people to actually buy music these days?
Lindsay: I just think of the first producer I ever worked with when I was younger. He said “Just make good music and the rest works out”. I think you don’t need to persuade anyone if you just write something that you really believe in and it has really helped you. And Hammer of the Witches really got me through a lot. It was an interesting experience, but I look back and I’m very proud of the guys and I’m proud of what we did. I think that resonates in your art, and if people pick up on that, I think that’s the most important thing. Even as a solo artist, I’d never put out anything if I didn’t believe in it.
Alan: Still it’s hard to persuade people to part with their money these days with the option to download illegally, and bands rely on touring and merch for a living, but to get somebody to go out and pay for the new album must be a challenge. I know special editions and vinyl and the really cool Cradle of Filth artwork…
Lindsay: Oh the artwork helps and we’ve got a good artist on the last album who did a brilliant job, so I think that helps.
Alan: A question I wanted to ask Dani was about the high point of the history Cradle of Filth, but even for you, what would the high point be?
Lindsay: For the band, when I was an outsider, I think Midian really pushed Cradle to the mainstream and then after that Nymphetamine with the Grammy nomination. As an insider, I think there are always moments that are highlights. I think Hammer of the Witches is the biggest thing we’ve done as this lineup, but I think that first tour we did together when Rich and Ashok were only hired. When we came off that we knew what we wanted and who we wanted in the band, and I think that was a big highlight for us. That was the starting point. We found a solid lineup of people who get along musically and personally and that was it.
Alan: And what about low points?
Lindsay: You know. We all go through our low points, personally and as a band. I think the beginning of the North American tour, because we didn’t know if it was happening. The first two weeks were extremely stressful for us and it was very hard on all of us, but we banded together and we took care of each other and we made it through. And because of that I think we’re stronger as a band and we look back at it now and we laugh. I don’t even know how we got through it. I think our lowest points is just when we’re not around each other. We really miss each other and we’re always calling or writing.
Alan: It sounds like you have a good camaraderie going.
Lindsay: Oh we do. Being the girl I have to be one up on them. And boys are like children sometimes. You have to kind of boss them around and they forget, but you can’t take it too personally. They’re just boys!
Alan: Are there any up and coming extreme metal bands on your radar that you might recommend at the moment?
Lindsay: One that’s really blown me away is Myrkur. I think she’s phenomenal. She gets a lot of backlash with people saying she’s not true metal or she’s not true black metal or blah blah. People are going on about it. But from a musician’s standpoint I think she’s a genius. She can write for choirs and all these folk instruments, and she has her own sound and voice and the backlash is just ignorant. You shouldn’t try to devalue someone’s talent because you’re not fitting it into a certain genre. I think she’s on tour now with Behemoth and I plan to go and see her at home in Toronto. I think she deserves a lot of credit. More than the metal community is giving her. Also, the opening band we have right now, Winterfylleth are fantastic. I was really blown away by their performance last night. I highly recommend them. And also my boys in Ne Obliviscaris. I think they’re doing a phenomenal job of formulating a new genre of metal and I really believe in them as people and their artistic direction. I think they’re going to be really big.
Alan: Yeah, we caught them at Bloodstock Festival last year and we really enjoyed their set. And what’s on your player at the moment?
Lindsay: It’s all over the map. I’m the outsider in the band because I come from a classical background and I’ve been mostly influenced by a lot of European metal that has to do with orchestration, and some with female vocalists and clean singing. So let me see. I’ll pull up my phone here. One band that the Ne Obliviscaris guys told me to check out is Oceans of Slumber, so I’ve been listening to their album Winter. I do have some guilty pleasures that I don’t want to go too in depth into. I do enjoy a lot of mainstream lyrical music. There’s nothing wrong with that. I listen to a lot of trip-hop stuff with strings. I’ve been listening to Chelsea Wolfe. Amy Lee put out a cover album and that’s kind of been on repeat. It’s no secret that I love Evanescence. Oh and the new Moonspell, and I do want to make a point to check out the new Amorphis. I try to make time when I’m not brain-dead from all the travel.
Alan: So… “That T-shirt”…
Lindsay: Oh, “That T-shirt”? The one that I had to embarrassingly explain to my mom in front of Dani when Dani first met my mom? He was talking about the controversial t-shirt, and my mom was like “What t-shirt”? And Dani was like “Oh, explain it to your mother”. It took me so long to get it out. My mom understood though.
Alan: If the band was so inclined to make one that topped it in terms of being even more controversial or offensive…
Lindsay: I don’t know. We had a joke about one with Judas as a saint, or something stupid. No, I don’t think we can. You can’t top it. I don’t know what else is really offensive. We’ve had so many offensive shirts, but we couldn’t get any more offensive than that. The whole shock-rock thing is dead. Everyone’s done it, and everyone’s done the shocking things, and now we’re just going back to the art form and being all artsy-fartsy and the darkness. Because the being offensive is Dani’s thing on stage. He says what he does on stage and I think that’s what people come out for, his sarcastic humour. There’s a huge misconception with Cradle of Filth. I get messages on a daily basis, with angry Christian mothers after me thinking I’m such a bad influence and everyone in the band are Satanists or they hate religion. Well, no… Rich is a guitar teacher and he teaches children how to play guitar. I’m a first nation native American and I’m a very compassionate vegan. They think that we’re this group of bad people just because of the band’s history. I wish people wouldn’t be so ignorant and just do their research. We’re here making art and playing music at the end of the day. That’s what it’s about. It’s in this outfit and I understand how people can have that misconception of it, but it’s like “Do your research before you come at me.”
Alan: True. One hypothetical question. You’re being urgently evacuated because of a disaster or whatever. What three thing will you grab on your way out?
Lindsay: My phone. I don’t know though. It depends on the disaster, whether I’ll have cellular signal. What would I need? A bottle of water, a protein bar, and my phone!
Alan: That’ll keep you going for about ten minutes! Finally, what else is to come for Cradle of Filth?
Lindsay: That’s pretty much it. We just want to keep going. As an international band, there’s a lot things that we have to overcome, but there’s a lot of big positive changes happening for the band in the next while and the internal infrastructure.
Alan: Does that mean lineup changes?
Lindsay: No, no, no. Nothing to do with the band. The band is staying as is. It’s just other people that work with us. We’re staying with our label and everything is fine. It’s just certain people are coming in and we just want to work on a bigger scale again and we want to be more efficient. And we’re going to be able to do that. That’s what we’re focusing on. I’m excited to get back to focusing on the music again. I had this conversation with the boys the other day. I’m split down the middle. I love touring, but I love being in the studio. When I’m touring I miss the studio and vice versa. So it’s always about finding that balance, and if you can do half and half, that’s kind of what we’re aiming for. I’m excited to get back to composing again for Cradle of Filth and I think everyone else is too.
Alan: Great! Well we look forward to hearing some more new music again soon. And good luck with the show tonight.
Lindsay: Thank you. I hope it turns out ok! I hope you enjoy the show.