Pictures : Olga Kuzmenko
Interview by: Alan Daly
Alan: Welcome back to Dublin. When you were last here in March 2016, it was the first time in over a decade, and obviously the show went down really well with the Irish fans. Why was there such a big gap between shows in Ireland?
Dani: I’ve got no idea to be honest. We just recently went to Japan, and that was a 16 year difference as well. I don’t know. It’s just one of those things. It’s nothing to do with the band. The band didn’t instigate that. Generally it’s a promoter or a booking agent thing. Obviously our booking agent wasn’t doing his job properly, but we’ve moved booking agent and hence we’re back.
Alan: How do you recall that show?
Dani: It was great. It was a good gig. That was the culmination of the U.S. Tour. Literally, Dublin and Belfast were the last dates.
Alan: And of course, tonight is Halloween. A great night for us to have a Cradle of Filth show in Dublin. What would you normally do on Halloween if you weren’t touring?
Dani: We always seem to be touring on Halloween. It’s my wedding anniversary as well. Halloween usually falls on a really shitty day when I’m free. It’s more of a Halloween week. There’s a local place, a big old historical house that throws this thing called Scaresville, which is one of those interactive things with mazes. It goes out into the woods and people are hiding there. It’s really good. And customary horror movies at the cinema. Dress the house up. You know.
Alan: I was going to ask you about horror movies later, but let’s jump straight to that. Tell us the most recent horror movie you saw that you really enjoyed.
Dani: I saw Jigsaw last week, which I enjoyed.
Alan: Did you enjoy the whole Saw franchise?
Dani: Yeah, it’s good. I actually went to see Saw IV last week as well, and I preferred that. But that’s possibly because there was a woman who spent the whole time checking her social media during Jigsaw. And it’s just in the periphery of your vision, there’s this little fuckin white light, and every time you’re getting to that point where you’re thinking “right, that’s it, I’m going to go and say something, and then they turn it off and you think “well, they won’t do it again”, but they do. So that was slightly annoying. But prior to that, I’ve been watching a ton of stuff on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Binge-watching series. Like Stranger Things. I’m actually watching about four different things at the same time. Punisher starts next week. Walking Dead, Frankenstein Chronicles, etc etc.
Alan: Plenty for you to watch on the tour bus?
Dani: Well, we’re not on a tour bus for this tour. We’re doing it in a mini-bus and flying back and forth to the UK, and then hopping between hotels. It’s actually alright. We’ve worked the journeys out so we get sufficient sleep and a nice cooked breakfast in the morning.
Alan: Did you ever think about getting back into horror movies yourself? I know you’ve dabbled in the horror movie game in the past.
Dani: Just literally, last Friday, I went to the London Comic Con as a guest and then I did some chats with a horror director who’s name escapes me and Shaun Hutson, the novelist, which was a good laugh, and we were talking about the very same thing. But yeah, definitely. I did a voiceover recently, and I did a small part in a horror movie called Baphomet which comes out next year, in which I play a doctor. That was bizarre.
Alan: That’s good to hear. I think Rob Zombie recently said he’s going to make another movie along the lines of House of 1000 Corpses. It’s always nice to see the crossover between metal and horror movies.
Dani: That’s right, yeah. Well that was the premise of that conversation at Comic Con.
Alan: Moving on to Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay. It was released last month. How’s it being received?
Dani: Great. I literally spent most of the Summer doing interviews, here and abroad. Like hundreds of them. Still got a few more left to do. The general consensus was thumbs up.
Alan: I believe you had the same recording studio, same producer, same artwork artist… as Hammer of the Witches…
Dani: Well, yeah. It just works. People might say “It’s the same thing”, but it’s not. First off, there are different songs. We recorded under a different temperament. Even two years on, you’ve got a different outlook. I mean, I did a Devilment album at the same studio, with the same producer, and that sounds nothing alike. And there’s different plug-ins or different amps and pedals. Different tones. But if it’s not broke, don’t try to fix it. That works as a modus operandi.
Alan: It’s been getting great reviews, and Hammer of the Witches was so well received, that it must have been hard to top that.
Dani: The more comfortable you are in a studio with the surroundings, the better the album comes out. You can get more experimental because you’re comfortable. And Scott [Atkins, producer] is a close friend. He’s like half an hour drive away. I’m actually going back there a day after we get back from the tour, because we’re remixing Cruelty and the Beast for a release next year.
Alan: And I believe some of the writing or pre-recording was done in the Czech Republic?
Dani: Yeah in Brno, which is where Martin [Skaroupka, drums] and Ashok [Smerda, guitars] live.
Alan: So was that a way to maybe put yourselves out of that comfort zone of the familiar rehearsal studio surroundings?
Dani: Well, primarily, it was a lot cheaper. We were doing a festival in Slovakia at the end of the fortnight, and Martin’s got his own rehearsal room. So it was a team building exercise and an opportunity to hang out and go exploring and just get into the vibe of things and go to a lot of pubs and clubs.
Alan: Did you check out the bone Ossuary in Kutna Hora there?
Dani: Yeah, we did all that. The tunnels under the city, etc, etc. We went to a little rock festival in a village which was cool as fuck. But primarily, the premise was to come away with a least a semblance of a new album. People had been working at home on bits of songs or the odd riff. But we came away with about 80% of it in place, which I think was due to the fact that it was very carefree and it wasn’t regimental. So we’ll definitely be doing that again.
Alan: And you brought back Liv Kristine to perform vocals on ‘Vengeful Spirit’. How did that come about?
Dani: That was like an eleventh hour thing. I think we were three weeks into the mix. We only had maybe two tracks left, and the producer said that that was the only song that was 75% there, so we sat down and analysed it, and we decided that we’d like to try something different vocally, with a different singer. No disrespect to Lindsay [Schoolcraft, keys & vocals]. It was just the feel of the thing. And we went through a few ideas, and to cut a long story short, Liv came up, and she was just on the cusp of going to Italy on holiday so she put that back by a couple of days, and came into the studio and tried out some things. She gave us some ideas, so we fucked around our end and it all came around pretty quickly. And we’re actually going back to Latvia again to shoot another video for that song with Arthur Berzinsh who did the album cover and the video for Heartbreak and Seance. We loved that so much. It was very cinematic.
Alan: So when do you plan to shoot and release that?
Dani: The European tour starts in the Czech Republic on the 15th of January, so we’re going to go to Latvia for two days just before that, and have it ready for release in time for the American tour in mid-March.
Alan: ‘Alison Hell’ finally made it onto a Cradle of Filth album. We spoke with Lindsay the last time you were here in Dublin, and she mentioned that you had been working on an Annihilator cover. So had you already recorded it during the Hammer of the Witches studio session?
Dani: No, no. We recorded it from scratch. It’s something we wanted to do for ages. Then in the last couple of years we had bumped into Jeff Waters a couple of times. Once on 70,000 tons of metal, and funnily enough two years ago to this very day. We were playing in Nuremburg on Halloween and they were playing the next day, and they turned up early to get a parking spot, and we accosted him and told him our intentions, and he was like “Yeah, man, you’ll do a real good job”, and he’s heard it since and he loves it, which is good news when you’ve done a cover and the person who actually wrote the bloody thing was very appreciative. He said it was the best cover version he’d heard of anybody doing their stuff. We wanted to play it as close as damnest to the original anyway.
Alan: But it still has your own little twist on it.
Dani: A little twist. I don’t think we’ve gone overboard like we have done when we do something that’s a bit outside the metal genre. I think the song is old enough and close enough to the rest of the material on the album, that I think if you weren’t aware of Annihilator it could pass as one of the tracks on the album.
Alan: Lindsay also mentioned that you had a couple of other songs that you in particular wanted to cover.
Dani: They’re pipe dreams really. I mean, it took the best part of twenty years to get Annihilator covered, so I’m not holding out much for anything else.
Alan: Were there any other tracks that didn’t make it onto Cryptoriana?
Dani: Original songs? Yeah, there were a couple that were just put to one side. A couple of the songs on this album were actually from the previous recording sessions. ‘Achingly Beautiful’ and the title track, but they were less developed and they suited the sound of this album better.
Alan: I read an interview you did recently where you mentioned that Cradle of Filth started in an era when bands could remain incognito and a bit mysterious if they wished…
Dani: Well, that all went out the window with Facebook, didn’t it?
Alan: That’s exactly what I was going to say. But having said that, Ghost is a band that we saw at Bloodstock Festival this year, and Tobias Forge managed to keep some anonymity for a while.
Dani: Only for a while!
Alan: So do you feel that Facebook and social media has ruined that aspect of “publicity through anonymity”?
Dani: Well, what social media gives with one hand, it takes away with the other and vice versa. Obviously it’s great for communicating with people. It was bloody hard. I’m not going to paint a magical picture of when we first started and everybody was tape trading and it was all word-of-mouth and stuff. It was very occult and underground and it made all the more mysterious because it wasn’t as predominant as it is now. You didn’t have access to everything about the band, so it was quite mysterious. But at the same time it was a bit annoying when you had to wait two weeks for your carrier pigeon to turn up.
Alan: Cradle of Filth have the face paints and the stage persona. Is that a little bit so that you can go to the shops and drink in your local pub without being immediately recognized and hassled?
Dani: No. Not at all. They don’t give a shit where I live. I drink at the rock clubs. They don’t care who I am. They probably don’t even know who I am. It’s more about character and adding to the whole performance. Growing up, from my own personal experience, I was always enamored with the bands that took the effort to be theatrical and add that extra edge to the performance.
Alan: One sensitive topic that has come up recently surrounds the band Decapitated.
Dani: My coffee’s decapitated!
Alan: Hahaha, yeah. You’re probably aware that the band have been locked up in the U.S. accused of allegedly kidnapping and gang raping a girl who ended up on their tour bus. Then there’s the whole Harvey Weinstein scandal in the media surrounding sexual assault of women in Hollywood. Do you think there’s an element of misogyny or mistreatment of women in metal circles?
Dani: Well, I don’t think the Harvey Weinstein thing’s got anything to do with that.
Alan: No, but I’m referring to people with celebrity status in general who take advantage and abuse their fame.
Dani: When something like that makes headline news, then it all comes out of the woodwork. Everything else is swift to follow. The whole Decapitated thing… I was talking to the woman from their record company about it after Comic Con and she knows a little bit more about it. But, yeah, it’s pretty bad. At first, I thought one thing, and now I think the other. You just don’t know. I just find it very strange that nobody else has been incriminated, as in the tour manager and that. They’re all Prevost buses. It’s not like a double-decker where it could be out-of-sight and out-of-mind, and nobody else knows about it. You know, the driver might just think everybody’s partying, but the loo is just before you get to the bunks, so it’s there. So unless everybody else went to bed immediately, the tour manager should have a lot to answer for, and should be more accountable. Of all the times we’ve toured the states since 1999, it’s the first time I’ve ever heard of that sort of thing going on and getting this far.
Alan: I guess, like you said, when things like this happen, others come out of the woodwork. So it’s somewhat it’s reassuring that there hasn’t been a lot of other historical cases reported.
Dani: That’s good. That’s what I mean. Generally, a tour manager would say “right, we’re going across a border, you have to get off the bus”. We’ve taken people on our bus, but they’ve always been people that we’ve known for years. It’s never just some random person. It’s just a legality. And that’s what I’m saying about the tour manager. So they must have known the girl.
Alan: It might make bands a bit more cautious about who they do let onto their tour buses.
Dani: Absolutely. Personally I can’t imagine it. I met Decapitated again quite recently, but you don’t know people, and what state of mind they’re in or whatever. I’d like to believe one thing. I’d like to root for them and say that they are innocent, but you just really do not know what happened. I think it’s unlikely that it happened, but I really don’t know. And if it did happen, then they deserve everything they get. But it sounds like it has turned into a right fucking royal nightmare for them.
Alan: And obviously, it completely ruined their current tour and the upcoming one.
Dani: I think it’s probably going to be the death of the band. They’re going to be so much in debt. Their trial’s not until like February. So they’re incarcerated and they have all the legal fees, and they will be accountable for all of that.
Alan: Ok, well we’re being asked to wrap it up. Thanks for taking the time to chat.