FAN VERSUS IDOL
Kevin Hamers vs Dani Filth (singer of Cradle Of Filth)
My name is Kevin Hamers, I am 20 years old and live in Tilburg in The Netherlands. Cradle Of Filth has always been my inspiration to life and made me the person I am today. For almost 10 years I am already a massive Cradle fan and got every album including the bootlegs. Over the years, the collection I got became really huge. Last year I was finally able to get my Cradle tattoo which is over my whole upper back. That was something I wanted for 5 years now.
Dani Filth (Cradle Of Filth) admiring Kevin’s tattoo
Recently I saw a post on Facebook from HeadBangers LifeStyle in which they offered one person the chance to interview Dani Filth about the upcoming album ‘Cryptoriana, The Seductiveness of Decay’. The only thing that had to be done was send in your motivation why you should be that person. For me this was as a dream come true, so I gave it my best shot and waited patiently for a reply. After a few days I heard that I had won the interview and later on I received all the information I needed. So I wrote down a couple of questions I wanted to ask and began to practice the interview. This would be the first time in my life that I would do an interview!
The day of the interview (July 6th) started, I was preparing for the interview and had to go to Dusseldorf Airport (Germany). The interview would take place in the Sheraton Hotel at 17:30, but I was asked to be there 1 hour earlier and take my headphones with me so I would be able to hear the new album already!! I was extremely excited and pretty nervous, not everyone gets the chance to interview their idol of course!
As I arrived at the hotel I immediately met my Nuclear Blast contact and was waiting in the lobby of the hotel for my turn to do the interview. While I was waiting I got an IPod and listened to the new album and it sounds really really fantastic! Just when the 7th track ended it was my turn, so sadly enough I couldn’t finish the whole album but now the moment was there. I was very nervous, but Dani gave me something to drink and told me to make myself comfortable. As we sat there he first signed a paper for me for my back tattoo! After that I switched my mobile on to recording and started my interview.
Can you tell me more about the album concept and where you’ve got your inspiration from?
,,Well, it is based on Victorian gothic horror. Let’s start at the beginning; to get ideas for the album we did some sort of a team building effort by going to the Czech Republic, which is the home of Ashok and Martin. We went there, drank a lot, did a lot of sight-seeing, but more importantly we brought in all our ideas, the songs people had written. At the end of the week we went back with not a finished album, but one that was very far into being completed. We just needed polishing and bits changing around and it gave me the opportunity as well to start writing the lyrics to it. At that point I was reading a lot of Victorian ghost stories by the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson, E.F. Benson, Arthur Machen, Rider Haggard. They were totally infatuated with the macabre, uhm.. whether it was spiritualism, mesmerism, tarot, palmistry, table tapping, ouija boards or séances, they loved it, absolutely loved it. I also read these little pamphlets which people used to buy for a penny every week, with these serials about murder and intrigue and mystery. People were just fascinated with death and overcoming death or finding a connection with the afterlife which they considered part of science, so they weren’t offending God and it was a legitimate thing to do. Of course that era brought us a lot of great literature which people still refer to nowadays. So at that point I thought, well that’s a good theme to build an album around and use the morality of that era and the underneath mortality, the corrupt underbelly, things you didn’t see and just use that to create songs and give a flavour to everything.’’
How did the writing process go?
,,What happens is basically every member of the band, aside from myself, comes up with his own songs and then those songs get picked or not. They stay in their original form as they’ve written them or they get changed for the better, that’s how we work. We have 9 or 10 songs and we play around with them so we get an idea as towards the direction things are going. Actually two of the songs, ,,Achingly Beautiful” and ,,The Seductiveness Of Decay”, were written for the last record but not in their current form. They were half finished at that time and they were actually better for this record. There is also some stuff that we wrote for this record that we haven’t used but may do so for the next record… or we may never use it again. When you’re in the studio things get changed. We were half way through the mixing and we weren’t 100% happy with the song ,,Vengeful Spirit” so the producer suggested we try a few other vocal ideas and vocalists. Long story short, we came up with the idea of contacting people we worked with before, one obviously being Liv Kristine and she agreed to do it. She came up with some ideas, which we loved, and we extended the song to fit in more ideas so she had a more important role to play. And that was like 2 weeks before we had to deliver the album. The album was constantly shifting and changing all the way up to delivery.’’
Photo by Alexander Trinitatov
What is the main difference between ‘Cryptoriana’ and the preview albums?
,,Some people will like the new album better than the earlier albums but that’s obvious. Because you know it’s the same band, it’s very hard to say what is different about it. There’s definitely a lot of twin lead guitar work present again, but we concentrated more on the eerie side of the query us being too bombastic. I’ve done a lot of screaming on this record, more than on ‘Hammer Of The Witches’, but there’s also a lot of diversity like ,,Death And The Maiden’’ which is probably one of the heavier songs that Cradle has written in a while.’’
How do you expect the fans to react on the album?
,,Hopefully with: ”Yaaaay”. I mean we’ve had positive reactions but that’s with the journalists here today. But so far they have all been very positive and you know some journalists will tell you if it’s shit or they don’t like it. They will tell you and it’s not a very nice situation to be in when they do that. But they all seem to be very positive so that’s cool.’’
Yeah, it’s very heavy, as far as I’ve heard.
,,Yeah the production is cool and that’s also one thing about the producer, we keep using, even for my other band Devilment. I used Scott Atkins not only for the studio, which is half an hour from my house, but he has this real eye for detail and he is very much into creating the sounds. He’s not afraid to say it when something is shit or we have to change things or when things aren’t going to work, I like that. Plus his mixes are really good. He really has a good ear for things. There is no point putting violins in a song if you can’t hear them for example.’’
What are your favourite tracks of the album?
,,I’ll say ,,You Will Know The Lion By His Claw”, because it’s just a very different song. The end reminds me pretty much of ‘Dusk And Her Embrace’, really black metal.’’
Photo by Alexander Trinitatov
Yeah, I heard this too and it’s very fast and very powerful!
Actually Cradle has changed a lot of band members over the years, people came people go but since the Euro tour 2014 Cradle seems to be a band again with the same members, the twin guitars are back, everyone is adding their part to the album, will this be Cradle? How do you feel about this?
,,Well yeah, hopefully yeah, with every incarnation of the band we thought we would continue and well, it’s like in ‘normal’ life, people come people go, people have their own opinion about things. I hope this line-up will remain stable, but who knows, I mean, we’ve got a world tour coming up that might either make the band or completely destroy it because it’s a big world tour. Eight weeks in Europe, eight weeks at the States, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, India I think, South America, then back, uhh.. I think there might be a second American tour as well so it’s going to be very busy.’’
Did you achieve the goals you had when you first started the band? And are there any goals you still want to achieve?
,,I think when you start a band you have a vision in your head what you would like to be like. Most people never get there, but yeah I think we’ve gone above and beyond everything that we thought, I mean probably didn’t even realize we would still be going after 25 years. So with that in mind we should make some new goals, it’s just good that we are still here. The band is now moving back up again, we’ve got a new management so that’s another good push, we’ve got a great record label that are behind the band, we are working with really good people, like the artist Artūrs Bērziņš, who also directed the video and took the photos for the album. We got good people around us, a good album to promote and so on.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter; you can have a great album and nobody gives a shit and that was the case with ‘Damnation And A Day’, we were on Sony and they were like a pop label and didn’t know what to do, we headlined the B stage at the American Ozzfest for 10 weeks and we went out to America with Moonspell and Type O’Negative supporting us and yet they still dropped us. You know sometimes you can be in the right place at the right time but if there’s not the right people as well you’re still f#cked.’’
Photo by Alexander Trinitatov
Any shows you look most forward to?
,,At the moment, all of them. I love going back to the States, but we will also be playing in Israel at the end of the European run. We obviously never played Israel before.’’
Isn’t it dangerous to go there at the moment?
,,No, things are alright actually. I know some Israelian people and they said it’s beautiful and not to believe any of the shit people say.’’
The music industry has changed a lot over the years, for example in 1998 you performed on MTV Headbangers Ball and now it’s just all pop music and fake reality shows. What impact did it have on Cradle that the music industry has changed so much over the years?
,,I think it’s not just us, it is affecting everybody. It’s not like you get a CD, put it on your car stereo and it stays in there for weeks so you know every single part of it. Nowadays, because people download or they got access to the likes of Spotify, they can find an entire catalogue from one band that they have never heard of. It’s all a bit too shallowly as in ”well that’s good, I’ll listen to this for 20 seconds’’ and ‘’nahh don’t like that, let’s move on”. There is a lot of music because it’s easier to create music nowadays. Everyone thinks they can record albums at home in their bedroom and the result is just a lot of bad sounding albums, yeah its bad but we will survive.’’
Is it pretty hard to stay at the top?
,,I think it’s harder now than ever. You just have to mutate and survive and find ways to exist as a band. People just think music should be free because you can’t see it. It’s like walking into a shop and say ”ohh well you shouldn’t have to pay for anything so I am just going to take this television”.
What does the future hold for Cradle Of Filth and what can the fans expect?
,,First things first, there will be a second video which will come out in time for the album release, which we obviously haven’t filmed yet. We’ve done a radio edit for this song so it’s actually quite good for America because they hardly play anything over 5 minutes, so that was another puzzle to work through. With producer Scott we are remixing ‘Cruelty And The Beast’. We’ve already done one mix as some sort of test track to make it really big sounding, bare drums but not to lose any of the atmosphere so I didn’t want to give it to anybody else to mix, because they can make it sound big and clean. That’s nice but I don’t want them to fuck up the atmosphere, so that’s something else we got to do. Other than that, the world tour which is going to take is right through some point late next year.’’
You see a lot of people that have the Cradle’s logo tattooed or having your face tattooed on their bodies, what do you think of this?
,,Well, it’s a little strange but then I suppose (looks at his arm face tattoos) same shit really, isn’t it? Why I do not have a tattoo of myself? That would be too weird.’’
Photo by Alexander Trinitatov
Do you listen to your own music? And if so, do you think ”I could have changed this, or should have done that”?
,,I used to, but not anymore. Because for example I spoke to Schmier from Destruction once and I told him how much I loved and still love ‘Inferno Overkill’ and he went like ”pff yeah but listening to it now the drums they are out of time in places” and I said ‘’it’s not it’s great I love it!’’ In fact they did an album called ‘Thrash Anthems’ after this conversation and mixed it and yeah it was all in time, the production was a lot better but it just lost it’s atmosphere, it’s magic. So I don’t think you should ever change anything because everything was done for a reason. Leave it like that and be happy with it because obviously you were happy enough releasing it as it was. But not often I listen to my own albums. I listen to the new album until we do something newer. I used to listen to ‘Hammer Of The Witches’ but then Devilment came along so I listened to that. Before we start touring I listen to the set list in the car and anytime I get the chance to get into it. But it’s seldom that I go ”oh you know what I think I’ll just put uh I don’t know, ‘Bitter Suites’ on”.’’
Last question. While writing an album, where do you get all your information? For example ‘Cruelty And The Beast’. When I hear and read these lyrics it just seems like you’ve actually been there in the 16th century, stood next to Elizabeth Bathory and just wrote down everything she did.
,,It was a time machine [laughs]. No, I don’t know, for example the album ‘Godspeed On The Devil’s Thunder’. I know a lot about Gilles de Rais and I also, not invented stuff but played with it and turned it a little bit more into a fairytale. I found a lot of rare books to the subject, there’s a lot of stuff out off print but you can get it back in print if you ask the right people. When you’re writing music it’s not supposed to be history lessons, you’ve got to know when the history parts stop. You’ve got the facts but you also got to make it attractive and colourful enough so you play with it so some of the parts are totally fictional.’’
After the interview, we went out of the room and took a few photos together and Dani told me for him it was like a professional interview!
For me it really meant a lot that I could do this interview with Dani Filth for HeadBangers LifeStyle. It was a huge honour and I had an amazing day. Although I was pretty nervous about this in the beginning, my girlfriend supported me with this and during the interview all nerves were gone and it was a wonderful day. Dani is an awesome, relaxed and easy guy to talk with and I had a lot of fun.
I wanna thank Headbangers Lifestyle and Nuclear Blast very much for making this possible for me as a fan!