Dani Filth är tillbaka med sitt Cradle of Filth och albumet “Hammer of the witches”. Rocksverige ringde upp sångaren för att stämma av läget. Det blev snack om böcker, kommande turné, den ökända tröjan med texten “Jesus is a cunt” och minnen från Ozzfest:
“It was a real party atmosphere and there was one night when we got all the tour buses in like a big fucking wagon circle and we had this massive disco. We did a sculpture competition where everybody from all the bands had made a sculpture. I remember Killswitch Engage put in one of their roadies as a sculpture. He was sitting in a hot tent and then another band collected all their piss on their days off and made this piss sculpture. Voivod made a flying saucer. It was a real camaraderie and a lot of cool people and good times.”
What´s going on Dani!
Dani: I´m a bit tired actually. I shot a video for my band Devilman yesterday. It was pretty amazing. Most of the performance came at night and there was lots of fire and performance stuff. We shot it in like a scrap yard full of broken cars and things like that. It was mental, but we had to wait till the sun went down, so it was a really, really long day. A bit tired today and I´m still picking grease and bits of tire out of my hair.
Making videos, is that fun or just a necessary evil?
Dani: Well, it´s a necessary evil if they´re shit. (laughs) No, it´s fun. It´s just like a weird chrysalis when you´re in the studio and then all of a sudden you´ve got to do a video and get out on the road. Not necessarily touring, but press and loads of interviews. You have to sort of come out into the real world. It´s a bit overwhelming at the moment, but reactions to the album has been phenomenal and I suppose that´s a good sign.
Do you look at the new album as your finest effort so far?
Dani: Eeehmm, that´s a little hard to say. We never come out of the studio unless we are 100% happy. We´re really proud of this one. Whether it´s our finest album? Well, at least for the last ten years, I would say. That seems to be the premise and the opinion of the journalists I´ve spoken to. I went to France and Germany last week and did a bunch of stuff and it was a good vibe. Whether it´s our best overall, I don´t know. It needs to sink in and people need to hear the album with the special edition tracks as well. Those particular songs didn´t even know they were gonna be special edition songs. The track list wasn´t carved in stone till close to the end of the mix actually. It was a band thing and we had to have two songs as bonus material and everybody had good points about all of them, but two didn´t make the grade. But somebody might prefer one or both of the songs. Unfortunately it´s the way it is. We actually turned down three songs that were written for the album. We made a conscious decision not to spread ourselves too thinly. One of the tracks was one of my favorites, but that just proofs there´s democracy in this band. Everybody contributed and that´s testament to that the album is killer.
How do you usually write songs? Music first and then lyrics?
Dani: Yeah, definitely. I wouldn´t impose that on people. Them just waiting and me strictly going “Here are the lyrics!” It´s like an organic process where the initial ideas come to form and that inspires me to come up with some ideas, but I need the song at least 80% there. My songs are like stories and especially when you work with a concept and “Witches” is conceptual by other people’s accounts really.
Where do you draw inspiration from when it comes to lyrics? I get the feeling that you read a lot?
Dani: It´s lots of things really. “Hammer of the witches” is obviously taken from the “Malleus Maleficarum”, although there are interpretations of the title. The hammer in the witches hand, a sort of retaliatory strike and people wonder where I came up with the idea and I just say that I´ve always owned a copy as long as I can remember and I´ve always been into that sort of thing. I guess the music was write and it inspired us to do that, but yeah, books, films, the invironment… I mean, I´ve lived in a place which is known as the witch county and if you´ve grown up in this area… that got me into metal and horror movies and what have you. It obviously set me off on the right, or the wrong, path. Inspiration comes from all kinds of things. I couldn´t pinpoint it.
What´s the latest really good book you´ve read?
Dani: Well, actually I´ve finished it. I´ve got my toilet book and my travelling book, my aircraft book for those long flights. When I´m reading while using the lavatory, I will actually sit there till I get a ring on my arse, because it´s like “Oh, just one more chapter.” (laughs) People are banging on the door. My toilet book is the second part to a book called “The passage” (2010) by Justin Cronin and it´s called… let me go have a look… it´s called “The twelve” (2012). It´s sort of an apocalyptic and everybody´s a vampire kinda thing. It´s about twelve prisoners on death row and the government gave them a virus and then they got these immortal kind of powers and they broke out. It´s pretty good. I like it.
How would you compare Cradle of Filth today to when the band started out? A huge difference or kinda the same?
Dani: The feeling and the passion is still there. Obviously we´re a lot older and probably a little bit more jaded since you´ve been through the highs and the lows in the music industry. We´ve got the social media and all the bullshit that goes with that. It´s a good thing, but it´s a double edged sword. Illegal downloading is absolutely choking the music industry and you can see how it´s coming to a head. I sort of fear for the music industry in general because of what´s happening. And the film industry is getting out of control. I don´t know, the music industry seems to be fair game. But the atmosphere and the vibe is still here with Cradle of Filth and it´s evolving, I guess. When you were young you saved at least enough money for an album and you were checking things out, going “Oh, that guy´s got a Possessed t-shirt!” and that was the magic of it. Today you can download a thousand albums in a matter of days and never listen to them, so…
Back in the 80´s you bought an album and it stayed on your turntable for weeks and you really studied the cover and so on.
Dani: Yeah, and if you bought a shit album back in the day, it was your fault. I remember buying an album I really did not like. I remember this band called Bloodlust and it was called “Guilty as sin” (1985). I thought it was gonna be brilliant, because I´d heard a little snippet of a track on the radio, but it was actually awful. I really tried to like it, but that´s just the way it was.
Do you remember the first metal album you bought?
Dani: First one was “Killers” by Iron Maiden. I remember my dad giving me the money for it and it was like £3.29 from Woolworth and after that, that´s where my pocket money went. My second one was “Don´t break the oath” (1984) by Mercyful Fate.
How do you look at the first Cradle of Filth album today? Are there things you´d like to change?
Dani: That sort of thing happens even now, when you´re listening back to new albums for the 1000th time and you go “You know what, I should´ve done this.”, even though you´re in the studio for hours making sure it´s perfect. But then you think that it´s there for a reason. I´m particularly proud of our first album and it sounds quite barbaric when you listen to it. When that album came out, it was actually noted for its great production. It sounds dated now obviously, but I´m particularly proud of that one. It´s like a milestone in your career and to other people as well and things I hated about it, people actually loved. Each to their own, I guess.
Do you remember when you realized that the band was gonna work and that you would be able to make a living off of it?
Dani: It was a really strange chapter early on in our career. We were on another record label and our first album was getting various degrees of success. Because of that we had two managers and the record company was shit and wasn´t doing a good job. The mangers pulled the band apart, three member went one way and three members stayed and took the record company to court and eventually won the rights to re record and album we recorded for the record company, but it hadn´t been released. We went from a year of abject misery and poverty to suddenly be able to re record “Dusk… and her embrace” (1996), but in the mean time we had already recorded something for the record company as a way to part ways, so we had two phenomenal releases in the space of a year. We went from a band on its knees to a band that was like a global band. The other three that went away, had a little degree of success, but it all fizzled out because they just weren´t thinking things through.
Do you have any plans for more books?
Dani: I´m planning to write and I´ve been planning it for years and it´s illustrated by Samuel Araya, but I can´t bring myself to actually get it done. Mainly because it´s lyricism without the music and you feel naked with it and I wrote a lot of it seven years ago, so it still needs a lot of work. I´m constantly busy.
Do you think you´ll ever write an autobiography?
Dani: I don´t know if anybody would be that interested? Writing about yourself is a bit… I think somebody else needs to do it. Blowing your own trumpet… I don´t know? You know, “Look at me, I´m so fucking wonderful!” I hate that shit.
I have to ask, is Jesus still a cunt?
Dani: Oh, he knows he is. The whole point of printing those shirts was like a statement of intent. It was the best of the time really. The point of it was not about Jesus, it´s a statement of intent and it´s the sex thing with a masturbating nun. It was like an eye opener. It was a vicious statement and it worked out.
You must´ve known right away that it was gonna stir up some controversy?
Dani: It was a time when we undertook a tour with Emperor and now people go “That tour would be amazing with hundreds of thousands.” and that might be true, but at the time at one of the shows, we played to about five people. When that shirt was done, we really didn´t think ahead that far. When people form a band they picture themselves on a huge stage in front of thousands of people, but the reality is often far distant from that. When you use your mind´s eye you try to get the best possible scenario. You don´t think of yourself in front of four people. It wasn´t an easy thing to come up with, somebody just said something and we joined the dots. It made us all laugh and then we thought “Fuck it, let´s put it on the back of a t-shirt.” The original t-shirt had my wife on the front and it wasn´t really related. The second version of the t-shirt was just like Yeah, let´s put that on there.”
What has been the high point in your career so far?
Dani: Hopefully not that. (laughs) There´s been a lot of cool things that have happened. I think the bit that I enjoyed the most, was when we headlined the B stage at the 2003 Ozzfest in America. It was just a great period and we had Type O Negative support us a few months later. It was just ten weeks of sheer bless. It ws summer in America and a big fucking tour. It was Marilyn Manson and Ozzy and Disturbed and Korn and we got to do shows in between when Ozzy couldn´t do it. He´d do like one or two and then there´d be a day off or two days off, so we took Killswitch Engage as support. It was a real party atmosphere and there was one night when we got all the tour buses in like a big fucking wagon circle and we had this massive disco. We did a sculpture competition where everybody from all the bands had made a sculpture. I remember Killswitch Engage put in one of their roadies as a sculpture. He was sitting in a hot tent and then another band collected all their piss on their days off and made this piss sculpture. Voivod made a flying saucer. It was a real camaraderie and a lot of cool people and good times. There were so many parties and it was a good vibe.
Does it happen a lot, that you have to come up with crazy stuff to do just to entertain yourselves?
Dani: Yeah. We all went bowling one night as well and things that were just really cool. It weren´t just about getting really drunk and smash stuff up. I remember our guitarist at the time, he bought a giant bunny suit and for some reason there was a Winnie the Pooh going around at Ozzfest, so he wrestled him to the ground and had a proper punching fight and people were just going “What the fuck is going on?” We had a performer with us and she bought this big inflatable pig costume and she went on stage with it during Killswitch Engage´s show and then Adam loved it so much that he wore it and played in it. It was just stupid shit like that. It was funny. Knicking golf carts and driving through tents. Good stuff.
What about the “Hammer of the witches” world tour then?
Dani: We´ve been offered some big tours which we´ve had to turn down for various reasons, timing, money, assholes etc etc. There´s another big tour that´s still humming, but we just can´t sit there waiting for someone to hum and hum much longer. We´ve got an escape plan and we´d rather go out and do our own tour. We´ll start in Europe and it´ll be extensive and we´ll do the States at the beginning of next year. We had some issues with visas before. They changed the rules around without telling anybody. Normally we could go in like a week before, get them stamped and go. Now they changed it so a few people needed to go for a test all of a sudden, which was no problem, but they couldn´t guarantee when the results would come back and it could be anything up to six months. We had to cancel because of that. Next year it will be five years since we´ve been to the States, considering that I used to go to the States like once a month or every two months. The States and Canada are gonna be massive tours as well. There´s a lot coming up. We´re looking forward to it.
Text: Niclas Müller-Hansen