Dani Filth on Hieronymus Bosch and Wal-Mart

Dani Filth has had a long and storied career, but despite all the controversies Cradle of Filth are in the strongest position they’ve been in years, undergoing a lineup shift that’s re-invigorated their live performance. Just before setting out on an expansive world tour, he took a moment to sit down with Cvlt Nation to chat Hieronymus Bosch, unusual lineups and Wal-Mart…

So you released Cryporiana in 2017 and you’ve been touring since then. How has the reaction to the record and tour been since then?

Awesome! Literally awesome – so much so that we’re going back to the States for a second leg as of two weeks from now, taking back a bigger production, stage show etc. Basically hitting places that we didn’t hit before. Obviously there’s some that – y’know, the major markets you have to cross. So that’s generated a huge amount – I think 21 Summer festivals with shows in between. This is unrelated but I think Russia, South America and another small European tour all related to the re-release of and remix of Cruelty and the Beast, on which we’ll be playing the whole album plus a couple of other tracks. So yeah it’s still going from March 3rd – we don’t finish bar a couple of dates here and there until mid-August.

Sweet yeah that’s fantastic! What’s special about North America for you guys?

Wal-Mart! I think it takes so long to get the visas sorted out to plan an American tour and the fact that it’s predominantly English/ Spanish speaking so understandable. There’s something about the States that’s very appealing – maybe its the size of the country, it seems like a lot of different countries in one. We’ll obviously go up into Canada as well – we’re doing seven Canadian shows this time which is quite a chunk of 35 dates in total. There’s just something about America – I’m not necessarily saying I’d like to live in America. I disagree with a lot of principles of Americanism. But I think there’s something about Americanism which is very appealing – about touring the States – its only when you’re over there and you wake up in one place having been somewhere completely different that you get that vibe. You do the same in Europe but you’re in a different country. So yeah it’s something that needs to be experienced to go on.

Tell us about the stage production – I know it’s a huge new production that you’re bringing out.

Basically it’s a little more themed towards Cryptoriana – we’ve got a huge light show including these great projections that – they’re like fire but they’re cryotubes and you can face them everywhere – and new costumes and a new setlist. We’ve had a little break, we did some shows before Christmas, I’ve been in India and Spain literally one after the other so we’ve had a little bit of time to flesh out what we’re gonna do. We’ve got three days booked in LA in a rehearsal studio, a big complex where we can actually choreograph certain parts, check that everything is working, bring everything in making sure everything is perfect, something that we couldn’t have done last time because it was sandwiched between Europe and South America and San Francisco and Jakarta.

Photo by Alexander Trinitatov

Sweet, yeah – I get the impression that this is something you’ve wanted to do for a while, it ties in with your theatrical image.

Yeah absolutely – in the past we’ve brought a huge stage production – we wanted to do it while we had the capacity, the finance, the time, the contacts to do it. We’ve just taken on new management,, we were with a manager for 20 or so years and then we had an interim manager that didn’t work out at all and now with Dez and Anastasia from Oracle Management the world’s just opened up to us a bit, ‘cos he’s on the same wavelength – he’s in a band, he’s been in a band, he knows a lot of people, he’s got great contacts and he’s American-based whereas before it was European-based – now we see a different side to the coin. It’s working out well for us, new horizons, new opportunities, etc, etc.

Fantastic – following on from new horizons for visual stuff, how do you decide on concepts for that kinda thing? How do you decide on outfits?

It stems a lot from the subject matter of the album – consensually discussing things with the guy that does the video and the artwork and the photo shoot, kind of grows from there. I mean with the different styles of makeup that I sometimes do it’s literally quite frankly fucking around! (laughs) I can’t be arsed quite frankly – “we’ll do this today” or “I think this looks good” – people think there’s some underlying theme to it and generally there is but sometimes it’s just me going “today I decided to stick a load of latex on my face.”

Following on from that – do you have certain visual artists you’re really into at the moment?

Not particularly – not anybody new – at the moment I’m more musical and travelling and watching Netflix – films, I’ve always been into films and a few bands and stuff but artist wise not as such. I’ve always been a fan of Bosch, Bruegel or El Bosco as he’s called, Dali… just weird and wonderful painters that capture imagination. I like a lot of the people we’ve been working with and generally that’s because I go and hunt them down – Natalie Shau or David Coulthard – David Coulthard is a racing driver, what am I talking about – John Coulthard! (laughs) Arthur Berzinsh who undertook the artwork for not only Hammer of the Witches but Cryptoriana and did a video for Heartbreak and Seance – I love his stuff. We met up with him when we went Latvia and he gave me a book of his new stuff. I mean yeah if there’s something really, really current that we really like I try to hunt it down to see if we can work with the people but other than that there’s so much stuff around – usually it’s just a pictures, if I see a good picture I store it – it’s really rather random most of the time. I just bought a really good print of Goya – Saturn devouring one of his children – I liked it!

I think I know that one – that’s really cool. Circling back to visual stuff, what have you been watching recently? Has there been anything that’s really captured your imagination in a big way?

Film wise… just trying to think of the last thing I went to see –

Or Netflix or anything like that.

Well there’s a few horror movies I saw recently which I thought were ok. At the moment I’m just watching The Punisher. Having been away in India and Spain I’ve been sightseeing – I just haven’t been watching TV which has been a great thing. My girlfriend is Spanish and just doesn’t – doesn’t watch television, she just goes out all the time and does things. I mean India was a real adventure for sure. So yeah – just really, I can’t really remember what the last film I watched was – at the cinema it was The Predator which was great. I saw Ant Man and The Wasp which I really liked. I really like Marvel stuff, I don’t like DC – they’re leagues behind Marvel at the moment, absolute leagues. Just weird indie horror moves at the moment – I pick them up and think “oh this looks good” or “I’ve read some good reviews about this” then – yeah. Oh, that was that last movie that I bought – it was Mandy with Nicholas Cage and Red Sparrow. And Mandy – the thing was I was ill and I had to turn it off ‘cos it really did my head in. It did my head in because it was exactly the point where it went shit – I got to the point where he wakes up and he’s in the biker gang’s lair and they’re like cenobites, really disturbing – the fact that they rape and kill. I was ill at the time – I was just sitting there and it was making me feel iller for some reason, something struck a chord with me. It took about a week for me to go back and revisit it and at the point the film just took a… what I thought as going to develop just turned into a revenge killing – I obviously saw the best bit because the rest of it I thought went a bit downhill so I was a bit disappointed with the rest of it because I thought those guys were gonna – I thought they were gonna develop those characters, those cenobite bikers but it didn’t get much further than that. In fact I don’t know why the people summoned them, they could have done the job themselves.

Circling back a little bit to the tour – what can you tell us about your support acts Wednesday 13 and Raven Black?

Well they’re both on the same management company so we thought it was a good idea seeing as they’re very visual, very gothic-infused – affiliation with the horror and gothic genres, we thought it’d be a great package. We could have taken just one – I mean generally in the States we take two bands, it’s a three-band bill and in the past its always been a mixed bag – thinking back it was Gwar and CKY then it was The 69 Eyes and 3 Inches of Blood, then it was Satyricon and Septicflesh. Very different one before that, it was Butcher Babies and Ne Obliviscaris – last tour was Uncured and Jinjer. So I think with Europe you kind have to play with people more in your style and in the States its kinda broader… so I think it’s a very good all-round bill. I think it’s very visual, I think it’s very halloween-y and obviously evenings will get darker and darker but yeah that’s kinda why they were suggested and I looked into it and I thought “no this is a really good idea.” And the fact that it’s kind of managed by the same company keeps everything very in-house and aids the production values of the tour – everybody knows what they’re doing nobody is gonna be surprised when it turns up. So its a very solid package the fans are really gonna appreciate that I think.

I was looking through everything and it did seem like they were absolutely perfect for the vibe you’re going for with the big stage show and everything.

Absolutely, yeah.

Leaving the tour to one side for a minute – I know you’ve had some new guitar players in the past five years or so – I’ve obviously heard very favourable reviews. How have the new members changed things for the band?

It’s a long story why it happened but it was a necessary – basically, we were left in the lurch. One of the guitarists didn’t want to do this tour that we booked, just said he didn’t want to do it, and the other guitarist had a neck injury and was out of action – just couldn’t stand up, couldn’t play the guitar. Both of these things didn’t happen at the same time, we’d already found one replacement – so we thought “shall we cancel or shall we find someone else?” And at the last minute we found someone else which was Martin and a friend of his who was Ashok. And we had such a good tour with them everyone got on famously and suddenly we went from a one-guitar band with a live guitarist – now we were a whole band again – Cradle of Filth were a two-guitar band, that’s what we were famous for and that’s what we are now. Both guitarists are extremely – well, I say both guitarists but the bass player plays guitar as well and he’s always coming up with tracks as well. But it’s a very good lineup, we’re all very close we spend a lot of time – not outside the band because well – honestly – we’re on tour so much that the last thing we want to see – the last people we want to see  – is the rest of the band when we come back.

I can appreciate that, yeah.

That’s not to say we’re not close. We do a lot of sightseeing together, we keep ourselves occupied and its – we’ve already begun writing a new record, everybody’s put a load of ideas in, the songs are sounding great and we’ll further illustrate those in the course of our 4-6 month tour.

So I was revising Cryptoriana earlier and I wanted to ask you about the Annihilator cover.

Annihilator! Not Annihilated.

Ah! I must have mumbled that.

How did that come about? It was something the band wanted to do for years, literally since Cruelty. I don’t know why we never got around to it but recently over the course of the last couple of years we bumped into Jeff Waters, the original guitarist of Annihilator who wrote the song. On several occasions it was mentioned – he was like “yeah man you’ve really gotta do that!” And so we thought “fuck it! Let’s do it!” And yeah, it really sits well with the material because it’s a really ornate, storytelling kinda song. So we did it and since then Jeff has been over the moon with this, said it was his favourite cover that anyone’s ever done of their stuff which was quite an honour really. We played it pretty close to the original – we did Cradle-ify it a little bit. We’ve got other ideas for cover versions but we don’t wanna give it away, you don’t wanna be too repetitive like “oh yeah another cover for a b-side” but we’ll see. But yeah I really enjoyed doing that, it’s been a favourite of mine sine I was a wee child, since I was about 15.

It definitely sits really well with the material.

Yeah, absolutely.

So we’ve talked about touring quite a lot. Closer to home – I’m in the UK – you’re playing Bloodstock this year which is pretty exciting.

Yeah absolutely – the last time we played – well, Devilment played a couple of years ago but the last time Cradle played was… 2009 I think it was? And there was that gobstopper incident. But yeah, really looking forward to doing it ‘cos Bloodstock is such a great festival anyway – I’d be going regardless. It’s one of the few festivals where we’ve actually got a day off before and a day off afterwards which is unlike anything we’re doing this year because – for example were doing a festival in Finland and we’ve gotta be at Hellfest the next day. It involves some logistical nightmares! (Laughs)

I can imagine.

We have the same with one of the German festivals – we’re going straight from that to resurrection in Spain which normally – when we’re supposed to be doing it by bus it’s a 26 hour drive so obviously that’s not gonna happen. So now we’ve gotta take a weird uncharted jet plane like a prop plane from one place to another. Yeah it’s a busy year! Very much looking forward to Bloodstock – we did Download last year. Download is fantastic, Bloodstock is a little more – you’re gonna get the bands you’re not gonna see anywhere else, y’know what I mean.

Absolutely, yeah.

And it’s big, y’know – it’s not like a tiny little place any more, it’s come on leaps and bounds, possibly one of the best festivals in Europe.

Absolutely, and great to see some really good press around that that. So, circling around to something a little bit – famously for you you’re big into literature. I know you got big into Victoriana for the record. Since then have you been reading much?

Have I read anything since then? (Laughs) I’ve been reading a lot of Dr John Dee and Edward Kelley. I was contemplating doing something conceptual about that but I haven’t grasped that bull by the horns yet. I’ve just been reading a lot of random stuff – the Passage trilogy which – the final book came out of that so I read that and there was a bunch of strange underground horror stuff from America, stuff that I got because it was kinda mind-bending, had a Cthulhu slant to it, a few anthologies, and then a few other books that – just random, just fell on my plate when I saw them. But you know of late I haven’t really been reading a great deal which is a shame but that’s because I go through cycles either reading or watching lots of movies or – there’s so much at people’s fingertips these days, you can find yourself totally sodden in it. And at a point I really thought “you know what I really need to get out of the house a bit and do something adventurous.” And last year having split with my wife I met a Spanish lady and we went on a few adventures together and we’ve seen some really cool stuff which I find just as inspirational as reading or watching movies or listening to music.

Nice! Would any of those adventures become the basis for an album concept do you think? Or is it too early?

Oh it’s too early – I think everyone looks towards me to see if we’re gonna do some really overarching theme on the next record – it’s become like King Diamond, everyone kinda expects it and I really don’t know. I mean with song titles I’ve got a few ideas brewing but the album is in a very embryonic stage so we’ll see where it goes.

Nice, that sounds exciting. Coming toward the end – what’s been happening in the world of metal that you’ve been into recently?

What have I been listening to recently? Um – Alcest, the last Craft record which was fantastic, Zeal and Ardour, the Atomic Bitchwax, a lot of older stuff –  a lot o f 80-s thrash, Whiplash, Possessed, a lot of Kreator reissues, S.D.I. Darkness – not The Darkness but German thrash band, Violent Force etc. and fucking loads of soundtracks. Soundtracks are my favourite thing really because I think soundtracks can totally colour your day and I’m not a big fan of – I’ve never understood going to an office like Kerrang and everyone’s sat in – it fries my brain – when I’m writing I cannot listen to someone else singing so a soundtrack is perfect especially if you wanna get in a mood for something y’know what I mean?

Absolutely, yeah.

CRADLE OF FILTH

w/ Wednesday 13 & Raven Black

3/15 – Calgary, AB @ Marquee Stage

3/16 – Edmonton, AB @ The Starlite Room

3/18 – Winnipeg, MB @ Burton Cummings Theatre

3/20 – Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity Theater

3/21 – Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave

3/22 – Flint, MI @ The Machine Shop

3/24 – Grand Rapids, MI @ The Intersection

3/25 – Chicago, IL @ House of Blues

3/26 – Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues

3/27 – Toronto, ON @ The Opera House

3/29 – Guelph, ON @ Guelph Concert Theatre

3/30 – Montreal, QC @ Corona Theatre

3/31 – Quebec City, QC @ L’Imperial Bell

4/1 – Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club

4/2 – Huntington, NY @ The Paramount

4/4 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza

4/5 – Asbury Park, NJ @ The Stone Pony

4/6 – Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Soundstage

4/7 – Newport News, VA @ Boathouse Live

4/9 – Greensboro, NC @ The Cone Denim Entertainment Center

4/10 – Charleston, SC @ Music Farm

4/12 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Revolution Live

4/13 – Pensacola, FL @ Vinyl Music Hall

4/14 – New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues

4/15 – San Antonio, TX @ The Aztec Theater

4/17 – Houston, TX @ House of Blues

4/18 – Dallas, TX @ House of Blues

 

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Tom Coles

Tom Coles

Tom Coles lives in Southern England and plays drums for Sail. He likes cats, gin and black metal. He suffers, but why?

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