Cradle Of Filth has accomplished more than most extreme and black metal bands ever have. Despite their extreme style of music and controversial imagery (including a naughty t-shirt), Cradle Of Filth has gained critical acclaim, commercial success, and a loyal fan base. On top of that, they’ve gone on to become the most successful metal band to hail from the U.K. since Iron Maiden. Now, the Grammy-nominated black/goth metallers have a new label home (Nuclear Blast in the States and Peaceville Records everywhere else) and a new album called Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa that’s currently in stores. Guitarist Paul Allender spoke with Metal Insider about the benefits of being on an independent label, his love (or lack thereof) of black metal, and some possible big Summer plans.
The band plans to release their newest album Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa through Nuclear Blast Records in America. Outside the States, though, the band is releasing the album through their own imprint, Abracadaver via Peaceville Records. Is there a reason why you’re not releasing the album through your own imprint through the States?
Because I don’t think Peaceville is actually in the States, to be honest. Because they’re an independent label in the U.K., they’re U.K.-based. I mean, they’ve been doing it for years. They’ve been going for longer than the band’s been together. They released all the first lot of Darkthrone albums, and the firsts from Acrimony, My Dying Bride, and Paradise Lost, and all those British bands. They’ve released all those. But yeah, I think that over here it’s been distributed and Nuclear Blast is taking it there because Peaceville I don’t think is in the States.
But the band never looked for one label that could represent you guys both in the States and abroad?
Well, to be fair, we were on Roadrunner, and we’ve actually gotten so much more given to us now that we’ve been on an independent label like Peaceville than we ever did on Roadrunner, which is amazing. I mean the special editions that we are releasing, and limited editions, is just amazing, and we never ever had that on Roadrunner.
So the differences you’re experiencing with your new label homes are night and day.
Oh completely! We just got back from Germany, and we played to like one and a half a million people on MTV there. We never had that with Roadrunner. And considering Roadrunner is made out to be sort of like a semi-major, it’s just strange that they were never that great. I mean I’m not saying that they’re not a brilliant label, but unfortunately for us, we weren’t quite big enough so that they’d give us more attention. But since we’re on an independent now, which is like being a big fish in a small pond, we’re getting everything thrown at us, which is amazing.
The band also mentioned previously that you parted ways with Roadrunner for more creative control. Did that also play a factor, and do you feel that you now have more creative control?
To be honest, I don’t know where that came from because we’ve never ever ever changed the music, and labels have never asked us to change the music. So that doesn’t really come into it, to be honest. We’ve never been asked to change anything because we know what works best for us. Having somebody come in trying to tell us ‘Oh, can you try to change it like this or this?,’ I mean at the end of the day, we have a solid fan base and to try to change the music to try and sell records just isn’t going to work because it would completely alienate the fan base. And for somebody to come in that really doesn’t know the music or what the band does would just really be a silly move.
So it’s really been more about getting more exposure, which you’ve already been seeing by being in a “smaller pond.”
Oh yeah, totally. We’ve got more now being given to the band. I mean, in the limited edition with the book that’s coming out, there’s two CDs, a t-shirt and all sorts of stuff coming out with it, and there’s even like a 3D hologram of the album cover which is in the package as well. In no physical way did Roadrunner, or any other label we’ve been on, would’ve done that, which is amazing. In the end of the day, we’re a very visual band, and I think the best way to explain it is, I mean when I band like us has an album to release, we don’t want it to be a limited edition or a box set which is like a coffee box. When Cruelty And The Beast came out, it was a cross. So it just like ever since that came out and onwards, we never really had any sort of decent special editions released after that. So for this time, we’ve actually got a 64 page book coming out explaining the whole concept of the album, with photos in there, and it’s amazing.
So then it’s been more of a hands on experience for the band as well then.
Oh, of course. I mean in the end of the day yes, because the record company is really into us and they’re really pulling out all the stops. And because we’ve got some really good things coming out with them, it makes us more creative to come up with weirder and wackier ideas for other album releases. It also really vibes you up really well because there’s nothing worse than sitting there and thinking like ‘Oh, ok. We have to think up of this idea or this idea, and then this idea for a song, and something special for this edition’ when you know it’s just going to come out as a box standard CD. You’re never really exciting about that to be honest.
Do you feel that the band has a harder time breaking into the U.S. market than overseas partly due of CD sales but also because of the band’s controversial/shock image?
I suppose, yeah. In some respects it’s good to have that [shock image] at least on the U.K. front. I think that on the U.S. front, I mean I live over here now [in the U.S.] so I’ve gotten used to what it’s like over here, and from what I’ve seen so far, is that you can be really controversial and it’s amazing, but it doesn’t quite work like that over here. It’s like if you go too controversial people go ‘oh my god, what the hell is this?’ and then completely ignore it, and over that we get into lawsuits and lots of trouble (laughing). Whereas in Europe, people just look at it and go “wow that’s amazing!” The more controversial you get, the better.
Does your “controversial” image make it difficult for creating touring packages in the States?
Sort of. To be honest, I don’t think that it comes up into the touring aspect of things. The only time it would really come into the touring aspect of things is like when you called the tour something which is really close to the mark or made people go “Oh God, what’s that?!” That’s when it starts getting a bit weird. I don’t think it’s that the band itself is playing, but if you call the tour something really bad or the album that you released was far too much over the top is the shock factor. Then again, though, over here when we had, I think it was for the last album with Roadrunner, we had this one cover…there was some bits that we had to change. But then again, overseas you don’t get banned from anywhere, which is quite good really.
The band has gone through a few lineup changes over time, more recently in 2009 (including the departure of Rosie Smith, Sarah Jezebel Deva and Charles Hedger). Even you yourself left the band for a short time period. How do you feel about such a high turnover rate?
Well it is and it isn’t. The thing is that the only time people may see a high turnover rate is when we’re releasing albums, I suppose, or when we’re doing something else. But the members we’ve got now, like for example our drummer [Martin ‘Marthus’ Skaroupka], this is his second album with us and he was with the band two years before that. I mean, he toured with us for a year and a half. So he’s been in the band five years now already. So I don’t know, sometimes people just see what they see in pictures and stuff, but for us as a band and the individuals in the band, it’s like, I don’t know, we get people in that have stayed with us for quite a few years. It’s not like a quick six months turnover which people make it sound like. Also, the people who left and have come back have been members anyhow. So they’re not really new people.
It’s been almost 20 years since the band first formed and has influenced lots of black and symphonic metal bands. Are there any bands from the new crop of the genre that you particularly like?
Recently? Actually, yeah. I’m really into a band called Chthonic. I really like them, only because it reminds me of Cradle in the early days. I really, really like Chthonic. They’ve got some really good tunes. To be honest, I’m not a huge black metal fan because a lot of it is just fucking noise. I’ve just never been into listening, I mean don’t get me wrong, I like black metal, but it has to have melody to it and it has to have groove and stuff, and it has to be in all the right places for me to really get into it. Otherwise, it just sounds like a fucking hair dryer being turned on or something.
Well it’s interesting that you say that because that’s been sort of a stereotype of that sort of genre. How do you make sure then when writing music that you don’t fall into that stereotype?
Because I don’t listen to black metal (laughing). The only things I listen to is bands like Chthonic and Immortal. That’s the only stuff. So I’m really into those. I listened to Anvil the other day, and I listen to a lot of old thrash stuff as well. Evile is who I listen to, and I listen to shit loads of Judas Priest. Motorhead is my favorite band as well. And stuff like that. I don’t listen to a lot of black metal stuff. I mean, I don’t listen to any specific genre of metal is what I mean to say. Then again, I’m really into jazz and blues as well, and classical music.
You’ve mentioned all those different influences for you. Do you sometimes feel that the band (at least in the States) is limited to touring with bands within the black metal genre?
I don’t know because when we tour, though, we very rarely take anyone with us who’s in the same style of music. Like, this tour that we’ve got lined up for February, yeah we’re taking one black metal band, I’ve never even heard of them to be honest but sounds like they’re going to be similar to our sort of music. And we’ve toured before with Gorgoroth in Europe and a couple of other bands, which was good, and Moonspell. So with this tour, we’re taking Turisas with us as well, who are nothing like us. Also, we’ve done that Viva La Bam tour which was with GWAR, and they’re completely different from us apart from the theatrical side of things. And there was some glam band as well.
Oh yeah! It was Veins Of Jenna. I actually remember seeing that tour’s stop in Worcester, MA now that you mention it.
Yeah, I can’t remember who the other band was now.
Was it CKY? Cause they were on for some of it, but they dropped off halfway through the tour.
Yeah that was it! But yeah, so that was completely nothing like us at all. I think the only weird thing was that Veins Of Jenna were crap. I mean, the only reason why they got put on there was cause they were on Bam [Margera’s] label.
So you mentioned about your upcoming Creatures From The Black Abyss Tour (also featuring Nachtmystium, Turisas and Daniel Lioneye). Any additional or future touring plans after that?
Yeah, we’ve got South America in December which we’re practicing for this month. Then, in the middle of January, we go to Mexico. Then in February, we start in North America for seven weeks I believe, or something like that. Then we got a lot of festivals lined up in Europe. We’re trying to get, or at least there’s talk about us playing the Mayhem Fest. We’ve been put forward for it. It’s sort of like under wraps at the moment – it’s not confirmed. It would be good to go out and play our music to a lot of people that may have not heard us before.