Earlier this fall, Cradle of Filth were looking forward to their Livestream, which was initially scheduled for the day before Halloween. As 2020 has been a year when live music has more or less died, for the time being, the group’s virtual extravaganza at St. Mary’s church has been pushed to February, along with a possible venue change due to the ongoing pandemic. While cases in the United States have reached an ultimate high, averaging around 70,000 new cases per day, countries in Europe, including England, are facing another lockdown. This just shows how unpredictable COVID-19 can be as plans can be altered at any given moment. Before the conflict, we caught up with frontman Dani Filth to discuss the Livestream, which will hopefully really happen during the dead of winter. We also spoke about the pandemic and reflected on 20 years of the band’s fourth full-length effort, Midian.
When did it hit you that tours weren’t going to happen?
Well, I’ve kept in contact with quite a few major players in the industry naturally, either through contacts, myself or the manager. And so we knew probably ahead of a lot of people in the industry, what was happening. We’ve been very fortunate because we had our busy years, like the last couple of years. Busier than we’ve ever been, totally on the road for two years. And then this year was the year that we were recording an album and we’ve been very lucky in that respect. The studio is local to where I live, we managed to get our drummer in before lockdown occurred. And during lockdown, I was allowed to travel to the studio to work with this one engineer. And we’ve been able to work on the album at a very leisurely pace, which is all the much better, I feel, because we haven’t been under pressure to finish.
And we’ve been able to revisit songs. We construct songs. I mean, our guitarist who lives in Czech Republic, didn’t actually lay his guitars down until four weeks ago, I think it was. Four, five weeks ago. I mean, there was a difference. Now I’d finished the vocals a month before. It was a very odd way of working with people. Coming in when they were able to do so, when they could travel. And yeah, that’s been difficult. But I think now it’s going to be so much better for the fact that we’ve just been very leisurely about it. And we’ve been lucky in that respect. The fact that, had it been the other way around, and like last year was the album year and it should have been released this year, and we were one foot out the door toward touring. We would have been really fucked up, I think because I know a lot of people that were in the same position who’d ordered all the merchandise for the tour, they had their tour bus ready, they had their shows across America, a few bands just had to pull the whole thing. So yeah, it hasn’t been terrible for us thus far, but this is the whole point about the livestream is actually getting out there and doing something for our fans and for ourselves more importantly, actually.
You guys did do a lot of touring. I think you were in North America two years in a row. You guys are fortunate in that sense. Has the pandemic spark any inspiration to the writing process for the new album?
Well, not really because the album they’d written prior to it. The album was always about existential dread or existential terror regardless. And yeah, I think this pandemic is just the upper notch. I mean, it’s not like, “Oh, will that sound deep?” Because everything’s gone to shit, it was like, well everything was going to shit, anyway. That’s what we were writing about, and then this happened. So I wouldn’t say it was timely. It just had to happen.
Have you guys been able to get together to rehearse for the livestream? Or, how has that been working with the safety measures?
Well, no, of course not. We’re spread across. The crew don’t all live in England. The band doesn’t all live in England. We got two in the Czech Republic, one in Scotland. So, no. The actual livestream was supposed to be happening originally in July. I mean, we’d been on it since the end of May, but the venue in question, which is a church, a deconsecrated church, has been a live venue for quite a while. It’s quite a infamous venue. And I played here about eight times in the past. Perfect venue for what we want to do, but they were having restorative work done to the building. And subsequently because of, I guess, the lack of people, I don’t have anything to do with the shitty business. Then the booking, it was in July then went to August and went to September. And it was at that point, we said, look, fuck it. We’ll do it at Halloween because that is perfect for everybody. And that’s how that came about. But like you said, it’s for the fans. And, for us. I think that’s more importantly for us to actually say fuck me, we’re a band again, we’re actually playing. And the premise is that we get there. I think we have two, three days at the venue beforehand because we have a new keyboardist, backing vocalist, there’ll be a first big for a sandbar. We haven’t played for over a year. Last gig was in Bruges, in Belgium, I think in November, or just slightly under a year, by the time they come to do the livestream. And just about to be together as a band, we will do a whole day of the film crew there. We’ve got, I’d like to say pyrotechnics, but we’ve had to hone those down because of the building we’re in. But we’ve got things that we have to go through. We need to do a test run the day before. So that’s when the band is going to be rehearsing, but we’ve always been good like that. The band is all very competent. So normally when we write an album, for example, Cryptoriana, we went to the Czech Republic and spent a week or so there culminating ideas. But for this album, much of it was written before we left the road. Although, that said, the time in the studio has enabled us to revisit songs and revise songs and generally fuck around with the album.
That must be exciting having to introduce the new keyboardist and the anticipation to perform with no real rehearsals until a few days before the recording.
Right. It’s either exciting or totally suicidal.
One way or the other, but I’m sure it’s going to be great. You’ve performed at St. Mary’s Church, but how was it trying to book this location during these weird times?
It wasn’t so bad because our booking agent is very good friends with the owner of said establishment. The only difficult thing, like I said, was the fact you’re trying to navigate around the building work they were having done, which was obviously prolonged because of the sanctions imposed upon them, social distancing, and such like.
What should fans expect from the upcoming live stream?
Well, it’s going to be an electric performance in a very austere, atmospheric location. We’re going to be playing a formidable set, that’s run across a catalog. It’s going to be very visual, very cinematic. Yeah. I mean, It’s going to be a Cradle of Filth concert. It’s just going to be amped up some more because it’s pretty much the only show we’re going to be playing this year. And it’s Halloween. I mean, what better time could you have for a Cradle of Filth show. The day before Halloween?
Is there anything that you can share about the new album?
Possibly. I can’t really talk about a new album. One, because my manager would absolutely kill me. And no, well, there’s not really much I can say. Even if we were doing an interview solely about the record and you’d heard two tracks and it was coming out in a month or wherever, I don’t think I could really talk too much about a new record other than just my experiences without. I can’t give a sort of literal description of how it sounds, because I can’t really describe it, any album we do. Well for example, someone gave me some examples. They were Like, “well is it heavier? Is it more symphonic? Is it more…” They gave me a criteria list of different things and I was like, “yeah. Tick, tick, tick, tick.” They have all those things, slower and faster. It’s catchier and it’s longer, more involved. It’s a bit of everything. It’s very Cradle of Filth, but we have moved into different directions and places. But again, it’s very hard for me to describe that. I hate talking about our stuff. The whole point is it’s geared towards the listener and the listener should pick it out and listen to it and translate it as they see fit. I shouldn’t be sitting there explaining it so they can go and listen to it. It’s ridiculous. You know?
Well, definitely looking forward to hearing it and, speaking of albums, this year marks the 20th anniversary of Midian. For fun, looking back on that record, what are some of your favorite songs or moments from that album?
Well, it was a great time recording it, that’s for sure. We recorded it in the Southern part of England. It was a time when everybody went to residential studios, which means that everybody went to live there for the duration of the album. I mean, you never do that now. One, you couldn’t afford it. And two, most of the residential studios, because the music scene has changed so drastically to the worst financially, have just had to close because people can’t afford to go and spend four or five months or three months living in the studio with a cook and engineers and that. But we actually went back after that two more times to that studio, we loved it so much. It was like being on holiday. The location is one of the most beautiful parts in England. It was literally on the doorstep of Hastings. Because that’s where the battle of Hastings occurred in 1066. So a very rich and very varied and beautiful area of England. And of course we came along and trashed the place. Now it was amazing. And yeah, I can still recall how exciting and magical that whole experience was. Great music came out of that. Fuck. I don’t remember any songs off it now. I’m really a big fan of songs like “Amor e Morte” and Lord Abortion” naturally, and “Saffron’s Curse,” which is a track that we began live a lot last year.
I remember that album. It’s very Clive Barker Nightbreed and it’s just one of the albums that even 20 years later, it remains crisp and present.
Oh thank you. Even 20 years later. It seems remarkable. It’s remarkable to think that it is actually 20 years ago. It’s insane.
Yeah. No, time is on fast-forward these days. How is it for you being a usually touring band during COVID-19?
Well, if I hadn’t been in the studio, I probably would have gone insane. There was a period of time when Easter actually, when the producer had booked a holiday abroad, couldn’t do it. So he wanted the time because he couldn’t move it around. He basically took six, seven days off, like a week off. And I found that difficult because we were in lockdown at that point, so that meant literally you could go to the grocery store or the garage. And that was it. So I found that very difficult. So had it been that I was in that predicament for the entirety of the lockdown, I literally would have gone insane. I’ve had two weeks off now since the studio. I’ve obviously got plenty of things to be doing, but even then at times, I found myself pacing going, “fuck me. I really, really want to get out on the road.” And every musician I speak to, doesn’t matter what band it is, what country they’re from, they’re all like-minded, they’re like, “I’m never going to complain about a shitty backstage in Nuremberg or wherever or touring in the winter.” Everybody’s just revved up, wanting to get back to it.
It’s definitely a crazy time. What advice do you have for bands who are struggling during these times? Because you don’t really know when touring is going to happen or much of anything right now.
Well, there’s a glimmer of hope today. I know they did some shows recently in Switzerland, but Destruction are doing some shows in Germany with Burning Witches’ support. So I guess it’s like a Nuclear Blast ensemble. And I presume, yeah, there’ll be some social distancing, but anything’s anything, isn’t it. It’s a good start. And I know for sure, the two Czech guys, the Czechmates call them, from our band that they both were in another band in the Czech Republic, like an old famous Czech rock band and Titanic. And they’d been doing some shows. And all be it, they’d been slightly reduced, but then I think they’ve done four or five shows thus far. So I’ve got no hopes really for them. I don’t think America is going to open up until literally the back end of next year. Probably this time next year, for definite. As for Europe, I think we’ll probably see some modicum of touring here or in Russia, way sooner than that. And hopefully, fingers crossed, some summer festivals as well. But until an antidote, a vaccine is… I know you guys in America are all falling over each other not to take the vaccine because you think it’s the mark of the beast. But you know, I don’t give a fuck if they know where I am, they can do that by the phones anyway. I’m sure we’ve all got chips inside us regardless. If it means… Do I take the vaccine or, B, I won’t be able to tour, I won’t be able to travel between countries, I’ll take the fucking vaccine. Really don’t care. I mean, it’s for the greater good. If someone says “no, I’m not taking it.” Well, that is going to hold everybody else back. And I mean, I think in a couple of years time, we’ll look back at this and go, “fucking hell, well I think we overreacted.” Or we didn’t overreact. We reacted how we should have done. But in hindsight it probably won’t seem as catastrophic as the horror that probably will come soon.
I completely agree with you. And it’s definitely rough here in the States.
Oh yeah, your country’s gone to shit.
Yeah. Yep. 100% with you on that.
I mean, I can’t wait until elections, You’ve got a rock and a hard place that you’ve either got creepy, creepy feely Biden or you’ve got like a complete psychopath, complete idiot. Doesn’t know what he’s talking about Trump. I mean fucking hell, what a future.
Yeah. We’re living the dream right now, but I guess to end this on a high note, is there anything that you want to say to your fans about the livestream coming up?
Well, yeah. I mean, it’s just going to be an amazing night. The fans are going to love it, hopefully, but I know they’re probably going to give it our all. It’s going to be something that’s not just… Naturally everybody described that it’s not thrown together. It’s been a real labor of love to get it even to the stage where it is now without bringing in the film crew and our crew and social distancing. And we’ve got a virtual meet and greet, which is going to be hilarious and very novel and fun, I think. I think we’re going to give people probably more time than necessary, than you would do in a meet and greet because it’s not going to be held at night. It’s going to be held on one of the rehearsal days, obviously, because that way we can elongate it if necessary. So I think the whole thing’s going to be exciting for all parties involved, least of all us. I mean, we’re going to be totally in our element.