England’s extreme metal band Cradle of Filth is currently out on their first North American tour since 2009 in support of their ninth album Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa.
The tour, The Creatures From the Black Abyss, also features metal bands Daniel Lioneye, Turisas and Nachtmystium.
On Wednesday, I talked to Cradle of Filth guitarist and original member Paul Allender who spoke about their upcoming show on Friday in Detroit at Harpos.
Q: We’re battling a constant stream of snow out in Detroit right now. Where are you guys at tonight?
A: Yeah we’ve got snow out here as well. We’re in Pittsburgh. We’re heading out to Detroit on Friday. The outskirts of Detroit which should be pretty cool. We’ll rock properly and all that.
Q: Yeah Harpos is a great rock venue.
A: Yeah it’s not bad actually. It’s pretty cool.
Q: How is the tour going so far?
A: It’s going well you know. We’re about halfway through and everybody’s gotten into the full swing of it now and it’s all happening which is really good.
Q: How has it been touring with the other bands on the bill?
A: It’s been great. We have some good stuff on here. It’s a pretty cool mix. Daniel Lioneye to be honest I wasn’t familiar with their stuff so I’m trying to see them as we go and they seem to be pretty alright and heavy. Turisas we’ve toured with before; quite a few times before actually and it was good. Everybody on the tour is getting along well and doing alright. That is the main important thing.
Q: The tour is going on through the end of March but do you have any plans for after that? Will you be doing more touring?
A: Yeah we’ve got lots of stuff coming up. We’ve just had possibly in the pipeline in May a gig in Israel which will be great. We’ve got like 12 shows in Russia coming up. We got a whole bunch of festivals. We’re playing with Judas Priest. It’s all pretty cool. It’s good. I’m glad we’ve got the Judas Priest shows coming up because this is their last tour and I was quite hoping to catch it! I’m quite touched that we’re going to be there for it honestly.
Q: Anybody else on your list that you really would like to go out with?
A: Actually one of the people I really would have loved to have toured with would have been Dio but obviously that’s not going to happen unfortunately. It’s like one of those things you know. Dio would have been amazing.
Q: What has the reaction to your new music been like?
A: It’s going well live so far. Because we’ve got so many albums out it’s really hard to tour and please everybody. We know that you can’t. It’s quite difficult. When we played South America and Mexico there wasn’t any curfews on the venues so we could play over two hours but coming into the States and in Europe you see curfews. In some places we are only allowed to play an hour and fifteen minutes and then everybody has to be kicked out. It’s hard because you can only squeeze a couple of tracks off of the new album into the set and then play the rest of our stuff that the crowd is really into. We’ve done nine albums now and it’s quite hard to please everyone within 90 minutes.
Q: Do you change the set list at all?
A: No because everything is programmed on the monitors and the lighting and the projections and everything so you can’t really mix it up. Everything has to be pre-programmed. I wish we could. The ideal would be we could play for two hours and have no curfew. It’s really hard on this tour with three support bands.
Q: I was surprised to see doors for the Detroit show are at 5.
A: Oh wow that is early! We had an early one a few shows back. I can’t remember where it was but we were on stage at like 8:15. It was ridiculously early.
Q: Harpos has a bad habit of sticking on extra local bands beforehand so that may be why too.
A: Possibly yeah. That might happen. It changes night to night. The last show we didn’t go on until 10:45 and got off at quarter past 12 so you never know. It’s quite up and down.
Q: Is there a song in your set that sticks out for you?
A: Um, all of it! I really can’t pick to be honest. I mean I like that each one has got it’s own vibes and they’re all really good vibes so I kind of get into all of it. “Heaven Torn Asunder” is personally really good. It’s a complex track.
Q: What makes this album different from your rest?
A: I think personally what we’ve done with the cables and the orchestration. We tend to have the orchestral side of things on a lower mix under the guitars more this time so it gives it a bit more depth. We’ve got more hook lines and melody lines that we’ve made sure come out in the mix. Also this time it’s a little bit faster than the previous albums which is always a good thing. Also even though it’s fast it tends to breathe a little more I think. All the mixes are in all the right places which is really quite essential. It has come out really well.
Q: Many of your albums have had concepts and this one is built around the Lilith concept as well. Why have you done that?
A: I don’t know. Just to make it interesting I guess. It’s always good to have a main influence; something like a concept to build around. I think the next one we’ll leave the concept thing alone because we have done it a lot. The next one should just be a collection of tracks. It’ll be good; something fresh.
Q: You still have a orchestral album coming out, correct?
A: Yeah that should be out sometime this year hopefully. We’re still talking to the label about releasing it. Hopefully things positively cross and it will come out this year. We’ve got just a few more little bits to do on it and other than that it’s pretty much done.
Q: Why did you guys decide to do it?
A: Well it’s different for us. It’s also ideal because we’ve got enough albums out now that make it possible to actually be able to do something like that. Also, the songs are off of the first four albums which makes it a bit more viable to do something like this because it’s all old songs. You really get into it; something a bit more nostalgic.
Q: The first single released off of Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa is “Forgive Me Father (I Have Sinned)”. Why did you choose that one?
A: Um because we wanted to! I don’t know. It’s always good to have a mixture. I mean people have different tracks that they like on it you know? We’ve had people write in actually that said if I had known that “Forgive Me Father” was on it I would never have bought the album and then others say it made them buy it. At the end of the day it’s a great contrast. What’s the point in releasing an album where all the songs on it sound exactly the same. That’s boring! The reason that we mix it up with really heavy stuff and some soft stuff that is really more commercial is that it’s that difference. Also the “Forgive Me Father” track is getting played everywhere so that’s why we did put it out there. When you put a song out whether it’s good or bad it gets out there and gets noticed and then someone may buy the album and find out that it is completely different from the single. It’s all done on purpose. I think it works really well when it’s done like that. It actually turned into a argument within the band. We had someone say you should play this and this and be this and this and I said yeah we play music like that but you’re saying we should stay the same and I guarantee you would be bored sh*tless. If we had stayed the same and hadn’t evolved as a band we wouldn’t be here right now. That’s the truth of it.
Q: I know Dani does most of the writing and arrangement of the songs but does everyone get their say?
A: Yeah all that comes first. The arrangement comes first and then he goes on from there. Most of the time the vision comes around and it all bounces around everybody until everyone is happy with it. It goes on from there.
Q: What are some of your musical influences?
A: Anything that grooves. If something’s got a wicked groove behind it I will just listen to it. I don’t care what style it is to be honest. You’ve got the usual metal influences: Maiden, Priest and Megadeth. I think the reason that this band works is that everyone’s musical tastes are so different. Everybody’s got a general interest in metal music but outside of that everyone’s interests are very diverse. Nobody is scared to experiment when it comes to writing stuff. It’s why I’m scared to pigeonhole us into one genre. It’s music in general.
Q: What should people coming out to the shows on this tour expect?
A: Complete mayhem! We’ve got like a whole new load of projections for the set we’re playing. We’ve got props up there again. It’s good. The whole thing’s based on Frankenstein’s laboratory.
Q: What type of venues are you playing this time? Large or small venues?
A: It’s been a mixture. The whole tour’s been a mixture. The one we’re playing tonight is Club Zoo Entertainment Complex; It’s smaller than Harpos but we’ve also been doing the House of Blues and other large venues. We prefer playing the smaller ones because it is much more intimate which is great. I think our fans love it.
Q: You’re doing meet and greets before your shows. Have you been enjoying doing those?
A: Yeah they’re great. It’s important I think for the fans to have that contact and to know we’re actually real. Also for us to get that physical contact and talk to them properly. Once a month I’ll do a online video chat which always goes really, really well. I’m only supposed to be on there for like 60 minutes but I’m usually on there for like three or four hours just talking you know; it’s all good. You know I think it’s a calling personally. I loved that personal contact when I was younger with bands I was into. It’s good and I’m always on Facebook as well. It’s important to make sure you’re available.
Q: You’ve played in Detroit quite a few times now.
A: Yeah, yeah we have. One thing about Harpos that we all find funny is the height of that stage. It’s f*cking crazy man! I know James [Mcllroy], our rhythm guitar player, was just like oh my god we’re playing Harpos aren’t we? He said I get big when I stand on that stage! It is ridiculously high! It’s massive. It’s really weird looking down on the tops of people’s heads.