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May 27, 2014

Total Fucking Darkness: Steff Metal interviews Dani Filth

Brutal Tunes

Dani Filth needs no introduction. The Cradle of Filth frontman is pretty well known as one of the more outspoken and controversial voices in metal. His band fuses many of the sensibilities of black and extreme metal with the moods and theatrics of gothic literature, horror films, and erotic woodcuts. Despite their many critics, Cradle of Filth have gone from strength to strength, branching out from music into films, books, and other media.

Dani FIlth

Dani FIlth

After more than two decades, Total Fucking Darkness, the band’s third demo, will be unleashed on gatefold double LP and digipak CD via Mordgrimm this Spring. Dani – along with former guitarist Paul Ryan (currently of The King Is Blind) and Cacophonous Records founder Frater Nihil, who first signed the band – wanted to bring fans old and new a remastered version of the demo along with material that had been sitting in the vaults for twenty years. Total Fucking Darkness was remastered at Turan Studio in Oxford with engineer Tim Turan (who has worked on everything from Emperor to Thin Lizzy). One of the highlight tracks from the album is “Spattered In Faeces,” the only surviving track from the trashed album Goetia, and a couple of short instrumental movements from former keyboardist Ben Ryan also appear on the second disc. The gatefold sleeve features perverse paintings from Radio One Presenter and Occult Artist, Daniel Carter.

I got to chat to Dani at midnight my time (1 in the arvo his time) about the Total Fucking Darkness release and some of the other projects he’s got going on.

Steff: Hi Dani. Thanks so much for chatting with me today. First of all, tell me about your latest project, the Total Fucking Darkness LP:

Dani: Thanks for having me. Apologies about my voice. I’m getting over a viral thing.

Last year I was fortunate to hook up with Paul Ryan, the co-founding member of Cradle of Filth, who left the band back in 1995. He’s now quite a successful promoter in Europe for the Agency Group. We got to talking over a few drinks and a curry about rereleasing the demo. He had some exclusive tracks which haven’t been aired yet – some rehearsals and a song from an aborted album we were going to do with Tombstone Records back in the day. (Fortunately that fell through.)

Paul’d already put some bands through a label called Mordgrim records which strangely enough is run by Frater Nihil, who was responsible for releasing the first two Cradle of Filth albums on Cacophanous records. So we felt like we were coming full circle.

total fucking darkness

We raided people’s attics and found a ton of old flyers and band pictures for the era – because you’re talking 92 here – 22 years ago. So we’re thinking “This is great!” We’ll do a limited edition, originally only 666 copies on a double vinyl, two color, with a gatefold sleeve and a patch. Heaps of people have got behind it, and it’s gone from just being a small project to a full-blown 10,000 album distribution deal. I think we’ve printed 4,000 LPs, a box set and the initial 666 limited edition vinyls. I’m quite surprised how many people got behind it.

We’ve been busy promoting it. We’ve just done a day in London doing a bunch of stuff for Total Rock, a bunch of other radio stations, Metal Hammer, and then ended the day at the houses of Parliament, with an MP, which is completely bizarre.

Steff: Tell me more about the aborted album Goetia, what was it about, and why did it get pulled?

Dani: Between our 2nd and 3rd demos, we were approached by a record company in London called Tombstone Records. They put us into a studio, quite near to where I live now actually (I still use the studio for rehearsals myself or when the band’s in the country). It was a bit of a lackluster affair … not the album, the album was amazing. The record company were just useless. They didn’t pay us the money … fortunately for us, because otherwise we’d have been tied to a really shitty deal on a shitty label, and that probably would’ve been the end of Cradle of Filth.

They didn’t pay for the masters, and tape being quite expensive at the time, all the recordings were erased. The only track that survived is “Splattered in Faeces”, the track that adorns this particular release. It was the only track they let us take out of the studio to see if the mix was sounding right, and that’s the only reason it survived.

Steff: It’s been more than two decades since Cradle’s debut. What’s kept the band going strong for so long?

Dani: We have strong management, and we’ve always had a real passion for what we want to achieve. Loads of ideas – we’ve always been influenced by 19th century literature, horror movies, soundtracks, metal itself, and nowadays there’s just so much in the way of outside stimuli, I can’t see how anyone can NOT be influenced by SOMETHING.

I think Cradle of Filth regard ourselves as entering the Third Dark Age of the band. We’ve just come back from a co-headlining tour of Europe with Behemoth, and we were due to take a year off. But we were so enthused with the will to start recording again that we went straight back into writing. We’re looking at a release for May/June next year. We’re actually in negotiations right now with a record company for a new deal.

And we’ve got a bunch of shows we’re gonna be playing this year – some festivals in Europe and one in Canada called Amnesia Rockfest. We’ve got some dates in Finland, the Balkan States, then 19 dates … yeah, count them … in Russia. But we are due to be in the studio in December.

So I think, going back to your question. It’s about drive. And also, it’s become a career, and I have a family, a house, cars, cats to support in the manner to which they’ve become accustomed. Over the years Cradle has become more than the sum of its parts. It’s now 20 years since the release of our first album, The Principle of Evil Made Flesh, I guess that’s why Total Fucking Darkness is working – it marks the origins of the band, and kind of draws a circle around it, so it all sort of comes to the fore again.

Steff: How much has growing up in England been integral to the sound of Cradle? For instance, if you grew up somewhere like New Zealand, where the history is so much younger, would the band sound the same as it does now without the influence of all that literature and history on the backdoorstep?

Dani: I don’t know … because I’ve never been to New Zealand. We keep trying. I did an interview with someone from New Zealand yesterday, and they said, “Why do you keep rebuking our country?” and we’re not! We’ve been to Australia about six times. Last year we did everywhere BUT New Zealand. It’s not because you smell or anything, it’s just the fact that promoters haven’t booked Cradle of Filth yet.

Steff: That’s why I hate asking that questions. It’s not as if it’s your fault.

Dani: Nah, nah, nah. We’d love to come to NZ. It’s one of the few places aside from South Africa that we haven’t played. But back to the question, I think growing up in a small Suffolk village in east Anglia that is known as the Witches County, and living in a house (with my GF, now my wife) that the Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins used to stay in, back when it was first built. I think that atmosphere, and growing up in the environment, and being heavily into English literature, all really helped create the atmosphere that is Cradle of Filth.

And to take it further, we always make it our intention to record in the studios that are kind of isolated, because those themes of isolation help the band do what we do. We go to a studio – a residential studio, which you live at while you record. We have recorded in bigger cities, but it wasn’t really to our liking – too many distractions, too many bars, too many nightclubs, too many people. So we prefer going further afield and staying at studios nestled deep in the English countryside. And it just adds to the vibe, as one can imagine.

Dani Filth

Dani Filth

Steff: You take a lot of inspiration from gothic horror, literature and films. But a lot of what you digest are from another time – classics. Who do you think are this decade’s horror/gothic classics? Who will next century’s Cradle of Filth be inspired by?

Dani: I don’t know. Hopefully us!

To be fair, I don’t read a lot of modern fiction, and if I do, it tends to be pulp, so it’s not a great example. There’s not someone I could name off the top of my head and go “That’s the next Louis Stevenson, or that’s the new Oscar Wilde or Sheridan or Baudelaire.” There’s been some good people, and I read a lot of books, but they are … James Herbert and Stephen King and Bryan Smith and Wayne Simmons, but … again, it’s all very different.”

Steff: I recently saw a short interview you did on the Banger Films Extreme Metal episode, about Cradle’s place on the UK extreme metal scene. What do you think about the current state of the UK metal scene?

Dani: Again, I don’t know much about it. I know there’s a resurgance in a few bands I grew up with, like Carcass – their new album is great. And then you’ve got bands like Onslaught, Sabbat … although they’ve become Hell, which was a band that predated Sabbat. Andy Sneap and the original members ressusitated it. And there’s some good bands – I really like Fen – but generally I don’t know much about the scene. I cherry-pick what I listen to. I’ve got too much on my plate to really deal with it. And I rarely go to shows unless they’re my own, or if I’m in New York on a press trip, or Oslo or Bergen, I’ll go to some shows, but generally I don’t go out of my way to go to shows.

Steff: Well, that stands to reason. You are Dani Filth.

Dani: (laughs) Yeah. I have a local – well, I suppose you could call them local – band called Devilment. They’re just negotiating the record deal at present. We’re just finishing up our debut album.

Steff: Exciting!

Dani: Yeah. So there’s a very local scene of about 8-9 different bands. But on a national scale, I don’t know too much about it.

Devilment

Devilment

Steff: I was reading a recent article where Wolf Hoffman from Accept wrote about how it was “near impossible” to make money as a metal musician-

Dani: Nearly impossible? Did he say?

Steff: He did.

Dani: You’d have thought he’d have made enough money from the 80s.

Steff: Yeah. He was saying basically that everyone’s doing it for the love of it, because it doesn’t pay the bills. But you guys seems to be doing really well, and seem pretty savvy about monetizing Cradle as a brand. In what sense do you regard the band as a business?

Dani: People say we’re pretty business savvy. We have great management, and we’ve got a good head for business. But … in saying that, I do things for the love of it. We have a lot of detractors and people saying shit about us, and they like to say that we only do this for the money, which is stupid.

For example, we’ve just done a comic. Actually, it’s more of a graphic novel – The Curse of Venus Aversa. We did that via a kickstarter campaign. But the amount of work that went into it didn’t justify the end product from a financial perspective. It was done purely for the love of it.

Art for the Curse of Venus Adversa.

Art for the Curse of Venus Adversa.

The Gospel of Filth – it took us nearly five years to write it, between myself and Gavin Baddeley. If you took the man-hours that went into that, and if we got paid according to the man-hours, we’d be millionaires. And the same goes for a lot of things, our movie, Cradle of Fear, was a real labour of love that took a few years. Business savvy in some respects, and in other respects, we do things because we want to do them, for the love of it. So I’d say 50/50 – which you have to be, you have to have one eye on the ball.

Steff: You’ve done all sorts of different projects. Is there any project that you haven’t done yet that is kind of your dream project?

Dani: Well, I finished writing a poetry collection, which should see the light of day sometime this year through Dark Notes press, who were also responsible for the graphic novel.

I’d like to direct a film. One of my friends owns a film company, and he’s the grandson of Fairbanks Jr, who was along with Charlie Chaplin, one of the big silent film stars who basically founded Hollywood. And another friend of mine is a documentary maker. So I know people in the industry, and I’ve got a vision, but the trouble with movies is you’ve got to bankroll them, and that’s the hardest part. Cradle of Fear 2 would’ve happened if we’d been able to bankroll it. The first one was a labour of love, and people worked on it on deferred payments in between working on other films like Saving Private Ryan, and one of the Hellraiser movies and stuff of that ilk. But they wouldn’t do it again. You need at least a million dollars. And you have to have people who have faith that you can turn that million dollars into two million dollars … and that’s probably a catering budget on a normal film.

Steff: When playing live, do you prefer larger festival shows, or smaller club shows?

Dani: That’s dependent on what festival you’re playing. There’s some great festivals in Europe. I love playing Hellfest, Rock am Ring and Rock in Park … Alt. Fest is a new one, Bloodstock was great.

Generally, though, I prefer our own headline shows – 1000+ people, or the smaller shows where it’s 5-600 people. I think it’s the intimacy – it’s your show, you’re in control of the environment, the sound, the stage show, the whole experience.

Steff: You’ve kind of answered this already, but it’s a good closer – what’s next for Cradle of Filth?

Dani: Like I said, we’ve begun writing. We have 8 tracks so far, very cool. We’ve actually got two new guitarists: James, our other guitarist, got a serious neck injury, and he’s still undergoing surgery for that. And our other guitarist, Paul, moved to America. He’s got his own band he’s totally immersed in, and he had some personal issues which meant he couldn’t come out on tour with us. We’ve found two replacement guitarists and they’ve fitted in perfectly.

We’re really fired up, and it’s sounding amazing. So instead of taking that year off I talked about, we’re negotiating a new deal and in the midst of writing, and we have a studio date pencilled for the beginning of December, and a slew of live dates as well.

Obviously the release of Total Fucking Darkness, which you can get from Amazon. For any details about Cradle of Filth, the easiest place to go is our Facebook page, because it’s just the easiest place to see what we’re working on, and we can also showcase people we’re working with, photographers and artists, and I get to write blurbs and stuff, and I find it a lot easier to communicate. (Although I don’t personally use it). So that’s where you can go to get updates – because it does shift from week to week!

Devilment, my other band, has a new album, The Great and Secret Show. We’re just cinching the deal at the present. We’re due to be out on tour in October … no, November. In October Cradle of Filth are in Russia. So look out for that, and obviously there’s a Devilment Facebook page as well.

The comic is coming back from the printers. There will soon be a place to order that online, and that will be going into stores after the initial run go out to those who’ve ordered it. But you can still order it with the original cover, which is limited, so it’s worth more.

Steff: So what’s Devilment sound like? What can fans expect?

Dani: I think it’s completely different to Cradle. It’s hard to describe; it’s kind of psychotic. Very groovy and heavy. It’s got kind of Pantera vibes about it, but with keys … and it’s pretty eerie sounding, as well. It’s got a lot in common with 70s-80s horror movies as well – The Exorcist, The Omen, maybe some Lucio Fulchio, John Carpenter. It’s very unique.

Steff: It sounds like it! That’s all from me. Thank you so much Dani, for speaking with me today.

Dani: My pleasure. Sorry about my voice. It’s not because I’ve been talking too much. I’ve just caught this bug from my sister’s children.

Steff: Well I hope you feel better soon.

Dani: I feel great. It’s just my voice is fucked. It’s usually the other way around; the voice is great, the body’s fucked.

Steff: Well, I hope it comes right soon. Cheers!

Dani: Cheerio!

Purchase the new Total Fucking Darkness EP on Amazon. And while you’re over at Amazon, you could pick up a copy of my debut novel, At War With Satan: A humor novel about love, loss and true metal, for just $3.99. Also, check out some of the other interviews I’ve done over the last five years.

4 Comments on “Total Fucking Darkness: Steff Metal interviews Dani Filth

Lynsay - Miss West End Girl
June 2, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Great interview, Steff! I hadn’t read much about COF recently so it’s been great to catch up with what they’re up to right now. Cradle of Fear 2 needs to happen, haha! x

steff
June 16, 2014 at 9:25 pm

@Lynsay – thanks! It was a really awesome opportunity to interview someone like Dani. He’s very down-to-earth and chatty :) 15-yr-old Steff was very glad to be there!

evgenia
May 27, 2014 at 11:13 pm

He is so talented!!

This interview is amazing!Thank you so much!

steff
June 16, 2014 at 9:26 pm

@evgenia – thank you so much – it was a real honour to be able to chat to him. It was really interesting hearing about what Cradle are up to these days.

Comments are closed.