Cradle of Filth may be planting their livestream late in that most auspicious of seasons Halloween, but as iconic frontman Dani Filth fills us in, this has been the result of months of intensive work.
2020 has largely seen the UK's most infamous extreme metal act locked away in creative mode, writing and recording a new album that Dani can't help but gush about during our interview as a high point for this current act of the band's career, but given the window of opportunity amid the state of the world, that creativity has been directed anew towards crafting spectacle.
On October 30th, Cradle of Filth will be streaming their performance from St. Mary's Church in England. Some bands just feel right for these kind of shows, and Cradle of Filth have made malevolent heavy metal theatricality their calling card for their entire existence. We also find them in a state of pure stage-hunger, having not performed for the best part of a year and itching to tear into their sole live date of 2020.
Dani Filth gives the insight not just on what might lie in store for fans here, but a glimpse behind the curtain at all of the processes and intricacies that have to be put into place for international bands like Cradle of Filth to deliver these showstoppers in unfamiliar times.
Let's talk about St. Mary's. It's a perfect space to house the unholy grandeur of a Cradle of Filth show, so what's the background of the building and your connection to it?
Well it's Colchester Arts Centre which often has been a venue for bands, but it's taken a long while to put this together because of the logistics. With travel, we have people in our band from all over the place, so that's the first hurdle. Originally we were going to do something in the Czech Republic because you can still have some semblance of a normal gig there with a limited audience but it turned out to be easier to get two people over to the UK if they have to quarantine than all of the crew getting to the Czech Republic. Colchester Arts Centre then ended up having restorative work done, so originally, this livestream was supposed to happen back in July. We're not latecomers to this, but it's been so difficult to pin down that we decided to just do it at Halloween which is right for us. It'll coincide with the 20th anniversary of Midian, it's perfect, and maybe by then travel corridors will be a little more lenient. The church seemed to be the best point of call, it's close to where I live, a few members of the crew live around here as well, and we're going to be rehearsing in the church as well.
How busy are you right now? Is it all-go every day in not just rehearsals but organising the cameras and the streaming tech and all the things people don't consider?
Things are happening all the time, as with everything it's mutant and survive. The fans really want a concert obviously but the band more so, as this will be our first time together in almost a year. We've literally just finished recording an album which we've had quite a long time to do to be honest. We were very fortunate that Martin came in to do drums just before lockdown, and since then everyone's just been chipping in in bits. I've had the longest as I live close to the studio but it means we've been able to revisit songs, amend things, try loads of different ideas. We've probably gone over-budget but we don't really care about that as it's going to be the best sounding record we've ever done, and probably the best-written record. It's been quite relaxing oddly being able to take our time with it without that pressure of deadlines, but it does mean with everyone doing things in parts as we were able, we've not all been together since the last show, and haven't been with our new keyboard player as well who contributed to the album but hasn't yet played a show. This will be the first and everyone is moving all of the time to make sure all of these things get done properly.
It's been crazy seeing musicians talk about events like these and to consider it's not just supporting the handful of people in your favourite band but giving jobs to crews of upwards of 30-40 people who haven't had the ability to work. Is this a real injection of life to everyone at Cradle HQ, full stop?
Of course, yeah. We've got a new crew where everyone was being put into place for the next three years of touring. We were lucky in that we finished three years of very intensive touring and we weren't supposed to be going this year. We didn't want to look a gift horse in the mouth so we took the opportunity we were given, again, mutate and survive. It's been difficult for the crew obviously just sitting on their arses. They usually work primarily for us but if we're taking six months out for writing and recording an album, naturally they'd be going out to work for other people and they haven't been able to do that. No theatre work, band work, nothing. It's helping them out a little bit financially but crucially it's going to stop them all going insane.
Have you found the reaction to events like these encouraging? You will obviously have had live albums growing up you connected with, and even in black metal underground tape-trading things like rehearsal tapes, and those used to mean more as they acted like a window to the live world of a band that you didn't otherwise have access to. Right now that's suddenly very much the case again. How much potential do you think these shows have?
Absolutely. I remember being young, full stop, but I remember as a youth loving Live After Death, Unleashed in the East, Double Live Assassins by W.A.S.P., the list is endless. It very much was a window. Even living where we are, we had the Ipswich Odeon where I saw Bon Jovi on the Slippery When Wet tour, Twisted Sister, big bands, and even then we could feel quite isolated. I think things like this can bring back a little bit of mysticism. You mentioned black metal and the thing I feel that killed a lot of black metal was the fact that you could just Google it and see what Count whoever is doing, what his real name is, where he went to school, and it killed that mysticism. Even if everything goes back to some semblance of normality, I still think these livestream concerts can continue. Not in an overdone way where we're planning to do one after the other after the other, because at some point the effort it takes to do that won't be justified as people will get bored soon if you're going to do them constantly and it'll lose that magic that I just spoke of, but I do think it will be a thing where bands may do it once or twice a year even if they are fully commited to usual touring. Like you say, it has opened up another window, another side to the band's soul. We've got a US tour planned with three really big support bands which was due for this September and has been moved four times since then. Europe may well open up earlier but we have to wait for it to play itself out, and this is so much better than just lying down and doing nothing.
When it comes to these events continuing beyond their current necessary purpose and offering a window to a different side of a live performance as you put, how much does utilising the cinematic tricks of the medium come into it? With you not focusing all of your energy to the crowd directly in front of you, how different is this going to be visually and in content from a usual Cradle of Filth show that you'd buy a ticket to see in person?
It's totally new to us as well so we're really treading into unknown waters here, but we have everything in place to make it as big a spectacle as we physically can do. We've even got a virtual meet and greet and don't ask me how that's going to go down, but it's a new thing, doing it on one of the rehearsal days so we can spend more time with people rather than having to rush because we're doing a show. It's all novel to us. I'm looking forward to the challenge of it. Maybe if this six person limit bubble has burst by then we'll be able to bring a few choice people in to watch it so we have someone to impress and someone as a focal point. Not just them clapping because that'd be ridiculous, but looking at more than the other end of the church and the film crew. We are taking over the church for three days so by the time we actually film it we'll have a good idea of angles and how to make it look as good as possible. It is chalk and cheese with a real live situation but it's virginally new.
You did the Cruelty and the Beast performance at the London Palladium last year where it really felt like the visual extravagance of Cradle of Filth had the boat pushed out. Is that the attitude for this performance?
Oh man, that was awesome. This Halloween we were supposed to be doing one at the Roundhouse which was going to be even bigger. We were going to have support bands this time and everything about that Palladium show that was dramatic we were going to take to the next level, because we loved it. It was a culmination of two years of work, doing something in our home area. With this show, I'm not telling you guys just yet. We want these things to be a surprise but we are taking everything that is realistically available to us to make sure it's great.
Does this also give you free roam with setlist when you're not having to rehearse for a full tour's worth of shows and can present things in this cinematic format?
We're very good at being random with the setlist, don't worry. There'll be randomness. We're still talking about these things now trying to balance all the things being thrown in. As I say, my attention now is turning to the four or five weeks of mixing that's coming up, but everyone else is going to be piecing together the livestream right until the end.
On that new album then, what can you tell us about it at this stage?
It's going somewhere entirely different from the previous records. It's not going into space yet, but it's different. I hate describing our albums because I get tongue-tied about them. There is a bit of experimentation in there. It's heavier, faster, slower in parts. It's definitely going to have a unique sound to it where we purposefully took that on board, aiming for a more natural live sound that's more spacious. Like I said, we had that extra time to work on the record given to us this year… before all the leeway was taken back again.
Cradle of Filth perform at St. Mary's Church on October 30th at 6pm EST / 3pm PST / 10pm BST.
Ticket options are available at cradleoffilth.veeps.com