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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Interview: Paul Allender (Cradle of Filth)

Cradle of Filth- Paul Allender

Originally posted at

How’s the tour going?
Good, it’s going very well. We played in Mexico a couple days, over a couple days, which was really amazing.

How about some history first; how old were you when you decided that being a musician is what you wanted to do?
Oh, I dunno. I must have been, what, twenty? Twenty, twenty-one. I mean I started playing guitar when I was 14, but I was twenty when I started wanting to do it properly.

Do you remember what your first guitar was?
Yes I do. As a guitar, it was the biggest piece of shit going.

Sounds like my first guitar.
Well, you got to start somewhere.

When you left Cradle of Filth in 1996, you founded The Blood Divine. What made you leave that band and return to Cradle?
Blood Divine pretty much had run its course. When we wrote the first album, it was amazing, ya know. For the second album, with just the guitars and drums on there it was absolute fucking blinding. But we started having organ all over it, and I hate having organ. Big time. And then the singer, Darren, well his vocals were fine on the first album, but on the second album, he tried to sing normally and he couldn’t sing. So, I was like, you’ve ruined the fuckin' second album by having organ and clean vocals. That’s not what it’s about. And I left and started a band called Primary Slave. I was about to sign a contract with Primary Slave, which is like some Fear Factory/Strapping Young Lad-type stuff. Then Dani (Filth of Cradle of Filth) phones me up and asks, ‘Do you wanna come back to the band?’ So I spent three or four months actually thinking about it and then sat down and had a meeting with him about it and everything seemed to be alright. So I’ve been in the band now, seven years is it?

Is there any single overall reason why there are so many line-up changes in Cradle?
Um, yeah. People just can’t handle the workload. Both myself and Dani, we really believe in, ‘This is the end. This is your one chance you get.’ And its full on 24/7 working your fingers to the bone. And if people are in the band with us, they have to do the things that we do. Cause we’re not going to carry people. And that’s why a lot of people drop out. They can’t handle it.

Have you heard of the video game, Guitar Hero?
Funny you should say that, I actually haven’t. But last week I was in NAMM and they had it there and some kid was playing it. But I’ve never actually been on it. Why, is it any good?

Well, I’ve played it, and it’s incredibly addictive. It’s, well it’s horrible. It’s kind of bad because there’s been a small uproar with guitarists over this game because it makes playing guitar seem a lot easier than it actually is.

Cradle of Filth has pretty much been at the forefront of the resurgence of the popularity of metal in the States of the past few years. Like VH1 has been doing a lot of metal programming and the cartoon show Metalocalypse has also been fueling metals’ popularity again. Why do you think metal is making such a comeback? At least in the U.S.?
I really don’t know, I’m just sick and tired of all this Emo shite, ya know? The industry puts together all these bands ya know? And it’s weird because first of all it was like, boy bands; then it was industry-based bands put together and they’re as bad as the bloody boy bands. So I think they’ve gotten sick and tired of it and want people who can actually play. Or not actually play, but can write their own songs and are in an actual band, with mates, for a long, long time, and not put together just to make some money. It’s cool though; I’ve been waiting for this to happen for a long time.

How did you hook up with Dani and the rest of the band?
Originally I was in, ah, I got a band together, a really bad, bad band together when I first started playing. We played our first gig in a club in my hometown, and Dani, Paul (Ryan) and Ben (Ryan) came along to watch us. And pretty much after our first gig, Paul comes up to talk to us, blah, blah, blah, this that and the other, just kinda talking. And he asked, ‘Do you want to join our band?’ [laughs] And that’s pretty much how it happened.

How do you keep your energy up on tour?
To be fair, it is tiring. But at the end of the day, you just got to try and look after yourself. But, if you’ve done it for a really long time, you kinda get used to it. Because we just got off a six-week European tour. We basically had four weeks off? Three weeks off? Something like that, before we came back out here again. So we didn’t really have time to get out of the touring frame of mind. So, we’re… we’re pretty much used to it.

What passions outside of music do you have?
I do a lot of artwork, I’ve got a thing called Vomitorium where I show my pictures. I do that… I teach martial arts. That’s pretty much it really. Martial arts and artwork are my interests outside the band.

Any particular style of martial arts?
Yeah, it’s called Yoseikan it’s an open form of karate.

Who do you think would win in a fight, GWAR or Mayhem?
[laughs] I dunno, I’d say it was GWAR if they got their costumes on, when you hit them it wouldn’t hurt cause of all the padding.

And GWAR out numbers them…
Yeah, there’s like 12 people in the band isn’t there?

On Midian, and after Midian, the band took a more melodic turn, and some fans, die-hard fans, of Cradle’s earlier work didn’t take that too kindly. Do you think those people are too stubborn to evolve with the band?
Yeah, and I never mind them as well. If you’re into a band, you’re really into a band, like what they’ve done, you’d be into them regardless of what they’ve done; what happens. That’s one thing I really hate about this industry. It’s the fact that there’s lots of these tunnel-vision people, and it’s like if a band looks a particular way they have to sound like this. Or if a band starts off playing one particular style that they carry on like that regardless whether the bands career suffers for it or not. As a band, and other musicians would agree with me, if you’re in a band, then you really like music. Therefore, as you get older, if you still want to carry on doing the band as a job, the music has to evolve. If we had stayed the same band as we were seven years ago or five years ago, I don’t think we’d be around now. Cause if we kept turning out the same stuff; fans would just get bored. At least it keeps people interested and on their toes cause we change it; every album that comes out is completely different.

On the new album, Thornography, you’ve previously said that you aren’t comfortable calling yourself a lead guitarist…

But there is quite a few solo’s on this album; what made you decide to write more towards soloing?
Well, the previous Cradle stuff didn’t really have room for it, ya know? And I don’t believe in putting solo’s down for the hell of it. You know they have to be structured properly and therefore, cause this album, the way this album came out; as far as I’m concerned a metal album definitely needs solo’s on it. So we consciously thought to put solo’s on the album, and so lets write the rhythm parts structurally so they fit properly. And it turned out really well. Plus it lets me practice my shredding [laughs]

What prompted the move from Sony to Roadrunner?
When we signed with Sony, what happened was when it actually came to promoting the album, they didn’t have a clear idea. And the band started going slowly downhill. Because they just sat on it doing nothing. They didn’t know how to work it. So when the second album came around, we told them, we have the option; we don’t want to sign with you. Because, like, you don’t know what to do and if we stay with you there isn’t going to be a band left. So they let us go, and Roadrunner had been waiting to sign us. Which was cool. I mean, Roadrunner has been trying to sign us for, God, at least ten years.

Some of your fans that knew I was going to interview you wanted me to ask you some questions. Sarah Jezebel Deva; she’s been on virtually every Cradle of Filth album but she’s never been recognized as a full band member. Why is that?
I don’t know. She does other stuff. I suppose, there is no particular reason, it’s just stayed like that. It’s nothing to do with us, really. Just the way it’s turned out, ya know? She’s got other bands and stuff, so I think she’s got more… she’s busy with that. You don’t have to be a feel member to play with us, ya know?

Who are your musical heroes?
Judas Priest. I’m still into the Defending the Faith album. It’s fuckin’ amazing. As far as I’m concerned K.K. Downing is the best on the planet.

Do you have any other influences other than Judas Priest?
Oh, the fast stuff, early Megadeth, Metallica, ya know. Especially the stuff in the 80’s when I was growing up as a kid, listening to it. When all the good albums were out [laughs]

Where do you see Cradle of Filth in five years? Or yourself in five years?
Still doing what we’re doing basically, but getting the band bigger. I’ll still be writing music, still be making artwork. I’ve just had my guitar released, my signature series. So I’m going around promoting that.

Were you at NAMM with your guitar?
Yeah, it was good. I went up there with my signature series guitar, which comes out in March for sale at shops. So yeah, it was really cool. I’ve actually got to play there next year. Didn’t this year, but I will next year. I’m working on some stuff, some originals of some heavy metal type stuff to play at the next PRS party. Which will be good because they’ve never really had that sort of stuff there, but now I’m endorsed by them and have my own guitar. So I’ll join them onstage and play some… that’ll be fun [laughs]

Do you see Cradle of Filth as someday being as big as say, the Rolling Stones?
Ha, ha, no. [laughs]

Do you think you guys will go on for that long?
Hopefully go on for that long, but I can’t see us getting that big. Because we’re in a really good market, but it’s like a niche market. Even though we’re on top of it, it’s still small compared to the whole music industry. And whereas the Stones, they’ve completely covered the whole thing. The whole fucking industry. We’re like Kings of one particular section. But yeah, I hope it’s going to get bigger. Hope it gets a lot bigger. We’ll still work at it hard to get it bigger and take it as far as we can possibly take it. So that’s what we plan to do. But who knows? If we get as big as the Rolling Stones, that’d be fucking brilliant! [laughs] Heavy metal to the masses.
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