On March 3rd, 2005, "the world's ugliest band", black / gothic metal pioneers Cradle Of Filth visited Fryshuset in Stockholm, Sweden, together with their support act and friends Moonspell from Portugal. A few hours before I had the chance to speak to their drummer Adrian Erlandsson and a few minutes with a busy singer Dani "Filth" Davey about their future plans, a possible At The Gates reunion, cricket and other things.
Adrian is a typical Gothenburg person, despite having been born in Malmö and lived several years in England. With a calm voice and a constant smile on his face he somewhat reminds me of a teddybear.
Cradle Of Filth has just begun their European tour, having warmed up with a couple of shows in Greece on February 19th and 20th before heading for Belgium, Holland, Germany and now Sweden. The tour lasts until April 16th when they finish off with a show at the Forum in London.
Adrian says that the tour has been going well so far. The Greek dates were supposed to have been done like a year ago but the band missed their flight and then it has been pushed forward all the time.
- "This tour has been much of a changeover for us as we have so many new faces with us, both in the crew but also a new guy on the bass. It has been an acclimatization period for us all [laughs], especially the first two days but now it works."
Adrian doesn't think there is much of a difference playing in the countries they have been in so far but if you compare Greece to say Germany it is a big difference.
- "I guess they don't get that many shows in Greece so it's pretty rewarding."
I let him know that I think metal has grown in popularity in Greece lately and he agrees. There were almost 2,000 people who showed up at their show in Athens.
- "It was cool, they sang along in the riffs." [laughs]
In November 2003 Cradle Of Filth did a co-headliner tour in the USA together with Type O Negative with support from Moonspell and Sweden's Soilwork. They became friends with Moonspell and offered them to come along on their current European tour as well which they accepted.
- "Type O Negative was supposed to have been on the tour and it was to have taken place late last year but then they cancelled and everything was pushed forward. Now The Haunted joins us instead from the 9th [of March] in Vienna."
The Haunted is a band that Adrian knows well, having played with them for three years before being snatched by Cradle Of Filth in 1999 and he also played with the Björler twins Jonas and Anders in their previous band, the melodic death metal pioneers At The Gates. I can't avoid asking him if there are any plans to resurrect their old band.
- "Earlier on it has been like, 'no way'. I live in England and there was this show when Haunted and Nightrage played together [December 17th, 2004 at the Forum in London] with Arch Enemy [and Dark Tranquillity]. I talked to both Tompa [Tomas Lindberg] and the twins [Anders and Jonas Björler] and we decided that we will do a couple of shows some time when everyone can find the time, you know."
He also adds that it can not be done while there is a lot to do with Cradle but that it looks as if it is going to happen.
In the summer of 2003, Cradle Of Filth were included on the North American Ozzfest tour which more or less directly led to their latest album "Damnation And A Day" being the first black metal album to enter the Billboard top 2000, entering at No. 140. Adrian talks about his experiences from the tour.
- "Well, it's a touring festival which means that there is no soundcheck or anything. It's just getting up on stage and play in broad daylight. We played at 3 in the afternoon so it was blazing heat all the time [laughs]. But it was fun and we gained a lot of new fans in the US. On the other hand you can not have much of a stage show in the middle of the day outdoors. It was a nice experience but I don't think I would like to do it again. It's pretty tough to be away from home for ten weeks."
Adrian only saw Marilyn Manson and Ozzy Osbourne from the distance on the tour but he spoke shortly to the drummer and guitarist (John Lowery who has since left the band) from Manson's band when they met in the dining hall. Ozzy kept to himself though.
I ask him if he still goes to gigs himself to see other bands.
- "Yes, absolutely. London is very rewarding with gigs almost every week that are worth seeing. As soon as I have the chance and there is something that I like I'm there."
I also ask him if he has discovered any younger bands lately. He mentions a band from London called Labrat which he really likes. They're a death metal / grindcore band who released their debut album "Ruining It For Everyone" for Visible Noise in 2002.
- "They are incredibly great live. On CD it doesn't really come through but live there's an unbelievable energy. No other bands exactly from London but another band I saw like two years ago was Clutch. They played in London and it was amazing."
Cradle Of Filth is a band who have changed personnel very often throughout the years. Adrian hopes that the current line-up is stable.
- "I don't like to change members very much. If I had had it my way, Dave [Pybus, the bassist] would have stayed but he has totally had enough of touring. He hasn't told us definitely that he is leaving yet but if he can't cope with touring then it doesn't work. Cradle has had a lot of line-up changes but it takes a lot of you both as an individual and all your time and attention. If you are not completely in on it then it becomes impossible. I think Ozzfest was what broke Dave, just that it took him another year to realize that he doesn't have the energy anymore. We spent 24 weeks away from home and did 107 shows and if you don't have any will to play the music then you are easily annoyed by little things and you might as well quit."
Dave Pybus had been playing bass for Cradle Of Filth since 2001 but left earlier this year. I ask Adrian about the new bass player in the band.
- "His girlfriend is a good friend of my wife, that's how I got to know him. He works as a guitar teacher at Colchester Guitar Institute. He has only played at local pubs in covers bands but seems to adjust to the situation pretty well now. It's still a little forced for him on stage with the make-up and costumes and all that [laughs]. When we played in Belgium in front of 2,000 people he was a bit shaky but he is a very stable musician."
They have not decided yet on whether he is to join the band on a full term basis or not.
- "At the moment everybody is hoping for Dave to come back or that he will say 'ok, I'll go on tour' but we'll see."
Cradle Of Filth released their latest album "Nymphetamine" on their new label Roadrunner Records in September 2004 but they have already started thinking about the next album.
- "We have the framework of four, maybe five songs ready and we hope to record in the end of July maybe if the song writing goes well on tour and when we get home and release something in February."
Adrian says that it's still too early to say what the new material will sound like at this stage.
- "A few of the songs are riffs that did not become songs when we wrote 'Nymphetamine' so it sounds pretty similar still."
The band doesn't exactly have a conscious goal as to how the new album is going to sound. It's something that usually comes when the songs start to shape up and they find a red line through the music.
Just prior to the European tour their record company are releasing a special edition of "Nymphetamine" which includes several bonus tracks - two new songs ("Prey" and "Soft White Throat"), a new version of the title track with vocals from Sarah Jezebel Deva and three cover songs (Ozzy's "Mr. Crowley", Bathory's "Bestial Lust" and Cliff Richard's 1976 classic "Devil Woman"). It seems as if this release is mostly to have something new to promote on this tour.
- "I think the record company and also our manager has thought about that. The special edition songs were actually supposed to have been recorded at the same time as all the tracks on the original version but we ran out of time in the studio. We had to go into the studio again and the time just flashed by and now was the earliest when we could release it. I can understand that people feel screwed when they have bought the original version and now there is another one several months later but at the same time it is out of our control."
The cover songs found on the special edition were recorded a while back, the Ozzy song two years ago and Bathory one year ago.
- "We have tried and recorded several versions of 'Devil Woman' but it was only the last version that sounded good enough to be released. The other songs we have had going but have not finished them before recording 'Nymphetamine' and they don't really fit into the actual album. It's easy to say that it's second-rate material [laughs] but they are different from the other songs and I think it feels better to have them on another album."
Cradle Of Filth have worked with a lot of classical musicians, in particular for the recordings of their major label release "Damnation And A Day", and I had to ask what they had to say about the band's music. Adrian was not there when they recorded the orchestra parts though.
- "I have only seen video clips. Martin and Dani went to Hungary and they had rigged a huge P.A. which played our music. They had headphones to play to our music and they just laughed when they heard it the first few times [laughs]. We had this guy who had helped us arrange the music and to put down notes for all the musicians who just sat there waiting for clicks. 210 clicks and grind and everything [laughs]. But it worked."
Adrian adds that he would like to do something with a real orchestra in the future, maybe at a festival. It is all about money though and nothing has been decided yet.
Cradle Of Filth surprised many by signing to the major label Sony in 2001 but they only released "Damnation And A Day" before parting ways with them. Now they are with the Dutch / American label Roadrunner Records who they are very happy about.
- "Roadrunner is still a record company and there will always be differences between bands and labels but if you compare them to the other labels we have been on during my stay in the band they are definitely the best. The people who work with the band, even if they might not dig the music 100%, are in on the scene and know what you need as a band concerning marketing. Sony had no idea about that whatsoever which we might should have known before signing."
There are few positive memories from working with Sony and Adrian don't believe that they will sign with a major label again. On the subject of labels, Cradle Of Filth formed their own label AbraCadaver a few years ago for the release of the mini album "Bitter Suites To Succubi". The future of AbraCadaver seems uncertain at the moment.
- "It is still on hold. We were hoping for financing to release something. We received a lot of demo tapes and CDs but it was nothing that really caught our interest. It is mostly the financing issue which has put it on hold.
Playing in Sweden is a little special to Adrian as it is his native country.
- "We played in Malmö yesterday where I was born and it was great to go around and check out all the places. We played in Sweden once before at 'Tattoo The Planet' but now it feels more special since it is our own tour."
Adrian personally prefers smaller gigs as it is more intimate and there's more in return from the audience.
- "Playing in front of large crowds is nice also but it's so far between the band members on stage that it feels like playing in a studio. I have these headphones on so I don't hear the audience at all at the big shows."
Bigger venues such as this one also has the advantage of getting the whole Cradle Of Filth stage show with dancing, fireworks and a few surprise guests from the dark side.
Speaking about the band's plans for the summer, Adrian doesn't think they will be playing at any festivals this year.
- "I think it's a bit late to book new festivals now. It depends on how the song writing goes. We did a few festivals last summer and played Arvika here in Sweden which was pretty nice but this summer I think we'll focus on song writing."
Overall Cradle Of Filth is a band which was not been a frequent addition to summer festivals.
- "It's pretty much a conscious decision because the conditions when you play are very poor. We had a couple of nightmare festivals last summer actually. We played at Waldrock in Holland and it went straight to hell [laughs]. The monitors didn't work and things like that. And there you stand on stage in front of thousands of people who might not have heard or seen the band before and they get the wrong impression."
Since Adrian joined the band everybody has helped in the song writing process.
- "A normal song cycle begins with Paul or Martin coming up with a couple of riffs, then I add drum beats to them and we'll make demos in our small home studios. When we have a rough idea ready we'll go down to the rehearsal space, jam and try to arrange it. Dani adds vocals, writes lyrics and then it is re-arranged again. Then it goes around until the song is finished."
Many bands who have reached a certain stagein their career almost quit rehearsing completely. This is not the case with Cradle Of Filth though who spend time in their rehearsal room four or five times a week.
- "If it's in the writing phase when people spend time at home then it's maybe one or two times a week. We rehearse pretty often for a band at our level so to say. My brother's band Arch Enemy doesn't rehearse at all. They either write or they're on tour."
Adrian doesn't think that would work for them.
- "At least for myself, after about two weeks it becomes forced when you get to playing again and then it's hopeless when you want to come up with new stuff".
As most probably know Dani is solely responsible for the lyrics but the music of every song has been arranged by the entire band.
- "Most riffs come from Paul and Martin, a few from me, a few from James."
According to Adrian they never think about beforehand what the music is to sound like. Still, Cradle Of Filth has managed to maintain a certain sound which has not changed drastically from one album to another.
- "I think it has a lot to do with Dani's voice because if you compare the music from say 'Cruelty' when it was a completely different line-up it is very different from 'Nymphetamine'. Paul helped write most of the first album and 'Dusk And Her Embrace' and he has the same style as he had when he started. We don't think about it when we write music but when we have an arrangement ready we look back a little and see if it works. But it's not like, this is not us, we can't use it, it comes spontaneously."
The title track off the latest album features a guest appearance from former Theatre Of Tragedy and current Leaves' Eyes singer Liv Kristine Espenaes.
- "In reality that song was written for Cristina Scabbia from Lacuna Coil but because of her touring plans she could not do it. We had a few different alternatives and Sarah [Jezebel Deva] recorded one version which is on the special edition. We had a few different singers who was given the material, I don't think I should mention any names [laughs], but Liv Kristine's material was the best that was returned and it came back like three days after we had sent her the tapes and it sounded good right away."
It was their label Roadrunner Records who found Liv Kristine and the band did now know her music from before. Could it perhaps have something to do with the fact that her husband Alex Krull works as a scout for Roadrunner Records in Germany?
The special edition of "Nymphetamine" has another notable guest appearance as King Diamond graces "Devil Woman" with his vocal talents.
- "When we planned 'Devil Woman' we knew right from the start that we wanted to have King Diamond singing on it. We had heard rumors that he liked the band and when he was asked he accepted it right away. I don't even think he wanted any money for it which was really nice."
Getting back into the touring schedule, the band will end the main part of their European tour in Paris on April 3rd where they will record a DVD.
- "The DVD will probably be released in the end of October. We have loads of backstage clips since we recorded the last DVD in 2001. It will be a real documentary this time as well."
The band films practically everything that happens while they're on tour but who decides what is to be on the DVD in the end?
- "We are in the process of capturing everything with digital cameras on this tour to put together a log and then we'll go through everything together so that everyone can vote on what they want and what they don't want to be on the DVD."
The sales figures for each album since "Midian" has been constant in Europe.
- "Either we have the same fans or we lose some and win others. In the US the sales have increased pretty much with 'Nymphetamine'."
There has been a growing interest for the gothic culture in Europe and also partly in the US lately and I asked Adrian if he thinks Cradle Of Filth has had anything to do with this or if goes the other way around.
- "I don't really keep up with this. I can't hear any major gothic influences in our music at the moment. It was more before I joined on 'Cruelty And The Beast' where they had that image but obviously we still have the same fans [laughs]. I don't know, in England there are a lot of people who listen to metal and dress in black and use eye-liners and all that [laughs]. I don't know what to say about fashion, it's nice if people like what we do."
I ask Adrian how he would like to describe their music today.
- "I would rather just describe it as metal. There is not very much black left at all. We still have influences in the riffs and maybe a little in our image as well but we are pretty far from other bands who call themselves black metal."
I also ask him what he listens to at the moment himself.
- "I listen mostly to 80s thrash and early 80s hard rock. Early Judas Priest, Maiden, Accept, Saxon. The same favorites you had in the early days when you began listening to hard rock. It's sad, the same albums but on CD now [laughs]."
Then the Sweden Rock Festival must be something for him.
- "Yes, I would have loved to have gone there last year but we had something else that collided with it. I also like to check out new bands and the latest one I have found I think is Mastodon who are amazing and Clutch are also incredible. Other than that there's sadly not that much new music that draws my attention."
Adrian doesn't only listen to metal though.
- "No, I listen to a lot of other things also. Reverend Horton Heat is a big favorite. My wife plays quite a lot of rockabilly at home. I like it but I don't keep up with the names. I listen pretty much to soundtracks and such..., Portishead..., mixed."
Speaking about side projects, there is hardly any room for such when being part of a big band like Cradle Of Filth.
- "I have plenty of plans but no time. Cradle Of Filth is full-time, at least 50-60 hours a week."
It's no surprise that the band members can make a living for themselves on the music but it's hard work, Adrian says but changes his mind slightly.
- "Hard work, I mean, it's not like back in Sweden when you had a regular job. I can get up at eleven in the morning and be in the rehearsal room at one o'clock. Then I'm back home again at six or seven in the evening and you work a little on the song. It's pretty relaxed compared to a regular job but at the same time you're away from home a lot which can be trying."
Adrian doesn't regret his career choice though. If he had not chosen music for a living he would probably have stayed working for the computer store in Gothenburg where he used to earn his money.
- "If I had not been offered the job by Cradle I would probably have stayed with Haunted. I don't know if they can make a living off their music now. It's no life of luxury for us either. We can pay the rent and have a little left to spend but it feels as if you have at least accomplished something and don't have to take unemployment benefits, you know."
Even though he has lived in England for more than five years Adrian has stayed in touch with the scene in Sweden.
- "I am still good friends with the guys in Haunted and the guys of In Flames."
Adrian has no plans to move back to Sweden as he has married an English woman and bought a house in England. He hopes to be able to save money and buy a small summer house in Sweden though in the future.
There have been many articles written about the band's encounters with censorship and when I bring up this subject Adrian just laughs.
- "Maybe you should ask Dani about that, he likes to talk about it. It's a lot about marketing, a small thing that has been blown out of proportions. The thing in the Vatican when they were arrested, it has been like seven years since it happened and it is repeated all the time. We are all meek as lambs in reality."
The band hasn't really had any problems with Christian groups but Adrian mentions one peculiar thing about the Ozzfest.
- "There was one place where Marilyn Manson was not allowed to play but at the same time we were allowed to play and sell our 'Jesus Is A Cunt' shirt."
The band doesn't make much money while they're on tour though.
- "In general we don't return back home with a lot of money. On this tour we have two buses and one truck plus rented lamps, our own P.A. and everything. There's hardly any money left. There are huge amounts of money from artists fees but it is spent right away. If we travelled around in a van we could make some money but it probably wouldn't work for more than a week."
I also had to ask Adrian which album he likes the most.
- "'Dusk And Her Embrace', I think. I also like 'Midian' pretty much. I don't exactly listen to it at home [laughs]. It's difficult to have a distance to your own material. Personally I think 'Nymphetamine' is the most well played and well produced album the band has released. I was very into the band even before I joined and then there was more of a magic feeling when you bought 'Dusk And Her Embrace' and I think that sticks with me a little."
Adrian has followed Cradle Of Filth from the very start.
- "They opened up for At The Gates in Germany in '93. I didn't understand at all what they were doing [laughs]."
I ask him if he would quit if they did an album which he did not like. He starts laughing.
- "It has happened. For example, when we released 'Bitter Suites' I was not very happy but from the recording conditions at that time it was the best we could produce. But it's just inspiration to improve next time. There are things on 'Nymphetamine' which I would have liked to change but then you have to see it as inspiration for the future. We try to work as a democracy when writing songs and you always have to make some compromises."
People sometimes recognize Adrian back home at the metal bar which he isn't fully comfortable with.
- "I'm just a regular guy who likes to drink beer and not sign things when you're out, it's a little embarrassing."
We round off the interview and Adrian expresses his joy to be back in Sweden again and he likes to be able to speak Swedish. He also mentions that he is trying to teach his wife Swedish at the moment.
After having waited a while longer a seemingly stressed Dani sits down to answer a few questions specifically directed at him. First of all I want to apologize to those female fans who wants to know if he has plans to lose some weight because I had been requested to ask him that question before. In my opinion however, that is a rude question no matter who the target is.
Unfortunately something went wrong with my recorder while doing the interview with Dani so I had to write down his answers from my memory afterwards but since I only got to speak with him for about ten minutes it went ok anyway.
Dani has a very characteristic voice and he can scream like few others but you wonder if he has any tricks to keep his vocal chords fit while on tour.
- "I have given up smoking and no spirits anymore but I drink pretty much everything else."
I also asked him if he has had any family members with him on tour but he hasn't. As everyone has his family there would be no room for them. When I asked what his family thinks about his career choice and their music he surprised me a little.
- "My mum's really into our music. She's coming to see us at our show in London. She's very much into Slayer, likes Tom Araya for some reason."
Dani Davey began his career singing in a band while still in school called "The Lemon Grove Kids".
- "Not much to say about it, we were just some kids from school playing our instruments. Influenced by Misfits."
Most fans of the band know that Dani starred in a horror movie called "Cradle Of Fear" and he has also appeared as the lead character voice in a cartoon movie called "Dominator". He says that he will also appear in the sequel to this movie soon.
Speaking about horror movies, I asked him what he thought about newer ones such as the "Scream" movies. He is not a big fan of those at all but likes "The Saw", the remakes of "The Ring" and "The Grudge".
- "I'm not a big fan of Japanese movies except for 'Ichii the Killer' [great movie, check that one out!]. They often become rather boring."
When I spoke to Adrian he mentioned that Dani was working on a book together with an author so I asked him to tell us a little bit more about this project.
- "It's not about the band but based on the band. Each album is the catalyst for a story, it's more of a coffee table story book."
Last I played an association game mentioning a few words to see what first came to his mind:
Sweden --> Sven-Göran Eriksson
Ozzy Osbourne --> Mr. Crowley
George W. Bush --> Michael Moore
Cricket --> "My mother played cricket and was actually in the Guinness Book Of Records for a while as the first female cricket umpire." Dani says that he plays cricket himself when he visits her mother in India but the rest of the guys in the band does apparently not fancy playing.
Dissection --> Kali
Blood --> Red
Shakespeare --> The Tempest
Lord Byron --> great writer
Censorship --> Lord Byron
Bathory --> The Return
I thanked him for the short chat and let him run off to do more important things as he was obviously in a bit of a rush.