Dani – Cradle of Filth

August 23rd, 2005
by EvilG

Dani of Cradle of Filth
Interviewed Jan. 1999 by David Lee

No need to dial 976-EVIL when you have a group like CRADLE OF FILTH knocking about. Their brand of perversion is aimed straight at the hearts of all God fearing peoples. Shock not only for shock’s sake but for art as well. If there could be any taste in macabre metal it is most likely to be found here. Despite having only issued a handful of recordings the group has managed to creep their way out of the morgue and onto the top of the death metal heap. BLACK SABBATH be damned, this is as scary as it gets. Dani Filth is obviously a very intelligent and well-read fellow and it was a distinct honor to be tutored on what exactly lay at the outer fringes of rock and roll by someone who not only loves what he does but lives it. Dani called me from his 17th century cottage in the English countryside on an eerily cold and rainy autumn day. What follows is a bit of our conversation which is best read by candle light and it might not be a bad idea to have some garlic and holy water around. You never can tell what could leap from the shadows.


 

Metal Rules!!
As I would have expected, this is another intense aural and visual experience you have produced.?

DANI FILTH
Yes, of course. It’s not one color of extreme it does have different emotions involved in it.

 

Metal Rules!!
When you were contemplating a theme for this record why did Countess Bathory come to the fore?

DF:
Well, it has been a whole deep fascinating with her myth and legend for a long while. On previous records we have alluded to her in certain contexts but it just seemed the right time to do something full blown.  It seemed a perfect opportunity to incorporate not only the myth behind her but the reality and give it a CRADLE OF FILTH texture, to turn it into a dark fairy tale. I have been interested in her for a long while. When I was coming up with ideas for the new record we just started to write stuff for it and had a couple of songs done and I thought “How am I going to dress this up a bit?” I had just finished reading, yet another, book on Elizabeth Bathory and I have pictures of her all through my house and it was like I couldn’t see the wood through the trees. It just sort of fell into place. Yes, it is a concept. There are individual stories. Each song represents a story but, the actual flow of the album is one, Grande, Grande concept. I wouldn’t mention it straight away. Usually when you mention that it is a concept album you end up listening to a dial tone! (laughs)

 

Metal Rules!!
Did you feel a bit constrained when you were writing given the fact that you were trying to maintain an individual concept to the whole piece?

DF:
No because the music and the lyrics work parallel to each other in the writing stages. I engineer little parts to coincide with each other but I don’t say “Right, this song demands something here to make it work.”  Although to finish the album that is necessary. We kind of played upon the concept of Elizabeth Bathory, at times, and manipulated it because we wanted to make it our own. We didn’t want to regurgitate what other writers or musicians may have touched upon.

 

Metal Rules!!
Elizabeth Bathory, from what I know about her, seems to be the parallel of Vlad Drakulia. Was there more of a relationship between the two people in myth or reality?

DF:
There was a relationship between the two houses. That of the Sepesh family and the Bathory family. I believe, her cousin fought along side either Vlad or his father in the war against the Turks. You have to remember that Hungary, where Elisabeth Bathory lived, and Rumania where the Drakulia’s lived, are very close together in that part of Europe which was always under attack from the Turks. There are parallels and connections, sure.

 

Metal Rules!!
Is there something to the theory that money, power and privilege leads to perversion? Even to the extreme of an Elizabeth Bathory?

DF:
Of course. You have struck it right on the head. Even when she was being sentenced she didn’t repent because she believed that it was her divine right as and aristocrat to do what she wanted. She was empowered to do whatever it was that she wanted. It was here divine right to dabble in occultism and experiment sexually with virgins, to scar them and kill them and to use their blood for various concoctions and what have you. It was the same for Vlad Dracula. A lot of what he did he believed was for the benefit of his own country. Even to the point of impaling a whole town of his kinsfolk as a repellant for the invading Turks. He believed that if they were to cut down a forest and impaled everyone in a whole town, women, men and children, that as soon as the Turks invaded they would see it and just say “Fuck this! I am going home”(laughs) And it worked. They were hard times and you have to remember that being members of illustrious families also meant that they were prone to attack from other families. They were like the Hapsburg’s of Vienna in that they were constantly warring and involved with power struggles. We just don’t know the real facts of it all but it does make for a much better story, does it not?

 

Metal Rules!!
Of course. You said that you have a portrait of her?

DF:
That’s right.

 

Metal Rules!!
Was she anywhere near as beautiful as the woman who is on the cover of the album?

DF:
Well first of all, Elizabeth Bathory, apparently, had blonde hair but I believe that if you believe in something and are able to portray it, it is real. I just attribute that kind of raven black hair and that kind of look with Elizabeth Bathory. The woman on the cover is Louise Miranda, she is an aspiring actress and she dances for us. If we come to America No doubt she will come as well. We use a lot of ladies for our artwork, that is our style. We have a very precise style that we have adopted that is us now.

 

Metal Rules!!
Are there many women chasing you around that try to emulate this look?

DF:
We do have a percentage who are of that nature, who are inclined to dress like that which, as eye candy, is great! But, I think that I prefer it when it is a natural thing instead of a doctored thing with fake eyelashes. I believe in real people instead of all the fakes. It is very Gothic oriented in Europe.

 

Metal Rules!!
Do you feel that this is something that couldn’t have happened in The States because of relatively short cultural history?

DF:
No, no, no. That would be totally derogatory to say that, especially coming from me. I will say that it does aid. We live in the country-side and there are constant reminders of the bygone ages. Within a five mile radius of where we live, I think that there are thirteen flint churches. The house in which I live is from 1685 and there are constant reminders of the witch craze and their persecution. Monuments like Gallows Hill testaments to the Witch finder General, Matthew Hopkins, who breezed through our village on his way North. Those reminders do help to shape us. Lets put it this way, if we lived in a city, I think our music would have a different taint to it. I don’t believe that it is particularly Europe in general. I don’t think that there are bands such as us in America. There are bands like ANCIENT but they new bands and they emulate other people instead of doing their own thing. I don’t mean that as derogatory either but it is just a visualization of what is going on. I believe the Americans can do it just as well as anybody else. Not soccer though!(Laughs)

 

Metal Rules!!
I only ask because it seems as if bands with particular themes come from a select few geographical areas. For instance, here it is the in the South that most of the Death Metal bands come from and their themes are more in line with African oriented religions like Voodoo where Europeans seem to gravitate toward pre-Christian European themes.

DF:
I don’t think that there is anything wrong with that. I, myself, collect a lot of African sculptures and what have you. Sudanese sculpture in particular. I am quite interested in Voodoo myself , I mean, I like the concept of it but I can see your point entirely.

 

Metal Rules!!
The title of the album is a twist on a quote from Nietzsche and I found that quite interesting being that Nietzsche is commonly thought of as the figurehead of anti-theism and your lyrics are very theistic in nature. How do you reconcile the two?

DF:
Of course, that is not exactly what he said. “Cruelty and the beast” was trying to make it like a dark fairy tale. It is very closely aligned with “Beauty and the Beast” and when you think about that it make all kinds of things click but I think the original quote was “There is no beauty without cruelty.”

 

Metal Rules!!
Is Niet someone that you are into more than just passively?

DF:
I am into anyone who progressively breaks down the barriers of convention and challenges any organized moral thought. Morality is just the majority and that is why I have always been a fan of Niet and DeSade and that kind of thing because it challenges. People like Byron as well. His work is very challenging at times and he was far ahead of his time.

 

Metal Rules!!
You have certainly established your own unique writing style but do you credit Byron as a major influence to that style?

DF:
Not only Byron. I have studied 19th century literature in college. People like Shelley, Penrose and even going as far back as Milton and stuff like that.

 

Metal Rules!!
Your lyrical approach is not terribly blatant which is refreshing. The lyrics are definitely designed to make you think.

DF:
Well, yeah, Thought provocation definitely enhances understanding doesn’t it? There are a lot of blase word used like, the use of the “cunt” word a couple of times, but the rest of it is kind of poetic and it is nice to bring it down a notch now and again.

 

Metal Rules!!
Sometimes that is the best word to convey what it is you are trying to get across so why not use it?

DF:
Yeah. Most of the time I am using it to represent the “vagina”(laughs) and the use of that word alongside artistic prose just seems to leak out more.

 

Metal Rules!!
Do you think that because of the distorted nature of the vocals you would need a lyric sheet to pick up some of the songs lyrics?

DF:
Well, it’s not distorted. There is a bit of reverb used but that is it. Obviously, in a lot of places but I mean, extreme music demands an extreme approach lyrically. There are a lot of places where it is quite Gothic, as in Gothic music, but there are a lot of different styles and you have to convey that anger. We have to convey that passion and it is meant to sound otherworldly. There are a lot of death metal bands that are at the other end of extreme so, I do think that there is a fine balance between the two. I can sing clean but I just don’t think that it would work. We do what we will but, I think that people expect it. It wouldn’t be right to do something that is all clean throughout. It would dispel the aura that the music generates.

 

Metal Rules!!
What are tour plans like for this record?

DF:
I would rather do like a ten date tour in major cities and put on our production, bring across the dancers and the stage props because it is an experience to couple with the music. If we went six weeks and just did the club tour we would, probably, end up killing each other!(laughs) We are highly strung people and we would get in each others way on that kind of tour. That would also mean that we couldn’t bring the big stage show so, that is what we are debating now.

 

Metal Rules!!
And trying to avoid bankruptcy!

DF:
Yeah. I think that is what we are debating now. I mean, we do sell a lot of merchandise so things are good but we do try and put a lot into what we do. The only people that benefit are the fans when you give them a concise album with good production and packaging.

 

Metal Rules!!
You are very fortunate to have such a loyal and growing fan base. Are you ever concerned that they will encroach upon the artistic process that you go through to make an album?

DF:
Without sounding callous, no. Because when you start doing that you start writing music for other people and yes, I did say before that fans are awfully important but, we have to be happy with what we are doing. Anything other than being happy with your own art means that it suffers and it is not from the heart. Obviously, you consider how people are going to react but firstly, you write music that you are happy with. If on the next record we wanted to introduce psychedelic reggae, we would.  Of course, we are not going to do that but that is just an extreme example. No, that way you become an engineered product where you say “O.K. Everybody sit down and lets all do spider diagrams between the ratio of sales here and abroad and then lets see what category they fit into.” That is bollocks! That is marketing and is not what should come into a band when they are due to write an album. The business side of things should be booted right out the door.

 

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