Paradise Lost Interview
Rhythm guitarist Aaron Aedy
By Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs
Nearly 25 years after their formation, and with a line up that has only seen the sticks change hands, the oh-so-impressive legacy of Paradise Lost is still being added to. Championed as pioneers of the gothic metal genre, the band are ever more notable for moving beyond the boundaries of that which they helped create, in order to evolve further musically. With new album Tragic Idol hopefully another stepping stone in this path, we talk to rhythm guitarist Aaron Aedy about touring, recording, and his own little slice of paradise…
Obviously I understand there’s quite a lot going on with the band at the moment with various upcoming tours and of course the new album Tragic Idol – ahead of that release in April how are you feeling?
Aaron Aedy – Really excited. I mean we actually finished recording the album in early December, and got the mixes at Christmas time, so we’ve been sitting on it for a while until release. Call me biased but it’s an absolute belter! *laughs* It’s an album that we’re all very excited about, it’s a really heavy album, every song is strong – we had to leave stuff off that we didn’t want to leave off as well so it’s very good – just waiting for people to hear it really, so very excited! I can’t wait to play them live as well.
Perhaps there is the potential for that extra material to appear as B-sides or on another album one day?
Aaron – I think knowing the business there’ll be a special edition, and usually Japan ask for an exclusive, and they’ve got a belting song actually *laughs* I hope that’ll be available elsewhere as well.
We’ll have to try and get hold of it!
A – I know!
Tragic Idol then – how does this fit in with your earlier work? Has there been much of a change?
Aaron – I think the new album is definitely a natural step on from the last album. We did some Draconian Times sort of anniversary shows last year and I think that also sort of crept into the writing so I think it’s probably a mix of Draconian Times and the last album. It’s a very guitar-centric album.
Which we like *laughs* after all that’s your role.
Aaron – It’s the hardest I’ve had to work in the studio for a while! *laughs*
Is there a particular story behind the title?
Aaron – Nick’s (vocals) been using it for years *laughs* he’s quite fancied it and has had some lyrics kicking about for it and he sort of went on more and wrote it for this album really.
Are album titles usually done by Nick or is it design by committee?
Aaron – We’re very democratic as a band really, with lots of ideas floating around but we just happened to put ‘Tragic Idol’ on it, and it’s one of the catchiest ones on the album and so it was easy to choose that one really. The song ‘Tragic Idol’ is catchy, very catchy.
Is there anything particularly unexpected on the album? Any curveballs?
Aaron – Aside from it being more guitar-centric, as I said more so than for a long time, I think there’s also one of the more dubious risks ever in one song, when people hear it they might be surprised. *laughs* It just came out of nowhere but it sounds great!
We’ve seen a snippet of the new album in terms of the ‘Honesty In Death’ video – how well did that translate your ideas for the song?
Aaron – Good, the idea was kicking around – we didn’t want to do a performance video because we’ve done many of those, and the video we did for the last album didn’t have us in it, I mean we cameo in the video. But we wanted to have a more story-based video, it’s a similar vibe to a road movie, just one of those videos that you watch because you want to see what happens. It’s nice to have something different than just four dudes hanging in a pub or something.
Is video an important medium to the band?
Aaron – As a band we’ve spent a lot of money on videos before MP3’s took a lot of money out of the industry. There’s albums where we’ve spent more on two videos than we have on recording the album, it’s ridiculous really. Back then besides the likes of Headbangers Ball we didn’t have dedicated metal shows in Britain, we didn’t you know, but with YouTube I think videos are important because now anybody can go on YouTube to find videos quickly and easily, they can also then listen to the music and form an opinion.
I think in this day and age you spend a lot less on videos, but the YouTube phenomenon has made it quite central really. You don’t necessarily release singles anymore, not in the rock genre I don’t think singles are important, there’s only pop music that do singles, heavy bands are more album focused.
Having has such a long career in the industry, Paradise Lost have obviously experienced this rise and fall of different aspects?
Aaron – Yeah I think it caught the music business completely off guard, and it’s still playing catch-up to a large degree, you have to change the way you do things. Obviously there’s less money flying around for the business to invest in albums, so there’s studios closing down, music directors who can’t afford to do videos anymore because budgets that used to be 20 grand are now two grand, there’s engineers and people who work in studios, that whole industry around bands, so you have to adapt and evolve.
The reason that we started doing this was for the love of making music, so as long as we’re able to do that still we’ll do our best to keep plodding along.
And being such a long-standing band, are there any assumptions that people always make about Paradise Lost?
Aaron – I think so, I think we’ve been around so long that some people think Paradise Lost sound like ‘that’. We’ve had quite a diversity from our first album to Draconian Times, and then sort of the new stuff, so although we’re the same band they’re all quite different really. I think it’ll quite interesting really for people who haven’t heard us but have an idea of what we’re like to listen to the new record and if they like it, support us you know. Actually it was our 24th birthday yesterday since our first rehearsal.
Well Happy Birthday!
Aaron – Thank you – I don’t know if we’ll do anything, we haven’t talked about it, but we might.
Despite all that time your line-up has remained pretty stable.
Aaron – Yea apart from a bit of Spinal Tap syndrome with the drummer *laughs*
I was going to say why is it always the drummer *laughs*
Aaron – I don’t know really, the thing is we’re still all friends. One of my best friends is still the original drummer, we actually grew up together and I’ve known him since I was 11, I sat behind him at school, I’ve known Nick since I was 12 – we’re more a band of friendships first before anything else. I was thinking the other day it’s funny if Adrian (drums) ever left we’ll have to find a seven foot drummer, because they’re getting progressively taller *laughs*.
To be honest I don’t think Adrian will be going anywhere, he fits in so well, he’s an absolutely diamond bloke. He’s a phenomenal drummer, and he’s dedicated to trying to increase his knowledge and skills so we’re very lucky to have him on board, he’s a top bloke.
In terms of showcasing those skills, you’re scheduled to kick off a major UK tour.
Aaron – It’s probably the biggest UK tour we’ve ever done to date, normally we do like five or seven shows, but we have an agent and he wants to get us out there in the UK and it’s like yeah we’ve never been to these places – normally we just play Manchester, Wolverhampton, London, Glasgow etc. It’s going to be weird as we’re so used to getting on a tour bus and literally just spending like eight weeks in Europe, but the first two weeks we’re going to be playing in Britain *laughs*.
It’ll be interesting as we’re doing so many venues, some are smaller than we’d usually play but then I don’t mind the venue size. My two favourite shows we’ve ever played – Dynamo Festival in ‘95 when we played to like 130,000 people, and a pool hall in the North of Sweden to like 150 people but it was brilliant. I enjoyed both as much, it’s about atmosphere really, if you’ve got people at the show who are up for it, it’ll be good, as I love to play live myself.
The first week of the tour is coming before the release of the album.
Aaron – Yeah that’s weird that!
Does that mean they’ll be hearing the new material?
Aaron – There’s four or five new ones in the set, so I really don’t understand why that’s happened. When we’re playing those new ones, instead of going crazy everyone is just going to be standing - it’s cool as well, but it’ll be odd because I’ll want to be really into it and go mental *laughs*, but everyone else in the crowd is just going to be listening.
Aside from the new material, in general do you like to mix up your touring set lists?
Aaron – We’re having a bit of a conflab about that now, because we’re changing a couple of the ones we always do for some different ones. We’ve got emails flying around between myself, Greg (guitar), Nick, Steve (bass) and Adrian, Adrian is a fan of our old stuff from years ago so he keeps saying ‘Our Saviour’ from the third album *laughs* but well one day maybe. So we’re discussing that, we do that quite a lot, sometimes we quickly check which album they’re off as suddenly we’re like there’s nothing off this or this so we try and mix it up a bit.
For Nick as well, at the start he’s still getting used to the flow of set, so we might have to tweak it after the first couple of shows and sort of change it around a bit. There’s a bunch of songs we should always play, people will always expect ‘As I Die’, we don’t even rehearse that one anymore we’ve played it so many times. *laughs*
On the other side of the coin, I saw that you put online a couple of studio report videos from the recording of Tragic Idol – why did you decide to open up that experience?
Aaron – Part of like the YouTube age, and Facebook, people give so much more away about themselves I think. I think the mystic is long gone, for me there are some people from my youth that I want to keep on a pedestal and I don’t ever want to meet them, you know what I mean, it’s quite nice to keep them ‘special’ and I think there should always be a little element of that, but it’s great as we can share our humour.
Steve is very much into his video and editing, and as much as anything it’s him about having a video recorder about the place. He’s learning as he’s doing it, because we’ve done it before you see, and he sees them as a project, so it’s that as much as anything but people want to see.
How was the recording at The Chapel?
Aaron – We’ve been there four times now, there was a day we lost recording because there was just no power, we couldn’t use the cooker or anything so we had to pop to the curry house, which was a shame *laughs*. There’s literally nothing for about five miles, apart from a pub 100 yards away but it was closed for renovation the whole time we were recording *laughs*.
It was a shame, but the people who own it are fantastic. It’s a nice place, you’re away from all distraction, even the mobile reception is rubbish – it was so bad I had to walk and stand in a phone box to get it to work *laughs*.
Just as a nice cheesy closer then, Paradise may be Lost, but what is your own personal idea of heaven?
Aaron – Swimming in the sea somewhere warm, getting out, sitting down next to my wife, having a beer and a really good book to read in the shade *laughs*.
Some people may not think that’s very out there, but knowing what the seas around the UK are like it does sound very nice *laughs*
Aaron – Even in the UK I enjoy swimming in the sea, not since I was younger *laughs* but there’s nothing better than being somewhere relaxing, with a good beer and the missus!