Dani Filth Talks Cradle of Filth, Music, Movies, and More
Ever since forming in Suffolk in 1991, Dani Filth's Cradle of Filth have been one of England’s highest profile extreme metal bands. Over the years their musical style has evolved from a classic black metal sound to a cleaner, more "produced" mixture of Gothic metal, symphonic black metal and other extreme metal styles. Thematically the band’s imagery has pretty much remained the same: one that is heavily influenced by Gothic literature, poetry, mythology, sex and horror films.
In early November, 2010, after having already released eight albums and assorted E.P.s, they put out their newest record, the lushly evocative Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa, which is a concept album based on the legend of the lascivious demoness and wife of the Biblical Adam, Lilith. Within the narrative of the album are references to diverse topics (such as Greek mythology, The Knights Templar and Carmelite Nuns) woven into a semi-fictitious occult story that is being referred to as a "dark tapestry of horror, madness and twisted, Vampyric sex."
With the release of their new record, Cradle of Filth has made plans to support it by headlining a North American tour early next year (starting in February of 2011) called “FEARnet and Decibel Presents: Creatures From The Black Abyss Tour.” Lasting several months, the tour will feature as supporting acts the bands Nachtmystium, Turisas and Daniel Lioneye.
As Dani worked on several projects from his office in England - prepping for upcoming press, and planning for the impending tour - he took some time out to talk to us not only about the new album and tour, but also future projects and his love of horror films.
Dread Central: Can I get your take on a bit of the band’s history? Where you were born and raised and how the band came together? I mean, I have your bio, but I want to get your perspective on it.
Dani Filth: I’ve moved around the locality in which I live which is the county of Suffolk, but primarily the band was formed when I lived in a village called Hadley which is a quite famous medieval town… well, village, in fact. I drove through it the other day and it is indeed a village. [laughs] It seemed a bit bigger when I was young. It’s just got an atmosphere. So much so that the woman who owned Misanthropy Records – which was the label that Burzum and In The Woods… and stuff like that were from – came down and loved it so much that she bought a house right next to the graveyard there. It was just a cool place to grow up and it was very influential in the band. In fact, the area around here is pretty influential because it’s known as The Witch County. There are two “witch counties” in England. One’s in Lancashire and one’s Suffolk, mainly Suffolk because it was kind of the main haunt of Matthew Hopkins, The Witchfinder General. And indeed, at one point, I was living in a house he used to frequent as he was passing through Hadley and on to Lavenham and further up onto the county of Norfolk. When the band came together, we were just a bunch of friends. We were all from around the locality. And it started to get a bit serious which I wanted it to do, so I took a year out of my studies for my intended career (which was journalism) to pursue the band and to see how far it would get in the course of a year. In that time, my wife took a bunch of shitty jobs so that we could carry on with the band unhindered and it just took off from there, really. We did three demos and an aborted album for a record label I’d rather forget about. [laughs] At the end of it, we penned a deal with Cacophonous Records which was originally only for a single because it was just a fledgling subsidiary of Final Solution Records in London. That turned into an E.P. and then gradually, because of a growing fan-base and popularity and the fact that bands like Emperor and Immortal (who were friends of ours) were hitting their stride as well, it blossomed into a full length album which then became THE PRINCIPAL OF EVIL MADE FLESH.
DC: So, growing up, was this kind of stuff – not only the music, but also the aesthetic – something you were always drawn to?
DF: Oh, definitely. I mean, the whole idea originally behind the band – and you have to remember that this is all death metal territory at the time - was to take the heaviness of the death metal stuff like Obituary and Autopsy and Deicide and stuff like that and mix it… We were into Occultism and the whole supernatural aspect… horror films. We love horror and gore films, obviously, but we weren’t into the whole mangling corpses type stuff. So, what we wanted to do was to take the aesthetic from the Swedish and European bands that had the sort of theatrics, that had the sort of Gothic element and the melodic guitars, and fuse that onto the back of black metal so that we’d come up with something quite original. It was kind of at that point that the whole black metal thing started to revive itself. I was also into bands that were more like that. The original Mayhem were a bad thrash band when they did DEATHCRUSH. Don’t let anybody else tell you otherwise. [laughs] People say it was the founding of Black Metal. It wasn’t. It was Venom’s BLACK METAL. [laughs] Hence, the title. We were always into bands like Slayer and Possessed and the overtly kind of slightly Satanic sort.
DC: It’s interesting that just last night I saw Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell’s documentary Until The Light Takes Us and I’d completely forgotten we were going to talk, but it all ends up being sort of synchronistic. So, during that time, were you also a feverish reader and movie-goer?
DF: Oh, totally! I don’t know about a feverish movie-goer because I just didn’t have a huge bunch of cash back then, but I am now. I love my movies and books. One of the first things I made the record company do – which at the time was like, “Wow, this is like a treasure trove” – was to buy me a huge bunch of books that I was after. Just for inspiration and stuff like that. I got works of the Marquis de Sade and a load of stuff from Head Press, a company which dealt in quite extrovert sort of books on all kinds of things and books on mythology and symbolism. Anything, really, to feed my imagination at that point.
DC: All of that went into a kettle as it were and became your sort of thematic tool kit?
DF: It was a heavy kettle… [laughs]
DC: But now, it’s all sort of in there and it’s all mixing and melding and it’s now coming out in some of the topics that you’re addressing on your albums.
DF: I grew up alongside a lot of this and when I answer questions about the topic of the new album, I say, “Yeah, indeed… Lilith has been a character that has been in the shadows behind the band for some while.” So, I didn’t have to do too much research on her. I just wanted the main character – the main protagonist – for this Gothic horror story I was trying to weave ’round the album. Subsequently, it wasn’t just that that was influential on the new record, it was other things as well like the locality… Even though we didn’t write it when we were recording the album, we made sure we went somewhere that was quite isolated and very atmospheric to record it. It was recorded not too far from where I live – about fifteen or twenty miles – but it is quite remote and that’s really beneficial. It has those themes of isolation and naturalism that, if anything, allows for us not to be sidetracked and gives us a chance for a bit more concentration. Just something that appeals to the band’s aesthetic a little bit more.