Hell At My Back – Dani Filth Talks New Devilment Album

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Ahead of the release of their second album, Devilment 2: The Mephisto Waltzes (Nuclear Blast Records), Ghost Cult caught up with lead vocalist and creative driving force Dani Filth to talk all things Devilment, touring, soundtracks, horror, Faust and oh, the small matter of the next Cradle of Filth album…

Ghost Cult: How you were feeling about the new Devilment album finally seeing the light of day? How are things chez Dani?

DF: They’re good, very good. The record is great, the artwork is great. It’s great that the record company is behind it. We have a small tour coming up just before Christmas.Yeah..things seem to be good.

GC: Busy then! How are you managing to balance everything?

DF: With difficulty! Coffee. Sleep. Make sure everything is organised in the right places. These days, I have to be. I suppose I am no different to anyone else; I just try not to think about these things too much. I am obviously busy with Devilment with the record and the tour and the videos. The next big challenge is we go into the studio for the next Cradle album for a four-month stretch which will see the new record come out come out in September 2017 and then we embark on a massive world tour…

With so much going on, the main thing is to ensure that each of the acts gets their own coverage; of course Cradle will take precedence because that’s what has been my life for the last 22 years and it is something I love so much but I also want to create space and ensure that as many people as possible get to hear this new record too.

GC: One thing that struck us about listening to the new record was just how much of a step up it was from the first record. Last time around you were at pains to say “this is not just what I do when I’m not doing Cradle of Filth. This is a proper going concern”. It sounds very much like that on the new record.

DF: Thank you. Well that’s why we made a point of calling the new record Devilment 2. I do want to make the point that this is a different band but a band nonetheless and it’s important that we make that point and let people know that there is an actual band here making a good record.

GC: Absolutely. Talk to us about the influences on the new record. How did you alight on Liszt and Faust for this record?

DF: We had an idea about it before we began the recording. I guess most people are familiar with the legend of Faust and how he sold his soul to the devil…that really is a gift to someone like me. And so we went with it and you can see it through the songs, the album artwork, the subtitle to the record. It was really too good not to run with.
GC: What pressure is there on you as an artist to constantly come up with something new? Where do you go next? 

DF: Good question. I’m in a pretty good position actually. With Devilment because there hasn’t been the history and longevity (as with Cradle) and because it is new the expectations aren’t so rigid and high. I think we could get away with doing a record about a Martian invasion but that idea to a devout Cradle fan would be tantamount to blasphemy.

The challenge with Devilment is that the songs are much more stripped down so you can get away with more, or at least we can get away with more at the moment. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not “baby! baby! baby!” or “Tonight is going to be a good night” etc.. I mean trying to make a point or a story with less words actually requires more imagination. The challenge is a different one: what’s interesting is that because there is no expectation, the opportunity to branch out and do something new is really interesting.

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GC: Does that mean that you’re effectively constrained by expectations in terms of the next Cradle record?

DF: I guess it depends on how you look at it. It could be frustrating but it could also give you focus. You could try and second guess what people are after only to find them remarking that “well this is more of the same”. There is no real value in that. I find that making assumptions is often treacherous.

GC: We know that you have been a massive influence on lots of bands.  Who or what have you been listening to the last 12 months. What records have really got under your skin in 2016?

DF: Well I’m just a big soundtracks fan so: a lot of soundtracks!. A lot of old horror stuff like Evil Dead or Hellraiser etc. Bands-wise: I actually love the new Anthrax. I love Testament’s new record and the 69 Eyes record. I have been spending time listening to Ghost too, but mainly their old records. I’m not so keen on the new stuff: I think they’re getting a bit….wet. (laughs)

GC: How are preparations for the UK tour coming along? What can we expect in terms of stage production?

DF: We were stepping up things from next week. I actually haven’t been rehearsing yet. The band have already put a lot of work in and I will pick things up from tomorrow. I’m actually pretty hyped up for this tour. It’s not a massive tour. I mean it’s 11 days. It’s not huge in the size of the venues either, we have booked places that hold between 200-400 so you’re not going to get the same type of show that you would get at a Cradle show for example. However,there are still plenty of things that you can do in venues like that so we are going to see what we can get away with!

We’ll be dressing the stage and just let the music do the talking. But I think in this environment it’s good to be sort of up against it. I think that it’s going to work. I think it’s going to be a sweatbox to be fair.

We also have great support act with us (She Must Burn and Hedra, fact fans).  I think fans are going to get a good line up. I think it’s going to be fun.

GC: We can’t not let 2016 pass without asking you about the 20th anniversary of Cradle of Filth’s Dusk and Her Embrace (Music For Nations). What are your reflections on this, 20 years on? Is it good that people want to sort of talk about that record and the impact it had on them or is it frustrating that people constantly hark back to the past?

DF: My initial response is it doesn’t seem like 20 years. Sometimes it does though. I guess that the record has cast a shadow across the years and I’m much happier that people are talking about our records than not talking about them, you know?

GC: Absolutely. Many of the things that you did really did push things and introduce audiences to art and literature that they may no have come across before..?

DF: Yes but we weren’t the first: Bathory had done much of this; Venom had too but in reflecting back, it does become the case that it is harder to do something new because everything has been done. People are looking everywhere to find as much source material as they can because they don’t sell as much anymore. It does get harder to be original and even with Devilment there is a challenge. I think it’s very original material but it’s not groundbreaking because I don’t think you can be that unique because everything has been done. It’s a hybrid; we are a hybrid. A good hybrid, but a hybrid, nonetheless…

But to be honest I’m glad we have a voice and that people are still talking about us.”

MAT DAVIES