I’ve been gone for two weeks, but that’s only because I’ve been planning a very special two-part Halloween edition of A-D. I happen to be a big metal fan, and I got the opportunity to speak to Dani Filth, frontman of longtime black metal stalwarts Cradle of Filth, who just released their new album, Thornography. I’ve always been a fan of their tongue-in-cheek approach to black metal (with album titles like Bitter Suites to Succubi and a commitment to theatricality), and Filth’s soft-spoken demeanor backs it up: It might be dark, but at least it’s fun.
A-D: You guys have been around for a while now. Do you find that your audience keeps “resetting” every time you come out with an album, or are your fans aging with you?
Dani Filth: Obviously there’s an influx every record of new people discovering the band. I wouldn’t say that’s the case with a lot of music out there because it seems that every time we release a record, even on our home turf, there are some magazines that still find it necessary to begin half the review by reminding everyone of our back story. And you think, “Bloody hell, are the kids being renewed that quickly?” There’s obviously a huge amount of people coming into metal all the time, but I think they are aging with us.
So is there a “typical” COF fan circa 2006?
That would be generalizing, which is just not fair on people. In America, we tend to get a cross-collateralization of different groups. We get hardcore people, we get the horror punks — we get all different variations of metal heads. Sometimes in Europe it’s more singular. But it’s hard to generalize and say, “Well, this is what a Cradle fan is like nowadays.” Which is cool.
You mentioned the differences between the U.S. and Europe, and I know you’ve been banned from the state of Wisconsin, and I’m sure religious groups are always on your back. Is it worse here or in Europe?
I don’t think it’s a big deal. I don’t consider us strictly irreligious in any respect.
But there’s certainly that perception, especially considering all the religious imagery you use, and with song titles like “Rise of the Pentagram” from the new album.
We flirt with some of this imagery as you do with any fairy tale. Some of the earlier stuff has a satanic flavor, but I think that’s more about escapism and fantasy. I’m not trying to wriggle out of this, I mean I’d be the first to put my hand up into the horns and say this is what the score is. But I’ll tell you what, it’s not our main weapon, it’s not our main tool. It’s not what we strive to be. Everything is not anti-God. It’s surprising actually when I first came to America I did expect people to be protesting gigs and that sort of thing, calling for us to be publicly skinned alive or something. And that only happened once in Wisconsin.
So does it bother you when you get branded as a devil worshipper?
Unfortunately when you make a bed like that you have to lie in it. I was talking to Doug Bradley the other day. He was the guy that played Pinhead in the Hellraiser series and I said, and whenever he walks into a room, the first thing anybody says is “Oi, Pinhead!” But he’s not bothered that people have pigeonholed him into a role. We were saying Christopher Lee’s constantly trying to shrug off the mantle that he wove in being Dracula. He hates it. We were talking about that, and Doug says, “Well, that’s been my career, it’s been very good for me, why would I want to shun the image?”
Obviously, it wasn’t by accident, with either him or you — he agreed to do the other Pinhead movies, and you’re still maintaining the same image you had when you started, or at least a variation of it.
Exactly, so it’s ridiculous to shrug it off now and say, “Oh no, we were never those people.” That would just be talking shit, and people would be able to see right through that.
But bands like yours are always dismissed outright. You’ve mentioned that you take a lot of pride in your lyrics — does it bother you that people don’t isolate that and admit, “Okay, these are mostly based on mythology and are well constructed — maybe they’re not totally worthless?”
But why would they? People give us all kinds of grief about the way we look without listening to the music, so why make one exception? Everything’s about the music at the end of the day. Music is supposed to be about escapism and enjoying it. It’s not supposed to be a vehicle for political gain or anything like that. I always hated English punks for that reason — what were they going on about? It’s just crap. Talk about beer and girls or something, you know? We try to make every facet of our art as good as we can make it: The lyrics, the artistry, the way we look, and the stage show and the tours, the videos — but we don’t want people to commend us on one thing or another. It’s the whole package or it’s nothing.
Tune in next week when Dani Filth and I talk about Thornography, technology, and getting arrested in Italy!
Now Watch This: Cradle of Filth’s “Temptation,” from Thornography!
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