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28th April 2007
Cradle of Filth are a band that needs no introduction. With a plethora of strong albums behind them, and ever increasing in popularity, they remain a hegemonic force within the metal scene. Original guitarist Paul Allender, who left the band between debut album, 'The Principle of Evil Made Flesh' (1994), and sophomore release, 'V Empire...or Dark Faerytales in Phallustein' (1996), rejoined Cradle in 1999 and has since remained the predominant creative drive behind much of their unique and inimitble style of metal. Apart from music, Paul's had a longstanding interest in the martial arts which he both practices and instructs, and has recently undertaken work on an already successful digital art project called Vomitorium with Belgian photographer Cindy Frey. Recently bestowed with the honour of PRS producing his own SE signature model guitar, which is due to hit the shops imminently, it seems these are auspicious times for Cradle's multi-talented axeman.

The opportunity arose for me to interview Paul in Nottingham before their show at Rock City towards the end of a 2 week long UK tour. Hooking up with Steve, the band's tour manager, outside the venue early evening, he leads me backstage and I walk through a dining area where Cradle members sit and eat their dinner, before arriving in an office where I'm introduced to Paul. Modest, good humoured, sincere, and down-to-earth, I quiz him about touring; 'Thornography'; martial arts; his musical ventures during the time in between leaving and rejoining Cradle; Vomitorium; his PRS SE signature model; and a whole lot more. Seemingly chatting for around 30 or so minutes transpires to be over an hour. What follows is a transcription of the 60+ minute interview in its entirety...
METAL DISCOVERY: Right, I’ve got a whole load of questions here. How has the UK tour gone so far?
MD: Yeah?
MD: You seem to have quite a young following. It’s a later question, but you also have a broad range of ages into your music?
MD: Do you ever do any shows that are 18+?
MD: How was the recent tour of the States, 'cause you did like a month in the States?
MD: Do you have any funny or bizarre stories from that tour?
MD: How’s the fanbase in the States these days?
MD: You seem to be getting more recognition over there.
MD: How do you decide on a setlist for a tour? Do individual band members have songs they want to play?
MD: Like ‘Nymphetamine’?
MD: Do you think ‘Nymphetamine’ appeals more to the 14 to 16 year age bracket?
MD: Do you have an individual favourite song you want to play the whole time?
PAUL ALLENDER: Swimmingly...[laughs]
PA: Yeah, it’s gone really well. Really, really well. I mean it’s a bit of a weird time for all bands to tour at the moment because...you’ve got bands a lot bigger than us and they’re not selling out at all, which I’m surprised at the amount of fan generation we’ve had over this tour, ‘cause compared to the last one has been really, really good…really, really good. But yeah, ‘cause there’s a lot of kids who are doing all their exams and stuff now, because there’s a lot of final exams coming in, so there’s a lot of kids who actually haven’t come out. I mean, on my MySpace page, they’ve gone “ahh, I’d love to come and see ya, but I can’t, I’ve got exams and so and so…”
PA: Yeah, we do, but most of our fanbase now is between 14 and 16. There’s nothing wrong with that, but unless you have all ages shows, they can’t actually physically go to them which is a huge downside really.
PA: Even the laws in the UK now are actually no-one under the age of 16 is allowed to go to them because of the licensing law. You know, so whether they’re all ages or not, that completely screws it...[laughs]
PA: Yeah, that was brilliant. Really, really, really good.
PA: No, not really, we were actually really well behaved over this tour. We were actually treating it more like work instead of a holiday and because of it, it’s really escalated. The whole band, the group of us together now are absolutely on form, which is brilliant.
PA: Growing, slowly.
PA: We’re getting there slowly. But it might take another few years if we’re still around! [laughs]
PA: Well, we’ve always got ones we have to play.
PA: Yeah, all that. ‘…Cradle To Enslave’, you know…
PA: Pretty much, you know. Mind you, there’s a lot of them who’ve got into the older stuff as well now, which is good, but we’ve always got a setlist and said these are the songs we have to play, and 9 times out of 10 it’s too long, so we'll say well actually we could get rid of that one I suppose and if we can get rid of that one and just sneak another completely different one in there.
PA: Not really, I just like playing them all.
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(Paul Allender on the enthusiasm of Cradle of Filth's South American fans)
"We were in the van and even though it was darkened windows, they just twigged and all of a sudden the whole van started rocking and I was like oh god, it’s only music lads, calm down!"
MD: How about the stuff you didn’t compose like the 4 years you was out of Cradle?
PA: That was pretty much just ‘Cruelty…’. And to be perfectly honest it’s not because I didn’t do it, but it’s just that I don’t like that album.
MD: The production’s not as…
PA: …oh, it’s terrible...[laughs]. It’s terrible!
MD: ‘Midian’ to me was right back on form from ‘Dusk…’
PA: Nah, but ‘Cruelty…’, I like playing the song ‘Cruelty…’, but the whole album to me is just a mish-mash of like…it sounds like no-one knows where they’re going with it to me personally – that’s with my own personal taste in music. But if I was a fan, or if I was just getting into the band at that time, I wouldn’t get into it because it’s just like, hang on a sec, that bit’s just gone off that way, and that bit’s just gone off that way, do they actually really know what they’re doing together? That’s what it sounds like to me anyhow.
MD: That’s fair enough! Do you receive different crowd reactions depending on the country you perform in?
PA: Yeah, they’re usually really good, but they are slightly a bit different...the Americans like beating themselves up.
MD: Really? Physically?
PA: Yeah, pretty much. Especially if you go to South America.
MD: What, like an intense mosh pit?
PA: Yeah, pretty much, you know. It’s like the same as every gig – you get a few sitting round in the corners just watching, and then in America they have got a lot, lot bigger pits on the go and they really do take it to extremes.
MD: It’s funny you mention South America, ‘cause I heard from…have you heard of The Gathering?
PA: Yeah.
MD: I heard that when they tour South America, the South American fans are just crazy for them, they have a police escort there.
PA: We do. We did when we was down there.
MD: Really? And The Gathering are sort of more ambient these days, more mellow, but I’ve seen footage of them live there in South America, and the crowd are still sort of going for it.
PA: Yeah, last time we played, we played Mexico before doing the American tour, like two warm-up shows in Mexico, and it was like…holy shit! You know, they’re absolutely…we managed to pack about three and a half thousand people in these venues and they were just absolutely nuts. We got picked up from the hotel and it was the same – you know, escort and they were basically pretty much saying, you know, don’t let them park outside the venue, just get them round the back as quickly as possible.
MD: You’d be mobbed otherwise?
PA: Yeah, totally. We were in the van and even though it was darkened windows, they just twigged and all of a sudden the whole van started rocking and I was like oh god, it’s only music lads, calm down!…[laughs].
MD: How did Hanzel und Gretyl come to support you on this tour because it was originally announced as Kittie, and it was advertised as Kittie I think when a couple of the adverts went out?
PA: Basically, Kittie pulled out. Their record company wouldn’t pay for any tour support for them. So personally I’ve wanted to get Hanzel und Gretyl over the last couple of tours ‘cause I’ve been speaking to Vas over MySpace.
MD: Are you a friend of them?
PA: Yeah, pretty much. And she was saying “come on, let’s get touring together” and I said, you know, it’s like out of my hands but I’ll put the band forward. I put the band forward twice and it never happened. It just so happened now that they said, “look, we’ll pay whatever it costs to get over there, we’ll buy our own flights, we’ll buy our own…everything”.
MD: Are you a fan of their music then?
PA: I love it; absolutely love it.
MD: Do you like the more industrial sort of…
PA: Yeah, yeah.
MD: If we could talk about ‘Thornography’ a little bit now. The first time you’ve recorded at Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire?
PA: Yeah, as a full album we have done. That’s a first.
MD: Lincolnshire…I live in Lincolnshire…is a very rural sort of county. How did you find recording the album there?
PA: First of all we found Chapel on…there was a b-side we actually mixed there - it was one of the dance tracks we’d done that we mixed there, and then we found that place through one of our producers. But no, it was brilliant recording there though – completely smack bang in the middle of nowhere, just the way we like it, no distractions. You know, it’s amazing, an amazing place.
MD: Did you get out and about in Lincolnshire at all?
PA: Erm…yeah, I borrowed a push bike! [laughs] Yeah, it was good – nice to go somewhere different.
MD: I gather the vocals were recorded in New York from what it says on the sleeve notes?
PA: Some of them were, yeah.
MD: Why were some of the vocals recorded in New York?
PA: Because Dan got a throat infection. And instead of prolonging the studio…like just keeping the studio on hold and wasting loads of money, we said right, music’s done, let’s cut the studio, let’s do that, and when you get better, then you can go and find somewhere to do it.
MD: Circumstantial then?
PA: Yeah, and then Rob the producer, he just said look, there’s this studio in New York and you can go and do it over there. He’s friends with them and we got a really good cheap rate there, you know, and we only need to fly one person out there. So it was well within budget.
MD: So Dani went out on his own then?
PA: Yeah.
MD: Talking of Rob, you’ve used Rob Caggiano as a producer a few times now. What kind of working relationship do you have with him and has he brought anything new to Cradle’s sound?
PA: Erm…..it’s good working with him. Yeah, fair enough, we disagree quite a lot of the time, but yeah, he’s a good old boy in that sense, you know. But yeah, I suppose he has - he’s brought a few better guitar sounds to it…
MD: Being a guitarist himself...
PA: Well yeah, but he’s not really added that much to us to be honest.
MD: You still do your own thing…
PA: Yeah, yeah, oh totally. Yeah, absolutely.
MD: ‘Rise of the Pentagram’ is the first lengthy guitar-led instrumental track for Cradle. Was this consciously written as an instrumental track?
PA: Totally, yeah.
MD: I know you’re only credited with that on the sleeve notes as well, whereas the rest of the music is credited to Cradle, so you were completely autonomous in writing that yourself?
PA: I was pretty much on all of it, the album, the whole album. But we don’t go into the whole publishing crap, all that bollocks, you know what I mean. As far as I’m aware, the band should be classed as a band and not individual writers…at all, as far as I’m concerned.
MD: And also because it’s credited as Cradle of Filth, everybody gets equal money from…
PA: Totally, totally. You know, at the end of the day it all has to be split equal as far as I’m concerned in the band, no matter who does the donkey work or not. To be fair, I couldn’t do it without the other guys, so that’s exactly what I solely believe in. No, but you know, ‘Rise of the Pentagram’ – I was actually surprised I got credited for that [laughs]…I think Roadrunner had something to do with that.
MD: Did you want an instrumental track on the album?
PA: Yeah, I wanted to do something like, I said this time, right, this is the album we need to experiment with some instrumental stuff so I just went for it, you know. I just stuck all the clichéd metal riffs in there and just went for it.
MD: What, all the palm-muted thrashy type stuff?
PA: Oh totally, yeah.
MD: It was good to hear it live in December. I didn’t anticipate you playing that live at all, I thought it would just be something you wanted to put on the album, but…
PA: Oh no, we had full intentions of playing it live. It goes down really well.
MD: It’s a great track. Have you received any feedback from members of Heaven 17 about your…
PA: Yes, and they like it!
MD: I read something in Terrorizer when they interviewed Glenn Gregory briefly and I think it was him or his wife said they loved it. Have you heard directly from the band?
PA: Erm…not directly from them, no. Our management have heard directly from them and they said they absolutely love it – it’s a bit different which was good. But not actually personally ourselves we haven’t.
MD: How did you arrive at that as a cover?
PA: Haha…by mistake. [laughs] It was just done for a laugh to be honest…but no, we started doing it, we gave it to Charles, our guitar player, and said to him do you fancy coming up trying to arrange it and see what you think and bring it back, let us hear it and see what you’ve done. He came back and he’d actually done a blinding job of it. We thought we might as well make the most of it, put it in the studio and get it done properly. You know, so we did.
MD: It sounds very good live compared to the recorded version. I think it works better as a live track.
PA: Oh totally. It sounds gut as hell on the record. But no, live it works really, really well. It’s one of those live tracks really.
Paul backstage at Nottingham Rock City, 28th April 2007
Photograph copyright © 2007 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com