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28th April 2007
METAL DISCOVERY: Going back to the early days, is it true that you wrote and recorded demo versions of songs from what became ‘Vempire’ and ‘Dusk and Her Embrace’ before you left Cradle?
MD: Do you regret not playing on those releases…the stuff you’d written, was it hard to see other people playing that, releasing that and getting successful out of that?
MD: I apologise for this interview then!
MD: …you’re probably hating it!
MD: What, like the professional sort of side?…
MD: Do you prefer recording to performing live then?
MD: After you left Cradle originally….er, originally?…you haven’t left now….you were involved in The Blood Divine and Primary Slave. How did those bands come about? Are those bands you formed, or…
MD: You had Darren from Anathema in there?
MD: When you left Cradle, did you immediately form The Blood Divine?
MD: Is that a genre of music you’re into now?
PAUL ALLENDER: Erm, no, when I was still in the band we wrote ‘Dusk and Her Embrace’ and ‘Dusk…’ was actually, er, shall we say the ‘Vempire’ stuff was actually part of the ‘Dusk…’ album. So ‘Dusk…’ was a pretty hefty album. But after we left, what they had to do to get out of a contract, was to move…basically they took a few songs off of it, released it as ‘Vempire’, or ‘Fifth Empire’, whatever you want to call it, and then that was that released and then they signed to Music For Nations.
PA: Not at all because it was the same stuff that I’d written. You see, the thing is with me, I don’t….believe it or not, I just like to sit behind the scenes and work. You know, I’m not one for having my face shoved in fans or magazines all the time – I don’t like it at all. And what’s happened is, like now…well, it’s okay, it’s good for my career, but what’s happened now this year, ‘cause my signature series guitar’s coming out, all of a sudden now, my face is being stuck everywhere and I’m like, oh my god!
PA: No, it’s okay…
PA: No, no, I don’t mind interviews, but having my face plastered all over the place or being centre of attention or in the limelight – it’s just not me. I prefer to be behind the scenes, making sure it’s all run like a well oiled machine, you know. That’s what I prefer to do.
PA: Yeah, totally.
PA: I like both of them, you know. I like both of them. But I like it live because when I come off stage, nobody has a clue who I am! Once I take the makeup off and I completely change my clothes, walk out there with a baseball cap on, then they just haven’t got a fucking clue! Which is brilliant. Brilliant.
PA: Yeah, pretty much.
PA: Yeah, and Paul and Ben Ryan – the two Ryan brothers as well. And we had er…
PA: Yeah, pretty much. We wanted to do something a bit different, you know, so we went down the stoner metal route, which was like good for us.
PA: Yeah. I like all that stuff. I like Trouble and all that.
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Paul backstage at Nottingham Rock City, 28th April 2007
(Paul Allender on preferring to work behind the scenes)
"I don’t mind interviews, but having my face plastered all over the place or being centre of attention or in the limelight – it’s just not me."
MD: Spiritual Beggars?
PA: Yep, yep. Orange Goblin and all them. I like all that stuff. But yeah, like I said, we done that for a bit and then I wanted to get into a bit more of the extreme, heavier stuff. That’s when we put together Primary Slave.
MD: I was gonna ask – how did you meet Mark Giltrow? I used to know Mark in….I’m from Hertfordshire originally. Mark lived in Hoddesdon, and I lived in a place called Ware…
PA: Oh, I know Ware, yeah.
MD: …and I used to play guitar with him years ago. So I know you’re from Colchester, so how did….I knew Mark from his Cenobyte days.
PA: We had a drummer, his name’s G, and I think…I’m not too sure how we actually…I can’t really remember but I think it was through him that I met Mark. And we said that we’re after like…’cause he was a phenomenal vocalist…
MD: …and guitarist…
PA: Yeah, totally, you know. Absolutely. And so we said, well, let’s have a listen what the vocals are like, and he’d done ‘em, and holy shit man, you’ll do! You know, get you on vocals. Apart from him writing bloody songs about plastic breasts and all the rest of it. It’s like, what?! [laughs]
MD: Sounds like Mark!
PA: Then we sort of pretty much went….it was a cross between….at the time when we’d done the demos, it was a cross between….they were really catchy tunes….but it was a cross between…and this is like before the whole Slipknot and Fear Factory type thing, before they really hit off. You know, and we were doing stuff like that with techno samples and…
MD: You preceded them doing that sort of…
PA: Yeah, yeah, we started doing that. And the demos were really sort of pretty heavy, really extreme...I was just about to sign a contract, and Cradle called me again and say “do you want to come back in the band?” – no not at the minute [laughs], and after about a couple of months…I got another phonecall, and I said go on, I’ll have a meeting with you. Unfortunately, when I left Primary Slave to come back into Cradle, they got rid of all the really extreme bits, and when I listened back to the album I was like, oh no you silly bastards! [laughs]
MD: I got the album but I….I thought it was a good album, but it could’ve been better.
PA: The demos were a million times better.
MD: Did you know Lee as well who came in after you?
PA: No, I didn’t.
MD: He was like Mark’s bandmate in Cenobyte.
PA: Basically, I think Primary Slave turned into Cenobyte.
MD: Yeah?
PA: That’s what I personally think.
MD: Did you ever see Cenobyte?
PA: Yeah, and I didn’t like ‘em.
MD: I first knew Cenobyte when they were 15 and used to play in my local metal pub and they covered old metal tunes. At 15, they were bloody good musicians.
PA: Yeah, totally. But I didn’t like what Cenobyte were doing with their own material. I think when that other guy came in, Mark sort of took over the reins a bit more, and it turned into that band. And then it’s like, nah. Because I did say to him before I left, I said look, whatever you do, you’re absolutely on a winner if you keep those heavy bits in there. You have to keep them heavy bits in there, and believe me, if you do that you’ll have album after album after album coming out.
MD: I think they got some coverage in Kerrang and Terrorizer but they were just a bit under-promoted on Visible Noise – I think the label they were with, which is quite unfortunate. On a sad note, do you know Mark died last year?
PA: Yeah, I did unfortunately…
MD: …a motorbike accident in Hertford…
PA: …yeah.
Photograph copyright © 2007 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
MD: Did you actually play gigs with Primary Slave before you left?
PA: Yes.
MD: I think I heard you supported Iron Monkey?
PA: Possibly. I remember one at the Oliver Twist in Colchester. That was a good laugh. That was like an excellent laugh.
MD: I remember you getting a very good write up in Terrorizer.
PA: It’s just like….it’s one of the most enjoyable gigs I’ve ever done.
MD: Yeah?
PA: Yeah, totally. It was like such a refreshing change, you know. And then to hear everything that’s going on, playing to a click, having the samples going and stuff…it was heavy as hell as well. You know, kids loved it, absolutely loved it.
MD: You said recently in a Terrorizer interview that you’ve never considered Cradle as black metal originally. But you have sort of black metal influences….you had lots of influences in the early days, and part of that was black metal…
PA: Yeah, yeah, totally. Part of it was the black metal scene ‘cause to be honest, because we were growing up with it, we couldn’t get away from it. Because death metal had turned into black metal. You know, that whole progression had actually taken over.
MD: In the media anyway.
PA: Yeah, exactly. So of course it’s gonna be part of the sound. But luckily, we retained all our original influences as well. You know, like Priest, Maiden…
MD: Paradise Lost?
PA: Yeah, Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, all that stuff, you know. Like The Gathering as well. All like the really early 90s death and doom stuff. We was all influenced by that, and plus also still influenced by the old 80s thrash bands. So we had a whole different load of stuff we were taking ideas from instead of just sticking with the black metal. This is why I don’t class us as a black metal band.
MD: Or never did.
PA: Never did, no. People used to say, yeah fair enough we used to wear makeup and this sort of stuff…
MD: …and you still do…
PA: …still do, yeah, but back then we used to have the spiky clubs and the blood and stuff, and I’m thinking like, well, at the end of the day, we done it because of the shock factor and…which it really did work, for us at least, but the influence…it’s pretty much the only influence we had from the black metal stuff was the image side of it.
MD: And the keyboards, and single string riffs…
PA: Yeah, totally. But most of that stuff came from early thrash influences. In interviews, we’ve had like, at the time, "what sort of style of music are you?" Erm, well, what do you think we are? We would always say – what do you think we are? We never, ever, ever turned round and said we’re this type of band. Because if you pigeon-hole yourself and that scene goes down the pan, you’re screwed, you’re absolutely screwed.
MD: There’s a very bad media tendency to label bands as this genre, or that sub-genre, but I think there should only be two categories of music – music you like, or music you don’t.
PA: Yeah, totally.
MD: If you’re into it, yeah; if you’re not then, you know…
PA: I mean the way I see us now, even the way I saw us then, is like, the way I see it, you’ve got all these pockets of different styles of heavy metal turn up – as far as I can see it, we’re just the canopy that goes over the lot. You know, absolutely.
MD: You seem a lot more settled as a band since being signed to Roadrunner. How does being signed to Roadrunner compare to previous labels?
PA: At least they know what they’re doing! There’s teething problems obviously, but so has every single record label and bands - it doesn’t matter how long bands have been signed, you know. But they certainly know what they’re doing, and they’re really getting us known in the States and everywhere now, so it’s all good.
MD: So you’re happy on Roadrunner?
PA: Yeah.
MD: You seem to tour the UK a lot more now than you did in recent years, rather than the odd handful of dates here and there – is there any reason for that at all?
PA: Erm….I don’t know, we just realised that we don’t play England that much, and it’s come to show that we’ve actually got a good fan base here, whereas beforehand, the fan base for us here in this country, like a few albums back was a bit pants. For some reason, since these last two albums have come out, it’s just skyrocketed.
MD: Is that a Roadrunner connection do you think?
PA: Possibly, possibly. Either that or the style of music’s changed a little bit. But it’s good, we’ve made more of an effort to come out and play to our home crowds.
MD: Do you get time to go to any gigs?
PA: No, not at all.
MD: What’s the last gig you went to…to watch, as a fan?
PA: Erm….it would have been…...christ…….erm…bloody hell, actually, all I’ve got going through my mind at the moment is gigs that we’ve actually played!
MD: Like last night…
PA: Yeah, exactly. I think the last time I actually physically went to a show was to see Mayhem at the Astoria in London.
MD: Mayhem?
PA: Yeah, and that was…..1999.
MD: Do you ever get much time to….not through lack of wanting to go to…
PA: No…actually, to tell you the truth though, what I did do…we had 3 Inches of Blood on tour with us in the States and, ‘cause I got on really well with them…I played a song with them over a couple of shows when I got up on stage with them. And I did actually go when they were in the UK. I did actually go to Norwich to see them because they wanted me to get up and play with them. So I suppose that’s sort of going to a…..even though I played!