DATE OF INTERVIEW:
1st November 2009
METAL DISCOVERY: You’re a couple of dates into the tour now, how were the Glasgow and Wrexham shows?
AARON AEDY: Glasgow…it’s always good when we play there. It was a smaller venue because I think there’s a lot of people playing at the moment, but the venue was sold out and the crowd were fantastic. Wrexham last night was a little quiet, but I’ve been told it’s not the greatest of…but the people that were there were excellent. It was very good. We’re getting on well with the Katatonia lads and the Engel lads…
(Aaron Aedy on the essence of Paradise Lost and the music they create)
"I think we’re willing to experiment and willing to try new things. You start a band because you want to make music for pleasure and if you feel like you’re regurgitating the same thing, it’s not fun. It’s a band that follows its heart."
Aaron Aedy in the Academy, Newcastle, UK, 1st November 2009
Photograph copyright © 2009 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview and Photography by Mark Holmes
Widely regarded as pioneering the foundations of what became labelled 'goth metal' (at least in its original incarnation as a subgenre), Paradise Lost's core lineup of Nick Holmes, Greg Mackintosh, Aaron Aedy and Steve Edmondson has admirably remained unchanged in their 21+ years in existence. With the addition of prolific Swedish drummer Adrian Erlandsson (ex-At The Gates/Cradle of Filth) to their ranks at the beginning of 2009, and recently released new album, the rather stunning 'Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us', proving they still have the ability to compose and make music of melodiously captivating charm, the Halifax metallers look set retain their hegemony within the scene for many years to come. I chatted to guitarist Aaron Aedy before their performance in the Newcastle Academy at the beginning of November about the past, present and future...
MD: Have you toured with Katatonia before or is this the first time?
AA: We were just talking last night, and their first ever tour was supporting us ten years ago. It must have been the ‘Host’ tour.
MD: Happy memories then! That’s quite a journey from Glasgow to Wrexham and then back up to Newcastle!
AA: Well, this got put in late because, originally, yesterday was supposed to be Glasgow and there was a mess up with the dates so we had a day on and then a day off straight away which was a bit odd. So yeah, it’s like a bit of a boomerang thing!
MD: There was an interview with Slayer in The Guardian a couple of days ago where Tom Araya said it takes them a couple of days to get into their stride on a tour. A couple of days into your tour, do you find it’s the same kind of thing?
AA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It always seems to be like after day two, that’s when you feel the tiredest really….day two, day three, and then day four, your body’s got used to playing live and what you have to do…the cycle of your sleeping. I feel alright today; particularly good, so that’s alright! Me and Steve haven’t got much room on the stage tonight so we might be standing on each other a little bit but, besides that, I’m looking forward to it.
MD: Marvellous. You did the Unholy Trinity dates last year to celebrate your twentieth anniversary and from a fan’s point of view that was one of those dream billings with My Dying Bride and Anathema. How did those shows go, and was it like a big nostalgic trip playing with those two bands again?
AA: The thing is, we’ve known the guys from My Dying Bride since…I’ve known Aaron, the singer, since I was about seventeen, so we’re friends anyway from years ago before we were in bands. And Anathema, one of their first ever shows, they supported us in 1992 I think it was, and they were called Pagan Angel. So it was more like playing with your mates, do you know what I mean, which was kind of cool. But the shows were really good.
MD: Has it actually seemed like twenty years…or it’s twenty one years now actually…?
AA: It’s twenty two in March coming up, so it’s twenty one and a half at the minute.
MD: Has it felt like that many years?
AA: Some mornings when I wake up it feels like twenty one years! [laughs] Other mornings I wake up and still feel like I’m eighteen! So I don’t know, it’s hard to put any timing on it really.
MD: Do you anticipate, or hope, that you’ll carry on for another twenty years?
AA: We hope we carry on until we don’t enjoy it anymore. That’s it; there’s no timeframe on it.
MD: That’s a good answer! I remember seeing you at Bloodstock in 2003 and somebody yelling out, kind of a heckle of “play some older stuff” - is that a regular heckle you get?
AA: No, but it’s weird though because we always stick in some older songs because people ask for them and then you put in one song and there might be two people going bananas for it and then everyone else enjoys the new stuff more, or songs like ‘Erased’ or ‘Say Just Words’…they’re all very popular songs…
MD: Ah yeah, they’ve always got to be in there to please the fans, I guess. At Rockweekend in Sweden this year, the crowd didn’t seem too big - was that a last minute thing the change of stage time?
AA: Yeah, literally that afternoon so nobody knew we were going on earlier. We got there and then we saw the travel plans and then it was hang on, no, it was really awkward because we literally would’ve had to cut the set in half and then rush straight to the airport.
MD: I guess you can’t enjoy the gig so much because you’re thinking “shit, I’ve gotta go and catch a plane” or something!
AA: Yeah, we’ve had that before. We’ve come off stage, had twenty minutes for a shower and then you’re going straight to the airport. No sleep! We’ve had that a few times.
MD: It’s cool the organisers let you switch the times and everything.
AA: Yeah but, you know, a lot of people turned up later thinking they’d see us and they didn’t, which was unfortunate.
MD: There was a whole crowd of people waiting to see Mustasch on the other stage and I remember Nick heckling a whole crowd over the way…“you’ve got an hour to wait, you might as well come over here and see some music!”
AA: [laughs] Yeah, and “Here’s one you might know!” [laughs]
MD: Adrian Erlandsson joined you earlier this year - how’s he fit into the band and has he brought anything new to your sound, despite obviously not recording anything yet?
AA: The thing is, until you’ve worked with a number of very good drummers, you don’t really think about…you just think drummers drum half the time [laughs]…but they’re all quite unique in their style. But at the moment we’re literally playing songs that are fairly established…yeah, he’s thrown a few little bits of his own in and it’s working really well. He certainly hits them hard!
MD: Yeah, I remember putting that in my review of Rockweekend. He really does whack ‘em! I think he gives your live sound a more solid backbone.
AA: Yeah, it really suits it because this new album’s harder and it really suits it, you know. And he’s an absolutely lovely bloke because we both live in London so it’s me and him that commute up for the rehearsals. So we spend hours in cars together, but he’s a top bloke.
MD: How long have you been living in London for now then?
AA: I’ve been there for nine and a half years now.
MD: You prefer that to up north?
AA: No, but my wife works in London. She’s got a job down in London…she’s not from London but she’s got a good job there. I can live anywhere really, you know. I spend half my time away! [laughs]
MD: I think I read Nick or Greg in an interview describe the new album as your “heaviest for years”. Did you consciously set out to make a heavier album and is that partly the reason you decided you work with a new producer in Jens Bogren?
AA: The producer thing was that we felt like a change. No particular reason because we’ve enjoyed working a lot with Rhys, but Jens did the mix for our live album, for the DVD, and we just thought it sounded really raw. And what we’ve seemed to do, especially since ‘Symbol of Life’, every album we’ve tried to make it sound like the last album did live. We’ve played it so every album’s got gradually a little bit heavier and the new one is just a reflection of that really. You know, the ‘In Requiem’ album sounded quite good live; it sounded fairly brutal. I mean, the album sounds fairly…not brutal…brutal is a funny word to use, but quite intense. But live it had that little bit of extra something so, in that regard, it was a conscious thing to make it a little bit heavier. If we feel like doing something different we’ll do it, you know. There’s no plan, it’s just how you feel at the time really.
MD: Were you pleased with the outcome and did Jens bring to your sound what you hoped he would do?
AA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think Jens has done an amazing job and the guy we used as a session drummer, Peter Damin, was phenomenal. It’s funny, when Adrian first heard the album he said [in mock Swedish accent]…“the drums are played by a Swedish wizard!” [laughs]
MD: I noticed Jens is promoted through Northern Music as well…coincidence, or is that…?
AA: No, no, it just meant we got a better price! [laughs] The stuff he’s done with Opeth has been really good as well and we knew we were going a bit more guitar driven so it was definitely worth doing, you know.
MD: I’m guessing it’s Nick who’s written all the lyrics on the album…
MD: He kind of has a pop against organised religions on the new album and, from what I’ve read, it seems to be from more of a philosophical point of view about conflicting faiths. Is he a more secular minded person than spiritually inclined do you think, in that sense?
AA: Nick will always say that he sees them as an observation rather than being holy but, I mean, we’re pretty much all on the same inkling that we’re not particularly religious, and we’re not particularly anti-religious. It’s almost like you’re just waiting for proof of anything being there. They can’t all be right. It’s either they’re all wrong except one of them, or they’re all wrong! [laughs] We’re more agnostic than atheist.
MD: Would you describe Paradise Lost as a progressive band in the sense of all the stylistic changes you’ve had throughout the albums?
AA: I think we’re willing to experiment and willing to try new things. You start a band because you want to make music for pleasure and if you feel like you’re regurgitating the same thing, it’s not fun. It’s a band that follows its heart.