DATE OF INTERVIEW:
24th February 2011
Legendary British metallers Paradise Lost have enjoyed a 20+ year career and 2011 will see the reissue of what many regard to be their most seminal album, 'Draconian Times'. Widely acknowledged to be a milestone, and perhaps pinnacle, in the original conception of the Goth Metal subgenre, their 1995 release has remained, to the present day, a discernible and prominent influence in the music of many bands. The importance and influential might of 'Draconian Times' within the metal scene is undeniable so it's rather apt that Paradise Lost will be revisiting their classic album in its entirety at a series of special shows throughout Europe in March which climaxes with an appearance at the Forum in London on the 1st April, three days before Sony's re-release of the band's masterpiece as part of their Legacy series in what's been described as a collector's edition digipak box set. Paradise Lost's lead guitarist, Greg Mackintosh, provided Metal Discovery with an insight into what fans can expect from the 2011 reissue of 'Draconian Times' and how preparations for the forthcoming shows are progressing...
METAL DISCOVERY: How’s it going?
GREG MACKINTOSH: Yeah, I’m okay, fine thanks. How are you?
(Greg Mackintosh on the original recording sessions for 'Draconian Times')
"...we were holed up in this big place in Surrey and we just lived there for a few months making this album. There wasn’t a hell of a lot of recording went on actually; kind of more partying at the time, I guess!"
Paradise Lost - promo shot
Photograph copyright © 2009 Chiaki Nozu
Interview by Mark Holmes
MD: Yeah, great ta. ‘Draconian Times’ is obviously being re-released at the start of April this year by Sony/BMG – was the band actually consulted prior to their decision for the reissue?
GM: Well, I actually heard about doing the dates first, doing some shows, and I wasn’t really too keen about it because it seemed a bit of a back step. Then, when I found out it was, in part, due to Sony re-releasing…well, even just the re-release, they’ve taken the 2-inch tapes and it’s been re-mixed and there’s a 5.1 surround mix done of it by Jens Bogren who did our last album so that made it more interesting to me because it was kind of like a modern take on an old classic album of ours. That made it more interesting, and more appealing, and more worthwhile, you know.
MD: Were you involved in the remixing process at all or the original producer, Simon Efemey?
GM: Yeah…I was in a studio in the UK and it’s been remixed in a studio in Sweden and we were getting the mixes sent as they were done, and kind of throwing in our opinions.
MD: What’s it sounding like with the new mixes?
GM: It sounds not very different but I hear things now that I’ve not heard on it before. Like very crystal clear and a lot more depth to it I guess you could say.
MD: So kind of gives it a more modern sound that it didn’t have originally.
GM: Yeah, I guess. I mean, it definitely stands up to today’s productions which, I guess, before this was done to it, it didn’t really.
MD: It’s being touted as a collector’s edition digipak box set – have you actually seen the final product yet?
GM: I’ve been sent the artwork pages and it’s gonna be quite a big booklet, and it’s gonna be the original artist who did ‘Draconian Times’ doing all the artwork for it…Holly Warburton. So yeah, I’ve seen every page of the booklet but I haven’t seen the package put together yet. But I know what’s on each page and it’s very stunning. It’s in exactly the same vein as the original artwork because it’s the same artist, obviously.
MD: So is there going to be different artwork then for the front cover?
GM: Yeah, there’s going to be different artwork throughout – new artwork and kind of adapted older pieces of artwork. You know, it’s going to be an interesting package…of the time but brought up to date.
MD: Sounds interesting. What are your most vivid memories now from the original recording sessions back in 1995?
GM: I remember that recordings back then were much more ostentatious in general in the music industry. People tended to go into places and just stay there for three months which doesn’t really happen these days. So yeah, we were holed up in this big place in Surrey and we just lived there for a few months making this album. There wasn’t a hell of a lot of recording went on actually; kind of more partying at the time, I guess! The producer who did it, Simon Efemey, he was one of those guys who left the engineer to do a lot of the work and then came in at the end of the day and went, “yeah, that sounds great, let’s go to the pub!” So there was a lot of that went on, you know.
MD: Brilliant…fun times! So all happy memories now then looking back?
GM: Yeah, I would say so, yeah.
MD: It’s generally regarded now as a seminal release in your back catalogue and you can still hear its influence in various bands’ music today but do you personally believe the songs have stood the test of time?
GM: I do actually. I didn’t really give it much thought until I got sent the re-mastered and 5.1 mix versions and then, playing them after not hearing them for some time, I think they definitely stand up, yeah. I mean, the musicianship on them, the songwriting and with the production, and re-mastering, and the new mix, it sounds really fresh actually.
MD: And you’ll be playing the album in its entirety at the shows in March and April – how have the rehearsals been going so far and has it been like a big nostalgic trip?
GM: Yeah, but it’s slow going because one of the members isn’t an original member…
MD: Adrian, yeah.
GM: Yeah, Adrian Erlandsson...so I think it’s a lot for him to get his head round. There are a few tracks on there that we’ve never played live so it’s been a little bit of a learning curve. Playing styles have changed in the band since that time. I mean, I’ve been relearning lead guitar parts and thinking – “why did I play it like that? I wouldn’t play it like that now.”
MD: Has there been anything that’s been a bit tricky to relearn, like where you’ve had to really listen to the original recordings to pick out particular guitar parts from the mix?
GM: Yeah, yeah, it’s kind of like I said, it’s more to do with the style - like I wouldn’t necessarily play certain parts today like I did on that record. If I came to write a song, I wouldn’t think to do it that way so it’s just kind of interesting looking back what I would’ve done then.
MD: So when you play the whole album live, will it be exact renditions of the songs as they are on the album or have you been tempted to change any of the arrangements…like maybe for the seven string guitars you and Aaron have started using?
GM: We’re not changing the arrangements but we will be transposing certain parts and things like that, and jazzing it up here and there.
MD: So it might sound a little bit different live.
GM: Yeah, there will be some parts that’ll sound a bit heavier and things like that, you know.
MD: Have you decided on the remainder of the setlist yet for those shows?
GM: No, it’s still being worked out actually, at rehearsals. We’re still figuring it out because we want to do quite a decent length encore as well.
MD: So are you going to try and keep it retro and do lots of older stuff too?
GM: We’re gonna try and mix it up a bit but, yeah, there will be some old tracks that maybe we haven’t played before or something like that.
MD: I was looking at Nick’s Twitter page and he mentioned somebody bought him a mankini for his birthday which he said he’s going to be wearing at the March/April shows – are you gonna hold him to that?!
GM: [Laughs] I’d like to hold him to that!
MD: You should do, that’d be interesting!
GM: Yeah, it would! It would indeed! I can see that cover shot now on Kerrang!
MD: Yeah, and many other covers, I guess! Are you filming any of the shows at all for a DVD thing, maybe?
GM: Well, I’ve been told about a filming process going on but I don’t really know what’s behind it. I think it might just be a limited edition thing just to celebrate this ‘Draconian Times’ re-release maybe. It might be additional footage for an additional thing for the re-release. I don’t know, but I know that some of it is being filmed, yeah.
MD: And the shows are happening before it’s being reissued – I think it comes out a couple of days after the London show – so was that deliberately timed in that way?
GM: Yeah, I think so. The shows did actually come first…they were the first thing suggested. Then, when Sony got the rights to redo ‘Draconian Times’, it became a thing when we had meetings with them and spoke about what could be done on both sides to make it a little bit more special rather than just going out and playing a set.
MD: You’re doing some special VIP packages I noticed as well – is that the first time you’ve done that kind of thing for fans?
GM: Yeah, definitely. I mean, the first time I saw something like that was a couple of years ago when we toured with Nightwish in America and they were doing that kind of thing. I didn’t really understand it at the time but I gather it’s something that’s done fairly regularly these days.
MD: Yeah, it is, yeah.
GM: They did it at normal shows, but I wouldn’t want to do it at normal shows. It’s just a special one-off thing, you know.
MD: Yeah, it seems to be a trend over the last 5 or so years where every other band that’s touring seems to offering some kind of VIP thing.
GM: I think it’s just the music industry trying to get some money back wherever they can because record sales and downloading are…well, you know. I saw on the news the other day that ninety five per cent of all downloads are illegal. That’s a worrying prospect.