DATE OF INTERVIEW:
26th April 2012
METAL DISCOVERY: So then, the new album…really, really good.
AARON: Oh, thank you.
(Aaron Aedy on the doomier nature of songs on new album 'Tragic Idol')
"I think it’s sort of been heading in this direction anyway for the last few albums but I think doing the ‘Draconian Times’ shows got back our love of what we were doing."
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
With a new album just released, 'Tragic Idol', British metal stalwarts Paradise Lost have regressed back to their doomier aesthetic of yore. In fact, such darkly melancholic doom sonics haven't been this emphatic in their music since the days of 'Icon' and 'Draconian Times' during the early to mid-nineties. In Nottingham, towards the end of a lengthy thirteen date UK tour in support of said album, rhythm guitarist Aaron Aedy spoke to Metal Discovery about the making of 'Tragic Idol' in Lincolnshire's Chapel Studios as well as the unexpected absence of a local pub...
Aaron Aedy outside the Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, UK, 26th April 2012
Photograph copyright © 2012 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
MD: It has a kind of doomy ‘Icon’/’Draconian Times’ era sound to it, more so than your more recent stuff. Did you just see where the songwriting took you or do you think you’re getting more nostalgic the older you’re getting?
AARON: I think it’s sort of been heading in this direction anyway for the last few albums but I think doing the ‘Draconian Times’ shows got back our love of what we were doing. It probably, subconsciously, aided that I think. Doing the ‘Draconian Times’ shows was great because there was one song we’d never played live and a few other songs we hadn’t played for years and it was really cool to go back and retrospectively see how we did things back then. So it probably crept in with the songwriting I think.
MD: That kind of answers my next question as I was going to ask whether revisiting all those songs had any effect on the songwriting?
AARON: Yeah, I think it must’ve done really. But it wasn’t like, “oooo, this is good, let’s write another one.” It isn’t like ‘Draconian Times’ but it’s got a bit of the energy of ‘Icon’ and ‘Draconian Times’. It’s the hardest I’ve had to work recording rhythms since ‘Shades of God’ and ‘Icon’ sort of time. It was quite full on with the riffs! But it was great, though; it’s cool…I’m a guitar player and I want to play guitar!
MD: Exactly! Compared to the last album which obviously had the orchestrations and keyboards, this one’s more a back-to-basics , stripped-down metal record I guess. It still sounds pretty epic in places though with the layered guitars so by not having the orchestrations and keyboards, did that force you to work more on getting the guitars to achieve a kind of epic feel?
AARON: Yeah, I think that was a very conscious effort on Greg’s part. I think he wanted to not have that and just work with guitars and, you know, if they needed something when we finished them, you add a little bit. But, yeah, I think it was more about just working the guitars really.
MD: It still sounds epic with just the guitars.
AARON: Yeah, I mean, that’s how we used to do it.
MD: The arrangements sound really well developed, particularly with the layered guitars, but how much did songs change from when they were originally written to the final recorded versions?
AARON: Well, there’s a lot of batting that goes backwards and forwards but I think they were mostly formed in stone before we went in the studio. The last one that I think was written was ‘To the Darkness’ and that came together about a month before we went into the studio. But, yeah, they were pretty well formed before we went in. We don’t like to experiment too much in the studio because it’s expensive. We’ve always been a band which likes to go into the studio pretty much knowing what we’re doing. If there’s a little bit jiggery-pokery then you can do it but, as a rule, we like to be fairly safe.
MD: It’s got that kind of really nice, warm, natural sound to it as well that a lot of bands seem to get out of recording in Chapel Studios…they have a lot of vintage equipment there, don’t they?
AARON: Yeah, some of the gear they’ve got is really nice. The desk’s quite old and it’s not one of the most amazing desks but it’s still good.
MD: An analogue desk?
AARON: Yeah, it’s an old analogue desk but you’re still recording to Pro Tools at the same time. But the desk and all the outboard gear, you know, they’ve got all the Neve gear…the Neve gear sounds great for guitars especially. I’ve always liked having a 1080 one in there in line with the guitars. It’s a good set of gear they’ve got there.
MD: Is that what attracted you back to Chapel to try and get that kind of sound?
AARON: Well, yeah, that and the pub but the pub wasn’t open which was really annoying!
AARON: Yeah, it was being refurbished.
MD: You were there for two weeks?
AARON: Four weeks and, for the entire time, the pub was getting refurbished.
AARON: Bloody annoying! There are no shops for four or five miles but the pub is a hundred yards away so that’s where we used to pop in every night or so for a bit of sanity. But it wasn’t open this time which was a shame so I became the designated driver and I kept taking the lads to the pub in the village about five miles away.
MD: No beer for you then!
AARON: Yeah, shandy…or lime soda…thank you! Thank you very much for that! Nah, it was alright, I don’t mind.
MD: So the last album was just recorded in Sweden but obviously this one was half and half I think I read?
AARON: Yeah, Nick did his vocals in Sweden.
MD: Did Jens Bogren come over to the UK too then to work in Chapel with you?
AARON: Yeah, he came over when we started in Chapel. He was here for the drums and getting the guitar sounds he wanted. Then he left his assistant, Johan, who’s a superb engineer and he did all the recording of the band. Johan works in a studio in Sweden as well but, also, Jens has got his own studio. It just worked out better because, if you’re a singer, you can’t sing for ten hours a day. It’s almost a waste of booking an entire studio. So Jens has got a really good setup at home, a very good setup in fact; better than most studios to be fair. He’s got a really good setup at home so Nick went over there.
MD: Just Nick?
AARON: Yeah, just Nick because there’s no point in the rest of us being there. Then Jens and him can just concentrate on getting it right, you know. Nick’s done a sterling job on this album.
MD: Oh yeah, some of his best ever vocals.
AARON: I think it’s the best he’s ever song, to be honest.
MD: Would you say recording the music on home turf in the English countryside affected the music in any positive way at all?
AARON: I don’t know, I think it was just nice for us. I mean, it’s somewhere we know and it’s out of the way enough that you don’t get distracted by anything; it’s all about the recording when you’re there. Like I said, the pub is a bit of a release but it wasn’t there this time. But, yeah, Chapel is familiar; we know it and the people who work in there are really cool and nice.
MD: So with Chapel being a residential studio, were you there for the duration; for the whole four weeks?
AARON: Yeah, I like to stay for the full duration anyway. I forgot my acoustic guitar amongst all the guitars I brought to the studio so, one weekend, just before I finished doing the rhythm guitars, I had to drive home and get that. So I spent a night at home and came back but that was the only break really.
MD: Do you find it easier to keep focussed in a residential situation when you’re there the whole time?
AARON: Yeah, it’s easier to be focussed I think. It’s good as well because if there’s an idea or you want to…“can we have a listen?”…“what do you think?”…“yeah, cool” or “no, we’ll do it this way” or whatever. And then when you finish recording at the end of the day you can blast it through the monitors to the rest of the band. It just fires you up, you know. We spend a lot of time together as a band. I mean, obviously there are times when you want to be on your own but we’ve always got on as good friends so it’s quite nice really.
MD: So was there a degree or partying and beer drinking too?…you said you had go up to the local village…
AARON: Yeah, we just went up to Alford and, like I said, I was the designated driver for four weeks!
MD: In using Jens for the second time as producer, was there a more natural producer/musician chemistry this time around?
AARON: Yeah, and it was easier for me because I knew how to prepare for the guitars for him. I know there are certain things he likes after doing ‘Faith Divides Us…’. So, when I rehearsed this, I made sure I had certain things I know that he likes. You know, instead of using up and down strokes, I know he likes all down strokes so I worked on that a lot more on this one. It was nice as well because it was like seeing a mate again. But we’ve known him a little while. He’s done a couple of our live albums as well.
MD: This is probably a question for Nick but the theme of death features prominently in the lyrics…
AARON: …as always!
MD: It seems a bit more prominent this time. When were the lyrics written; after the music?
AARON: Yeah, Nick generally comes up with the melody lines he wants to sing and then he usually finds words come as he’s doing the melody lines.
MD: So do you think the doomier nature of the material led to that more prominent death theme?
AARON: Yeah, and I think we’ve always got that sort of edge anyway. It’s like a dark cloud with a silver lining. You know, optimistic pessimists!