By David E. Gehlke
CRADLE OF FILTH founding member and frontman Dani Filth is making the press rounds for the band's new live album, "Trouble And Their Double Lives". The set is noticeable since it's CRADLE's first live offering since 2002's "Live Bait For The Dead", an unusually long time between live forays for such a prolific band that continues to stockpile studio albums. Realizing that it's hard to get people excited about live albums, CRADLE wisely tossed in two new songs, "She Is A Fire" and "Demon Prince Regent" that complement a track listing that leans heavily on the band's classic "Dusk And Her Embrace" and "Cruelty And The Beast" era, as well as their more recent period, which has produced a string of well-received long-players. "Trouble And Their Double Lives" is also another mile-marker for the Brits — whatever flak they caught from the black metal scene now appears moot in light of CRADLE's longevity and consistency.
However, "Trouble And Their Double Lives" may very well be a footnote for CRADLE. in 2023. The band's highly anticipated collaboration with pop megastar Ed Sheeran is in the can and should see the light of day before year's end. It will be CRADLE's second opportunity to infiltrate the mainstream — the first was back in 2003 when the band signed a short-lived deal with major label Epic/Sony for "Damnation And A Day" That deal may not have worked out, but the band's collaboration with Sheeran may generate some serious buzz and is for a good cause (both parties plan to donate proceeds to charity),which is one of the many topics Dani Filth and BLABBERMOUTH.NET tossed around over Zoom.
Blabbermouth: Twenty years is a long time to go between live releases. Most bands that have had a long career like yours tend to release them after a few studio albums, but what prompted CRADLE to wait so long?
Dani: "We needed 20 years to fill up two sides of a CD. [Laughs] The truth of the matter is that I don't think a live album would have happened. It's very circumstantial. It evidently was put down to what other people suffered through, which was the pandemic. It delayed the release of 'Existence Is Futile' for a year. It delayed our moving from our previous record label, Nuclear Blast, to Napalm Records, by a year. We found ourselves with some downtime and a whole bunch of recordings that were taken from the 'Cryptoriana (The Seductiveness Of Decay)' world tour. That's how it was born. We were compiling the 'shopping list' as it were, the tracklisting, we did have one eye on the past, thinking, 'Yes, it has been 20 years, but we don't want to replicate what we put on the previous live album.' Twenty years have passed and they're sitting next to each other in a record store or Spotify. [Laughs]"
Blabbermouth: The live album format isn't as exciting as it used to be. Was sticking in two new songs, "She Is A Fire" and "Demon Prince Regent" at the beginning of each disc, a way to liven things up?
Dani: "I suppose. I didn't think about it from other people's perspective. I'm not a live album guy myself. There are a few I love, but I'd rather listen to 'Live After Death' [IRON MAIDEN]. It's a great record. It got me into MAIDEN for a start, but I think I'd rather listen to the actual albums. They were put on there to spice up the album and our enjoyment of the record. Also, we had a lineup change. They were the original songs with the new lineup — the embryonic stage. They were the first couple of songs that were going toward the new album, which, coincidentally, we're going to start recording in two weeks. With the new members, I thought, 'Let's press reset on this.' There's a new leaf being turned over, so it could be weird. We thought of starting from here and this was the perfect place to start with these two new songs. When fans put the live record on, they are listening to history. It's giving them something that's current for the CRADLE of this era. There's a passing nod to the new album. The new album is not going to be anything vastly different, like reggae or Asian dub. It's definitely in the right direction. It's a hint of the future."
Blabbermouth: Do you envision the new studio album staying in the same vein as "Cryptoriana" or "Existence Is Futile"?
Dani: "It's not going to be a million miles away from that. I've been working on some of the material today. We're putting the finishing touches on the songs we're going to record, whether all of them make the grade or not. It has a 'Dusk And Her Embrace' vibe to them. Musically, it plays across 'Dusk' and 'Midian', but lyrically, and the vibe of it, it has a 'Dusk And Her Embrace' feel to it. I don't know why. History repeats itself. Maybe it's because we wrote 'Dusk' around this particular time of year, but it has that vibe. It sounds great, but I would say that wouldn't I?"
Blabbermouth: What has kept CRADLE so prolific over the years? If you look at your contemporaries, they aren't releasing albums nearly as frequently as you.
Dani: "I don't know the situations of other bands. I guess it's a matter of luck, perseverance and good people around the band. We have a good management team. We have a great team of people around who are great to us. Great tour managers. Scott Atkins, our producer, who we're going to work with on the new album. He's done our previous five albums. We got good people around us. That always helps. We're quite prolific with our writing. This album was a bit of a challenge because, as with everybody, the pandemic threw everybody off kilter. We had lineup changes. They weren't small — it was a guitarist and keyboardist. Obviously, fresh blood had to be integrated. You can't join a band instantly. There was a period of integration as well. Yeah, it's very exciting. I'm excited."
Blabbermouth: You referenced moving to Napalm for the new live album and your next studio album. Twenty years ago, you jumped to Epic for the release of "Damnation And A Day". Can you share your experience? Was it doomed from the start based on the band CRADLE was at the time?
Dani: "Yeah, Sony/Epic was doomed from the start. People warned us about it. I'm one of those who always does the opposite anyway, no matter what people tell me. Don't get me wrong: The whole thing, from start to finish, was an amazing experience. We were very lucky that when we entered the deal, people told us, 'You need to be careful on a major. They're always shifting. It's all about the money. They're shifting the people around. The person who loves you — the head guy, Nick Raphael, in the U.K., at least. He will have another job next year.' That was entirely the case. He was moved to a different department in a different country. They didn't know what to do with us after that. It was very lucky that they didn't hold us. They could have kept us to contract. They were like, 'You know what? You don't do any service for us.' We walked straight to Roadrunner, which was another amazing label and a great move for the band. In the two years we were on Epic/Sony, we headlined the second stage of the American Ozzfest for ten weeks. We had TYPE O NEGATIVE support us around the U.S. We did a massive U.K. and European tour. We were in the Guinness Book Of World Records for the first video-only single to hit the top 40 [for 'Babalon A. D.']. Yeah, we got in and were able to scare the mainstream for a bit. Everyone was expecting us to be the next BACKSTREET BOYS. Like, they were going to make us turn our tails and defy our origins, which is what everybody expected from us. Instead, we delivered an album as extreme as anything we've done. It's one of our best. We had a great time at it. We went to some really weird parties. Hung around with some really famous people. Got on TV. It was really cool."
Blabbermouth: Do you have any expectations for the upcoming Ed Sheeran collaboration? It's been talked about in the mainstream press, which must be great for CRADLE's visibility.
Dani: "Let's hope he doesn't give up music as he promised yesterday." [Editor's note: At the time of this interview, Sheeran was in the middle of a copyright infringement lawsuit involving his song "Thinking Out Loud" and Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On". Sheeran was found not guilty.]
Blabbermouth: Oh yeah. That court case has to be hard on him.
Dani: "Absolutely. Due to this retarded lawsuit against him — the building blocks of any pop song are literally four chords anyway. [Laughs] They said, 'Oh, he played the [Marvin Gaye] song during a jamboree.' They said that because they worked quite well together. He warned me about it when we were conversing before he left for the States. He told me all about it. I couldn't believe it. He was sued for a stupid amount of money like America is prone to do to one another. That being said, let's hope that goes well for him and he doesn't give up music. The single we did together is great. In fact, Friday is the first day we go to mix it. Everything is done on it. I would hasten to bet that it will be a fair few months before it's released. There are a lot of things that have to be in place. It's a charity single for two really good causes. Subsequently, we want to get as much airplay as possible. It has to go to the powers and channels that be that need to initiate all that. It's not as simple as dropping the song off at a radio station. It's everything that people can imagine it to be. It's Ed Sheeran meets CRADLE OF FILTH. What more could go wrong? The coolest thing about the scenario is that it took about a year and a half to get it to happen because I am really busy. Fucking hell, Ed is literally one of the top ten biggest artists in the world today, so he's incredibly busy. We didn't meet until a week before last Christmas. He walked up to our studio, which is in the middle of the Suffolk countryside, not far from where he lives, with a guitar on his back, a CRADLE hoodie on, driving his wife's car, no security detail, no family, nobody else. Just on his own. He was super cool."
Blabbermouth: How does this all lead to what you have planned for next year?
Dani: "We've only got half of the summer festivals in 2023. Next year will be a massively busy one. This year, it's the live album. We're going to be recording the new album for about three-to-four months. We don't work weekends, so we space it out. That will happen behind the handful of summer festivals. The second half of the year will be busy; next year will be super busy. It will all be centered around the release of the new album."