DANI FILTH ON EVE OF DEVILMENT UK TOUR: "BE HONEST. DON'T JUST EGO IT."
Devilment kick off their UK tour this month, hot on the heels of releasing their new album, 'The Mephisto Waltzes'. I caught up with the legendary frontman Dani Filth to discuss their second album, single releases and upcoming dates...
'Mephisto Waltzes' was released on November 18th. How do you feel the response to the new album has been so far?
"Great! Well I know it's done pretty well on Amazon and stuff and we have had a few people contacting us saying its good. All I can really say is what I know from the videos and people have responded to them really well. We have released three videos, mainly because there is such an eclectic mix on the record you only really get a window of what it's all about when you see a cross section."
Also, Devilment have a new drummer who joined this year.
"Yeah all very amicable. He initially handed the bat over to Matt. I play football with him every Wednesday, still go out for drinks with him and he's going to be coming to our Norwich show. Definitely worked out for the best for everybody."
Devilment released 'The Great And Secret Show' back in 2014 and many have commented that this new album has taken a heavier and darker turn. Was that a concious thing or was it just how things happened when you guys got together and started writing the album?
"Yeah, it's a natural progression, obviously a lot more experimentation but not too much to take away from what people would expect from a Devilment record. We made sure it retained the strength, the groove, the catchiness and the heaviness.
"Lauren and Colin joined the writing process half way through 'The Great And Secret Show' and so I guess they felt a little bit more like passengers on that record. They were here from the off with this one and you can see and hear that their contribution is exemplary and that they helped steer the ship as well. Also from the beginning the producer, Scott Atkins, kind of oversaw it and was almost like the sixth member.
"We also had a guitarist, Sam, who was also on loan, kind of like a football player [laughs] from another team. He was roadying for Savage Massiah and eventually joined them but he fulfilled his contract for us and still did some summer festivals like Graspop and Summer Breeze for us last year. He contributed to a couple of the tracks as well."
Have you all preferred working on the second album together and do you think this has helped develop the sound and direction of Devilment further?
"Everyone lives in the locality, apart from Sam. He was an exception to the rule as he was based in London and like I said, he was on loan from another club... for example rehearsing, it's easy to rehearse as we're local. Cradle, we used to be local but those days are long gone; that's like fifteen years ago. Now Cradle of Filth live across three galaxies.
"But yeah, writing, it's pretty much the same because when Cradle write we do it by the internet then we get together. I guess with Devilment it's a little bit more personal, and we do it the other way round. Things are kind of done in the rehearsal room rather than over the internet. It's just a different way of working; it's no biggy as such. Not quite sure which one I prefer to be fair but again that breaks up both bands as well and makes them a little different.
"Also some of the writing was done while I was on tour as well. If I had a day off and we weren't sightseeing or whatever and had a few hours here and there, but I'm pretty ahead of the game. If I know I'm going away then I'll work really hard and I've got everything I need. For example, at the moment, we are working on the new Cradle album and it's supposed to be delivered the second week in May of next year. Drums and one of the guitars are gonna be done before Christmas, then we've got guitars, bass and then female vocals and keyboards and then were going to do some choir stuff, then the mix.
"So, yeah that's going to be quite lengthy but I've made sure I've gotten the majority of my stuff I need to do and demos done prior to going on this tour with Devilment. I think I've got a couple of songs I've got to finish lyrics for, well song and a half. Rather than doing that while I'm away and confusing the Hell out of myself, I've just given myself enough time."
How do you manage to keep it fresh between each band?
"Not to work on both at the same time. Always keep a book wherever I am. If I get some lyrics or get an idea or a stupid picture in my head I'll jot it down. I'm always pre-armed before going into anything. The two bands are very different. I mean Devilment are more modern, you know I can get away with an album about Alien bases and people would think it was cool and kitsch and a bit steampunkish whereas if I wrote for Cradle it would be more hilted in traditional supernatural. There is a big divide. Cradle is definitly a little bit more old school."
The theme surrounding 'The Mephisto Waltzes' was inspired a lot by the album's artwork, right?
"The title was, yeah. The artwork was already done. It was picked from quite an extensive catalogue from one of my favourite artists. I was going to use it about four/five years ago for the album 'The Mantacore And Other Horrors' by Cradle but the guitarist at the time didn't agree and we ended up with a horrible fucking album cover. I'm quite graetful for that now obviously as I revisited Elena Vizerskayaaka Kassandra's work and contacted her and her agent and the stuff I liked was still available, nobody had pinched it and I thought 'fuck, that's incredible!', so we picked six of the pieces we thought best represented the album.
"We got the album title, which was inspired by the album cover, as was 'Dea Della Morte', and we had someone else also, called Dan Goldsworthy, who was the artistic director who put Elena's artwork in the book with the lyrics. You can get a special edition with expanded artwork that gives a little extra. I think between the two of them we have a really fucking wicked looking album.
"I think in this day and age with digital downloads and streaming sites etcetera, if people are going to buy a record they get that quality. I mean you get the new Metallica album, you open it up, spent about fifteen quid on the bloody thing and it's just the main picture and you just think 'what a waste!'. But anyway, that's just me...
"If you take 'The Mephisto Waltzes' as a collective title, an interpretation, all linked to Devilish endeavors, so a bit like a spellbook or grimoire. It's not a conceptional record as such unless you consider conceptional as being everything starts at the bases at a real sewer level. Really bad emotions that are overcome so you got things like cruelty and you've got infatuation and retribution, hatred, depression and obsession, fanatasism etcetra, etcetra. The album's a bit cathartic in regards to the fact that all these negative emotions are turned into positives and it's about overcoming demons and finding yourself, looking for the good in things, cups half full rather than half empty etcetra. Yeah, a bit of cathartism in there, a bit like Heavy Metal in general really."
You have said throughout your career you usually write all the lyrics but in the song 'Full Dark No Stars' Lauren helped write some of them....
"Well, what normally happens is sometimes the female vocalist will come up with a great tune and rather than just go 'la la la', they come out with some lyrics just to give it some structure and most of the time it's usually about unicorns, elves and you know, ponies, that sort of thing, anything really to convey the lyrics but in this respect I thought actually 'wow, they work really well with what I've got' and what I was trying to do. Rather than me trying to spend ages trying to think of, because it's even harder when you have got to take someone else's ideas which you have been listening to a lot, so you have got the words in your head, and then change them into something else that fits with what you have got in your head and it's got to be exactly the same, like same syllables, everything and it's really, really bloody hard.
"In this respect I literally just gave up and went 'but this works perfectly'. I changed a couple of words which I just thought would be better and sounded better. But yeah, for the first time I actually thought 'this is just fine'. We spend a lot of time in the studio dissecting choruses, for example with 'Under The Thunder', Lauren had written a melody, I written a melody and neither of us could work out which one was better, that worked better with the rest of the music, so in the end we just went 'ah fuck it!'
"So we used half of mine and half of hers and joined them together. We spent a lot of time going, 'well you know, let's cut the wheat from the chaffe here, this is shit'. Be honest. Don't just ego it and say, 'oh this is my song'. We could easily have put another two tracks on the record but again it was about quality over quantity. You could go on forever. I used to think that with Misfits records, because they are so good, I used to go 'wow, they could have written another ten more great songs, but it's like when do you stop, because that would be another record, surely?"
What is your personal favourite from the new album?
"Mine is 'Shine On Sophie Moone' because I like the way the lyrics are really bouncy and the heavy part and the way it sort of drops into a very sort of strange middle interlude. It's very transient. Transient as in ambient and spacey and a little weird. Unexpected, I think that's what I like about it."
There’s been three singles released so far; just want to quickly touch on each of them. The first, which was the lyric video, 'Under The Thunder'; any particular reason you decided to go for a lyric video and what made you choose this particular song for your first release?
"Well everybody goes for lyric videos because they are cheap. That's what record companies do nowadays. You look at every single band and the first thing they do is a lyric video. We wanted to do something a little different, we wanted to put some live action in there, so whilst we were recording 'Hitchcock Blonde' we set up a screen in a big room and we did everything to silhouettes to the song. I think it's a little more than a lyric video if you've got a bit of live action going on as well.
"'Under The Thunder' because it was just a big powerful track. It could have been anyone really. We just wanted to give a bit of a bang as this is a new record. It's heavier stuff and melodic. It didn't entirely represent the record, henceforth why there were three tracks. But I think for the first song, I think it was perfect. We wanted to show another side to the band; it's very Gothy, it's got a female lead in it but then its got a contrast of really, really, really heaviness. Got that 'Beauty And The Beast' going on vocally."
'Hitchcock Blonde' was the second release, so of course that was like the big video release. That's got a lot of references to Hitchcock's works and his infatuation with leading ladies. Can you tell me more about that?
"The video recording was in a deserted hotel and we drafted in a girl called Leanne who's been in a lot of TV shows..."
Yeah, next top model?
"Yeah, she was on that as well and we thought she was perfect for this character, the Hitchcock blonde that is being harrassed. Which is even more apt now that Tippi Hedren's biography came out the same day as our album. She goes on about how Alfred Hitchcock had an infatuation with her and kept tormenting her and trying it on with her, basically making her life Hell during the making of 'The Birds'. She did go on and make another movie with him, so you know... the song namechecks ten of his favourite actresses, which was cool as it saved me writing lyrics and luckily some of the names rhymed."
You guys used the same video producer, Samuel Scott Hunter, for this video as you have done for the last few of Devilment's videos...
"And Cradle in fact! The last few Cradle. He didn't do 'Sanity Hits A (Perfect) Zero'; we did that ourselves and then we had to draft him in to save it as it was an absolute pile of shit. It's good to work with the same people, they get to know your strengths and weaknesses."
So tell me more about the hotel you filmed at. It is based in your home town so that must have been handy.
"The director contacted the Suffolk tourist board and they suggested this place that was run down and run by someone else. It was slap bang in the middle of Ipswich and there was a Costa Coffee below it."
Even more handy...
"Well... it wasn't that handy for them because when the fire alarm went off it actually shut down their coffee shop for about two hours and they were not impressed. It was really strange being there in the centre of town with thousands of people, really blazing hot summer's day, all out shopping in their summer gear and then there's us peering out the windows literally like ghosts.
"It was such a contrast, this big empty derelict hotel where it was still dark inside. We had to run electric into certain rooms and take torches into others and yet outside it was blazing hot. It was very odd, and quite surreal too."
The third video was released on Monday 14th for 'Full Dark, No Stars’, which is anime. What made you guys want to do a video like that?
"Basically, Colin's sister did it. He suggested it when the record company said 'we think the song is really strong, is there any way we can get something together?' We were like, 'ugh, another lyric video'... we wanted it to be something different. Then Colin suggests, 'why don't we try my sister, she's a graphic artist in Australia and does anime'."
The production of the video was done very quickly...
"Yeah, they gave us three week's notice. So yeah, it was a bit like, 'bloody Hell!' There was a lot of late nights because of the time difference."
I really enjoyed it, you guys definitley pulled it off! Briefly, you have a tour coming up; is there anywhere in particular you guys are most looking forward to playing?
"Colchester, just because its local. I don't know why they never put shows on in Ipswich. It used to be a real hub back in the day when I first got into Metal a long time ago. I've seen Twisted Sister, Bon Jovi, I've seen Ozzy, all in Ipswich. Now people seem to ignore it so Colchester or Norwich is about our Local.
"Not particularly looking forward to it because you know [laughs] there will be a lot of people I know there. I'm looking forward to all of them to be perfectly fair; it's going to be fun. They're not huge so its going to be different from Cradle. We will be lucky to be playing in front of 150 people a night and that will be great. I'm quite happy with that.
"The smaller the venues, the more intimate they become. I would rather play in front of 20,000 people as its less worrying than playing to 100. If that makes any sense. They can see the fear in your eyes [laughs]."
Just to add, where you are playing in Glasgow, Stereo, it's a vegan restaurant as well as a music venue so be sure to let Lindsay from Cradle Of Filth know as I know she's vegan.
"Thanks for the advice; we'll need to bring around some sausages... or haggis [laughs]."
"You can get vegan haggis there!
"That'll do! [laughs]."
You can purchase Devilment's album, 'The Mephisto Waltzes' right here.