Paradise Lost Interview
Looks like itís time to do that interview thing again. This time, itís Paradise Lost. Gulp. Miserable awkward bastards. At least thatís the view that gets portrayed. Iíve just got back from Greece a couple of days ago for work, and have only heard the album a few times. Crikey. So whatís going to happen? Dunno. As I arrive, Iím directed towards Lee, the drummer for the Lost, and we make our way into support band Soundisciples dressing room. I remember this, itís where the Cay interview took place. Fortunately thereís only one person here this time, so it should be easier. So, come on, letís do it then.
First thing, to be honest, I only got the album on Tuesday (itís Thursday today), so Iíve only listened to it 5 or 6 times and itís still sinking in. Iíll go with some music questions, but thereís some other stuff as well. Anyway, youíve done a couple of gigs for this one, two I think.
Yeah, we played in Dudley on Tuesday, London Kings Cross Scala last night, so this is third of six I think.Is there any indication yet how the new stuff is going down, because thatís the talking point. Yeah, thatís the weird thing. Thing is, weíve just got back from Germany doing press over there, and the album is doing so well in Germany, France. In a lot of places itís sort of gone top 10 in all these normal album charts. And we come back to England and itís like, weíre not really a trendy band, so we kind of expect that weíre not going to get much of a good deal over here. But itís pretty much like we expected. People have been getting in to the new stuff, but we havenít had that much favourable press over here. Itís a weird thing that weíve never really been like flavour of the month here.
You said you kind of expected it maybe over here, I think I read this album is a progression from One Second, and that was the big change from Draconian Times. So did you ever think well maybe with such a change you should maybe change the name of the band, because people will always associate your past with you. And if you did that, would you get a more favourable reaction?
Itís very difficult to tell. I think withour fans they kind of expect us to do something different. So we never really felt that we needed to start from scratch and change the name. Every album for us has been slightly different and I think the difference between Host and One Second is not that great. I think the difference between Draconian Times and One Second is greater. I mean Draconian was an out and out rock record, that was our attempt at doing a rock album. With One Second we never wanted to be the type of band that did the same thing. I mean, thereís so many bands, without knocking them, like Iron Maiden and theyíll do the same album every year. And I mean theyíre happy to do that, and their fans are happy for them to do that, but we want more out of that. We want to push ourselves and try and do things a little different. And most of our fans expect us to do that. As far as the response, weíve been in touch with a lot of the fans on the Internet site, people can get in touch with us, and itís been about 70% positive.
You said itís going to ok abroad, and I thought it might have struggled there, in that say Germany and Greece and those places seem to be traditional metal.
Yeah, but I mean I think for us, Germany especially was the first place that got the album and what weíre doing. And thatís the thing I like about European audiences, theyíre not trend oriented. Theyíre very much theyíll get into your music and theyíll stick with it and they allow you to change. Not like with England. Flavour of the month here every so often will change and you have lots of "this is the new band" and they get put on the front cover of every magazine, and then itís like two months down the road theres a new band. It just seems so false the way it changes. Whereas with Europeans, when theyíre into it theyíre into it, whether youíre hip or not, they donít care.
The Kerrang! review said it was a good album but itís not really a rock album. Would you agree with that? How did you feel about seeing that in print?
The thing is, Iíve never really taken that much notice of what Kerrang! says to be honest with you. Because talking with a lot of people about the way, I used to read Kerrang! a lot when I was younger, but I think the way that magazine is put together now is so different from when I used to read it. I think nowadays itís very much geared towards spotty 13year old kids who are just getting into metal. Youíve got a lot now of these classic rock magazines, like RockSound who are not biased towards this new generation. Theyíll have some of the new stuff, theyíll have the older classic bands. Theyíll give you the full spectrum of bands. They donít just think, "oh weíll forget about them". I mean, bands like Iron Maiden, they were always in Kerrang! And Judas Priest, all these great British metal, and now Kerrang! are slagging them all off. And theyíre still the same bands. So I just find it so fickle that magazine, itís like a comic really. Itís nice if you want to see what tour dates are on, but I think itís just written by failed musicians who are a little bit bitter myself.
Given that they said that it wasnít a rock album. Are you happy with that? It was Billy Corgan I think who said "rock is dead". Is that the sort of statement youíd agree with?
I donít think rock is dead, I just think thereís so many different versions of it. I mean, what is rock? Is it just heavy distorted guitars. People just say "oh rock". I mean, once fusion bands started coming in and people started piecing slightly different styles of music together, I think thatís when it wasnít so cut and dried as "thatís rock, thatís pop, thatís punk." It didnít work like that anymore, because you couldnít put them in that category, cos theyíre are rocky, but theyíve got maybe a funk edge to them. And it started crossing over so much. I think itís just frustrating that people try to pigeonhole you. I think people seem to have to think "oh, what type of band is this?". They donít just think is it good? Do they write good songs or bad songs. Itís always a case of "where can we put them?" They have to find a category for you. And I think "well why do people feel they need to put you in a category?"
So do you feel all the crossover and fusion bands have helped to break down barriers.
Oh definitely. And itís healthy for music because you canít just keep regurgitating the same old stuff year after year. Thereís your rock, thereís that, thereís that. Eventually youíve got to start merging stuff together.
But do you think theyíve just knocked down barriers to replace them with the same. Like now people may only listen to something that is technorock, or something thatís got hip hop fused with it. And in that respect theyíre just forming their own little cliques which are effectively the same as those they claim to be breaking down.
Well they do. You are going to get people who are into certain styles and trends, and think, well if you put that in with them and say thatís techno, then the people who are into techno will just go out and buy it. Whereas if you just put it into the wrong category then the techno fan probably wonít have gone out and bought it. So I suppose itís easy in that respect, but I think when youíre the other side of the fence and sort of doing music yourself, then you tend to view things slightly differently. Iíll go on word of mouth more than anything. Friends of mine have said "oh Iíve heard this great new album" and Iíll ask what it is and listen to a few bits and think "yeah, thatís really great" and go out and buy it. Iím not interested in what style it is or what type of band it is.
Are there any albums recently that have really made you think, "yeah thatís good".
Ummhe thinks, that new Stereophonics. I heard them at a festival in Europe and bought the album which I think is really good. Very Manics inspired rock and I thought that was really interesting. And I got the new Robbie Williams album which is really cool. Thereís some great albums out there. I bought that new Kiss album which I thought was really cool. Thereís so many different things. We heard the new Chilli Peppers album last night and thatís rocking as well.
Ah, I gave up on them a few albums back.
The new albums got some great stuff. Theyíve still got the token gesture funk sections, but itís got some great songs on there.
One thing you mentioned there, and thereís an interview in the latest issue of the zine with Fear Factory where I tried to pick up on a similar thing. And that was where you said that now youíre creating music you see things from a different point of view. And so as a fan, things like ticket and merchandise prices seem too high, and re-issues are just taking the piss out of fans.Yeah. Whereas from a band perspective maybe, itís a way to pay the rent.
You tend to find that a lot of the re-issues where an album gets released and 6 months later it gets re-released as a double CD with extra tracks and this sort of stuff. Basically this is a record company cashin. But they look at the bands and are "I canít believe youíve done that, the bands ripping us off." But 9 times out of 10 itís not the bands that are doing it, itís the record company. Because at the end of the day all a band is to a record company is a commodity. Thatís all you are. They just look at you and think "ok, hereís this band, how much money can we make off them". Theyíre not interested in your music or anything else. Youíre just a product. So if they sell youíre album and they think, ok, if we re-issue this as a double album, then that fan will go out and buy it twice so weíre getting twice as much money for it. I know it looks bad for the bands, but 9 times out of 10 itís more a record company thing than anything else.
I think most people know that. Dino did say that in their case they were offered the option of whether they wanted to release a digipack version of the CD. Where digipack meant special limited edition with extra tracks. And they chose to. So there it seemed like a band decision. But is there anything that a band can do to stop that happening?
Well like I say, if the record company has the rights to your record, then they can do pretty much what they please. I would prefer it if that was the case, if there was live tracks or unreleased b-sides, I would rather just put it out initially, maybe for a limited period or something. And then it becomes a normal album. Iíd rather it comes out to start with. Then your hardened fans who are going to go out and buy it straight away, get the double pack with the extra song or whatever, and then later on down the road when youíve pressed so many, just release it as a single CD. At least they havenít got to go out and buy it again then.
Or my option, if theyíre going to re-release something, offer a trade in. But itís not going to make them the money.
Yeah, I think this is the thing. A lot of people forget that record companies are an industry.
Youíve changed from an independant kind of label in Music For Nations to a major label. What kind of expectations do you have and are you looking to get out of that switch?
You can never expect anything. In this industry it doesnít pay you to expect. All you can do is sort of hope really. But weíd got to the point with MFN where theyíd just taken us as far as they can. We did the Draconian Times album and we got in at something like no 8 here in the album charts, and they did a really good marketing campaign. We did Donington and everything. And then we got to the One Second album, which was our last contracted album for MFN. And they basically said to us weíll really get behind this like with the last album if youíll just sign for some more albums. And we were like, well, we donít really want to do that, we want to do this album and see what happens with it first. And when weíre out of contract we can sort of see whatís going on with the bands career and then sort of decide then. And they werenít happy with that, they were like if you donít sign for anymore albums then weíre not going to push this as well. Which is like shooting yourself in the foot. At the end of the day if they promote an album and it sells really well, then theyíre going to make money on it. But theyíre philosophy was, "ok, if youíre not going to sign for any more, weíre not really going to push this album, so itís going to look like youíre taking a bit of a dip." So we werenít really very happy with that situation and thought weíre not going to be held over a barrel with it. At the end of the day itís the record company thatís going to loose out as well, so we thought if thatís your attitude then weíll do as much as we can ourselves to promote One Second. And it still sold really really well. Weíre really very pleased with it, because of the change and everything. And EMI were just so really fired up about it. We talked with them a lot about the ideas that we had, that they were totally in to. And they have sort of said they really believe in the band. The marketing campaign in Europe for this album has been phenomenal.
And are you hoping to have a crack at the States with it?
Weíd like to this time. We always keep threatening to do that, but is just been one of those situations where we never really felt the time was right. Because with America I think if youíre going to do it, you only have one stab at it. So youíve really got to make sure the timing is perfect. Weíve never really felt that we were strong enough to do something. But with this album the response in Europe and from the fans and everything, we really do think this is the most accessible album. I think it will cross from rock based to pop based. I mean, even me mums heard it and she likes middle of the road stuff, and she loves it. So I think itíll really cross over for us and the time is now right for us to have a go at America.
You mentioned there the MFN stuff.I try to feature young bands where I can, so if there was one piece of advice starting out, what would it be?
All I would say to people is youíve got to have the belief. If you work hard enough, keep going at something and believe in yourself. You havenít got to be the best musician in the world, Iím not. I love playing the drums, thatís all I ever wanted to do. And I was not going to let anyone tell me that I wasnít going to be able to do this. Believe in yourself and youíll get there. Donít believe people who say you canít, believe you can. I did. If you believe in it, and be enthusiastic about it and love it, even if it does turn out that you didnít get there, at least you can say well, "I didnít do it, but I had a bloody great time trying." And youíve got no regrets then.
Going back to the album. I remember reading something else saying that Host was the album the PL always wanted to make. Would you agree with that?
Definitely. But itís like the thing was if weíd taken the step from like Gothic or Icon straight onto Host, then I think everyone wouldíve been like "bloody hell, whatís going on here?" Because I think it wouldíve been too drastic.
Yeah, Iím trying to pick out the bits that stretch back if you like to see how it was the album you always wanted to make. I can maybe see the melancholy style, but maybe if you look at say Gothic, and then the lack of obvious guitars on Host, you think "how is that the album they always wanted to make?"
Yeah, like I say, with One Second we started going down this road and this is where we really wanted to go. You canít change too quickly. Youíve got to get people used to the idea because I think it wouldíve just alienated too many people. The change from all guitar to the wouldíve been too much. When we got to One Second we were fed up with the bludgeoning guitar stuff. We still wanted to make it heavy and atmospheric, but experiment with stuff. This is the 90s yíknow. You can create a lot more atmosphere and depth to a record by using different sounds. Unless youíre going to have 47 tracks of guitar going to create this bottom end sort of thing. We always wanted to do this, but we had to do it a bit at a time.
Thereís a couple of tracks on the album Nothingís Sacred is the one that springs to my mind, where Metallica recently did this symphony gig. Is that, given the opportunity to do something with a whole orchestra, is that something that youíd be interested in doing?
I would love to do something like that. I think our music is more geared towards that. Thereís a song called Itís Too Late on the album which is all real strings and that just works so well. Most of our songs have got some strings in there of some description. We tend to use real strings in the studio, but obviously you canít bring a full orchestra in here to play live. But I think it would work, so Iíd love to do something like that.
Time then for my topical when asked but not when they get printed questions. Ok, based on one from one of my favourite magazines. Youíre stranded on a desert island and given a choice of music magazines to read, which would you go for first? Kerrang! Metal Hammer or the NME?
Um, well it definitely wouldnít be Kerrang! I guess it would depend what mood Iím in at the time. If I was feeling in a rocky mood Iíd have to go for Metal Hammer.
Next one is a bit more serious. The European elections took place today. Did they? he asks, which just might be an indicator towards his answer to what Iím going to ask. I was going to ask if it meant anything to you. Should we join Europe?
Um, itís an interesting idea, but Iím not sure how it would work. But I like the theory. The Euro and all that kind of thing. It would make it much easier when youíre travelling around obviously. Instead of having to change money everytime you go somewhere, you know you can spend if whereever you go, that would be interesting. But I also like the idea of us maintaining our independance.
But wouldnít that be retained anyway? I say this from the viewpoint of being Welsh, and I always feel independant. Sporting occassions would be the obvious ones really where I retain my identity. Iím not going to loose that, I see myself as being part of the UK in the same way that the UK would become part of Europe.
I think it will come around anyway, itís going towards that. If we dig our feet in, I think itís only a matter of time anyway.
Thereís been a whole bunch of events going on around the world recently, wars, massacres.
Oh yeah. Thereís not much jolly news going around the place at the moment.So do you think the world really is plummeting towards apocalypse?
Well Nostradamus said years ago about it. I think weíve been on self destruct mode for years. All this stuff going on in Kosova, you canít win with the amount and sort of weaponry that all these countries have got at the moment. I think getting into a war is a ridiculous situation, because if there does become another world war, there ainít going to be a world. You only have to have one madman who decides to use a nuke, and everyone will. Youíre just waiting for one person to use it.
Supposing that we do get through Ď99, does the millenium mean anything?
Well itís just another year really. Iím not going to party any more than I would for any other new year really.
So Paradise Lost are not going to see in the new year playing in the Bahamas then?
Iíll just sit in a local pub yíknow, snogging people at midnight. Just a bog standard New Years Eve. At least we know three songs that will be played- Robbie Williams, and Prince.
And the other serious issue one is to do with the Jack Kervorkian case in the States just before Xmas.(Look, if you donít know it by now, just take a look at any other interview. Itís a pretty stock question from me these days. Deal with it ok.)
This is the thing, itís like when people are suffering then I donít see the point in prolonging. If youíve got someone dying of cancer and theyíre really in a lot of pain, I donít want to see them go through that. So I think they should have the choice. Itís their life at the end of the day. Whoís got the right to decide for you. You have your own choice all your life, and then you get to something like that, and you have other people trying to choose for you. I donít want to see anyone go through that, and I would hope that if needed they would do the same for me. Itís not a nice thing to think, but itís like, if a dog is suffering, youíd have it put down. So itís like one rule for one, and another for another. At the end of the day itís still a life.
Bit serious I know. But although Iíve actually done it with you, I do try to avoid the "you guys rawwwk" sort of questions.I think itís good though, because you always hear the same sort of questions. Itís alway nice to get different ones.
So, the standard end though, any final words?
Final words. I hope people will give us a fair crack of the whip with this one. It is a bit different, and itís not an instant record. Itís not one youíll hear the first time and think "oh yeah, I love that". But itís like from my point of view itís like if I loved a record when I first heard it Iíd hate it about a month later. But those records that take a while to get into, 10 years down the road, youíll still appreciate them.
And are you coming back to do a full tour later?
Oh definitely. This is just a very low key affair for us. Weíve not played in such a long time, and basically the label wanted us to play some low key shows to celebrate the album coming out. But weíre going to come back later in the year and weíll have a full production. A lot depends on how the album sells. English fans are always complaining that we go round Europe with the video screens and whole production, and when we come back to England and we donít bring anything. And itís like because in Europe we play much bigger venues. If we brought the whole thing, weíd have to play bigger places. You need to play small theatres, and if people arenít coming out to the shows, then you canít justify bringing it over. But hopefully if we get a good response this time, weíd love to come to England and bring the full production, because I think people would be amazed at what the shows like.
Well by the time this thing comes out, you may well be on the way back. So, thatís it really. Thanks for the time.And with that, a complimentary copy of #10 and CD is handed over, and itís time to retire to the Rig ready to pass judgement, er, I mean, enjoy the gig. Cast yer eyes to the right (next page on the web) and you can see what I though of it.