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Cradle of Filth: Guitarist Paul Allender Talks ‘The Manticore and Other Horrors’

Heavy metal’s most sinister act, Cradle of Filth, is gearing up for the release it’s latest creation. Their 10th album, ‘The Manticore and Other Horrors’, is set for release on October 30th in North America via Nuclear Blast. Recorded in eight weeks at both Springvale and Grindstone studios (where it was also mixed by Scott Atkins) in Suffolk, UK, the album is a testament to the longevity of The ‘Filth, as not only does it reek of Cradle’s (feared or revered) brand of delicious metal vamperotica, but this thoroughly modern album places the band firmly in fresh killing fields anew. ‘The Manticore and Other Horrors’ itself possesses an altogether new atmosphere for the band, incorporating a heavier, faster NWOBBM punk vibe that is both current and cruel, blended with ornate orchestration and the quirky immediateness of 2000’s ‘Midian’ opus. The album’s title can be likened to a bestiary, a collection of stories on monsters – personal demons, Chimeras, literary fiends and world-enslaving entities to blame but a few. To get an exclusive look inside the world of Cradle of Filth, Icon Vs. Icon’s Jason Price recently sat down with the band’s legendary guitarist, Paul Allendar, to discuss the creation of the new album, the longevity of the band and what the future might hold for him musically.

Cradle of Filth has been at it for a long time and has been very successful along the way. To what do you attribute your longevity in the music industry?

Just having the dedication really, the dedication and the drive to continue doing what we love. Also, there is the matter of having the ability to change up styles or, more specifically, to change up what each album sounds like. Fortunately, we are one of these bands who can incorporate different styles in the writing and we are not defined by anything really. Obviously, you can’t go to extremes and play something that isn’t rock or metal but within that scene, we have not put any real handcuffs on ourselves. We have always tried to incorporate as much as we possibly can to make it sound different. I think that is the reason we have been around for so long.

That leads us to your new album, “The Manticore and Other Horrors.” What can we expect from this record sonically?

Paul Allendar

This album was written purposely to be different than the last two or three albums. The last two or three albums started to sound the same. We tried to do what was similar to what we used to do but it didn’t really work. The last few albums, they were good, don’t get me wrong, I still really like them but they just got a bit normal. There was an element of, “Oh, this is the same old stuff.” This time around, we really wanted to do something different. We ended up taking a year off. During that time, I listened to the first few albums. I thought to myself, “There is something missing on these last few albums. What the hell is going on?” Then, all of a sudden, it dawned on me! We hadn’t got that attitude edge anymore that people were really into. This time I thought, “Fuck it! I am just going to put that punk influence back in again and try and make this more like ‘The Principle of Evil Made Flesh 2,’ 10 albums later.” I feel like the band has done a complete 360. We even record the album, this time around, me and the drummer recorded it all together and we have done it live! Well, mostly live. We did that to give it that organic feel. With the other albums, we were all cut and paste and it started to sound, not boring but generic, like everybody else. We decided to put the whole playing thing back into it again and it seems to have worked! What do you think about it? Have you heard it?

Yes, I heard it. I think you hit the nail on the head. It really brings in some new attitude and it feels like you breathed some life back into it.

Totally! I have read a couple of reviews of it. One journalist said that it is the most inspired that I have been in years, which is completely true! Completely true because over the past few years we have been, “OK. This is alright. Good enough.” But this time, I was like, “Fuck this! I don’t want to say this is good. I want to say this is fucking amazing!” I really wanted to pour the aggression and everything back into it. We are a metal band, so at the end of the day, I really wanted to hear the guitars raging up front, which gives it another edge. If you are a metal band, the guitars should be raging and they shouldn’t be sitting under the keys and stuff.

Tell us a little about the writing process for “The Manticore and Other Horrors.” Are you doing anything differently these days?

‘The Manticore and Other Horrors’

Not really. It is the same as the last few albums, except this time around, it was just me and the drummer who wrote the album. Over the last few albums, it has been a collection of the band writing together. If we would have done it this way around again, it would have sounded the same as the last two, which just couldn’t happen. Literally, the other members said, “We have other stuff to work on. You do it.” Basically, me and the drummer did it on our own from start to finish. It took us seven months to do it because we wanted a specific feel for it and didn’t want it to sound like the usual stuff, like the normal stuff that people would expect us to put out. This album had to be different and we had to take the right angle, a fresh approach. It is really worth it! Dan and I did a press tour in Europe. With all the journalists there, not one person said, “It’s good but I prefer this … ” Everyone has said, “Holy shit! This is really good fun! You have gone back to form again.”

Did you find bringing all these elements in created new challenges for you?

Actually, to be quite honest, this one was the easiest one! [laughs] It really was because this flowed out much more naturally than anything else I have ever done. I don’t know why that was or what it was! Maybe it was because I made the conscious decision of, “OK, this is the way it has got to go!” Management and everyone was completely behind me on it, so I was like, “Fuck! This is more like it!” This album is a lot more focused and you can hear it. It all fits really well.

What are your personal favorites from this album to play?

I like “Frost On Her Pillow” a lot but my personal favorite is “For Your Vulgar Delectation.” That thing fuckin’ rocks! [laughs] If nobody gets into that when we are playing it live, I have serious doubts that people are actually alive! [laughs] Do you know what I mean?!

You seem to be in a terrific place in the creative sense. Is that a fair statement to make?

Oh, absolutely! Since this album has come out and I have listened to it a lot since we recorded it and the five of us came back, I am really buzzing off of it. It almost feels like the first album in a way. I have got the same buzz and the same vibe or childlike feelings that I had for the first album. Those feelings are truly back again for this one! It is incredible and I fuckin’ love it!

How have you evolved as a musician through the years?

As a musician, you know, I don’t really pride myself as a guitar player. I use the guitar to write songs, so I am more of a producer than a guitar player. Obviously, I play guitar in the band and that is what I do. You get other guitar players and they will write stuff and fucking throw loads of riffs on top of stuff and make it complicated because it is really perfect sounding because it is complicated and they think that is what it has to be like, simply because you are a guitar player. Where as if you are a producer who is a guitar player, like myself, what will happen is everything will be stripped back and you will playing solely to the feel of the whole section and not just for one instrument. That is the way I do things. I will write stuff but I won’t actually keep anything, no matter how simple or complicated it is, if it is not the right feel. If it is not the right feel, I will leave it there but I won’t actually keep it until I know how the drums are going to sound or whatever is going to be on top of it or how the vocals or bass will go with it. Once I have figured that out and it works, it will stay no matter how simple or complicated a riff is. If it works and it flows and it captures that specific type of feel that I want for that particular part of the song, then great, it fucking works.

What is the biggest misconception of Cradle of Filth at this point in the band’s career?

I’ve got one! [laughs] The biggest misconception is that if the old band members come back, they could have another tour or another “Dusk … And Her Embrace.” Do you know what I mean? Because those albums were written at that particular point in time. My argument to that is that if it was such a good period, then why aren’t those ex-members out there making a career on their own? It’s that simple! It’s not rocket science, if you know what I mean. If it was so great and so wonderful, then why aren’t they out there making a career in successful bands doing that stuff again? Why? So that is the biggest misconception, that all of these ex-members will come back and all of a sudden you will get this amazing fuckin’ record. That will never happen. If it was going to happen, they would be out there doing it!

Cradle of Filth

How about you, Paul? What other projects do you have lining up for the future? Anything you can talk about right now?

Yeah. I am not going to speak too much into it but I have got another band on the go. It’s another metal band but it is female singer but not what you might expect from a female singer. She has got the same attitude of Pat Benetar or the woman from Skunk Anansie. She has that type of vocals. The music is a mix of Motörhead and “Seasons In The Abyss” type of stuff from Slayer with Marilyn Manson style keyboards. There is no orchestration or anything because that would be too much like Cradle of Filth. It is super fuckin’ catchy, it really is! The choruses are absolutely massive! I am not going to release it or reveal too much about it until it is finished because I want all of the videos done, Facebook, Myspace, YouTube, the band photo shoots and websites completely finished. I am producing the album myself in my studio. Once all of that is done, everybody will get to hear about it! The one thing I hate about this day and age is labels and people, let’s say someone has a side-project in the band, they will tell people straight away. Where has the mystery gone? Then when the album comes out, everybody is like, “Oh. We know everything about this.” Do you know what I mean? So, like I said, I am not going to say anything else about it but once it is all finished and it sounds and looks like a million dollars, I will finally put it out the and say, “Here it is!”

You have been very successful in the music industry. What advice can you pass along to someone looking to make their mark on the industry?

Paul Allender

Don’t set your hopes too high. Do you know what I mean? I say that because there are a lot of people in the music industry who have serious delusions of grandeur. Don’t set your hopes too high and take little steps. Don’t start playing guitar and think you are going to be on the tour bus two years later touring the world because that is never going to happen. All I can tell you is that when we started off, it was a completely different scene then, we did shows for free. All we got paid was gas money and we had to sell our own shirts, which we printed up, to make money. You can do that quite easily. Nowadays with the way record companies handle things like contracts and stuff, there is no point in going through labels anymore. You can quite easily release an album yourself with a distribution deal. It is a lot of hard work but that is the way to do it. What happens now is the record companies have these 360 deals, we haven’t got it, but for new bands it is just ridiculous. The record company makes a percentage off your merch, ticket sales at the door, albums — they want a percentage of everything now! And it’s not worth it! It really isn’t worth it! Record labels now aren’t the same as they used to be years ago. Today, you can do everything online. For example, I have another project that I do with a DJ here and we do everything ourselves. All of it! It’s not metal, it’s radio listenable stuff. It’s nothing like metal, it’s completely at the other end of the spectrum. We have done it solely to try and get music into television shows and projects like that. Putting out your own work in this day and age is totally doable and you don’t need a record company to do it for you.

What else does Cradle of Filth have in store for us in the near future?

We just did a video for “Frost On Her Pillow” and we have another video coming out soon for “For Your Vulgar Delectation.” We start touring Europe on November 7 to the 19 of December. We plan on touring America in the middle of February until the end of March. In April, we head to South America and then we have summer festivals after that! We just hope that people really like the album and when they listen to it, understand the direction we wanted and the feeling we wanted to get from it. I definitely want to say thank you to the fans of the band. If it wasn’t for you guys, we wouldn’t be here 10 albums later!

I want to take it way back for a moment. How did music first come into your life and made you pursue it as a career?

Paul Allender

I guess I was around 12 or something like that. I remember when Iron Maiden released “The Trooper” as a single. I remember being a kid, walking along and I saw the picture of it hanging in a record store window. To be honest, I wanted to buy it because the picture was totally cool. I got the money off of my mom to go and buy the single. I brought it back and put it on. Fuck, from that point on I was hooked! [laughs] It was unreal! I started playing guitar when I was 14. I didn’t take it seriously, I would just do it off and on, no proper practicing or anything. A little later on, I was in a really crappy death metal covers band. We had just played our first show and it was horribly rotten. We were total rubbish! A couple of members of Cradle were there and the two Ryan Brothers were there. I got talking to Paul, the other guitar player, and he invited me to jam with him. I said, “Yeah! Cool.” I went over and jammed. We had similar guitars and we got along really well. From that point on, I was in Cradle. Then we wrote the demo, which was TFD [“Total Fucking Darkness”]. One of our friends sent the demo to the record label and we got signed from that. We weren’t going to do it, so basically we owe our careers to one of our friends!

That certainly worked out well for you, didn’t it!?

Yeah! To be honest, I had no intentions of being a musician as a career. I went to school and when I was finished there, I tried out to be a sheet metal welder. That is far as I had planned and, the next thing I knew, I was playing guitar in a band!

There are worse things you could be, right!?

Oh yeah! Completely! [laughs] But it just proves that no matter what you do or whatever career you pursue, if you are meant to do something, you will always come back to that. I left Cradle in 1996 and I had no intentions of coming back. As far as I was concerned, I was doing The Blood Divine and I had another band called Primary Slave. I was also working doing graphic design. As far as I was concerned, that was it. Then four years later, Dani [Filth] calls me up and says, “Do you want to come back to the band again?” — so I did just that. No matter how hard you try to get away from something, if your destiny has put you on that path, you always come back to it.

Awesome! We really appreciate your time today, Paul. It has been a pleasure and we look forward to spreading the word on your work!

Thank you!

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