I spoke with Gian Pyres, the Ravening Black Massacre in Cradle of Filth, the avant-garde black metal from U.K. This is a band that I think has the potential to revolutionise music in the 90s, and already has to some degree. Here are some excerpts of our conversation.
First of all, are there any plans to tour the States?
The only show we have planned is at the Milwaukee Metalfest where we'll be playing with Venom. We're writing a new album at the moment and we plan to record and release it by the end of Autumn. We will probably record at the same studios that we used for Dusk and Her Embrace, as the engineers we used were fantastic. Hopefully we'll be back to the States beginning of next year.
What exactly was the problem with Cacophonous, your previous label?
There were several disagreements between the band and the label, a few of which involved disputes over money. It's pretty much over and behind us now and I don't really feel like talking about it.
Has your partnership with Fierce/Mayhem been a good one?
I've not been to the States, but Dani has and he was impressed with the way the American record company was handling things. So far things have been going well.
Where does the lyrical influence come from?
The overall theme originates from the 19th century literature written in England. Essentially eroticism was disguised by using gothic poetry. It's Dani who writes the lyrics in the band and he reads the most gothic poetry but everyone has interest. I'm more of a reader of books.
How would you compare Dusk and Her Embrace to Vempire or Dark Faerytales in Phallustein?
I like them both. As a guitar player I think Dusk is probably lot better. I was able to overlay many harmonies and there is a lot of aggression since when we recorded we were really pissed off about our label situation and the management.
Do you have any plans to release your demo recordings?
We talk about doing it with different people, but they're not of a good enough quality. We're very picky about quality.
How about a home video of some sort?
That's sort of going on right now. We had disagreements with the director we had hired which led to questioning what we wanted to do and what he wanted to do. We're looking at what we can do now with a different director. We have to have maximum input on everything we do. Some of the people we work with have a shaky grip on what this band is about.
We plan to have a proper video for one song that will include live footage. We have some footage from the live shows in Europe last year which were filmed using a camcorder. We hope to have the video out by the end of the year. There will also be an edited version of the video for MTV.
So what is the band about?
It's about hedonism... enjoying yourself... self-indulgence. We play music we all like and we enjoy ourselves with it. We try to create the atmospheres similar to the horror films we're into.
I've heard rumours about a Dusk And Her Embrace: The Movie?
That was the plan before we ran into all these label difficulties. But we would not call it ">cite>Dusk and Her Embrace: The Movie". That was a record company name and I think it's a bit tacky.
Now, about the censorship issues... what are your views on the Kerrang ban [The front cover of Kerrang featuring a blood splattered image of Dani and Nicholas]?
The front cover? It's plain commercialism. Kerrang is the biggest selling rock magazine in the U.K. and they have to pander to the newsagents who carry their magazine. We don't care it was banned. It's cool to get coverage and stuff from them. The original cover is a poster which is available anywhere.
Nicholas was arrested on the way to the Dynamo festival. We had our tour bus parked near a police station and a police officer cames to us and said "I don't want to arrest you but our sergeant is a Christian and he has asked me to arrest you." Nicholas was wearing the Vestal Masturbation t-shirt at that time...
There was this guy Rob Kenyon who was also arrested in London for wearing the same T-shirt...
Yes, he was fined some ridiculous amount [150 pounds]. There was bullshit here. He lost his rights to appeal. He was unemployed in England and they were not granting the government support for the legal fees to appeal. The legal fees are too expensive for anyone to afford. He was arrested in the red light district, which is simply stupid. We still continue to print the t-shirt.
Kerrang said the "cover was likely to cause offense". What is your advice to people who may be offended by your art?
If you're offended it's your problem. If you're Christian forgive me. None of us are stupid enough to do anything we do. All I can say is to go out and use your brain.
What is the state of metal in the U.K.?
It's not so bad in England. There's a band called Phine (?) from Yorkshire who are very progressive. I think they're exceptional.
What other bands do you like?
Emperor, Celtic Frost, Anathema, My Dying Bride... I also like the Mortiis solo stuff and his side-project Vond. It's not the kind of stuff I sit and listen to, but I like it. The black metal scene sort of caught up with me, but I wasn't part of the black metal. It was the way things were going at that time. I played extreme metal in bands since I was 14 years old.
Do you use standard tuning for your guitars?
No, it's a whole step down across the guitar strings.
How does Dani's voice stand up to singing live?
Pretty well, as long as he doesn't exert himself too much. He has to give it 100% all the time. Sometimes his vocals are drowned in the mix and if he tries too hard to make himself heard he can hurt himself.
Some people would claim you're pretentious and pompous; would you agree?
I think we're pretentious and pompous. That's the problem with black metal. The thing is that we have very black humour and certain things are said tongue-in-cheek just to annoy the Christians or the other metal bands. You need to use your brain and decide what we say is serious and what is not.
What has influenced you musically?
Heavy metal, early black metal, and we're also into a lot of soundtrack music, like the music in Frankenstein and The Empire Strikes Back.
Have you had any formal musical training?
I've had a little and so has Damien, but most of it is self-taught.
How would you contrast your version of Hell Awaits, which is extremely raw and aggressive, to others on the Slayer tribute album?
I think it's cool to do a cover if you do it in your own style. I got the whole album and there are some really really good versions of Slayer songs on there. Most of them are good tracks, but they sound like Slayer. And those bands are really capable of doing something new with the songs. I think it is good to have a little bit of disrespect when you're doing covers.
I've heard that Slayer hate our version [according to a journalist Dani spoke with]. Well, I think Slayer's last two albums particularly sucked. I enjoyed doing the cover though.
If you had the capital to put on a show of your choosing, what kind of a show would it be? Would it be more like the shock-rock of W.A.S.P. or more conceptual?
It would much much more tasteful. The sort of horror we're influenced by is gothic horror. I don't believe in shock for shock. We'd like to do a full stage show with extensive lights that ties in the music and lyrics in the albums. We've been working on designing and constantly redoing these shows and we have million ideas for things you can do on stage, but we lack the capital.
What motivates you to keep making music?
We have a passion for it. That's a great deal of what it is. There are plenty of bands that give up all the time and most bands would if they'd had a third of the shit we've had. I think life is better off. I don't have a great deal of money, probably less than people who have a regular job, but I'm fairly satisfied.