Dani Filth is the lead singer of Devilment (Facebook). Their second album, II: The Mephisto Waltzes is out on Friday November 18 but you might know him better from Cradle Of Filth. Cradle have been leading lights of black metal for over 20 years, touring the world and inspiring a generation of metal bands. Musos' Guide spoke to Dani about Halloween, the new album, and vampiric tendencies.
MG: Did you dress up for Halloween?
DF: I didn’t. You know why? Halloween is for normal people. It’s the one day that I don’t dress up. I went for one of those walks through the grounds of an ancestral home. I thought it was going to be ok but it was actually brilliant. Out in the woods, through animal enclosures, with lots of weird people dressed up. Mazes and things going on. It was excellent. It was one of those crystal-clear nights in the middle of the countryside. Freaky.
MG: I remember seeing you in a BBC documentary called Living With The Enemy about 10 or 15 years ago.
DF: Oh god, twenty years ago I think! Personally, I’ve never seen it. This was back when we only had five channels. It was on prime-time TV. I didn’t even watch it. Whilst it was on I was in the other room. My family were gathered around the set watching it. I couldn’t bear to watch it. Anytime I’m on TV I haven’t really seen it. I never saw Nevermind The Buzzcocks or anything like that.
MG: The live show with Cradle is famous. What can we expect with Devilment when you’re on the road?
DF: It’s going to be really energetic. We’re going to be playing stuff, half from the first album, half from the new album. We’re limited by the size of the venues. We’re not Cradle Of Filth, so we’re playing 200- to 400 capacity venues. The stages won’t be massive so we'll do as much as we can get away with. I doubt we'll have the flamethrowers and whatnot because of the restrictions, but we'll make it celebratory. We'll make it an event. We’re very much looking forward to it because it’s our first proper headline run.
MG: You have new people in the band.
DF: We had one person come in and that was the new drummer. That was an amicable thing because our old drummer couldn’t carry on. He had other commitments with work and family, moving home etc. He was the instigator in finding us a new drummer. I still play football with him every Wednesday and see him out and about in my hometown of a weekend. It was a smooth transition. And then we lost our young guitarist but that was for the best. That got a bit weird. We're a one guitar band but we do have someone stepping in for the tour.
MG: Who are the main songwriters for Devilment?
DF: Everyone contributes quite equally. Lauren (Francis; keyboards, piano, vocals) does quite a bit because she not only does the keyboards, she writes a lot of her own melodies etc. Everybody has contributed a lot to this record. And I guess that’s because Colin (Parks; guitar) and Lauren in particular, joined the band halfway through writing the first record and so on this record they feel less like passengers. They were musicians from the off. Even when we got into the studio we worked very closely with the producer and dissected songs to make sure they were as good as they could be. There was a lot of hard work.
Everybody rallied around. I think it comes out on the record, there’s a lot of different material. It has an overall feel. It works within the concept, within the confines of the record. That’s just part and parcel of everybody being into different things. It’s a little bit wierd like that. I’m not saying we've redefined music, everything has been done, but it’s original in the way it’s put together.
MG: Devilment are not a million miles away from what Bring Me The Horizon were doing a few years ago …
DF: Don’t say that! For crying out loud! My daughter went to see them in the 02 on Saturday. I’ve met the guys from the band, they’re cool but it’s not my cup of tea.
MG: I hear you doing things on the Devilment album that I would never hear on a Cradle album. How is it different for you?
DF: How is it different? The tuning is different. If I sing as high as I do in Cradle, I have to sing higher, if that makes sense. There’s an extra track called ‘Father Dali’, about Salvador Dali, some of the notes on there were fucking hard. Literally when you play the record dogs will attack you.
It’s a different band obviously. It’s a bit more melodic. I wouldn’t say more mainstream. It has pop sensibilities but it’s fucking heavy. It has the heaviest vocals I’ve ever done but also the most melodic vocals that I’ve ever done. The band is a marriage of extremes. There are light shades to it. Very prevalent in songs that feature Lauren. She takes centre stage. There’s a beauty and the beast antagonism going on, light and shade etc.
There’s a lot of different material from ‘Shine On, Sophie Moone’ which is very aggressive, punk like Agnostic Front or Bad Religion. It melts into a weird structure in the middle which is very transient. There’s some more traditional metal, some deathcore, some eurogoth going on in places. We don’t label it as such when we do it. We just build songs, write them. They just get born as they are with a taste of everybody’s input.
MG: This is as close to pop music as black metal has ever gone. I like what you said about Cradle being old literature and Devilment being Roald Dahl mixed with Sylvia Plath.
DF: It’s more current, more surreal. Put it this way, I think Devilment could definitely get away with writing an album about alien invasion. Whereas if you put that to a Cradle fan on a cradle album; an album about H.G. Wells War Of The Worlds, they’d say “Yeah, we get the Victorian angle but I’m not buying it, it’s just not right”. The longevity and the history of the band has put me in that corner.
You can surprise people. The new Cradle album is being worked on at the moment. We’re in the studio very soon to start work on the new record. It’s all written. Well, I’m not finished everything. I’m about two thirds of the way through. Our new stuff is very Victorian gothic horror with a bit of a slant, a bit of a twist. With Cradle, you can’t go too far out of the way. We tried it a bit with Thornography. There were a lot a people that were very funny with us about that particular venture. It has got some of our better songs on it but you can’t please everybody. But with Devilment, because it hasn’t got the history and there isn’t the high expectation, we can get away with doing a song about Alfred Hitchcock. You mentioned pop music but it’s not the Backstreet Boys. It has got that gothic sensibility that Cradle Of Filth has but in a more modern context. Someone like Robert Aickman or Neil Gaiman and Tim Burton as opposed to H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe.
MG: Probably a long shot but is there any chance of an Irish gig?
DF: Well, we’d love too but we have to be invited. We’re like vampires. We can’t cross the threshold that is the Irish Sea without an invitation. And unfortunately, there was no invitation for these dates. Cradle did a couple of Irish shows earlier in the year and loved it. We had a fucking brilliant time in Dublin and Belfast. They were the last shows at the end of eight weeks of being on the road in the States. They were elevated to that status just for being the end shows but they were also brilliant.
So, Cradle are definitely coming back. We’ve another album coming out. We do one every two years. Because I’ve another band in between it looks like it’s happening in quick succession. We need to have the new Cradle album by the second week of May because we’re embarking on a full world tour as of September next year. And we will be taking in everywhere so there will definitely be more Irish shows. We’d be quite willing to come for a long weekend and do three or four shows in the meantime. We’re going to be in the studio for five months so I’m sure they could spare me for a few days.
Devilment will be touring the UK in December:
Dec 6th - Colchester, Arts Centre
Dec 7th - Nottingham, Rock City Basement
Dec 9th - Stoke, Sugarmill
Dec 10th - London, Boston Music Room
Dec 11th - Norwich, Waterfront
Dec 13th - Glasgow, Stereo
Dec 14th - Newcastle, Think Tank
Dec 15th - Wolverhampton, Slade Rooms
Dec 16th - Leeds, Key Club
Dec 18th - Reading, Sub 89
Dec 19th - Southampton, Engine Room