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Dani Filth: Darkly - Gnarly Charlie's Exclusive Interview with Cradle of Filth's Dani Filth

By Charlie Steffens aka Gnarly Charlie, Writer/Photographer
Wednesday, September 14, 2011 @ 8:06 PM

"We often get a lot of flack from people because we're just too artistic."

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Next month, U.K. metal legends Cradle of Filth are set to release Evermore Darkly, a continuation or add-on, if you will, to last year's big-seller, Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa,. The forthcoming mini-album is a CD/DVD package that will include new tracks and rarities, as well as a lengthy on-the-road documentary. Other goodies in the package include demos from Darkly, Darkly,..., and a special remix of "Forgive Me Father," crafted by Rob Caggiano from Anthrax.

Singer and founding Filthmeister, Dani Filth, and I chatted it up on the phone, to talk about the new album, Darkly. I squeezed in a few questions beyond the new album and tour, retrospectives that Filth answered with alacrity in his blackened English charm.

The band's latest video is "Lilith Immaculate," taken from a track off Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa.

"It's a much bloodier affair," says Filth of this sanguinary epic, shot with an old film look. "We took the production reigns into our own hands, so we had more time and more people working. It's not going to get MTV play, because it's all semi-nudity in there and copious amounts of blood. We shot all the band stuff in this huge sanitarium. It looks very lavish. I think it'll piss all over. The video will get great hype."

Of course, Filth and his band have never ceased to "piss all over" the boundaries. While Cradle's lyrical substance and visuals have been deemed detestable, the music and the merchandise sells, nonetheless. At the Nokia Theater show in Los Angeles show last February, I witnessed droves of pudgy, pale, zit-faced teenage males wearing Cradle garb. I also saw several youths and oldsters donning their black "Jesus is a c#*t" t-shirts. There is no cap on the depravity. (Pardon my digression.)

When I asked Filth if he regrets his flagship inflammatory statement, Jesus is a c#*t and the accompanying imagery on the shirts, he responded, "Not really," because it really wasn't about religion as such. It was married to the front image of a nun masturbating. You can't actually see anything. It's just assumed. It related to that. And it also related to all icons to rail against. We weren't, actually, in our own minds, just singling out Jesus. It was more about the whole rebellion-type thing. It had to have a figurehead at the top of it, and Jesus just seemed apt because ninety-percent of religion...well, maybe not now...at the time most of the religion in the U.K. was Christian-based." Filth continues, "We often get a lot of flack from people because we're just too artistic. A lot of our imagery is very poetic, etcetera, etcetera. Which is ironic, really, considering that shirt and a couple others we've had. We have very prominent artwork. It's not to say that we won't pull out of the proverbial grave another thing that is equally offensive."

Since the beginning, Cradle of Filth album covers and sleeves have always displayed vividly haunting artwork. Filth saw the work of artist Natalie Shau and commissioned her to create the art for the Darkly, Darkly... album.

"She's an Eastern-European artist, and I just totally fell in love with her work when I was introduced to it. So, I kind of pursued her, relentlessly. And then I found out she was a fan of the band anyway, which obviously helped. Most of her pictures are different depictions, different variations on the theme of Lilith throughout the story. As a band, we like to represent ourselves in every artistic form. We want to put our own input to everything. We're not very keen on shipping it out of house and say, "get on with it," and then just be happy with the end result. We always have to put in our ten-penneth worth. That's what we do; be it videos, be it artwork, lyricism. We take everything very seriously in that respect."

"Venus Aversa" means buggery, though Filth says that the term connotes a different interpretation for the album title. "What Venus Aversa actually represents is Lilith. She's the opposite to Lilith. She's the goddess of lust as opposed to love. The whole album is a concept record, yeah. It's a story that runs concurrently from Track One onwards. What we didn't want to do is tread the same ground as the fall of Adam and Lilith and the Garden of Evil and the serpent, et cetera. We wanted to bring Lilith kicking and screaming in to a more modern age, so it's about her sort of interest in the world of human affairs again. And it all starts around the 14th Century. We tried to tie it in with events that did occur, so we have Carmelite nuns with Sumerian Greek-like mythologies, wrapped up into this gothic tale of lust, depravity, bloodshed and murder. What we tried to do with this album--a concept record--is find that equilibrium between making every song stand out, regardless. So, if you had iTunes on and you had shuffle (on) you could enjoy it without even knowing there was an over-arching theme. But, if you do want to scratch beneath the surface and listen to the album like a movie, akin to a movie soundtrack, there's an option to do that."

Track 3: "The Nun with the Astral Habit."

"That's the part of the story where Lilith starts appearing to one of the nuns in the convent of Carmelite nuns in her dreams, because this nun in particular, Victoria, has sort of an insidious past. She was put into a convent for betraying her family's trust, for being pregnant. She's kind of an easy target for Lilith, who once resided in that convent before she was dispelled by the king. These are all factual circumstances," Filth claims. "It's just that Lilith has been added into the mix. I did a lot of research on it, mostly stemming on the work that I did for my book, The Gospel of Filth, the occult bible that we brought out last year."

In The Gospel of Filth: A Bible of Decadence & Darkness (formerly known as "The Gospel of Filth: A Black Metal Bible"), Filth and his co-author validate all the Satanic sources that have influenced Cradle of Filth and use the band's albums as a chapter springboard to leap into other things.

"We call it a bible because it has so many contributions of people in the actual know. It's got the last interview ever with Anton LaVey in there. It's got interviews with the F.B.I. investigator, the original F.B.I. serial killer hunter, Robert Ressler. We've got additions from Diamanda Galas to Glenn Danzig, Glen Benton, to Manson to James Hetfield. We've got Clive Barker, there's Satanists and there's wiccans and literary geniuses. Yeah, it's an occult bible," insists Filth, "but it's cross-referenced by people who really know what they're talking about. It's like a coffee table book, really. I mean, you got the main bulk of the text, but it's something you could sit on the toilet and flip through. It's full of gorgeous photography."

Filth on Witchy Wiccy Theology:

"It's not quite like the States in Britain," Filth admits, when asked about his personal beliefs. "The power of the church sort of waned back in the 60's. I just lived in an area, and I still do, actually, Suffolk, which is known as one of the two witch counties in England. And I was always surrounded by I used to live in a house that was once visited quite regularly by the Witchfinder General Mackie Hopkins. And this town, a village, actually, called Tadley, because it was close to a port it was always full of, you know, martyrs, I kind of grew up with that. In my early teens I befriended a few people who practiced a very light witchcraft. As a kid, I loved monsters. It just progressed from there. But I'm not a depressing person. I'm quite the opposite. And I think the whole purpose of the book was to dispel a lot of myths about people and try to and put the record straight. The occult means "that which is hidden." And that's what we were trying to do was shine a bit of light into that and give people some comfort, I suppose.

While the last couple of years have been productive and creatively expansive for Cradle of Filth, yet Filth considers the 2003 Ozzfest his fondest memories touring with his band.

"We headlined the B Stage. In between the Ozzy shows, we had Killswitch [Engage] and Shadows Fall and Chimaira and Sworn Enemy supporting us. When we were on the B Stage there was Voivod and Jason Newstead, obviously, and there was a really good party atmosphere. All the bands got on famously. It was ten weeks. It was quite grueling. And we were sponsored by Jagermeister, so every day there were blackouts, there were fights, there were things getting destroyed. It was great. I mean, it was a really, really fantastic tour and we reached a lot of people in America. I was particularly proud that we lasted ten weeks, let alone the fact we were headlining. We went down well every night."

Not a man to rest on his laurels, Filth is well into his next Cradle of Filth project.

"We have an orchestral album coming out later in the year called Midnight in Labyrinth. It's not elevator music. It's versions of songs that are hand-picked from our first albums and it sounds massive. It is like a huge horror movie soundtrack. There's some very melancholy parts and very, very dark, sterling parts. But it's huge and I'm very excited about it. It's another string to our bow...something else that kind of broadens the horizons of just being into Cradle of Filth."

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