Devilment Interview with Dani Filth
UK outfit Devilment have just released their debut album on Nuclear Blast. The album was highly anticipated and received a lot of media attention. No wonder if you consider that Devilment’s frontman is no other than Cradle Of Filth’s own Dani Filth. I had a chance to have a chat with Dani just before the album was released. Here is what he has to say about Devilment, the debut album and future plans.
Marc: Hi Dani, you are a busy man at the moment. You have just started your new project Devilment. It must be pretty full on at the moment.
Dani: Well, it is because Cradle Of Filth are going to Russia for a month. And then I come back and go on tour with Devilment supporting Lacuna Coil through Europe for about three and a half weeks. Then it’s straight into the studio with Cradle after that. Basically the whole summer was writing the new album with Cradle with the whole band and undertaking press for Devilment and videos so on. You know everything that goes with a new album. It’s been really busy.
Marc: How did Devilment actually happen? How did you become part of it?
Dani: Basically through Daniel Finch, one of the guitarists. He moved to the town in which I live, about three years ago. Funnily enough Cradle just came back from a tour in Russia then. We became friends. He was talking to me about this band he was putting together. He needed some help with vocals. Basically a long story short, it grew from there. We assimilated like-minded musicians from the locality over those few years. We had way more than enough songs for an album. We pretty much got rid of four of them in the studio and just concentrated on those that were strong. We went into the studio for a whole year. We were doing parts here and there in between Cradle tours and what have you. That’s basically it really. It’s a local band. It’s different from Cradle in that respect. It’s different from Cradle in a lot of respects. People wouldn’t expect me to do Cradle part 2. Cradle is spread across the whole universe. We’ve got a keyboarder in Canada, two people in the Czech Republic, a Scottish person and two of us that live in England, one lives in the north and I live in the south, whereas in Devilment we all love within a four- or five-mile radius. The drummer and the guitarist live two streets away from me. So it’s more localised, they are a lot younger. They are in other bands but this is their first break on that level. So it’s a very refreshing and new. It feels to me like starting again because on the Devilment tour with Lacuna Coil we’re gonna be the opening act and that’s something I haven’t done for about sixteen years. In contrast to Cradle and the new Cradle Of Filth album it’s very different.
“It feels a little bit more like when you first start as a band”
Marc: How would describe the musical direction of Devilment? What are the differences to Cradle?
Dani: Cradle, especially the new album, is like fast Maiden, lots of twin-guitar harmonies and funny parts and tragic, heart-rendering melodramas, that sort of thing. Devilment is more about the big beat, the big heavy riff, the simplicity but the creepiness as well. Every song has a completely unique atmosphere to it. No two songs are remarkably alike. So it’s vastly different from Cradle Of Filth. I think that’s a good thing. You can compare Cradle lyrically with Beaudelaire and Shelley and people of that ilk whereas Devilment is slightly tongue in cheek as the name Devilment implies, sly, sardonic, devilish but mischievous. Lyrically it is more with Silvia Plath or Tim Burton, more modernistic whereas Cradle is more hinged in the classical.
Marc: Is there a bigger lyrical concept behind the whole album?
Dani: It’s called ‘The Great And Secret Show’ and that represents the cold and secret world that exists beyond ours that runs parallel with it, that can be dipped in and out of, like escapism, or land of the dead or night circus. The artwork is reminiscent of that. The artist has done this wonderful 20-page walk-through that is a note to the lyrics but also represents The Great And Secret Show. You can say that the songs are like vignettes, they are episodes. They all fall under the overarching theme of the album title. They are like little segments.
“Devilment is not a project, it is a fully functional band”
Marc: How did the song writing for you go? You are a local band. That might have had an impact.
Dani: We have a rehearsal room close by and my own studio close by. Also the studio in which we recorded the album isn’t very far from here. In fact it is undertaken by the same producer, Scott Atkins, who did the last Cradle album and is doing the new Cradle album. In fact different approaches and techniques will be applied. So yeah, a lot of local rehearsals. Three of us play football together every Wednesday as well. We socialize together. In that respect it has a grand bearing I suppose on the way we wrote. You know, throw parties quite regularly and so on. It’s tightly knit. Because of that you can expect ideas being thrown backward and forward a lot of times. I mean Cradle are vastly different and on a bigger level more professional so it doesn’t really matter if we live close together we all go on the internet so we can all meet together to finalize tour commitments and album commitments. It feels a little bit more like when you first start a band. It’s the way Cradle first started. It’s not about finances because you just started out, it’s fresh, refreshing and new because of that.
Marc: Obviously the production was a bit different. The producer was the same but as you said you used different techniques. What are the differences there between Devilment and cradle?
Dani: It’s not massively different. It’s just that we used different instruments. Cradle is just undertaken in a different way because of the style. There is a lot more going on. It moderates and changes between blast beats to really slow and massive orchestral parts. There’s a lot of variation. In both bands but in Devilment it is more about the big beats. It rarely gets beyond the Motörhead speed but it’s heavy, it is heavy as fuck. It’s also in a different key. For me, to hit the very top notes in Devilment would be like, well, I would be attracting lots of dogs.
Marc: Are we going to see more videos of Devilment? You just released your first one. Is the more planned?
Dani: I suppose you are talking about ‘Even Your Blood Group Rejects Me’. We approached the video, because we obviously had only a third of the budget Cradle usually has, very guerrilla-style. We’ve got a very, very good video director on board and we did a lot of pre-production. We used our own rehearsal room, stripped it, blacked it all out, painted it and used drapery. My daughter and my wife did do the hair and my wife did the ankle grinder which is the fire. We’ve got a local photographer to help out. We didn’t bother with the catering. You know all the things that usually come as part of the parcel with a big video production. We kind of just did it ourselves and directed all the money towards post production which was the editing and the colouring. It’s very cinematic and it’s very what I call vogue, like a fashion shoot look to it. The direction and the work was enough in that respect. It was all hands on deck and guerrilla-style. There are plans for a second video which probably won’t be until after Christmas, a second lyric video which will be undertaken by the same artist Drake Mefestta as well. It will be full of strange and wonderful lyric landscapes and imagery that sort of fits with ‘The Great And Secret Show’.
Marc: You have put a lot of effort into Devilment. It seems to be more than just a side project. What are your plans beyond the album and beyond the upcoming tour?
Dani: Well, obviously it’s not a project. It’s a fully functional band. The good thing is Devilment’s manager is Paul Ryan who used to be in Cradle Of Filth. He is also a well-known booking agent. So he is also the booking agent for Devilment and more recently he has become the booking agent for Cradle Of Filth as well which means we won’t stand on each other’s toes when it comes to next summer’s festivals. Also the fact that the Devilment album has been released now and the Cradle album is pencilled in for 15 June next year puts us in opposite orbits to one another. Hopefully that stands us in good stead as well. It wasn’t planned that they both come out sort of within a year of each other. It was just that Cradle do an album every two years. So we were just lucky and fortunate that I could get Devilment to a point and a position in the downtime we had from recording and touring with Cradle Of Filth. Things have fallen quite nicely into place. This is a first for me and a first for a lot of other people so I just take it as it comes. I was busy before, I am twice as busy now. I’d rather be that than sitting here twiddling my thumbs and get bored because I’ve got nothing to do.
Marc: Is there a chance that both bands will appear on the same bill?
Dani: There will be but not on the same day. I think that would be a bit much to ask. I mean it’s possible. It would mean that Devilment would have to play very low down on the bill which I am not very keen on because our point is to build the band up. Yes, next year I think we are booked on Graspop where both are playing one day between each other. It’s gonna be fun in that respect. It gives me the opportunity to hang around these festivals and see some bands for once.
Marc: Having the support of Nuclear Blast is awesome I suppose. Nuclear Blast are bringing out a lot of bands to Australia at the moment. Is there a slight chance that you will come down to Australia with Devilment?
Dani: Definitely. Cradle came to Australia last year and absolutely loved it. It was the first time in ages we were kind of able to explore the locality. We had a few days off in Brisbane. So we did all the touristy stuff. We just came from Taiwan. It was pointless to go all the way back to England. So we really enjoyed it, the gigs were great. That’s the premise: we wanna get everywhere and Australia obviously would be awesome. Bring it on.