Polarising though they may be, few can deny the impact Cradle of Filth’s theatrical third album, Cruelty and the Beast, had on the metal world upon its 1998 release. A meticulously crafted conceptual offering based on the life of Hungarian Countess cum mass-murderer - Elizabeth Bathory - the album showcased the band's trademark hybrid of brutality and macabre romanticism.
Twenty years later, Cradle of Filth are set to return to their legion of Australian devotees, performing a series of shows to honour their seminal release by playing it in full. With preparations in full swing, we caught up with Dani Filth for a chat about the Cruelty era, ex-member dramas and a big, bouncy 'Spinal Tap' level fuck up.
Firstly, a belated happy birthday to you! I heard it was a bit of a shit one for you…
It was shit! I spent the entire day in a departure lounge and we never even got to go anywhere. We’d gone on the plane, then off the plane, then sat around until we ended up in a hotel at 4am. The weirdest thing is, we’ve done over a hundred flights this year and had no problems - except for this one on my birthday! (laughs).
Cruelty and The Beast - does it feel like 20 years have passed since its release?
Yes and no, actually. When someone says ‘20 years’ you do think ‘Wow, that was such a different era for Cradle of Filth’. It was a completely different line up. But like anything in life, you get flashbacks to things that vividly remind you of when you were making the album, especially listening to it. Sometimes it just seems like yesterday.
How does it feel playing these songs again? I know some tracks from Cruelty were never played live before this tour.
We had never played the album in its entirety, but it’s very fluid now. We’d already been playing half the record in various setlists, so it was just like joining the dots. It’s great because we play the album as the main part of the set, then we come back on and do another half where we play fan favourites and maybe a surprise or two. I think a lot of people thought we were just going to play the album… 52 minutes? Sod that!
I was wondering if you might add one of the covers you did from that era, maybe Venom’s Black Metal?
We might do actually, you never know!
What was the original tour like for that album?
What I can remember? (laughs). It was chaotic - we partied really hard and had a bit of a reputation for ourselves back then. It was new, fun… exciting. I say ‘new’ but we’d been touring for about five years at that point, but Cruelty was the next level up. Immediately after the album was released we started getting some really good reviews. More and more people were coming to the shows and showing more interest. Really, it was our first album on that level for an independent record label. It was our first really big break.
Last year we heard that a 20th anniversary re-issue of Cruelty and The Beast was in the works, but it never surfaced. What happened there?
Well, unfortunately, it all did go ahead - the album had been remastered, the artwork had been finished, everything had been done. We had some cool days of press with Sony, culminating in me being interviewed by an obnoxious 8-year-old child! (laughs). We did a lot of stuff for the reissue and it sounded shit hot, then it all ground to a halt. What happened basically is that some previous members said “We don’t want to release it”.
Yeah, one former member in particular, and subsequently two others have followed his advice. It’s ridiculous because it was always an equal split for the album and everything had been done and paid for in advance - so it was great for them and great exposure.
That one person is being as difficult now as he was back then, and that was part of the reason that version of the band fractured. It’s just really annoying, not only for us but for the fans too.
Everyone was so excited for it and it’s brilliant - the remix is incredible. Of the multitude of people around the Cradle camp that have heard it, all agree that it’s amazing. It’s a modern production without losing any of the atmosphere from the original. It took as long to make as a normal album because we had to pick the entire thing to pieces and put it back together again.
Well hopefully, for the sake of the fans, it will see the light of day at some point.
It’s such a ridiculous scenario. It should already be out there.
Speaking of ridiculous scenarios – has there a particular Spinal Tap moment you’ve encountered with Cradle while on the road?
There was literally a Spinal Tap moment! We were on tour together in 2007, it was in Anaheim, California. For some reason, these people had talked Cradle into trying out what they said was like… a huge, realistic, ruinous castle backdrop with all the arches and jagged edges - but the premise was that it would actually be a blow-up castle.
I said “No way, that’s going to look fucking ridiculous”.
They said ”No no no, it’ll look so much like actual stone - you won’t believe it! You just inflate it and nobody will know!”.
So we entertained the idea, we had the thing made and brought to the venue to try it out (sighs). It was a children’s fucking bouncy castle… just fucking ridiculous. It was fucking massive and fucking stupid, this big round blubbery thing. It didn’t even fit on the stage properly. It cost thousands of dollars to make, weighed a tonne and you had to have a separate machine to blow it up (laughs). We got rid of that pretty sharpish.
I heard you’ve already begun writing for the new album - how is that coming along? Is there a particular theme forming for this one?
I have some rough ideas, but until you develop a proper nucleus for the album it’s difficult. At the moment we have two tracks and a bunch of other stuff that’s orbiting about.
It all comes together very quickly, though. We’ve only been back home for two weeks after touring for four months, so we’ve managed to get a load of things together in that short amount of time. After we get three or four more songs together, I’ll be able to get a feel for the whole record and go from there. The last record it took four or five songs before it clicked and I said “Perfect, I know exactly what it should be about”.
And finally, how do you envision the end of Cradle of Filth?
I think it would have to be a poignant ending. It would have to be the full works; an album, a full tour and then like every other band in the fucking universe, a best of. And then another best of, another best of, and a reunion tour (laughs).
What about a reunion of the reunion tour?
Of course! I mean, look at Ozzy. He retired back in the fucking 80’s!
Cradle of Filth kick off the Australian leg of the Cruelty And The Beast Tour this September:
Tuesday 3 September – Capitol, Perth 18+
Wednesday 4 September – The Gov, Adelaide 18+
Friday 6 September – 170 Russell, Melbourne 18+
Saturday 7 September – The Valley Drive In, Brisbane 18+
Sunday 8 September – Metro Theatre, Sydney 18+
Tuesday 10 September – The Basement, Canberra 18+
Thursday 12 September – The Studio, Auckland 18+
Get tickets HERE