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OneMetal.com music INTERVIEW: OneMetal talks to Devilment’s Dani Filth

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Devilment recently released their second offering of deranged anthems with Devilment II – The Mephisto Waltzes. We caught up with frontman Dani Filth about the band’s album, their unique sound and upcoming UK tour.

Every song on Mephisto Waltzes feels like a part of a greater story almost like a vignette composing a story of terror and awe.

Dani says: “I suppose you could say that. I see them as chapters. It’s almost as each song is a movement and the main base of the lyricism is going through motions. It all starts on a bad footing, ‘Judasstein’… Injustice, ‘Hitchcock Blonde’… Infatuation, ‘Under the Thunder’… Retribution. It’s all pretty bad but it’s supposed to be cathartic. I guess each song is a movement where the song is supposed to be about a new generation. It’s supposed to be positive. If you look at Mephisto Waltzes each song is a chapter… Maybe like a grim one!”

While listening to the album one can follow the different storylines and follow the characters’ pathos as they go through different emotional states. Dani talks more about how the lyrical threads are connected: “I like it when people are reading into the lyricism, I try to make it work on several levels. It’s good when people point things out. With Cradle of Filth I have done a lot of concept records and after doing a few concept records people always assume there is a concept because it appears to be a link to the artwork and sometimes you don’t automatically do it consciously but it’s always at the back of your mind. You’re linking tracks together so it’s good when people point that out.”

Dani says that the connection between the tracks became more obvious during the production stage:

“At the production, which gives a recurring, familiar gloss to each and every song and a defining sound, and the way the artwork is it just glued together after that, so it fulfils it. I have been writing this song about a celebrity stalker, this mythical creature or death or a strange love affair but they seem to be part and parcel of the same thing, like Aesop’s fables I guess.”

In terms of the musicality, Devilment has so far kept everyone guessing what’s coming next by constantly evolving and experimenting with different sounds. Two years on from their debut album, The Mephisto Waltzes anthems bring a lot more heaviness to the band’s palette. But was this a conscious shift for the band? Dani talks more about how the band maintains its fresh approach to music writing:

“We obviously played to our strengths on the first record and experimented but you don’t want to twist too far away for people to go ‘yeah I like the first record, I like this one but it’s like chalk and cheese, it’s like a different band.’ We had to make sure it was still Devilment and you know it’s easy to slip into that.

“One of the strengths I was talking about it was obviously Lauren, she fronts a couple of the tracks in a sort of ‘beauty and the beast’ scenario – you know it’s awful calling her a beast! – It’s difficult to try to express some things and if you don’t want to become too contrived. Because then you almost start thinking by numbers then, saying ‘this is going to be like this, that is going to be like that’ but at the same time it’s all out there. You let anything go by the radar. But I think that’s what happens when you get with the producer and a lot of time you spent at the studio listening and dissecting songs you are like ‘come on we have to separate the wheat from the chaff here.’ You love it but is anyone else going to like it? We actually dropped a song that I thought had real potential, it was a great song and I still stand by that but nobody else saw the longevity of it so it was dropped. I could live with that because it’s about the greater good of the band and the producer is pretty harsh in that respect but you need someone who is a bit like a parent and we are their naughty children!”

There’s no doubt that the band’s second album is bigger and bolder encapsulating the diversity of the group as some of them like Lauren don’t even have a metal music background something which can affect the song writing process “ I think it adds dynamics to it. The band can be seen like a Trivial Pursuit circle. We’re all like the little triangles you put in it and are all different colours but it fills the band. I think that works. I think the band is really unique but not unique in the sense that we just discovered a whole new kind of music that no one else has done. It’s unique in the way that people have probably heard the different ingredients but not in this context, no one has thrown them in the bowl like we have!”

The band combines different ingredients and sometimes it can be hard to describe the mood of their music with musical terms or by trying to narrow it down to a specific metal music genre.

Dani agrees: “It’s hard to give a window into what the band is about… For example the first single which was the lyric video as well and was ‘Under the Thunder’, you couldn’t say this was the perfect example, it was just the first example. ‘Hitchcock Blonde’ that was the performance video. It showed another avenue, people said ‘yeah it’s cool a bit different from the first one’ next week next Sunday we’re doing an anime piece. It’s a half lyric video, half performance kind of cartoony type of thing, it’s for ‘Full Dark, No Stars’ which again is very different but I think between the three of them, we open a window wide enough to incorporate the stuff on the album. If all three songs were exactly the same you would have got the gist with the first song but because everything is really different I think the amalgam of those three tracks will give people enough to know if they like the record or not. The window is wide enough I think.

“They get a general gist. I mean it’s a third of the record”, he says laughing, “Give them any more and they may as well buy the record!”

As Dani mentioned ‘‘Hitchcock Blonde’, the conversation turns to the creation of the music video which has a vintage horror film feeling to it:

“The lyrics were mine so we went to the director Sam Scott Hunter who has been working with the band since ‘Even Your Blood Group Rejects Me’ and we’ve done a couple of videos with him that have been very stark and we wanted to make something quite colourful, 80s Italian horror film with bright colours. Something very bizarre. We looked for a venue for the video and we found this place which ironically enough is right in the middle of my hometown. It’s literally in the busiest part of Ipswich, it’s a Costa Coffee beneath it and it used to be a really famous hotel. I don’t know why they haven’t renovated it. I mean it cost millions, famous people stayed there. I remember it being open and being very posh. You could go and have afternoon tea there and such. We filmed there during the three hottest days of the year. There were thousands of people out in town. If you looked out of the window you felt like a ghost just standing there, the whole place is labyrinth style. There was a fire in one part of it, so they rebuilt it so it’s very confusing. The third floor has second floor numbers without any electric.

I did feel like a ghost just standing there even standing by the window, I once got at least 15 minutes lost on my way out because of the weird numbers and the strange corridors so it felt pretty freaky anyway. Between that and the lyricism and the subject matter it was kind of easy to come up with a vague idea of what we wanted to do but I’d say it was pretty much the video director’s idea. And it was obvious to get a Hitchcock Blonde involved. It’s all in the title you know!”

Talking about horror, Dani is also due to be featured in upcoming horror film ‘BAPHOMET’ (2018) and adaptation of the adult graphic novel ‘REALM OF THE DAMNED’, which recently premiered in London. Dani talks about his involvement in those projects.

“I didn’t have to audition for ‘BAPHOMET’, he (director Matthan Harris) just asked me to do it. It’s not a massive part. He wanted me to go to LA to do it but I said I’m really too busy because at the moment I just finished the Cradle album and Cradle are due to go into the studio in December while we’re touring with Devilment so I’m trying to fit the two bands around each other. I said I couldn’t really leave the country so he said alright I’ll come over there and found some people I have worked with before, a film crew so he stayed in this hotel and turned his room into this office because I play this occult historian, we were filming in the garden, we were filming in the bar. It’s quite funny really because we went out in the evening to celebrate and went for a meal and he came back to his room quite drunk apparently and he went ‘oh shit’ because we move his bed and had all the equipment still up so he ended up sleeping in the bathtub! It wasn’t a big part, I had two-three pages of lines and that’s all just appearing in a few scenes. It was alright!”

Dani is definitely a man who likes to keep busy having also ventured into book writing projects. His fans might have to wait for a while before the next release of his next project: “I did write a poetry book but there were so many other things coming, it didn’t see the light of the day. It is illustrated as well, not by me by an artist, Samuel Araya who did the artwork for Thornography. So at some point it will probably come out, I am not sure where, probably through the same people who were based in New Orleans that did the Cradle of Filth comic book. But there’s no time for that in the immediate future. To be fair, I am quite embarrassed about it, you know writing lyrics is one thing, poetry is pretty much the same thing but you don’t have music to hide behind.

“It describes what I’m feeling, when your on your own you feel quite naked. I am not overly fussed about that but I guess other things come first. We just had a reissue of Dusk and Her Embrace from Cradle which just came out in coloured vinyl and apart from the new Cradle album which is going to be delivered to the record company in the second week of May for a September release with a world tour, in 2018 there’s going to be a DVD and also a remixed version of Cruelty and the Beast. Those are my immediate plans.”

A busy year ahead for Dani then! Going back to Devilment, Dani clears up the confusion about how the band started and whose brainchild it was:

“It’s a weird story and I don’t want get into it. I don’t want to do the guy any favours. We went out on tour with Motionless in White and Lacuna Coil and it was a very successful tour and as soon as we came back he was like ‘no! I’m leaving the band, this is shit, blah blah blah…’ and it was very strange. It caused us a lot of trouble, a lot of grief both personally and financially.

So how did Devilment actually come about? “What happened was I came back from Russia, had some downtime from Cradle of Filth and I met him a couple of times. He said ‘I have a few riffs, two riffs will you give me your opinion?’ and because we became friends those two riffs grew into four riffs and then I said go on I will sing on the songs. It just grew that way and lo and behold in two years’ time we went and recorded a debut album that Nuclear Blast took a lot interest in it. So long story short he said that he’s the founder of the band but I’ve got forty riffs and they’re not really good on my computer, does that mean I’ve got 20 bands? The only reason I didn’t say I co-founded this band was because at the time I didn’t know it was going to be a band and if I did I wouldn’t have broadcasted it anyway because 1) it reflects badly on my involvement with Cradle of Filth because people think ‘oh he’s losing interest’ and 2) it’s not a very nice thing to publicise because of Cradle of the Filth lineup changes. To hear that kind of information it’s quite discouraging so it was something I would keep close to my chest. So yes, long story short I did start the band. Lauren and Colin joined halfway through writing that first record and they felt a bit more like passengers while this record they are integral to it because they were there from the off!”

Following the release of Mephisto Waltzes, the band is hitting the road soon with dates scheduled across the UK and those planning to attend any of the lives shows are in for a good ride:

“Hopefully people like the album and they will come and see us, hopefully they like both albums! We will play a mix of the best songs, in our opinion, from the first album. An equal blend, six songs from one and six from the other. They’re not going to be massive shows, the venues are 200 – 300 capacity, a lot smaller to what we’re used to with Cradle and it’s going to be more inhibitive but it’s not going to really stop us. Obviously it’s not going to be fireworks and dry ice, actually there probably will be dry ice, yeah! Because of the nature of the venues but it’s going to be intense. We’ve got some really good support bands, local bands and we also have She Must Burn who opened for Cradle last year and I thought they were great. As soon as they were suggested I thought they were a perfect band. It’s going to be good it’s going to be full of energy and will try to get as much display stuff up as possible depending on the size of the venue and of the stage. It’s going to be quite intimate and it’s going to be fun because of that.”

Playing around the world as the frontman of an established band such as Cradle of Filth compared to playing with a band which is making its first steps in the scene must present some stark contrasts: “For this tour, well put it this way, I came back from when we toured Russia with Cradle and I had three days off at the end of October and Devilment went out with Motionless in White. Playing 1,500/2,000 venues… Being treated like “royalty”… Getting changed in the hallway. It was cool. It was different, it was the other side of the coin. People were great, the bands were great. It didn’t get any less enjoyable. Not eating properly or having only one bottle of wine between 15 of us, not having a dressing room. It helps to keep you grounded which I think is a good thing.”

As our chat draws to a close, we want to find out what Dani wants people to take away from Devilment’s latest album: “The bit in the middle, the CDs so they can put it in their stereos and listen to it” He says with a cheeky laugh. And what about those who opt for a digital copy? “Oh fuck them!”,he says while bursting into laughter. “They miss out on the good stuff, the artwork and the booklet, the smell of the paper!”

Devilment’s album is out now via Nuclear Blast.

Devilment are kicking off their UK tour this week:

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 Rooms

Devilment’s Faceboook: https://www.facebook.com/devilmentcorps/?fref=ts

Final word

Many thanks to Dani for taking the time to talk to us and to Claire from Nuclear Blast for organising the interview

Date : 07/11/16

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