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Thou's latest full-length release simply cements their status as Doom royalty, delivering their dynamic vision across a huge spread of top-tier music.
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Highly experimental band that varies between regular sludge/doom and melodic sludge/doom. The music includes noisecore, black, doomcore, industrial and even a l...
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By now, you've probably seen the good news from My Dying Bride - well, just before that came out, I was lucky enough to get to talk to Aaron regarding a separate project. But since that overlapped heavily with what's going on in the MDB camp, we thought we'd better share some of it with you now...

Interview with My Dying Bride.
"Of course you know My Dying Bride: 'seminal' is a pale and inadequate word to describe their influence on the Doom scene. And, naturally, if anyone were to write a book on the evolution of the extreme Doom scene, theirs would have to be a story right at the heart of it...well, without giving too much away, that's why I found myself conducting this interview. Happily, it coincided with some important and essential news from the MDB camp, which - after last year's sudden and enigmatic withdrawal from the scene - has probably reached most people by now, and so some parts of this conversation most certainly bear repeating here and now. The rest, well that'll follow...

Many of our interviews are written ones, and even we can only infer, sometimes, whether they're intended to be strait-laced or with tongue firmly in cheek. The live ones are different, more nuanced and interactive, and I guess I feel obliged to give some kind of a thumbnail sketch of that, to put the transcript into some kind of context. So, firstly, let me say it's always a great pleasure to talk to Aaron: he's erudite, friendly and very approachable, and you can really feel both the relaxed - whether twinkling or dryly understated - humour and the serious passion and enthusiasm for My Dying Bride which underpin the frank, open and detailed answers he'll give you, filled as they are with personal digressions and entertaining anecdotal illustration. It's not hard to see where MDB's uniquely narrative style originates, nor to understand why it's been presented with such charismatic style, both on albums and in live shows, for long enough to have become an unquestioned classic pillar of the scene. So, ladies and gentlemen, My Dying Bride are back..."



Talking to us today, My Dying Bride's co-founder and frontman, Aaron Stainthorpe.


A phone rings...

Hello?

Hello, is that Aaron?

It is, yes.

Good evening, it's Mike from doom-metal.com.

Hello Mike, how are you?

I'm not so bad, thanks mate. Well, I don't know if you got the back story to this, but we're basically working on a book which covers the early days of the extreme doom scene. And, obviously, My Dying Bride: it doesn't get more fundamental than that, so this will be part of a feature for that, with an initial post of some of the content on our site - would you have any objection to that?

No - get it out there! That's the point of doing interviews! (laughs) To be honest, because I've had almost a year off, this is only the second interview I've done in a year - so I'm getting back out there, and so if I can be arsed getting my stuff out there then I want everyone to hear it!

...so if you're okay with that...?

Yeah, I have a cup of tea, and my feet are elevated to a comfortable position, so fire away!

Sounds great...well, first of all - the last statement I saw from you guys was your personal one towards the end of last year. I don't want to pry into that, but I hope that's all a bit of a better situation now?

Yeah, I'm about to put out a new statement, which - I've made a draft of it, and I'm just going to tweak it a little bit... Well, I can tell you now, because you'll read it anyway. In September my five year old daughter was diagnosed with cancer, so obviously the shit hit the fan big time, and we had to cancel any shows that we had booked and I effectively left the band to focus on her. She's been through all the chemo- and radio-therapy, and we got the all-clear in August. So, we're very chuffed at that - we've spent a year, you know, in hell, basically, but now she's recovering and her hair's growing back and we're slowly starting to pick up our lives again. In fact, I've just had an e-mail from Andy saying - you know, the band took a hiatus for a while, and then they decided to crack on with the new album without me, and it's mostly finished. It's not recorded but it's all written, and we're just talking about doing a new demo next week, so, you know, slowly getting back on the horse.

Oh, well, that is fantastic news. Really glad to hear it, I imagine the relief must just be enormous!

Oh God, yeah!

I'm sure it'll be received very well amongst the doom community too - people do worry, and sympathise, so that's great.

Yeah, we're chuffed.

So that also answers any questions about the progress of the band itself, I guess - so that's something to look forward to, I should think?

Yeah, the album's about a year behind schedule, but Nuclear Blast, they're totally relaxed and totally sympathetic of our circumstances, and at no point have they said is there any news of an album? They've just said look, it's ready when it's ready, you guys take your time and we're not going to push you, and do what you want - so that's fantastic. We're going to be a year late with the album - maybe eighteen months late - but they're fine with that so it's all good.


Official full-time current line-up: , Calvin Robertshaw (Guitars), Andrew Craighan (Guitars), Shaun Macgowan (Keyboards, Violin), Lena Abé (Bass), Aaron Stainthorpe (Vocals).


Okay - so do you ever feel pressure from labels, the media, or even fans to... deliver, if you like?

No, never. We never have. Peaceville were such a relaxed label - they had a sort of loose schedule, and you sort of could try if you wanted to fit your album into that schedule, but you know we had albums delayed with those guys as well, and at no point did we ever get the red letter saying look, we've waited long enough, we really need delivery now, you know contracts are contracts blah blah blah. We've never had anything like that. It's been totally relaxed and we've literally done albums when we've wanted to do albums, and then we've contacted the label saying we've got an album, we're about to start recording, and they get very excited, start to put the appropriate steps in place for the promotion and that's it, and it's been fantastic.

I suppose it's the closest thing to the amateur side of music as you can get - I've spoken to various bands who've said they wouldn't really want to do this for money because they'd hate to be responsible for trying to deliver songs for pay, if you like, to try and meet the next mortgage bill...

Yeah, we've never done that, we've always worked here there and everywhere and it's kind of been a hobby. It's still a hobby today, which seems a bit of a strange thing to say but it just means we can pick and choose what we like, and there's not many bands get that opportunity. I mean, in a good year we might do eleven or twelve gigs which, you know, is nothing compared to the likes of Paradise Lost who are at it, I don't know, 200 times a year or something like that - but they've chosen to make that their occupation. When you think about that, there are worse ways to make a living than performing live, I suppose, but for us we just didn't want to wonder where we were the next day, and not even care where we were So, now, when we do our ten or eleven or twelve shows a year, we pick those locations and we get excited about going to them and they become very special shows because there's not many in a year We like that, and I think the fans like that as well. They know that we're coming to a place we might not return to for five or ten years, so they come out in droves to see us - it's just how it's always been for us, and long may it continue!

My Dying Bride - 'Castle Party, Bolków' (Live, 2017):


Yes, certainly! So how's your memory today, if we cast back a bit?

It comes and goes (laughs).

Hammy Halmshaw has just rereleased his Peaceville Life book with a load of extra stuff - he mentions the cult pub Frog And Toad an awful lot. Was that a part of your life, was it part of the process of creating My Dying Bride?

Yeah, definitely. The Frog And Toad was actually a nightclub rather than a pub, it wasn't open during the week, it only opened on Friday evenings and Saturday evenings - it might even have opened on Sundays. It didn't even open till about 8 or 9 o'clock at night, it wasn't one of these all day thingies. I can't remember where I heard about the Frog And Toad at first, but word got around that there was this really great club opened in Bradford that played Rock music - but not just Rock music, it would play extreme Rock music like your Slayers and your Metallicas and everything like that, and we thought, well, let's go along and say hello shall we?

So we went there - that's where PL formed and My Dying Bride and, well, probably a million other Northern-based bands because people came to the Frog And Toad from all over the north, you'd get loads and loads of people turning up there. It was just a wonderful place to go to, you met friends for life there. It was a big place - upstairs was more your sort of Pink Floyd, traditional-type Rock music, that's where the slightly older generation went for their chillouts, but downstairs it was extreme music 'til about 11, then it went on to your Bon Jovis etcetera. And that's where I was first exposed to the likes of Bathory and Celtic Frost and things like that, because I'd never heard of these bands before - you know, I thought Motörhead was extreme as you could get, and then when I went to the Frog And Toad my eyes were well and truly opened! I thought Jesus, this is crazy shit and I love it and that's where - because you could see all the T- shirts, everyone's displaying which bands they were into, and you see someone with a shirt with a band on that you like, and you just go over and say great T-shirt, what's your favourite album blah blah blah and you just get chatting. That's how I met Calvin and then me and Calvin bumped into Rick and Andy and just decided to form a band.


Hammy Halmshaw's A Peaceville Life.


Andy and Rick started off in Abiosis?

Abiosis, yeah. Me and Calvin were sort of in a band at that time, I don't think we even had a name, I think we had one rehearsal and it wasn't really going well, but then we also knew that Abiosis weren't particularly happy with what they were doing as well. So, after a few beers one night me and Calvin decided let's go and chat to Andy and Rick and see if they fancy just jamming the next day. Which we did: they were quite happy to meet up with us on the Sunday, and we just hired a studio in Bradford for the day, just to muck about and see what happened...and that was effectively the start of the band, right there! So it was one night, we just said do you want to form a band and they went yeah alright, and My Dying Bride was formed, so that'd have been in 1990.

So was that almost accidental that you had the right personnel to do that, or did you have that idea before hooking up with everybody?

No, I didn't actually think about joining a band, or forming a band, at all. Calvin was the guitar player and I was good friends with Calvin for a long time, and we met - I can't even remember the names of the other people - before My Dying Bride, but the one rehearsal we had it was pretty good. And I'll tell you what led me into it, because when you hear all these death metal bands you think, well, I don't need to able to sing, I just need to be able to shout - and I thought: I can shout, I'm perfectly capable of shouting (chuckles) so Calvin had to convince me to come along and do some shouting, so I did. And I really enjoyed it.

And then I started writing lyrics because I think I'd never written lyrics before but I thought, oh, you know, I'll put pen to paper. I've always been into the classics, classic literature, so I thought, well, instead of writing about what everyone else was writing about I thought I might put a classic bent on things and tap into some classic literature and maybe sing about that sort of thing - or even in the style of that genre - so we ended up being a doom death band with classical overtones. It could have been a right mess, you know, we could have been ostracised by the doom market because we were too thrashy, the thrash market 'cos we were too doomy, and the goths could have just said well, we were far too metal!


'As The Flower Withers'-era line-up: Rick Miah (Drums) and Ade Jackson (Bass) with Andy, Aaron and Calvin.


I love the way that looking back in hindsight everything gets neatly pigeonholed, whereas at the time it was all just developing organically - so, did you even call yourselves death doom to begin with, or was that something applied to you later?

We sort of did, but, again, taking a leaf out of Celtic Frost's book we decided to call ourselves Avant-garde Doom, but I still think because Calvin loved his Thrash and Death Metal he was always wanting the word Thrash in there somewhere - or Death - so along the various points of our career we have been classical Doom Death, and I think Thrash has been in there as well at some points. I don't even try to pigeonhole us any more because I think people just think we're a Doom band, although I've never thought of My Dying Bride as a Doom band, because, you know, you only have to play a couple of our more extreme Metal songs and people go wow, that's not a Doom band! Doom Death seems to work and it's really journalists and fans I think who make up those phrases. To me it's just My Dying Bride: we do what we do, and other people have to label us, and I'm fine with that. I don't get all angry and narky because we're being quoted as say more Death than we are Doom, it doesn't bother me - it's from the journalist's perspective, I suppose. If you like the thrashy fast songs, you'll probably call us more of a Death Metal band, although I don't really think many people are going to do that! We're pretty doomy, but we've got elements of that within us - you know, keeping it fresh.

From a reviewer's perspective, I like to consider it more of a convenient shorthand than a rigid definition.

Yeah, I mean when I read magazines and websites and people say Doom metal is My Dying Bride I don't go well, we're not just Doom! I really don't care, I'm not picky about it all. I'm happy to be in the magazines, that's all (chuckles).

So it didn't really take you all that long to get the original demo done: 'Towards The Sinister' came out in 1990.

That turned up really quickly, actually. I mean, that's an example of how well we gelled at the beginning, the four of us: Rick, Andy, myself and Calvin. We just hit it off straightaway - I'm slightly older, but we're all roughly the same age, and we all liked roughly the same kind of music, and it just worked. That first rehearsal it was just like a lightbulb, we were all thinking this is working well, it's working well! I think that rehearsal was probably about four hours, and we probably wrote two songs just in that rehearsal, and then worked on a couple more - I think we'd only been together maybe three or four months, and we decided right let's do a demo tape, that's what bands do. We've all got demo tapes of other bands at home: tape trading was a big thing back then, tape trading and flyers were your internet of the late '80s, and that's how we found out about all the other bands and so we thought, right...

Thankfully, Calvin worked at a printers, so on the side of a job he was printing for Michelin tyres was just enough room to squeeze on a demo inlay thing. So I designed it all, and we put the lyrics on and everything - in colour with lyrics, you know people were doing photocopied stuff back then without lyrics - ours had the full monty, so it was all thanks to Michelin (chuckles). And that obviously makes the demo tape stand out amongst the others because, I mean, if you were running a fanzine back then you must have got tons of demo tapes, and they all looked I guess pretty similar. We wanted this one to just stand out a little bit, it's just fortunate that Clavin managed to get it done for free. And we printed all full colour glossy flyers as well - which, again, everyone else did black and white photocopies - so we were trying to make an impact. We wanted to make a statement with the first thing we ever released, and I think we got a thousand copies, a thousand tapes done. Then it was the classic case of right, everyone, come round to my house on Saturday: I've bought a thousand Jiffy envelopes and we've got all these addresses from all these fanzines... and all the appropriate record labels at the time as well.

I guess we must have sent out nearly two hundred to all the magazines and the reviewers and everyone like that, free of charge, and then through feedback we managed to sell - well, we probably had a hundred that we gave to friends and they're probably sat in a drawer somewhere - but I reckon we sold seven hundred which was pretty good going for the day!



So after that you did pretty much everything thereafter in Academy Studios. Given that means you've done pretty much all of your studio career with Mags as the engineer, is he like another member of the band to you now?

He has been for a long, long time. He does our live sound as well, so he comes out with us for the gigs. Definitely, he's effectively another member of the band because in a way, once he got a bit more confident working with us over the years, he's able to have more input about how he thinks a song should be structured. In the rehearsal room you write a song how you feel is right - this works here, this works there, bish bash bosh, everyone's happy, the song's finished. Then you go to the studio and record it, and Mags will say have you tried - if you move that riff there it takes the song in a slightly different direction... He's not afraid to have a little bit of input and we welcome his input as well, 'cos some bands would be like who are you telling me how to write my songs? But, no, we welcome input from Mags, we've know him for such a long time.

But it wasn't like that in the early days, the early days it was Keith Appleton who did the tweaking, and he owned the studio Academy, and I think him and Hammy tried to engineer Symphonaire Infernus - the first EP - but they just didn't get along so well. Hammy didn't know what he was doing, and he was stoned most of the time, and Keith - he's an old guy who's used to Frank Sinatra crooners (laughs).

Sounds like a fair distribution.

Yeah, and it worked out well: we've been with Mags for a long time. Academy, it was originally two houses knocked together and we did a couple of albums there. Cradle Of Filth did an album there, and I think Anathema did some stuff there, Paradise Lost did some stuff there and then he moved Academy to the back of his house. He basically built an extension on the back of his house... this is Keith I'm talking about... and he built a studio in there, and it's still there today. We did the last album there. It's really rather small and it's certainly not a residential studio. You wouldn't want to turn up there with more people than are in the band, there's nowhere to sit! It's functional, you know: you go in there you do what you need to do, and you get out, and that's exactly what we did on the last album.

In the past, as well, for a long time we did a few things at Futureworks in Manchester which is where Mags works. That's his day job, teaching kids at university how to work all this equipment. So we recorded at least one or two albums there - there was a gap between Academy, probably about a ten year gap, so we probably did two or three, maybe four albums at Futureworks with Mags, and then the university just got more and more popular and more and more busy. And at some point Mags said I don't know how to fit you guys in any more, so I said don't worry about it, we'll go back to Academy. We'll record it there, but then give all the recordings to Mags, and he mastered them at Futureworks because he's got just a better system there. And for the new album which we're doing now, it looks like we're going to be doing it at a little studio in Huddersfield, which we've just been to look at last week, and it's great. It's right in the campus at Huddersfield University, so I think we're going to do it all there.


The modern-day Academy Recording Studio in Dewsbury.


Have you ever actually had an album rescued in the mix and mastering, or have you always managed to get what you wanted in the studio recording yourselves?

Yeah we've always - we've spent so long in the studio: you tweak things and tweak things, and you just think right, that's fine cos you always listen to it through those bloody great big speakers and it always sounds epic. And you put your keyboards on at the end, and then your funny little sound effects - we always had some - not BBC, there was someone releasing sound effect CDs and you'd get your thunder and, well, obviously not lightning (chuckles), but thunder and church bells and wind and all that shit. And we'd go overboard with all the special effects because we sort of wanted people, when they listened to My Dying Bride, to sort of put their headphones on and close their eyes and really indulge in what we've got to offer. So we made it almost cinematic, because that's the kind of stuff we wanted to hear so we did all that in the recording studio.

I never went to mastering because it's fucking dull as dishwater - I only know that because Andy and Calvin have told me it's monotonous and I just - for me, it would destroy the songs. If I had to listen to the cymbals 87 times in one song, I would just hate that song forever, so I just never went to any of the mastering. I'll let those guys do it, and they hated it as well. So we did as much as we could in the recording studio and when it came back mastered, to be honest, I don't think it sounded any different!

That's sort of the idea isn't it, that it should sound just as good whatever you play it on?

Well, yeah, I guess - but there's a nice little thing, some of them were mastered at Abbey Road which was, well, quite a bit of kudos there. Again, I never went down - you know, you would have thought maybe you'd jump at the chance to go to Abbey Road, but I just didn't want to have my songs drilled into my head a hundred times a day, no matter what studio it was in. So I said I'm not going, it'll kill the songs for me. Andy went down and loved it. But, again, in the future I've no intention of going anywhere - once the song's been recorded in the studio I'm happy as Larry, these can go off and be mastered in LA for all I care, it's just a relentlessly boring thing to do and I just don't want any part of it.

My Dying Bride - 'Symphonaire Infernus Et Spera Empyrium ' (Official):


Fair dos. I remember very early on in MTV's existence seeing MDB promotional videos on one of their weirder shows, that was actually what got me into the band. I don't think they do anything like that any more - but how did you get into the video side of things so early on?

Well again, it was Hammy - Hammy had an affiliation with Academy Studios, which is why a lot of Peaceville bands went there. He basically said to Keith look if I fire a load of bands through your door you'll give me a big discount and Keith was like yeah alright, and it's the same with this company called Dat To Dat in Manchester. I don't know how Hammy found them, but they shot some university stuff. I think they were quite a young outfit and they had all the right equipment: they did videos for peanuts, because they wanted to get their name out there as well, and again Hammy must have rung them up and said look I'm going to fire a load of bands at you and I want good videos and I want them as cheap as you can get them and they were like yeah! Hell, yeah! So I think the first two or three videos might have been done by Dat To Dat and we just you know - they were in Manchester, we were in Yorkshire, we'd meet in the dreary moors in between which are perfect - forest, lakes, waterfalls, all that stuff so we'd stand there looking miserable with fiery torches wandering through the forest at night and it just worked and it suited our style of music.

And then I sort of got in touch with this David Palzer, who did some operatic stuff for various theatres, and he said I want to do a video for you guys - I've seen your others, they're alright, but I've got better plans. So we went down to London and we shot it, I can't remember where - and it was not great fun, shooting videos is not great fun! It sounds like it should be fun but, again, it's quite tedious because the song's being played ten times a day and it's like oh God, really? and you've got to like act a little bit and none of us are very good at acting so it's kind of embarrassing and awkward, it's not a natural thing for us to do! So, yeah, Cry Of Mankind was done down in London, and I think the videos got better after that.

My Dying Bride - 'Cry Of Mankind' (Official):


So, was there ever an actual moment when it felt like "wow - we've made it"?

No, I've yet to experience that moment (laughs). There have been moments where, you know, you just look at each other and say how the fuck did we wangle this? I mean, the Iron Maiden tour for example, about '95/'96 - Steve Harris phoned Andy and said, you know, do you want to come on the next tour, support Iron Maiden on the next tour and Andy's like who the fuck are you, are you joking?, thinking it was like a crank call! And, lo and behold, it wasn't, and we met them in Helsinki - that was the first gig - and suddenly we're walking out on to this stage in an arena that's absolutely ram-packed - it was an ice hockey arena - and we're thinking how the fuck have we managed this?

That was one moment, and the next moment was the very next day. We all drove to Sweden, and Steve Harris is like who's playing football with us today? Me, Andy and Rick were like yeah we play football, and then we're on Steve's own private tour bus getting changed into his West Ham Iron Maiden sponsored gear. He'd got like football boots for fifty people in all different shapes and sizes, because he was keen for everyone to get kitted out! So we put on all this gear, we ran out and we faced some sort of a Swedish team, but they were a proper team. They were in like the Division B in Sweden, so obviously they beat us - I think it was 4-2, or something like that, but considering we were rag-bag drunken long-haired louts, we didn't do too badly actually. And, again, you know me and Andy are looking at each other wearing these Iron Maiden West Ham shirts thinking how the fuck have we done this? - you know, a bunch of knobheads from Yorkshire?

How refreshing - well, the band's been around for an awfully long time, and at some point you kind of went from being a part of the scene to being a massive influence on it. Were you aware of that happening?

No, because it evolved over such a long period of time, you know. You don't wake up in the morning, look out of the window and there's all these fans and young bands fawning over you, and again the internet was in its infancy as we were developing, so it was almost like it was just a really slow evolution. It was here at festivals you'd hear a young band they'd be on at like 2 in the afternoon and you'd think oh, they're a bit MDB, and you might read later on in a review one of them might say oh My Dying Bride were a big influence on us but then they'd always like Paradise Lost and Anathema as well, so it's rare to see My Dying Bride's name solely.


MDB Merch at Heavy Metal Online.


At this point I think it's probably safe to say that you're amongst the legendary doom acts - but are you still pretty much in the position of most other bands where merchandise is really what funds the band?

It's still live shows, because we've noticed this - actually, merchandise goes along with live shows, because you're flogging it at the gigs - and when we had to cancel the shows at the end of last year, and all the shows that were planned for this year, you notice that your income isn't what it was. We have a company, sell our merchandise online, of course, but if you're not out there sticking your face in people's faces, people tend to forget a little bit, which is fair enough. We never really - we're not brilliant with social media, we need to re-look at our social media attitude because, you know, really our Facebook site - every couple of weeks we should be saying, you know, 10% off this design of long-sleeve T-shirt, it'll never be printed again, blah blah blah, but we're just not on that ball at the moment - we're not that commercially sorted.

But, yeah, when you don't play shows for a year your bank account just empties, because you're paying for a rehearsal room, we've been paying for a rehearsal room - well, we've been paying for it forever, actually - and we've hardly used it, so it's just money slowly trickling away. But, you know, we've never really been in it for the cash. You don't write thirteen minute songs in Latin and expect to make a lot of money out of it (chuckles) it's just not going to happen! We do it because - in the early days, we just wanted to be in a band, and that's why we did it then - I think over the years I feel a need to do it, an urge. I've got stuff inside me that needs to come out, and My Dying Bride is the vessel for that. We try to make the albums popular, of course, we try to put the effort into making the songs as good as they can be - you know, we're not going to write weird and wonderful stuff just for the hell of it, though we try to make the songs have some sort of commercial value, because we want to hear them as well, and if a song's got a little bit of a catchy riff that's great, that's absolutely fine.

Because of my personal circumstances recently, we've really dropped off the wagon: we've done nothing, so we've earned nothing, you know. We haven't got a new record out, we haven't got a tour out, and so this is probably the lowest of the low when it comes to income but it doesn't worry us at all. We've got a cracking new album that we're going to start working on, and when it comes out it'll be on a much bigger label than previously, and I am speculating that this next album on Nuclear Blast will probably make more money than most of our entire back catalogue on Peaceville because they're a very forward-thinking, very professional record label who, when you deliver a great product to them, they will put it out there. And they'll put it in every market they can, and they'll do a couple of nice interesting formats - because, again, when I was a kid, if I liked a really good album I'd buy the picture disc, the coloured vinyl, you know the fold-out thing, the one with the poster...yeah, I'd buy everything again. So it's a commercial thing, of course, but when our new album comes out on Nuclear Blast, it's probably going to be maybe three or four different CD versions, different vinyl versions, all sorts of fancy stuff, and it's not trying to rip people off - it's just because people like collecting this stuff. I like collecting this stuff! So, we're going to do that, and I suspect with the right push and the right label we'll back on track again in a year or two.

Yeah?

It takes that long to get the money (laughs). You know, even if I released an album today I wouldn't see a penny for two years; it takes that long to collect the revenue. So by that time, you know, our gig promoter will get some more gigs lined up, and flog a bit of merch, and hopefully about a year from now things might be hunky-dory again.



Cool. Well, knowing Nuclear Blast they'll be doing boxed sets and all sorts, and I'll be buying those!

Yeah, me and Andy went to their offices in Germany and they've got fucking box sets made out of wood, all chiselled by hand, and it's like Jesus Christ this stuff is amazing! And some of the stuff that they do release, it's like a hundred euros for certain things and you say who's going to buy this? and they say it's already sold out! People will buy stuff, even as elaborate and expensive as it is: if people love that band, they will buy that merch.

Yep. Guilty as charged!

Yeah, exactly, yeah. I do the same thing! (Laughs)

Well, if I can digress slightly, one of the things I found really interesting about putting together the tribute album we did a couple of years was that we deliberately set out to approach bands outside of the Death/Gothic/Doom sphere and ask them to show how much influence My Dying Bride had had on them. And I was frankly astonished by how far that had spread out and how willing people were to have a crack at it. But also, I suppose most of us are old and we remember all the early albums as firm favourites, and we sort of expected everyone to be squabbling over who could pick tracks off The Angel And The Dark River, but we had all these younger bands coming in and saying no the ones that really got me were the early or mid 2000s which I was growing up with. And that's kind of fantastic in a way, isn't it?

I think it's wonderful because you sometimes think, and I'm guilty of this myself, for me when I first became aware of Metallica it was just on the release of 'Master Of Puppets' and for me that is the golden period and I haven't really bought any of their albums since - the last album I bought from Metallica would have been '...And Justice For All', and that was a golden period for me. But I'm always discovering new bands, and I kind of fall away from those, and so for me if Metallica only played 'Master Of Puppets' the full album and 'Ride The Lightning' and a couple from 'Kill 'Em All' I'd be chuffed...and I know that for some people, for them My Dying Bride is the 'Turn Loose The Swans' era that they love, and they're not that bothered about anything else, because that was the era when they discovered us. And that's absolutely fine. But we see kids at our gigs and I'm thinking well, which album did they discover My Dying Bride at? And you're right, people are discovering us at different periods, because when you're exposed to a band for the first time, that initial exposure is quite often the one you latch on to, and you're not that bothered about what went before and you generally follow the career afterwards. Every album gets new fans, which is great! It means there's still a relevance to what we're doing, and we're not being sad old dinosaurs who are flogging a dead horse - the things that we do mean stuff to people, and I think that's important.

So, so you have any particular favourite classic inspirations - authors or poets, anything like that?

I do like your classic English poets, you know, your Byrons and your Keatses and all the rest of it - I just like the flamboyant wording and that's why I try to make the lyrics a bit more interesting. They might be a bit trickier for non-English-speaking people because I try to write in - well, sometimes I try to write in - a more flamboyant style and it's a bit poetical and a bit fanciful and some people don't get it, but that's fair enough. But I just want each element of My Dying Bride to be a little bit unusual, I want to put a bit of effort into it, it's like we spend ages doing the covers and the lyrics and photography - we just want the complete package if we can, we'd rather not fudge on something. We'd rather do it all properly, and so, yeah, I like old-fashioned - your old dead poets, they're always good. But I'm a big fan of Nick Cave as well. You're not likely to hear any Nick Cave influences on My Dying Bride works cos there's quite a distance in musical style - well, although, saying that, his book And The Ass Saw The Angel directly inspired - I've forgotten which bloody song (laughs) - ah, I can't even remember which song or even which bloody album it was, but basically it was me telling that Nick Cave story through quite a Death Metal heavy sort of song. So you can find inspiration in one genre and turn it into your own genre without ripping it off of course you know I've acknowledged Nick Cave and that book every time I've spoken about that song, you'd think I'd remember the bloody title - oh The Raven and the Rose, there you go.

My Dying Bride - 'The Raven And The Rose' (Live):


And sometimes you range further afield with folklore and mythology, that sort of thing?

Yeah, well The Barghest O'Whitby was a classic case - I didn't even know what a barghest was until I had - you know all these sightings of large animals, somewhere in the English countryside, but none of them are ever confirmed, it's always big black cats or something like that - and I read something about a large dog somewhere, and I just started looking into mythologies about wolves and stuff in the UK, and this is where barghest came from. It's like a devil-dog, and I thought OK then, I'm going to write a story here and I'm gonna use the area around Whitby and North Yorkshire and I got a map out and I picked a couple of villages and a couple of points of interest and I included them in the song and basically it was sort of folklore - every single village has some sort of folklore story going from it.

So I read all these folklore things from North Yorkshire, and I sort of took little bits from all of them, and included them in The Barghest O'Whitby. And I ended up creating my own sort of folklore story about this vicious dog who sees his master murdered, but the dog clocks all three murderers. And they lock the house and burn it down when they leave, but the dog just manages to get out, and he then hunts all three of them down in various parts of North Yorkshire, culminating in the final deed being done up in Whitby. Everyone thinks it's a vicious nasty terrible dog sent from the devil, and really he's seeking revenge for a deed done to his master. So it's kind of a double-sided story and it worked out well and it - I wasn't planning on it being twenty-seven minutes long, it just turned out that way (laughs).

Probably the best way to work, without artificial limits?

Yeah and at no point did we - you know, when it got to the thirteen-minute mark at no point did we all look at each other and say shall we call it a day here? We just carried on going and carried on going, and when we'd all finished we thought that's quite a long song, but hey-ho, and so we released it as an EP. I doubt we'll ever play it live cos it would take up too much of the set, but you never know, one day...



And it's all worked out pretty well nonetheless?

Yeah I can't really complain - we've done alright!

And on a personal note, what did you actually think of the doom- metal.com tribute album?

I thought it was great, and you're right about - there were a couple weird tracks on there and I'm thinking well, this is not what I expected, what I expected was a lot of My Dying Bride clones and, thankfully, that is exactly what we didn't get and it was quite an eye-opener, and I'm so glad - I never imagined when we formed My Dying Bride there'd be a tribute CD, it's still, almost, I can't believe it now that people would even bother doing it. The latest thing with, what was it, some guys in South Africa have recorded - they did a live show where they only played My Dying Bride songs, 'cos they basically realised My Dying Bride are not coming, so we'll have to do it ourselves (chuckles) And we sort of think well, we will come, we just don't know when - you've just got to be patient! But, yeah, it's great when other people take some of the things you've done and give them their own twist and you sort of think ah, right - sometimes you think now, I wish I'd thought of that, but it's great, you know, it's nice and it is a great CD, I love it.


Still available if you want to listen or buy...on site or on Bandcamp.


Awesome, thank you - I appreciate that. Excellent, and thank you for another very interesting interview. I've really enjoyed it.

Me too, I appreciate it. It's so nice - you know sometimes we get emailers and it's just questions one to thirty two and you're just like oh, God, but this is more like a chat, it's just way better isn't it?

Well I am guilty of doing a lot of email inties, but I much prefer the conversational nature - it's always interesting how it goes off- piste from the notes that you prepare! Thanks a lot for your time, Aaron.

Alright, thank you very much, and hopefully we'll chat again at some point in the future!

Indeed, I hope so too, and it gets to that point I guess where I should ask how you'd like to close this - any last words?

Oh - I'm not really sure...we've been going, this is our twenty-eighth year, we'll definitely make it to thirty, of that I have no doubt, where we go beyond that is anybody's guess, but it's been a good ride so far - I'm not going to say long may it continue, but it will continue. And when I stop enjoying it, I'm going to step quietly away, take a bow and say Thanks everybody, it was great. See you later.


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Interviewed on 2018-10-17 by Mike Liassides.
Rotten Copper
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