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Paul Allender - guitarist, Cradle Of Filth
2000 - On the phone with David Lee Wilson

For most of the half-hour that we spoke Paul Allender was feeling the distraction of temptation, perhaps like he never had before. There it rested, a hotel spawned bread roll cold and hard from sitting long on the tray, teasing, taunting, “Pick me up and fulfill your true desire.”

Somewhere between the opening pleasantries of our conversation and the final “goodbye” the tires of some unseen vehicle screamed a bloody shout so fierce that it forced my ear back from the phone. Could it be, did Paul actually succumb to the roll’s temptations and hurl it through the air and down several stories at the conveyance? Allender never admitted to as much but I have my suspicions and being that we are in such close proximity to the infernal Halloween festivities my soul knows that somewhere in New York City there are the scattered remains of a bread roll’s innards spread across the windshield of some unfortunate motorist.

Ah, but this story is not centered around leavened flour alone, there is something far more sinister to focus on here namely “Midian” the new and beautifully black hearted album by Cradle Of Filth. As he licked the powder from each of his offending fingers, one can just imagine his snaky tongue performing outside of its fanged cage, Paul Allender, Cradle Of Filth’s six string sadist, did speak upon the new album giving the why, where and how of it all. Read these words that “Prince Midnight” did speaketh with an eye open for flying pastry.

DAVID LEE WILSON: Hey man, it’s Halloween time again and I am assembling my son's Vampire costume and it just occurred to me that you get to be a Vampire of sorts year round, must be cool! (laughs)
PAUL ALLENDER: Yeah! I have got a son as well and he dresses up on Halloween and goes about doing his evil deeds. (laughs)

K2K: Lesser evil deeds than Dad I should hope?
PA: Yeah, somewhat. (laughs)

K2K: Before we got on about the new “Midian” album I have to ask you about the trip to the Vatican, where you in on that whole deal?
PA: No, I wasn’t this time. That was done in the gap when I was basically taking a break from the band. We went to the Vatican when I was first in the band and that was quite amusing then as well.

K2K: I bet! How did that come off?
PA: It was quite amusing because we played a gig next door to the Vatican and there were police everywhere. We were just like, “Hey, we are just a band playing a fucking gig for Christ’s sake!” It was just like we were bloody terrorists or something, just because we were wearing the makeup and everything. All we wanted to do was get on with it and play the gig and there was just fucking police everywhere, in the venue, outside, everywhere. They were making sure that we didn’t actually cause any trouble and it was ridiculous really. Nothing really kicked off as such but the juicy time obviously was when they (COF 1999) went back there. (laughs) They all got hauled off.

K2K: Yeah, I had head that they were all marched off at gunpoint to some interrogation proceeding and got a good scare.
PA: Yep, the full works.

K2K: I am sure that few of the children that the lot of you have will be outdone on the day that all the kids have to relate family stories in school. (laughs)
PA: Oh, definitely. That one is not going to be missed. (laughs)

K2K: OK, now we can get to “Midian.” Is this your first output since you have rejoined the band?
PA: This is the first time since I have been back that we recorded an album. I recorded the first album, “Principle” and then when I was in the band I wrote “Dusk And Her Embrace” and there are a couple of songs on “Vampire” that I wrote as well but this is the first recording with me being back in the band.

K2K: Having been away for as long as you were if Cradle Of Filth a different band to you now than it was in the beginning?
PA: The only original guys in the band are Rob, the bass player and Dan but all of the other guys have known each other for such a long time. Martin, the keyboard player, used to be in My Dying Bride and Anathema and I toured with the other guys while they were in other bands. Adrian, the drummer, was in At The Gates and The Haunted, so it is all very good. I think that me going away gave me a chance to work on my guitar playing, I worked on other styles of playing and I play much better. I think that me coming back has brought a lot to the band on the Heavy Metal side of things.

K2K: Are you enjoying it more than you did then?
PA: Oh, God yeah. Then, it was really good but I hadn’t really experienced anything else, it was all that I knew but after going away and doing 9 to 5 jobs and doing artwork on computers and all of this sort of stuff, those four years actually done me a world of good. It is just like having the band be reborn, it is just like the first album again.

K2K: I only know that I would be speaking to you about the album a few days ago but in those two days I had a few e-mails asking me about the band and what I thought of the album, strange because no one should have know we were to speak but, both of these e-mails volunteered a critique that went like this. “It sounds more commercial than any of the other albums.” Were you going for something more accessible to the larger market?
PA: No, no, not at all. We are writing for ourselves. We don’t write for anyone else but we are pleased that other people like the music that we write for ourselves. When you start off as a young band you are going to be playing all over your instruments and we have just gotten a lot older and a lot more mature, that’s all. (laughs) We don’t ever sit down and say, “We have got to write this song and it has to be four and a half minutes long.” That is bullshit, bollocks. “Midian” is heavier than bloody “Cruelty And The Beast.” The songs and their structures and playing wise, it is a hell of a lot heavier and sort of undergroundy, I think. It has a production that makes it sound accessible. We are writing new stuff at the moment and well heavy that is! It just rips your face off, it really does.

K2K: John Fryer produced this record and you are talking about a guy who is the biggest name that Cradle Of Filth has ever employed as a producer.
PA: Oh totally. John Fryer had remixed “From The Cradle To Enslave” and the band liked what he had done on that and when we came to do this album we said, “Lets get him in and see what he is like form day one.” We wanted a really heavy production and we wanted the guitars sitting above the keyboards. I mean, on “Midian” there is like only one guitar each, nothing is double tracked and that speaks volumes for itself. Most bands double track guitars to make them sound thicker and heavier but the problem with that is that they sound messy because you can’t, no matter how good you are, you can’t get them quite synched up.

We were a bit dubious to start out with, myself and Gian, the other guitar player. We said, “I don’t know, this might sound a bit crap.” And John Fryer said, “Look, trust me, it is going to sound good.” When we had done the guitar bits and it is like one o’clock in the morning John Fryer would come in and say “Come on in and see what you think of this mix.” We come in and it is just the guitars and the drums and we both were like, “Fucking hell! My God man, this is heavy as fuck!” (laughs) So, I think that we are definitely going to use him for the next album as well because he has just given the whole band a whole new edge, I think.

K2K: Since your original run with the band have you seen the fanbase evolved and does the music account for the evolution, do you think?
PA: Yeah. Some fans come along to our shows all dressed up, which is cool, which is really good because it makes the fans part of our show as well, I mean we do like putting on a real theatrical type of show. Before, when I was in the band the first time, all the kids were turning up with all these real spiky wristbands and fucking neck bands and God knows what else, sort of real underground Black-Metal but now everything is toned down because it is a whole new generation. I find now that they don’t look geeky anymore as such, do you know what I mean?

K2K: I think I do. (laughs)
PA: Do you? There is nothing worse than seeing like little spiky wristbands and all this bollocks. Our fans are a lot more classy now, they really are and they are really into the music and that is fucking amazing! If I had the chance I would kiss all of our fans feet, I really would. I fuckin’ love ‘em!

K2K: After they bathed them of course?
PA: Oh God yeah! My lips don’t touch anything smelly! (laughs)

K2K: Speak of lips touching things smelly, I have been a great fan of the Cradle Of Filth artwork and I have noticed that the female chosen for this cover is not the usual busty girl. She is quite beautiful and definitely my favorite thus far, who is she?
PA: I don’t know who she is, I think that she is a model that works with JK Potter who did the artwork. The band has used all of these big tits with nipples out and all that but we wanted to get away from that because the band has done it to death. It has been done so many times and we wanted to make the whole image and artwork looks a little more classy, a bit more accessible to the female fan. A female fan can get into it and wear T-shirts and stuff. That was the problem, I think, with the old T-shirts and posters, they had tits out everywhere and it doesn’t cater to our female fans so that is the reason we did this with “Midian,” to make the whole thing a bit more classy. The new shirts have the album artwork from the booklet on them and it just looks far superior to the old stuff.

K2K: You mentioned Martin Powell earlier. . .
PA: Yeah, the keyboard/violin player, he is a full time member now.

K2K: Right, how is it, as a guitarist, to work with someone who is going to carry a good deal of the melody like Martin does?
PA: Like I have said before, we have known each other for years, from “the good old early days” so we toured with him before and we have all got the same tastes as well, which is really good. To have myself and Jan playing the harmonies and then Martin instantly picking it up, it is all just really easy because we know each other’s styles now. Martin will say, “Hey I have got this really good keyboard part” and we will say, “Lets hear it” and then all of us will be able to put harmonies to it straight away. Mind you, it didn’t happen overnight. It took right up until going into the studio to actually find each other’s style, it took nearly a year. We have done it and each of us knows exactly where the others are coming from.

K2K: Is the live set all compiled now?
PA: Yes it is, we are rehearsing it at the moment.

K2K: Without giving it all away, what will it look like?
PA: We start off with the intro to the new album, “At the Gates of Midian,” and in some shows we are going to start off with “Nocturnal Supremacy” and on some of the other shows we will go straight into “Kthulu Dawn.” Off of the new album there is, “Kthulu Dawn,” “Ghost in the Fog” and “Lord Abortion” and then for old stuff we are playing “Dusk and Her Embrace,” “Cruelty and the Beast, “Desire” and just a lot of old Cradle stuff but we have ordered it in such a way that it is really going to kick ass! We sat down and worked out the order and the keyboard links and stuff like that and it works out to be about fourteen songs which is a long set for us running around, swinging our heads about like nutters! (laughs) We are playing about a hundred miles and hour for an hour and a half and it kills ya!

K2K: The last trip through the states for Cradle was really short, like less than a dozen dates. Are you going to be able to come in this time with a full tour?
PA: Yeah. We are planning on coming over to the States in April of next year. On November 20th we start a European tour that takes us up until Christmas and then we come home at the beginning of the year for a few months and then April is when we plan to come over but obviously these things change. What we want to do is we want to do a month of North America and then South America, hopefully anyway. I can’t see why not! (laughs) At the end of the day it is just down to funding and record companies and everything else, unfortunately.

K2K: Speaking of record companies, this is the bands third album on as many labels.
PA: We don’t have anything to do with that, we just concentrate on playing. We don’t get involved in all the shitty little legal stuff and everything like that. We don’t do all the pen pushers stuff. We let the management and the record companies take care of all that stuff.

K2K: Great. You mentioned music that you are writing now, will that be different form what you have done here with “Midian"?
PA: It is a progression. We have a couple of songs on the go right now. I think that the next album might be, and I am not going to shoot myself in the foot here, I think that we will go for the same production because we are planning on writing even heavier stuff but without sounding too gauge, if you know what I mean. We are writing some really good, intense, thrash riffs as well and sticking blast beats over the top, especially with Adrian’s drumming, it is really heavy. We have also done a lot of harmony riffs too, sort of like Iron Maiden oriented stuff It is definitely going to be a progression and with all of the stuff that we write we make sure it is a million percent better than the last one and we really push ourselves to the limit. There are so many riffs and so many structures that we have just thrown away because we are just not happy with them. Out of, say, twenty or thirty riffs you might only get to use two that really stand out and work well and everyone turns ‘round and says, “Yeah!” It is not an easy job! (laughs)

K2K: But it seems like it is worth having done it.
PA: Oh definitely.

Written by David Lee Wilson

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