Interview by Miriam C. and Alessandra “Psamathes” Cognetta
Enter the magick and horrific universe of Devilment: the leader Dani Filth graciously took some time to delve into the new opus “II – The Mephisto Waltzes” out now by the omnipresent Nuclear Blast. Beside an upcoming UK tour, a recent video clip and strange electrical experiences, he has revealed what is the perfect formula for juggling between Devilment and Cradle of Filth: we won’t spoil anything, discover it by reading the interview…
Hi Dani, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine. How are you?
I’m okay, thank you! Just got back from rehearsing.
Devilment is back with the second album “II – The Mephisto Waltzes” that was just released a couple of days ago. What you can share about its production and the creation process from your perspective?
It was a matter of trying to fit it in where available, because of the obvious problems of going on tour with Cradle of Filth, with the release of “Hammer of the Witches” there was no time between the release of the records and touring with Devilment. So we were able to rehearse in-between everything. As for the production, it was pretty much done before I went extensively on tour. Then we had Christmas and I went into the studio while I was in America. It was kinda difficult fitting it in, but that’s just something that is necessary nowadays. Having two bands, the same applies to Cradle of Filth. The Devilment album came out last Friday and now we are about to embark on a UK tour at the beginning of December, but next week Cradle of Filth is going into the studio to record the next album. As for Devilment, we were in the studio for about two and a half, three months on and off. We worked very hard on it, we tried to play on the strengths of the first record, find the bits we liked and what the fans liked, tried to experiment a little bit, but not stray too far from the beaten path and what people expect it to sound like coming after the first record. We also did a lot of work in the studio dissecting songs, making sure that they were perfect, that they didn’t have unnecessary parts or carried on for too long. We worked very closely with producer Scott Atkins on all the tracks and we decided not to overindulge ourselves, to not overweigh the album by putting too much on there. We think all the songs are worthy enough to be put on the record. It was a fun process, a lot of hard work… but nothing good is achieved by not working hard on anything!
When you mentioned that you worked on the strengths, on what you felt the band liked about the first album, but also on what the fans enjoyed the most, is there something that you feel differs in this case? The fans might like something that maybe the band doesn’t or viceversa? Is there ever some kind of conflict in taste, in this sense?
True, but obviously if you experiment too much it can draw you away from the core sound that people have come to know and love. So if you put one album out and it has a certain sound, and the second album has a different sound, you can’t expect them to totally fall in love with it if it has a different sound than the first, there’s no conflict. There’s a lot of experimentation on this record, but hopefully not too much. I think what fans expect in a record is to not be too far away from the concept of how Devilment should be. It sounds like Devilment, basically (laughs).
What sort of lyrical themes did you try to unveil on this album?
The album has a very strong emotive quality. Firstly, we have bad emotions which have to be overcome, the lyrics talk about justice, infatuation, retribution, retaliation, depression, jealousy, death. At the same time, the songs are about overcoming your personal demons. It’s cathartic, it puts bad emotions forward in the process of being beaten down and overcome. In general, it’s about catharsis, much like horror movies – you’re not actually being scared.
I learnt that during the production, former drummer Aaron Boast was replaced by Matt Alston. On the whole, which impact did this have on the album?
It was a necessary change, it wasn’t a replacement, he actually gave his position out because of his commitments to work and family. He didn’t want to let the band down, we were busy with the new album, he could not commit his time. It was very amicable, actually I play soccer with Aaron every Wednesday and he’s coming to see one of the shows of the British tour. He definitely helped to write the record. It’s much the same as the first album, Colin and Lauren joined the band, I guess it’s about passages. Obviously you need to be in the studio long enough to put your stamp on things. But with this album, Colin and Lauren were there from the beginning and their influence shines even more. There’s improvement, I think, especially in the guitar work.
The visuals on Devilment’s music possesses always its importance: firstly, I’d like to focus on the artwork created by the renowned artist Elena Vizerskayaaka Kassandra. How did you manage to collaborate with her and from your point of view, what it stands for and what is the vision behind it?
I wanted to use Elena‘s work for Cradle of Filth, actually, a couple of albums back. It wasn’t used because we didn’t think it was very “Cradle of Filth“. The artwork was still available when I contacted Elena about using it and she allowed us to choose what best represented the record. I was extremely lucky to be able to choose the work that I had seen four years ago. I think it’s brilliant and we integrated it into the whole band by actually basing the title of the album and parts of the songs on her artwork. I think the artwork is superb, I love it. I worked with so many great artists over the years, with Cradle of Filth, and I should also mention Dan Goldsworthy, the creative director who put the artwork in the lyrics of the bootleg and created a vision that would fit her artwork. The Special Edition has an extended artwork and a book. I think it’s a fantastic piece of product and I think it’s important, especially nowadays with so many people downloading and streaming from the internet, to give something that they can collect, something great to look at and worth spending money on.
Almost a month ago, you’ve premiered the video for “Hitchcock Blonde”. We learnt that The Royals’s actress Leanne Joyce is featured as the Hitchcock Blonde. What insights you can share about the video and the song?
Well, the song is based upon Alfred Hitchcock. We were able to hire this big hotel in Ipswich and we filmed for three days in the summer and the town was full of people, so we had this huge desolate, empty, creepy hotel looking out at thousands of people shopping, we were a little bit like ghosts. The place itself was definitely haunted. We were in the part of the hotel that had caught fire, where a woman had burned to death. Not long after we came back to the main area where we the electricity was – because the place had none, we had to run power in there – our guitarist’s phone was going mental, he touched it and it actually gave him an electric shock, which I found hilarious. It was an awesome experience, some parts were built after the fire, which made the setting strange. It was a lot of fun to actually be there.
As you were mentioning earlier, you are juggling between Devilment and Cradle of Filth. How do you manage to play in such important bands at the same time? It’s a matter of schedule, but also energy and focus, is there something that helps you to manage these two activities?
When I don’t work on one, I’m working on the other. It’s a lot of work, but I like work! I don’t like not having anything to do… I think three bands would be a bit too much, but two is quite adequate, personally. So yeah, focus!
On December, Devilment will kick off with an UK tour, what are your expectations and are we likely to see Devilment for a full EU tour?
Hopefully! Obviously, at the moment I’m going into the studio with Cradle of Filth. I think between the new Cradle of Filth album and the Cradle of Filth world tour, we’ve got a full month window in which Devilment… you know, I’ve got plans (laughs)! They’re not completely finalized just yet, I’ve got to speak to our booking management. There’s hopefully plans to tour Europe.
So, Dani, it’s time for your parting words – I really thank you for your time – please greet freely our readers and your fans. Thanks again!
Thank you! Obviously, go out and buy a copy of Devilment “II – The Mephisto Waltzes”! And if you want to find out about the band go on our Facebook page. Keep supporting the band!