It seems entirely fitting that, with Halloween just around the corner, UK black metal band Cradle of Filth are touring the U.S., including shows in NYC tonight and tomorrow. The sight of COF mainman Dani Filth decked out head to foot in bondage leather, his face plastered in white foundation and black flourishes, just screams the spooky season. Of course, he and his bandmates wear this stuff year-round, but it still feels seasonal.
Theatrics aside, Filth is a charming conversationalist. He’s developed a reputation over the years for being difficult to work with, and who really knows what goes on behind the scenes? But he’s funny and warm in a way that belies the band’s cold precision.
It feels like it’s been a long while since Cradle of Filth last hit these shores, but in fact it was only 2019. Must be pandemic-amnesia. They actually did two tours for the Cryptoriana — The Seductiveness of Decay album, with new management wanting them over here as much as possible. Dani Filth isn’t complaining.
“I love coming to America,” he says. “And the movie. No, we have such a great time. Every state is different, people are really accommodating. We just spent two days here in Dallas at Universal rehearsals, and people just couldn’t have been nicer and more helpful. It’s just been a dream, it’s been brilliant. I bought a cowboy hat.”
The mental image of Dani Filth sporting a Stetson is certainly enduring. It’s unlikely he’ll wear it on stage around these parts though.
“We’re playing the Belasco,” Filth says, mentioning an upcoming concert in Los Angeles. “We have an amazing time. Last time we played there, we had a bunch of people come down, including Danzig which is great. He hung out for ages and, even though he had a bad throat and he had to sing in the studio at the end of the week. Bloody hell, I even got a selfie with Danzig. That’s literally unheard of. My camera remained intact. Me and my previous girlfriend, we had a real affinity with LA. I came over there on holiday, and we bumped into a friend who was also holidaying, Jyrki from the 69 Eyes. The Rainbow was our home away from home.”
This week, Cradle of Filth releases a new album, Existence is Futile. Appropriately enough, it’s the band’s 13th full lengther and much of it was written while they were on the road.
“We wrote 90 percent of the record while we were on the road,” Filth says. “So we were in the studio literally a month before the pandemic hit, which was perfect in hindsight because our drummer is from the Czech Republic and so is one of our guitarists. When all the shit went down and the borders closed, we didn’t get our guitars done for five months after we started the record. In England, the lockdown was tight, but they allowed you to work. It was just me and the producer at the studio for at least a few months. I really enjoyed it. Our studio is isolated, in the Suffolk countryside. But with nobody else being around, just me and him, it was really other-worldly, like Silent Hill. It got the creative juices flowing, and nobody knew when the lockdown was going to end.”
While the title of the new album sounds like it’s soaked in hopelessness, Filth says that the main theme is existentialism. Despite popular opinion, it’s not all about the pandemic.
“No actually, we finished beforehand,” he says. “The pandemic is just one in a long line of shitstorms that have beset humanity. So yeah. I think that was inspired by the fact that, in those three years of world touring, we obviously played in some big, bustling metropolises, or metropoli. It felt like the world was shifting — seasons were shifting and something inevitable was happening. I’m not talking about the pandemic — the pandemic we got off very lightly with. But whether it’s a whole role reversal for humanity or we really are going down the tube and hitting Armageddon — that’s just the vibe you get when you’re in chaotic situations for three years. That’s where the crux of where the album’s imagery and symbolism came from.”
They might have a new album out, but Cradle of Filth will be performing 1998’s classic Cruelty and the Beast in its entirety on this tour.
“The reason for that is we did a full remix from scratch of that record, that came out three years ago, and we toured it everywhere, but the pandemic nipped it in the bud before we could do it in the States,” Filth says. “Then the opportunity came up, there was a window for a month leading up to this big festival in Mexico so we took it. At that time the album release date hadn’t been scheduled because nobody knew when things were going to happen. So we decided to come back. We were gagging to do any shows to be honest. The fact that we came back to finish what we started in Europe and do it here in the States, albeit half a tour because it’s only a month, it’s great to be back on the road full stop.”
Bigger picture, the frontman says that metal is still flourishing in the UK, although the digital age has made things a lot more difficult.
“Spotify — over 20 million plays last year and I got paid the equivalent of 150 Euros,” he says. “What it gives with one hand it taketh away with the other. Bloodstock [UK metal festival] was a good example though. Nobody had been to a live gig for so long and then suddenly, Bloodstock was allowed to go ahead. It was fucking awesome. Everybody had a shit-eating grin on their face for the entire weekend. Most of the bands from America and beyond ended up canceling so it was saturated with British bands. I don’t know how the British metal scene is doing because of the digital age, but Bloodstock was life-affirming.”
Good to know. As for COF, with a new album out and when this tour is done, Filth is planning on spending the New Year with his girlfriend in her native Russia. After that, he’s always got something up his sleeve.
“We’re back out here in April, got a European tour and British tour before then, and also little trinkets and baubles planned,” he says. “We’ve got a comic book anthology series with accompanying toys. We’ve got a new beer out called King Chaos Impaler Ale. A blood-red gin, and various other little things in the Cradle of Filth universe. So yeah, busy.”
Cradle of Filth is playing Irving Plaza tonight and Warsaw tomorrow.