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Interview with Dani Filth

By Dominic Pierce-Toogood

Cradle of Filth's meteoric rise to black metal infamy began in a quiet part of the county of Suffolk in England. All may have seemed quiet then but that was about to be shattered by the searing dark sounds that rapidly became their trademark as these masters of all things mystical and evil found their feet.

I first met Dani Filth about 15 years ago when he was singing in a band alongside my brother that called themselves "The Lemon Grove Kids," named after the cult classic horror film by Ray Dennis Steckler. Dani's interest in the macabre was obvious even then, and though this band were not destined to reach the heights of COF, it temporarily satisfied his thirst for causing mayhem and he took away with him influences ranging from The Misfits, classic B-movies to all things Judas Priest.

Although Suffolk may seem quiet therein lies the remains of centuries of local witch trials and all things magick, a presence that has certainly been picked up by Dani and other local lad and lead guitarist Paul Allender in the lyrics and visual presentation of the band. So, 15 years on, here we sit backstage at Irving Plaza in New York, two Suffolk boys, but only one a god of the ever-expanding world of black metal (and that's not me!). Taking a break from headlining the second stage of Ozzfest 2003 with this low key and, of course, sold out, New York gig, Dani found a few minutes to tell me of new found friendships, Marilyn Manson's privacy and how to sell 3,000 records a week!

"Ozzfest has been very good for us. We are not only currently selling over 3,000 CD's a week but making some great friends along the way too." That has never been hard for COF as they keep their feet firmly on the ground although Dani has oft been spotted out partying with good friend Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour. "We (Dani and Corey) hit it off at one of the musical award shows and when our paths cross we have been known to share a drink or two. They are really nice guys, (Slipknot), but things can get a little crazy some evenings, hehehe." 

Back to Ozzfest then, where - at the time of this writing - they currently have a couple of weeks left of shows. So who are the friends you're making on this tour? "Well there are these guys, (points to tonight's support band, Sworn Enemy), and I always end up fighting with him, Lorenzo, (member of Sworn Enemy). Every night it seems! Last week we went a bit over the top and I ended up tangled up in some barbed wire, ripped my arm up pretty bad," says Dani, proudly showing two huge scars across his forearm. "We have also got along great with Voivod but we have to leave before the main acts start so we are a little sorry not to be checking out Ozzy live". Why leave so early? "It's to do with the show we put on. We have to get to the next site and start setting up our stage show before any of the other bands come on which, as you know, is about 9 o'clock in the morning. We have a pyrotechnic show as well as the stage and devil dancers on stilts etc. It's pretty cool and a lot of this goes on over the audiences' heads so we have all this rigging to go up and then the guys take it down every evening. They are a really hard working crew but we throw them a few parties now and again too!"

So you haven't bumped into Ozzy or Manson? "I went to the catering facility for the only time the other day and saw Tim Skoal, (of Marilyn Manson), but it's ridiculous with Manson. About an hour before he is about to go on, nobody is allowed anywhere near him backstage. You can’t even go for a piss back there as he has it all cordoned off, for his supposed 'privacy.'" So how about Ozzy? "I was around the site last week and saw what I thought was a really old man hobbling around using this walking stick. As he gets closer I see it's Ozzy. I cant believe he is that bad, I think he is just playing up to it. Then you see him on stage and he is going fucking mental, chucking water everywhere and jumping around ... hehe." 

So where do you go from here, Dani? Your last album, "Damnation and a Day" was incredible with the addition of the orchestra and Sarah Jezebel (backing singer), sounds awesome as always, "Sarah's great and using the orchestra was awesome, too. I loved this album although it took us bloody long enough to make. But I am very proud of it and live it is going down very well too. I mean someone out there must like it, we are selling 3,000 of them, (CD's), a week just off the back of this tour." 

And how is the family? (Dani lives with long-time girlfriend and their young daughter in Suffolk). No plans to bring them over for this tour? "We thought about it but we get so few days off. I miss them, of course, yeah, but the days we get off we always seem to be stuck in the middle of nowhere in small towns with nothing to do except perhaps look 'round local record shops or see a film somewhere. This is a grueling tour but we've really enjoyed it, although we are sorta glad we are coming to the end of it, too, now." 

As yet another fan approaches us to get an autograph or have a photo taken with the guys you begin to realize just how huge this band is. Ethereal-like in their stage presence, fans seem to need to touch their idols to ensure they are of flesh; such is the mystique surrounding COF. However, Dani and the others all make time for the constant barrage of requests and everyone seems to go home happy. How can you cope with this attention, Dani? “They are our fans and they buy our records, it's as simple as that. Some are extremely fanatical about the band and you would not believe the letters and gifts we all get per week - some a little weird - but weird can be good ..." he cackles. "I mean, just look at the website and all the message boards, (at The fans have been great and, with very few exceptions, go fucking crazy whenever we play, wherever we play." You only have to look out for the band's t-shirts to know how widespread the fan base is. I have seen t-shirts worn by lap dancers in Kansas, to pre-high schoolers in London, but all are worn with pride and a sense of not always wanting to shock (with some obvious exceptions) but a sense of belonging to a exclusive club that are the COF fans.

However Dani's talents go further than just the widely varying vocals heard on any and all COF tracks. He recently starred in a horror movie, "Cradle of Fear," to which the band, of course, provided the musical score. They were showing scenes from the film before the music began tonight -- it is very gory but a great film with Dani outdoing himself as the Lead character. Any future plans to act again? "There are a few things in the pipeline and the film came out really well but I cant really discuss them right now. But be warned: I may be reappearing in something soon."

Indeed be warned that, when Cradle of Filth come to your town, it may not be the same after they leave. With an ultra heavy live set, kick ass pyrotechnics and tunes to raise the dead, you may not be same after seeing them live either. 

Oh, and don't forget to pick up a t-shirt too.

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Copyright © 2003 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:11 -0400