Black metal icons Cradle Of Filth have been blasting forth their musical overtures from the underworld for nearly twenty years now, and they have explored a plethora of sinister subjects, from the vampiric murderess Countess Bathory to mass murdering lord and knight Gilles de Rais, traversing a number of unholy pathways shunned by others. But there is plenty of dark material left to unearth — the art and people who have influenced frontman Dani Filth and his ferocious bandmates. And they are far more diverse than you might expect.
The forthcoming The Gospel Of Filth: A Bible Of Decadence And Darkness, written by occult expert, author and Satanic practitioner Gavin Baddeley with input from Dani, is an all-encompassing look not only at the band’s storied career but at the forces both cultural and personal that shaped them. It’s a full color book drenched with intense and fantastic imagery. It features sidebars on and interviews with various characters, from Guillermo del Toro to Doug Bradley to Aleister Crowley, and it references media ranging from Tales From The Darkside to Grimm’s fairy tales to The Avengers and beyond. The leather bound, limited edition version of The Gospel Of Filth is sold out, but either a hardcover or paperback version should arrive in the near future. (Let’s hope it’s in time for the holidaze.)
Dani Filth recently spoke with ADD about the book, his upcoming musical side project, wanting to work with Clive Barker and more.
What’s cool about the Gospel of Filth is that it’s not only a history of Cradle Of Filth, but also a journey into the darker regions of religion, politics, and films, literature and music. You didn’t craft a standard band autobiography.
God, no! I think you actually forget about that when you’re in the thick of each chapter. I think you forget that it has anything to do with the band. Basically, Cradle Of Filth from album to album is used as a springboard to jump into the relevant topics and to meet relevant musicians and film producers and other estranged souls.
The in-depth nature of this tome makes me wonder about how you can know so much about a genre and its history, yet the older you get the more you find something that you haven’t read, seen or heard.
That’s cool. I like finding out about stuff. I’d hate to think that all the surprises have gone. When you start at the beginning of a genre or find something that you’re good at or are interested in, it’s always really magical at the start. Then the weight of the world crushes your spirit, like everything else. [laughs]
You obviously have a dark and menacing image that you want to portray on stage, but the book features casual, candid photos of you with your family. I guess you weren’t so concerned about removing that mystique while assembling this book?
That’s the thing. This is intended as a grimoire, hence why the first wave of the book is a limited edition, leather bound thing. It was mine and Gavin’s original intention to do something like a medieval grimoire that was elitist and highly sought after and would be really hard to find in 10 years time. But, of course, that’s just ridiculous unless we were barons and had hordes of money to throw away, so that’s why it’s going to be in bookstores. We’ll probably make 10p a book off of it at the same time. The original signed, bound, extra-chaptered print run is limited to about 2,000 [copies], and then the one that comes to the stores will be in Barnes & Noble’s, Borders and Waterstone’s. It’s going to be filed under occult/music. It’s more like a journey through the dark side, and I think music is just a small part of the book. Yet you had to have a basis for why you’re exploring these characters and like-minded souls.
So the limited edition has sold out?
I’m afraid so. It’s not a marketing ploy unfortunately. I’m not so sure on the [release date of the] paperback one. I think because of demands we might do a hard-backed, unsigned version of the “grimoire” — it’ll be cheaper by half — which should satiate the demand and fill the gap between the two releases. I’m not sure yet though.
The book includes a wide of variety of images, from the Daleks in Doctor Who to a controversial Witchfinder General album cover to Diana Rigg from The Avengers.
That’s a really rare picture of Diana Rigg. That was from the episode [“A Touch Of Brimstone“] that was banned in England because of the S&M scenes in it.
Isn’t it funny to think that some of the offensive stuff you did 10 years ago may not be in 10 more years? Does it make you wonder what will be offensive in another decade?
In the book you’ll see other people who were labeled as diabolists, and you think, “He was a great composer. Why was he branded as a Satanist of his time?” “He was a great poet. How come he was a Satanist?” The book answers quite a few questions and dives behind the mystery, henceforth why it’s got people from all the different genres. Not only are there serial killers interviewed in there, but you also have Robert Ressler, who was a serial killer catcher for the CIA.
In putting this book together, you included many sidebars. How hard was it for you and Gavin to focus on assembling this material so that it did not meander all over the place?
At one point, because of the time factor, we were using each album as a marker, as a subject matter. Cruelty And The Beast is about criminal chic, Nymphetamine is about illicit sex and drugs and Damnation And A Day is about Satanism. We got to the point where Cradle wrote two albums during the course of the Bible, so then we had to divide, conquer, replace and reshuffle and come up with another idea, so that added to the length of the work. We were a bit stupid to just sit there and think, “We’re going to do something that uses Cradle Of Filth as a small part and then explore [everything else].” In retrospect, considering it took five years to do it, we might’ve been a bit naïve, but if I thought about [doing] it now I wouldn’t even undertake the project. It was quite eye-opening and a bit of a journey.
How long have you known Gavin Baddeley, and how has your friendship evolved over the years?
I haven’t spoken to him for awhile because we wanted to distance ourselves away from each other. He’s working on something else, and it was kind of constant for a long time. Prior to that it was a couple of years. He was a journalist who would interview us. He had done some books prior and saw something in Cradle Of Filth that he could work into something far bigger. He could take some of the subject matter in the songs and the vibe and integrate the artists as well.
Considering this book, Cradle Of Filth’s extensive discography and videography and the Cradle Of Fear movie you were in, what do you see in the future for the band and your career? Are you worried that you have exhausted all of the different possibilities? What’s the next way to reinvent yourselves?
I don’t know. We’re building up ideas at the moment and Paul’s working on riffs. It’s going to kick off very quickly, and I wouldn’t be surprised if in two weeks time we don’t have half an album written. I’m still thinking of where to go with it. I should mention that I have a side project with Rob from Anthrax, King from Gorgoroth, Ice from Enslaved and John from The Cult. That’s the pressure valve for me, and we have demoed about five tracks. It’s like Tool meets At The Gates. It’s a hybrid. Maybe we’re not doing anything too new, but it’s very different. The working title is The Mongoloids. It won’t be The Mongoloids, but that’s how we refer to each other. I’m the voice of The Mongoloids. I was just curious about the marriage of people involved when we started talking about it, so I think that’s how the future might go. That’s the pressure valve for me, so that takes [off] some of the vibe about readdressing the Cradle Of Filth record because sometimes it can seem like a mountain. You’ve explored all of these things, and you don’t want to let anybody down.
Have you contemplated doing a Cradle Of Filth film that would be similar in the approach of this book?
I don’t know. We have got a load of footage that was done on the road with the eye to doing some kind of documentary, but it hasn’t come to fruition just because I find it very dull at the moment. It has to be something new. There was also talk about us doing a soundtrack, an album that was a soundtrack with narration and set to some black-and-white movies. That was something else that was brought up. The idea was to make a video cut from different imagery.
What was your favorite part of assembling The Gospel Of Filth?
The best part of it was the end, going back to it and proofreading it. I must have proofread it about four times. The last time 99.9% of the grammatical mistakes had been deleted, the pictures were there and I had to write the blurbs to my chapter, which was fun. It was much like [being] in the studio — it’s really fun on the way in, and it can be fun while you’re there, but it’s always most magical when you get to see the final picture.
You have worked with Doug Bradley, Ingrid Pitt and Dario Argento, all of whom are referenced in your Bible . Are there any other horror icons that you have yet to work that you would like to?
Clive Barker’s in it, and it’s hard not to keep dropping hints. We wanted to have a foreword for the book by him, and it didn’t pan out that way. I felt a bit put out by that. It was almost like he didn’t want to, and I didn’t understand why. [He is discussed] along with Poe and Lovecraft in the Horror section. I felt a bit miffed about that. Was he too far above it? Tim Burton’s in there, for example. It just seems strange, that’s all.
Have you thought about writing fiction?
Yeah, all the time. I know I could do it, but then I think about the work, and I would have to be 100% behind it. I can’t be 100% into it with so much going on elsewhere. That’s what I’d like to do once the music stops.
How long do you see Cradle going on for?
I don’t know. Whether it’s Cradle or it morphs into something else — I’d like to think at least another 10 or 15 years.
What else can you tell us about the book?
I think it’s something that’s going to take a while to filter through because I think a lot of people have this preconception that this is solely autobiographical and is all about Cradle Of Filth, and so there is only so much interest you can have in the band. It’s a book about the occult and all this great subject matter like illicit sex and drugs, femme fatales, childhood nightmares and black arts. It’s using a band who’s got all their fingers in these different cauldrons. Eventually when it gets to High Street, people will be looking at it from outside of the black metal gene pool because they’ll suddenly realize that this isn’t just about Cradle Of Filth.