Considering Cradle of Filth were on our shores last year for their 13th album ‘Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay’, it would take something special for them to return so quickly – something like a celebratory tour for 1998’s ‘Cruelty and the Beast’ would do the trick. Guitarist Richard Shaw is more than happy to discuss the tour which kicked off in Perth this week, and the first topic is about the excitement levels surrounding the return to Australian shores. “While I haven’t been in the band long and last year’s tour was my first to Australia, it was amazing; loads of friends of mine in bands kept telling me, ‘wait until you get to Australia, as it seems the fans are so passionate!’ While some people get on their high horse and go, ‘no, this album is better than this album’, Australian fans tend to go, ‘while I see where you’re coming from, I don’t agree with you but this is why I like this album’. It just seems even though things are still equally passionate, it stays cool and they never get heated…it’s great and I love it!”
As the topic of conversation turns towards why Cradle of Filth thinks now is the time to celebrate ‘Cruelty and the Beast’ in its entirety, Shaw says, “Dani and Scott (our producer) were working on re-mastering the ‘Cruelty’ album for a long time, with intention of releasing it last year… but so many legal issues arose that made it very difficult for us to release it. So there was talk of ‘Cruelty’ at the tail end of last year, but management suggested we should make it a bigger thing and go back to places we’ve either played before and not played ‘Cruelty’, or not played before and treat them to a regular Cradle set. It’s just became the perfect time now, as we did want to release it for the 20th anniversary but delays made sure it didn’t happen. Now we’ve decided to do it for fun. We were all prepared for the album to come out, but we decided to celebrate it anyway as it’s another good reason to tour, and let’s bring it to fans who really want to see it; whether that be because they didn’t see it the first time, or just for nostalgia’s sake. I am happy to say the album will be released on November 1 and it feels like a good celebration and we will celebrate with our Australian friends as well.”
Taking time to talk further on the delay of the re-mastered edition of ‘Cruelty’, Shaw is quite diplomatic. “With Dani overseeing ‘Cruelty’ because he is the original member and an original writer on those tracks – as it was a completely different line-up back then – the old line-up started causing a few little issues. Not all the members, just certain members were saying they wanted ‘X’ amount or, ‘We don’t want it released at all, because we have no hands-on input with the re-mixing or re-mastering’. We tried to rationalise, ‘we’re trying to pay you some money here and give you royalties for not doing any work’, but they were still resistant as it had to be on their terms. Then on top of that, we had the added drama of trying to find a record label that would release it. We’ve actually had the finished thing ready to go for a very long time and the few tracks I’ve heard are just killer and sound huge. There’s stuff on the remix that I didn’t even know was on the original that is just now clear as day, as it’s been mixed and produced better. I’ve got a feeling some people will go, ‘I don’t like it’, purely because they know the original so well. As I said earlier, people will be hearing things on the original track they’ve not heard before and some people will be like, ‘that’s cool’, and some people will just sit there and go, ‘uhhh………..’. While nostalgia is getting in the way of some people truly enjoying it, it is also the reason some people are enjoying it and digging the album out for the first time in years and remembering how good it is.”
Touching further on how the remix of ‘Cruelty and the Beast’ sounds, Shaw explains how that also impacts the bands’ approach to the touring aspect. “When we knew we were going to play ‘Cruelty’ in its entirety, we were really focused, listening to make sure every note was as true to the record as we could get it. I think the first re-mastered song I heard was Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids and when I heard that, I was blown away as I heard guitar parts I didn’t even know were there. It’s not that it’s buried, it’s just production wasn’t the clearest; now it’s super clear and you can hear every little thing. Both Ashok and myself were going, ‘I didn’t realise we were playing it wrong all this time’. Not that we were playing it wrong, per se, it was more so that we didn’t notice the way it was being played. We were playing it perfect from a note-for-note and a technique perspective, but the little nuances we didn’t know were there are now super clear. We decided that now we know it’s played a certain way, why not incorporate that into the live show, as the nuances were lost for all those years. If you ask me, the personality of the previous players shine even more, as things are now a lot clearer it shows them as the incredible and brilliant musicians they were. Now you can hear everything super clearly, you realise how good those musicians were to not only play that stuff, but to write it.”
When asked how Cradle of Filth is going to perform ‘Cruelty’, Shaw says, “It is in full, and track order. It became one of these things where we were talking about mixing it up, but at the end of the set we just happened to play every single song off of it. Plus, it’s one of those ‘true albums’ in the sense where running order makes a difference, so we couldn’t really go about splitting it up as it feels weird. Then when we finish that, bang, it’s straight into songs from the back catalogue and I’m talking some really deep cuts that we’re going into as well; so that bit is almost like another seven or eight songs of Cradle now, mixed with the deeper cuts and the hits. If people are a fan of ‘Cruelty’, it will be the perfect Cradle of Filth set-list. We totally understand it’s not everyone’s favourite album and while we’re grateful a lot of people like the album, but if it’s not your favourite album I think you’ll be surprised at how it’s portrayed live. When you add in that if you’re a casual Cradle of Filth fan you will get the songs you expect to hear, while hopefully gaining a new appreciation for ‘Cruelty’, having seen it evolve live into a (no pun intended!) whole different beast.”
Talking about the challenge of choosing the remainder of the songs for the set-list, Shaw makes it known it isn’t an easy task. “Considering there’s 12 albums and 25 years of music, on top of us writing the 13th album, it’s pretty crazy; we’re very much in Cradle of Filth land, even when we’re not touring.” Shaw then explains how the fact it’s Cradle’s first visit to New Zealand plays a huge part in the decision-making process as well. “We’ve taken great delight with this line-up knowing the back catalogue pretty well and we have the ability to play some pretty obscure stuff. While we’re going to play the hits, so to speak; if Cradle of Filth even have hits? I mean, define what a hit is really… But the more well-known songs we feel we have to play in territories we’ve never played before, but we also want to have fun and play some stuff that maybe people are hoping for but think, ‘nah, they’ll never play that’, but then we do. That’s exactly what happened on the very first show of the ‘Cryptoriana’ tour cycle when we played Bathory Aria, and no one was expecting that. The roar of applause when Dani announced, ‘this song’s called Bathory Aria’. That was the last song they were expecting, but probably the one they were most hoping for and all of a sudden, they got it. The internet went crazy, going ‘oh my god, they finally did it’ after waiting the best part of 20 years to hear it live. We like the fact we can kind of mess with fans a little bit by going, ‘you’re expecting this? Have something else that’s equally shocking’, and I think more bands should do that.”
Tickets to remaining shows are available here.