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Lock Up

Demonization

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Blood Moon Rising

Lintver

Distorted Perception

Clandestine Blaze

City of Slaughter

All Strings Detached

There's Something Painful About The Pearls

Beyond the Dark Forest

Ealde

Novembers Doom

Hamartia

Warbringer

Woe To The Vanquished

Helheim

landawarijaR

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Wolfheart

Tyhjyys

Nightbringer

Terra Damnata

Death Worship

Extermination Mass

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Emperor of Sand

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Cloaks Of Oblivion

REZN

Let It Burn

Amorphis

An Evening with Friends at Huvila

Znich

Slova Ziamli (EP)

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intervju

21. 10. 2015  Interview: My Dying Bride 
It is impossible to play it on any radio station because it just too long and three minutes doesn’t get past the intro. So, when you write something like that it’s a commercial suicide. Who signed this lunatics, you know. But we like it.

Na lanskem festivalu Metaldays 2014 sem se pogovarjal s kitaristom Andrewom Craighanom, soustanoviteljem britanskega death/doom metal benda My Dying Bride. Debata je tekla o nekaterih njihovih novejših izdajah, o zgodbah, ki se skrivajo za besedili, o izvoru njihovega imena, o igranju v živo, o svobodi ustvarjanja itd. Intervju je zaradi dostopnosti širšemu bralstvu objavljen v angleškem originalu.

Jernej: In recent years you released a couple of EPs. I was wondering what was the reason you returned to the record format you mostly released at the beginning of your cariere.

Andrew: It’s a strange reason, actually, because it kinda counteracted what we were busy doing… When we were recording For Lies I Sire (2009) it was taking a long time and Peaceville were anxious to have a new release, but we said “well the record is not ready so what can we do?” And then rather naively I think they said “can you do an EP?” Well we are busy with an LP, if we do an EP it’s gonna make the LP even later. And they said “Yeah, OK”, so fair enough, we’ll do an EP. So, we stopped the LP, we pulled out a lot of music we had that did not really work with the LP and then basically concentrate on what became The Barghest o' Whitby (2011).

We liked the idea of EP to be fair, so when  it came about, when we we started to write it, our first thought was “if we are gonna do this EP, we don’t want to do just another talking gesture.” It’s got to be a good EP, quality music, not just something to fill the gap which Peaceville were really chasing. To stop Peaceville putting like a live track or a remix on there we were all thinking “how do we stop them doing that”, you know. We wanted it to be quality. We haven’t really got time to write three songs and then we thought “Why not?” So, when initially started The Barghest was a three piece and we were gonna have clear divisions of which was which. But the more we wrote, the more it came together, we thought this is working, we can make one song this long. So we did. And it seemed to be a success, we had a great time recording. Actually we took on some old school kinda elements, you know, we used amps and pedals we haven’t used for a lot of years. Because all becomes a little bit digital in the studio and very easy, so we went back to kinda rehearsal style band recording, very loud and feedback everywhere. It was great fun and so we presented them with that and they were like “fair enough.”

Once one EP was done it seemed like sort of really easy to do the next. We had plenty of music, plenty of ideas. We just continued. I’m not sure if it’s going to continue with this, we are presently writing a new LP right now. At the moment there is no EPs planned, but I would suspect it would continue LP, EP, LP, EP. Like in the old days.

Jernej: It is good to hear that you can turn something that is more or less a dictate from the label to something creative, refreshing and positive.

Andrew: Well, you have to understand the Peaceville point of view. They are a commercial outfit, that goes without saying. But that that doesn’t mean it has to compromise anything. If we commit to a job, an EP in this instance, we really want to make sure… because people are going to buy it, it has to have something of value. And live track and a remix… we’ve done that in the past, it’s an easy way out. I think what will happen now is, If EPs are gonna be proper My Dying Bride EPs rather than just one new song and some remixes, we won’t do that again, we will write mini LPs. So you will get three or four new tracks. Possibly something a little bit experimental, maybe ambient, some stuff we did years and years ago on “Gather Me Up Forever”. I have some very strange, kinda ambient sort of music in there as well… and just play again with the sounds, but still keep the heavy metal as a main track.

Jernej: Do you like ambient music?

Andrew: If it feels dark. If it’s a bright, happy kind of ambient music or dancish i don’t really like that. If it has really a sort of evil overtone or it seems sinister, I subscribe to that kind of stuff, yeah. I like that.

Jernej: What is the story behind The Barghest o' Whitby? It gives me the kind of 19th century decadent vibe. Like something from Edgar Allan Poe.

Andrew: Aaron wrote the lyrics, but i can give you the background. I don’t think even he sometimes can answer those kind of questions, because there’s a lot of hidden meaning… But I can tell you some history that even he may not know, because he wasn’t there at the very beginning of that discussion. But obviously he wrote the lyrics for it.

When we were deciding to do this epic, the original idea was to write the story about the church murdering a wizard or a witch or something like that, basically a healer. And we know this is based on historic facts, we know the church has done that, it’s common knowledge. When this healer was murdered his dog was protecting him and it was murdered too. So the dog came back in spirit form to avenge his master’s death.

And the reason with this sorta took life is because in England, in Yorkshire where we live, there’s a myth of this mythical dog roaming the moors, attacking travelers. Obviously it’s a great story, but no one really knows where it came from. So we thought “why don’t we just make our own belief system and give it life?” So it changed… I mean that was it’s original incarnation and once we got this idea in our heads it was easy to write music to it. But then when Aaron came along we were telling him the tale and he was “Oh, yeah yeah, I can see where we’re going” and he really got into it, but he just changed it slightly to fit more with the place of Whitby, which is a very famous town where we live, which is perfectly fine. So we suddenly got “The Barghest o' Whitby” and then gave it the element where there are some pirates in there and those sorts of things. He just took it away from the church which I think was a good idea actually. The church idea originally was a great basis to start the story and it just grew, had a life on its own and in the end we’ve got this death metal classic as well. It was like “where are we going next”, it was just insane. So, it was refreshing, like a break from the mold for us. It refreshed a lot of our interest in just playing live in the studio type way. And we learned some lessons as well about what not to do in the studio. So it was totally beneficial for us. But the lyrics… that’s how they originally started in our mind. And then through the course of time and writing and rewriting you end up with what you have now.

Jernej: You released another EP after that, entitled The Manuscript (2013). Does this one have a similar story behind it?

Andrew: Yeah, The Manuscript itself… I can explain this, because this is my idea. But I didn’t write the lyrics. I came up with this idea, it’s not really a new idea when you think about it, but it seemed new at the time. Behind the story, behind his [Aaron’s] lyrics basically you have this manuscript and it’s always left away and when people find it, this ancient inscriptions and weird characters on the paper, no matter who reads it, it looks like it’s written just for them. So if you read it, you think “this is written for me, what the fuck is this.” And if I read it I’m going “whoa, whoa, this is mine, that’s written for me”. And then we fight. And because it promises riches at the very end, the more you read it, the more you unravel the next bit, and the more you read it, it turns people against each other. And then ultimately, the one at the very end is the looser because he has to sell his soul to unravel the last part. And ultimately sells his soul to the Devil but gets nothing out of it. Then the manuscript falls away somewhere and someone else finds it and they think “this is for me” and someone sees it “no, no, no, that’s for me” and on and on and on it goes, twisting people and forcing them to sell their souls to the Devil. So that was the vibe behind that.

Jernej: Hehe, in the first glance it reminds me of Tolkien’s ”one ring”.

Andrew: Yes, I quite like that analogy, because when I came up with the idea… It was actually on the flight home. We’ve done a gig and we were flying home and I was just listening to some music on my headphones and the idea just popped in and i thought “that’s OK”. And on my phone I started making notes so I don’t forget. But straight away I saw the analogy to the “my precious” [makes a whispering Gollum impersonation], because it’s difficult not to. But then I thought there’s no true originality anymore, but it wasn’t a direct theft, it was in my mind at least a fairly newish idea on a similar topic.

Jernej: Now let’s go back to the roots of the band, to your name. I never came across your explanation of the name My Dying Bride and I think we usually take it as pretty much self explanatory. But on the other hand I think there’s more to it. It reminds me again of the sort of decadent form of symbolism that brings together the morbid and the beautiful, just like Baudelaire’s Flowers Of Evil (1857) for instance.

Andrew: I think what you say is more or less correct. And considering how young we were when it came to the name I think we were very clever. And the more we think about the name the more we agree that it is the great name and it always has been. When we were just starting the band what we knew is we didn’t want like a single sounding name which worked for other bands, other death metal bands, but we were trying to stand out. So it was difficult, because it was lots of bands as are lots of bands today, to get the name that really caught your eye or at least made you think “oh, that’s different.” So when we were coming up with names we had two, only, and both came from Aaron. And one was “my dying child” and we thought that wa just miserable, I mean really bad. The “my dying child” one didn’t have the poetic edge to it, whereas “my dying bride” is crushing. When you really think of those words it’s a horror story and there should be no concept of beauty within that, it’s a terrible, terrible set of words. And we loved it. As you can imagine. So we became My Dying Bride. And for months afterwards I was in a struggle thinking “it’s too much, no one is gonna be able to take this.” Because there were no other bands like that. Well, there were very clever bands but I think people missed them, like Wishbone Ash. When we were kids I didn’t really understand what that meant, but it’s a beautiful name. You know, it means that all your hopes and dreams are just dashed against the rocks. And we wanted something that meant something like that, but people wouldn’t quite get straight away. Unless they suddenly unlocked the key to what the name means. And when you see that, the music makes sense. If you don’t really grasp that, the music can seem a little pointless. They are just miserable for miserables, you know. But no, we pride to that name, to be honest to that name. We were wiser than I gave us credit for. And very lucky, I think. Because obviously in a band you have like a voting system of which name shall we use when we were first starting. And no one came up... when Aaron came up with those, we didn’t even try. It was “this is it!” It was really easy. And it works.

Jernej: When I watch you guys on the stage it seems like you are in some kind of alternate state of mind, especially Aaron. And since you play a heart breaking music I’m wondering does playing these songs each time on the stage open the old wounds or does it heal them?

Andrew: I think it heals them. That’s a good question actually. Because, when you are on stage... individually we are not playing all the songs, so each person is just doing their part, collectively. It’s what everybody else hears. And obviously that’s the whole point of that.

So, from my point of view I am in my own world. And there are certain songs that do take you out, you know, “The Cry Of Mankind” particularly for me is the kind of mesmerising and you suddenly leave the stage for a while, But I don’t feel miserable on stage, I’m quite happy to be there and I quite like what we are doing if sound is going OK, it’s all good.

Aaron on the other hand… he really does zone out, he relives those… And as you can see when you watch him, he’s falling around and he’s tearing his skin, you know, and this torturous appearance is actually him going through the lyrics again. And it’s on purpose, it’s not like… he’s not aware of what he is doing, he is there delivering the lyrics. If he doesn’t feel that they are honest, the song won’t work. Maybe he didn’t realise he was doing that in the beginning, but he’s grown and he’s more comfortable doing that now and it really works, it sells those pieces, those particular lines. They certainly work better now than ever before.

We are not jumping up and down trying to get crowd to cheer, we just play the songs and we leave. We keep it nice and inbetween the songs we don’t speak much, because we want to get on with the music, really. Because we don’t have much time at these shows and our song are very long. So, we’ve got to be quite frugal with time. Yeah, it’s an artistic presence collectively we put up. Individually we are very much in different worlds.

Jernej: In this part of Europe you appear quite rearly. Especially in club venues. We mainly get a chance to see you on festival stages. Why don’t you play more club shows?

Andrew: It’s time, because we don’t do this for… this is not our job. So, when we go home we’ve got normal work jobs to go to. So, the  festivals are a great opportunity to get like one area to cover a lot of people with the small amounts of time. If we were on the road all the time, you would see us more often but I’m not sure we could cope with being on the road all the time anymore. We did it when we were younger and we kinda liked it. But it’s hard work, real hard work.

On the plus side to that, we get to… by not having the music be our main job it allows us to write honest, really honest music that suits My Dying Bride. We were never really popular so at least we are not trying to write a commercial hit, because we don’t really need to. Whether it works or not, we still have our jobs. And it does allow us a certain amount of freedom. There’s a big gulf between bands like My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost for example and then really big bands, Metallica…  There’s more bands like us, doing it like we do, or maybe touring a lot like Paradise Lost do, they tour a lot, they can make it work, and they are happy doing that.

Jernej: If you had a chance to live from your music, would you do it? If you earn all your money from your art you in a way downgrade it to a mere commodity. If you can live from something else, you can be free to create whatever you want, as you said before.  What are your thoughts on this?

Andrew: I think there’s a condition to that. I think you are correct, on one hand you are probably correct. But again… take Metallica again for example. Universally massive, you know, they are gigantic band. They have the possibility to go back and be free and play music they want and still be Metallica. Other bands would not have the opportunity that after they commercialize to stay at that level or not, it’s a risk. Metallica have broken through that bubble. So, it is a commodity that some people might take for granted. Metallica now have opportunity to write the music that they like. Whether it be metal or not, not everybody can agree. The jury is out, because they changed quite a bit recently. Again, for My Dying Bride, if we still kept our jobs and just… I don’t know… it’s a tricky question. It’s difficult, it’s different for each band. Right now for us this is the way. We wouldn’t be able to do The Barghest for example. It is impossible to play it on any radio station because it just too long and three minutes doesn’t get past the intro. So, when you write something like that it’s a commercial suicide. Who signed this lunatics, you know. But we like it. There is a fan base for My Dying Bride. I think even if we made a lot of money from it, which we clearly don’t, I think we would still do this. I mean, no one else is doing it like this. And it’s the only thing we know how to do.

Photo by: Tina Ahačič.

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