The next edition of our semi-regular series sees the most metal man in Ipswich reflect on his first forays into music and why an Italian was jumping through the top of a tour bus as it hurtled down the Autobahn.
The first album you ever bought?
“The Collection by Ultravox in 1985. We spent Christmas at my uncle’s house that year and I remember buying the album on a shopping trip whilst I was staying with my cousins. At that point in my life I was collecting those little citadel figures and playing Dungeons & Dragons, and Ultravox tied in with all of that for me. I thought it was really dark and there were some great gloomy, gothic moments on there. I really liked it. And it’s weird because my cousin was into heavy metal then, and it was that Christmas that he introduced me to the delights of Bark At The Moon, the early Maiden albums and Motörhead. So even though Ultravox was the first ever pop record that I bought, I literally jumped straight from there into metal. I actually rebought The Collection whilst I was over in Germany recently, and every now and then it pops up on random play on the iPod and I think ‘yeah, that’s cool’. Everybody bangs on about Vienna because it’s the one that everyone remembers, but it’s got a really great darkwave middle section where it all goes into strings and there’s lots of bits like that throughout the whole album.”
The first single you ever bought?
“My dad was a record collector and he used to buy loads of the ones with the holes already cut out of them. We’d have all these spare cardboard sleeves that you put records in as well, but that was all rubbish like Karma Chameleon. I think the first single I bought myself was either Starz – you know, that horrible heavy metal band where you had about a million guitar solos going on – or Mentally Murdered by Napalm Death. I wasn’t really a single person though, to tell you the truth. I was always an album person. I have kept some of the ones that I did buy, but as seems to be the case with most people, you part with a lot of them and I don’t know why that happens. I did have an awful friend when I was young who used to steal albums. He’d come round to look at Suicidal Tendencies or something, and you’d find that the vinyl was missing. But people do seem to separate themselves from their record collections as they grow older, which is a shame.”
What was the first gig you ever went to?
“The first gig I ever went to was Ozzy Osbourne on the Ultimate Sin tour. I was talking to someone the other day about this. It’s the Regent Theatre now, in Ipswich, but it used to be called The Gaumont. I saw Bon Jovi on the Slippery When Wet tour there. I saw Twisted Sister on the Come Out And Play tour. Maiden were going to be there on the Seventh Son tour but Bruce Dickinson got laryngitis, so I went to see W.A.S.P. in London instead, and there’s loads and loads of really big bands that’ve played there over the years. The venue was part and parcel of the touring circuit back then, which unfortunately it’s not anymore. But going back to Ozzy, me and my friend queued up from about four in the morning the day the tickets went on sale, just to sit there with our stereo blaring in our denim jackets with the patches on. And I remember the gig was amazing. It was the proper denim jacket brigade. Everyone had patches. It was the days of Venom, and Slayer were really just a sort of new thing then, and seeing all those weird and wonderful names and logos for the first time was really quite special – magical, in fact. Obviously Cradle Of Filth did Ozzfest in 2003, and the state of his voice then left a lot to be desired but when I saw Ozzy play The Gaumont that night he totally rocked it.”
What was the first gig you ever played?
“Unfortunately all the pubs I used to play have all been knocked down now. They’ve all been consigned to car parks and showrooms. But I do remember the first gig I played was in a pub called the Albion Mills and it was with a band called PDA, which either stood for Positive Drinking Attitude, Proper Drug Addicts, or Poo Duct Analysts depending on what we felt like on that particular day. We supported a band called Edible Vomit, and it was great – really good fun. We changed our name soon after to Hash Gordon & The Drug Barons From Mars, which was essentially the same band, we just put little capes on.”
How was the first Cradle Of Filth tour?
“The first proper headline tour we did, we took out Vader and a band called Ancient Rights, and we went all across Europe. It was the first time we had a big tour bus and everything like that. It was a good tour. What I remember about it is the second day in we played this club in France with quite a low ceiling on stage, and to avoid hitting my head on this low ceiling every time I jumped up I tilted my neck, so I had this cricked neck and I was in agony all the way into Italy. When we arrived they sent for this little Italian guy who came out and literally bent my neck backwards to make it work, which it did.
“Ancient Rights had this roadie too who looked like He-Man. He’d always be wearing this knackered old roadie’s top, and he’d rip it off at any given moment and start flexing his muscles. He even jumped into a lake and swam up current when we played in Switzerland, that’s how heroic he was. Our tour bus had a lot of skylights, and I remember one night he got pissed and literally became like He-Man – totally barbaric – and he was playing this sort of cat and mouse game where he’d climb out of one skylight and run along the roof of the bus before dropping back down into the lounge through another light further down the bus, and this was whilst we were driving full speed down the German Autobahn. At one point we were heading towards a bridge and he almost got his head ripped off. Thinking about it now, that wasn’t an overly brilliant idea was it. It was a great tour though, and helped set Cradle Of Filth up all over Europe. Since then we’ve probably done over 100 tours, but if I said anymore than that I’d have to curse myself and say I’ve told you a billion times to stop exaggerating.”