WE’VE HAD A SHITLOAD OF MEMBERS. I actually just read a story about us, and it said that we’d had 39 past members. Fucking hell! That’s got to be some sort of record. Guinness Book… here we come. If I find out someone else has had 42… fuck, get rid of four members quickly! Ha ha ha! But when people do leave, it’s a ballache, and it’s also quite sad, because you become attached to people, and it’s never as sudden as people are led to believe. You do so much when you’re touring, it feels like seven years to everyone else’s one. I think on the face of things it looks worse [when someone leaves] than it actually is, and that people have really been together, in each other’s pockets, for a very long time.
I’VE ALWAYS BEEN EXCITED ABOUT BEING IN CRADLE.
Every time we make an album, we always big it up. We never leave the studio unless we’re really happy with the record. Someone will say, ‘The last album was lazy…’ Fuck off, what are you talking about? We’d never do an album and spend our entire career saying, ‘Can’t be arsed, let’s just push another one out.’ But yeah, Hammer Of The Witches is exciting because of that. For so long we were doing the same setlist… obviously, things like Nymphetamine, Her Ghost In The Fog, From Cradle To Enslave – they rear their heads again and again because they’re our Enter Sandmans. But now we’re playing them with renewed vigour and also filling out the setlist with undiscovered gems from our past. We want to play all of this album.
AM I A TYRANT?
No, that’s rubbish. I know it sounds strange, but at festivals I’ll bump into ex-bandmembers, and they say, ‘It was the biggest mistake of my life leaving this band…’ I’ve had three people say that. It’s a ridiculous scenario, but for the continuation of the band, as an institution or whatever, that’s just the way it is. It’s like when people get divorced: ‘It isn’t working, so let’s be adult and go our own way.’ It’s a massive upheaval, obviously. There are certain characteristics that make up the Cradle sound, so it’s not just a revolving door for anyone to walk through. It’s not the end of the world when someone leaves, although it’s nearly the end of the world at the time.”
HAMMER OF THE WITCHES IS A REBIRTH.
It’s total celebration of heavy metal. Having two phenomenal guitar players… I’m not saying Paul [Allender] wasn’t great, too – he’s an awesome guitarist – but having two of them [Richard Shaw and Marek ‘Ashok’ Šmerda]… it’s like King and Hanneman – God rest his soul – and it’s perfect. People, fans and critics alike, are so quick to say, ‘Oh it’s not Dusk…’, or ‘Oh, it’s not Cruelty…’, but I think this album captures more of that. Not only are the people who’ve joined the band fans of the band as well, but we really sat down and listened to what the fans wanted and expected from a new album, and that was half the fun.
WITCHES ARE PERFECT SUBJECT MATTER FOR US.
The Malleus Maleficarum was a horrible book. It’s about the treatment and persecution of witches and how to punish them. It was the Christians’ hammer against the witches. Our interpretation is a hammer for the witches, so it’s about payback for years of torment. It’s not a concept album, but it is lavishly and beautifully illustrated by this Latvian artist, Arthur Berzinsh, and that brings it all together. It’s probably the best artwork we’ve ever had, and that’s saying something. I worked really closely with him to get some really beautiful but horrifying images, done in a neoclassical, pre-Renaissance, Italian-beauty style, but the subject matter and what’s going on… it’s all a bit rum [rum = strange – English Ed]!
IN THE EARLY DAYS, WE WERE FEARED AS A BAND.
Especially on the live circuit, because we’d go out and get pissed and cause complete mayhem, partying ourselves stupid and breaking stuff. That air of revulsion, degeneracy and decadence followed us around for years after we stopped doing it. People still say, ‘Ooh, Cradle are coming to town! Lock the liquor cabinet! Hide everything!’ But I’m actually teetotal now. I know, it’s bizarre.
IT’S HARD FOR BANDS TO BE SHOCKING NOW.
And being shocking gets a bit boring after a while. The new generation has to have a go, though, don’t they? A couple of Watain’s tribe came backstage in Sweden and had a go at us, and we were like, ‘Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to? Young pups!’ Ha ha! They were looking down at us and I just thought, ‘Really? Go away!’ No offence to Watain… they’re great and there are some awesome bands around. The black metal scene is a little fragmented, but that’s what happens. It happened to thrash; it happens to everything. It’s all spread out now and everyone has their own distinctive flavour, and that’s the way it should be. It’s progress and evolution.
METAL FANS ARE REALLY LOYAL.
They follow their bands and they’re so passionate about it. But at the same time, the scene is full of people bitching all the time. You can have two bands that are the same, like Chimaira and Lamb Of God, and there’ll be people on some forum saying, ‘Urgh, you don‘t like Lamb Of God?! They’re fucking shit!’ It’s ridiculous, the amount of idiocy that goes around in the metal scene. It’s the only weak point, I think. People are passionate, but it’s derogatory and nonsensical. Everything’s shit.
I’VE STILL GOT A FEW YEARS LEFT.
People don’t know how long metal singers and musicians can go on for. They’re starting to drop off now… I’m only 41; I’m not beyond the pale yet. I don’t need a splint for my willy; that’s a few years off. The shadow of death is looming over the horizon, so I’ve got this renewed energy, thinking, ‘God, how many more weeks can I keep this going?’ Ha ha ha!
EVERYBODY HAS THEIR TIME, DON’T THEY?
You can’t be permanently at the top. Look at Marilyn Manson. But then he’s just made an absolutely brilliant record [The Pale Emperor]. It’s really, really good. We played with him as special guests at a festival last year, and he dragged me out onstage and kissed me. Manson isn’t as big as he was, but maybe he’ll climb back up again. Who knows? With us, we can go to South America and play in front of thousands, but in my hometown [Ipswich] I probably wouldn’t be recognised, which is great because it means I can play football and have a life and not be nagged.
Hammer Of The Witches is out on July 10 via Nuclear Blast