Welcome Back: Paradise Lost

Known to his friends as ‘Moans’, Nick Holmes has always had something of the grumpy old man about him – in keeping with his role as frontman for the UK’s premier gothic metal band. Formed in Halifax in 1988, Paradise Lost rose in the early 90s. With their fourteenth album, The Plague Within, they have, in part, gone back to their death-metal roots. Holmes reckons it’s among the best things they’ve recorded. But he’ll always find something to moan about – hair loss, vacuum cleaners…

Do you think of this new album as a throwback to the band’s early days?

I feel it’s like a flag-in-the-ground album for us. In the past we’ve had certain albums that set the pace for the next few years. We did that with Icon and then One Second. And this is another. The death-metal element is adding a texture we haven’t had for a long time, but the album is a mixed bag and it’s better for it.

One song, Beneath Broken Earth, has the feel of Black Sabbath circa 1970, it’s so slow and heavy.

There’s one drum beat every eight seconds. There’s a term for that kind of thing: funeral doom.

Is it difficult to play so slow?

Slower than that song, it would be. We had another song, and it was so slow you couldn’t time it. There’s a point where it just gets boring. It’s a thin line.

There’s not so much hair on your head these days.

My hair looks like an old Action Man’s hair. You know, when they go patchy on top after many years?

But you’ve compensated for that with a fetching beard.

Yes. Problem is it grows sideways, so it makes me look insane.

Are you a strict father?

It’s a totally different world to when I was growing up. Mobile phones changed everything. Now, if I come in and shout at my youngest daughter for not tidying her bedroom, she’ll just film me shouting and send it to her friends.

What has all this taught you?

It doesn’t matter how cool you think you are, kids will make their own minds up. Christ, I sound like an old fart!

As a lyricist, where do you look for inspiration?

We have a PL dictionary. There’s about forty words in it [laughs].

Which words do you come back to?

On the last album it was ‘eyes’. On this album I think it might be ‘darkness’.

Which music inspires you now?

The last Behemoth album, The Satanist, had a real spirit of the old days. And another great album is Foundations Of Burden by Pallbearer.

How fitting that you would like a band called Pallbearer.

Ha ha. Well, I was going to say it’s not all doom and gloom, but it is really.

What do you moan about these days?

I’ve been moaning about the vacuum cleaner this morning. All my kids have really long hair, and the vacuum cleaner is bunged up with this ball of hair. That’s not a very rock’n’roll moan, is it? I need something more metal to moan about.

Paul Elliott

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2005, Paul Elliott has worked for leading music titles since 1985, including Sounds, Kerrang!, MOJO and Q. He is the author of several books including the first biography of Guns N’ Roses and the autobiography of bodyguard-to-the-stars Danny Francis. He has written liner notes for classic album reissues by artists such as Def Leppard, Thin Lizzy and Kiss, and currently works as content editor for Total Guitar. He lives in Bath - of which David Coverdale recently said: “How very Roman of you!”