Before their February 26th, 2016 show in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, guitarist Richard Shaw of extreme metal band, Cradle of Filth sat down with me and discussed some of this favourite moments throughout the group’s North American tour thus far.
Shaw is a newer addition to the band joining in 2014 but has proven himself to be an ideal asset with the group, performing multiple tours with Cradle of Filth and with his contribution on the newest album Hammer of The Witches (2015) being more than noticeable, and his live act persona being one that seems to blend perfectly on stage with the rest of his band-mates.
Is the group excited to be back in Canada?
Richard: We’re very excited. The only time I’ve played in Canada with the band, we played Amnesia Fest and I’d only been with the band for about four months at that point; it was one of my favourite festivals we’ve ever done. We played in Vancouver a couple of nights ago and Canadian fans are the best, they really are. They’re so friendly and so passionate and we’ve loved all our [Canadian] shows so far.
Your tour schedule shows, commonly that you’re playing back-to-back nights throughout the tour. Is the group used to playing this many shows in such a short time span?
Richard: A lot of the time we would do four or five shows in a row and then get a day off. Just because of the mileage we’ve had to cover it’s been show, day off to travel, play and a show, day off etcetera. After this show tonight, we’ve got a string of six shows so it can be pretty crazy but we have a great crew, and we get it done. We love it.
I know within those tour dates, four shows in America were cancelled due to some VISA complications, could you elaborate on that situation?
Richard: There were complications in receiving our passports from the US Embassy in London (UK). Dani’s passport just didn’t arrive when it was meant to. We all just thought, ‘Oh no, what do we do now?’ We had a deadline and because we missed the deadline we were forced to cancel the first four shows of our tour. If we had missed the second deadline, we would have had to cancel the entire tour. It was just one of those things that unfortunately were completely out of our hands nobody was more disappointed than we were when cancelling those four shows; we really wanted to play those cities.
Cradle of Filth also just played the 70,000 Tons of Metal: Heavy Metal Cruise Music Festival which was close to those cancelled dates. What was the most memorable moment for yourself on the cruise?
Richard: The way I see it, it was like a four day party. We got to meet up with some of our favourite bands, some of them we’ve already met and are friends of and other bands we’ve been fans of and who we got to know just hanging out with them on the cruise. Hanging around with the fans was so cool because we’d get a chance to talk to them and have a drink together. As a fan of music myself, I would have happily gone to this festival as a fan because the experience is so cool. My best memory of it was the first show where we played on the pool deck and we were playing under the stars.
Some groups before us played when it was really windy but we got it really good because it wasn’t windy and the sound was perfect. Being under the stars and looking around 360 degrees we were surrounded by fans. It was brilliant, once in a life time because you don’t get many gigs like that.
Have you been playing mostly material from the newest album, Hammer of The Witches (2015), or is it a combination of older and newer songs?
Richard: When you’re in a band like Cradle of Filth who’s been going for twenty plus years with eleven albums it’s kind of hard to please everyone. Even if you play one song off of each album, that’s almost an entire setlist in itself because we have some long songs. It is hard to know what to do, but we want a good representation of the new album as well so we have four songs from Hammer of The Witches (2015) that have been going down really well with a mixture of old stuff. We’ve been playing two different sets and have been mixing it up quite a bit because we know we have a lot of fans who do go to multiple shows so at least they get two different sets.
Is there a certain song that seems to be resonating with the North American audience more than in the U.K.?
Richard: It seems all the songs have been going over really well. We were playing Queen of Winter, Throned early on in the tour and that seemed to go over a lot of peoples’ heads. I don’t think it’s as popular over here as it is in Europe where it went down a storm. It is quite a long song so we took that out of the sets and put in two other songs in its place. Anything off of the Nymphetamine (2004) album or the Midian (2000) album seem to go well, plus songs off of the newest album have been going down a storm and we’re really happy that people have been enjoying those as much as the older songs. I wouldn’t say there is one particular song but I’ve noticed that it varies from night to night and that one song will get a bit more praise than others and the next night it will be completely different.
Which song has the group enjoyed playing more on this tour?
Richard: I think it’s more of the newer songs or when we dig out something really rare. I found in Europe when we started playing Lord Abortion it got an amazing response and it seems to be the same way over here, once the intro for that song starts playing the crowd gets really excited. We really love playing the newer songs and getting into them but the old stuff, like songs Born In a Burial Gown really get us pumped and those are the best ones for us I would say.
How Important is the visual aspect of the band’s performance?
Richard: Very important. As much as I am a fan of bands that get up there in street clothing and perform in that style, which there’s nothing wrong with. For me, Cradle of Filth’s music goes hand in hand with our visuals. I’ve always seen Cradle’s music as a soundtrack to a horror film or something along those lines. You need the visual to go with the music. It’s the same thing with Black Sabbath, when they started, they had this theatrical music that kind of seems weird to go up and perform if they were just wearing street clothes. That’s the whole point of the make up and the costumes, it completely adds another dimension to the performance and even the things like the lighting are important to us. I think there’s more room for bands to be more theatrical and do more from a visual point of view. I could never see us doing a gig where we didn’t put on the make up or the costumes; it’s just the way it should be.
On the topic of band image, recently there was a man in Tennessee who was charged with publicly exhibiting pornography for the Vestal Masturbation shirt that reads, “Jesus is a C*nt” on the back. Was a situation like this something anyone foresaw when putting an image like that on a shirt?
Richard: I heard about that. You’d have to ask Dani that really (laughs), I’ve only been with the band for a couple of years and that shirt has been around for a very long time. However what surprises me is that fact that this shirt still causes problems. To me, it is one of the less shocking things that’s around at the moment. When you turn on the TV and see images of war while you’re having your dinner and you’re seeing actual active war zones, and a t-shirt is what’s shocking? You can get arrested for wearing this shirt but you’re not being arrested for carrying a gun in the U.S. As someone from the U.K. that is more shocking to me than an image on a shirt ever will be. It’s shocking in itself.
Earlier this month, while stopping in Vegas for one of the band’s shows, there was a Facebook post of the band members getting some tattoos. Who got which and what do they represent?
Richard: Well, five out six of us got a tattoo including myself and Ashok, the other guitarist in the group, and it was our first ever tattoos. I don’t know many people, especially coming from the U.K. who can say that they got their first tattoo back-stage at the House of Blues in Las Vegas (laughs). We got our symbols from our new album, Hammer of The Witches (2015) and Lindsay designed the symbols that correspond with each of our personalities and she drew these symbols that are in the booklet of the album and we got to thinking that this band, this album and touring cycle was such a big part of our lives, probably the biggest part of our lives and it seemed good to commemorate it all in one day. So got these symbols tattoo’d and they really mean a lot.
What element have the Butcher Babies and Ne Oliviscaris brought to this tour?
Richard: We did the whole U.K. and European tour with Ne Obliviscaris and by the time this tour finishes, we will have done over 60 plus shows with them and they are just the coolest guys. They bring in something new, a progressive metal kind of thing. I’m a huge fan of progressive metal and with the violin, there’s a lot of atmosphere going on and I think a lot of our fans resonate with that. Butcher Babies just have so much energy and yes it’s a different type of metal but we love it just as much. That’s what I love about every line up that Cradle of Filth has ever brought with them on any tour; all the bands are so different, yet when you see them together, it makes perfect sense. We’ve had so many laughs with everyone and we’ve all just had so much fun on this entire tour.
What’s one of things you’re looking forward to most, finishing out the North American tour dates?
Richard: I went on a holiday to Toronto when I was about eighteen where we went to see Niagra Falls and I fell in love with the country. Everywhere we go is just so different and I just want to get out and see as much as Canada as possible. We’ve got a stop off in Toronto and that happens to be Lindsay’s home town as well. I’m really looking forward to that show and I can tell that is going to be a great one, same with Montreal. Even where we’re going in the states is so different and being a guy from the U.K. I never thought I’d get to see as much of the U.S. as I have and we’ve still got a long way to go (laughs). I’m looking forward to seeing all of these beautiful places, and venues, and playing for these great crowds because after this tour, we’ll be heading back home very soon.