How Overpopulation Inspired Cradle of Filth’s New Album (Interview)
"It renders all religion obsolete, that statement," the frontman says. "Because if there is no — and I'm not saying there is or isn't — but if there's no great after-plan, no master plan or golden ticket at the end, or Peter at the gates, et cetera, et cetera, whatever, and this is a happy accident, that in all the billions of stars, we've managed to create life and do all the things that we do, and we're here, and it is a happy accident, then it's to be embraced and cherished and nurtured. But I think the record also dictates in its way that it should be with respect. You know, it's okay to go out and crash and burn, but you don't want to take everybody else out with you."
And then, because Filth also knows how out-of-character that sounds, he adds: "Why am I being so nice? It's weird!"
Their first studio album since 2017's Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay and 13th overall, Existence Is Futile exudes classic Cradle of Filth energy, full of razor-wire guitar riffs, symphonic flourishes, gothic horror influences and, of course, Filth's 10,000-volt screams. The English sextet finished the album last year, just as the coronavirus pandemic was sweeping the world. They're back on the road now, playing their classic 1998 concept album Cruelty and the Beast in full, and they'll promote Existence Is Futile with a fresh batch of tour dates in early 2022.
"It's gonna be a co-headline — I can't tell you who with, but it’s gonna be a big tour,” Filth promises. "That’s hoping that there's not another lockdown or another strange variant that just comes out of nowhere."
Ahead of the Oct. 22 release of Existence Is Futile, Filth spoke to Loudwire about Cradle of Filth's return to the stage and the making of their existential new album.
Watch the Video for Cradle of Filth's 'Necromantic Fantasies'
How does it feel to be back on the road?
It's strange. It's taken me a hangover to get used to it. I haven't been drinking at all, but yesterday we were in New Orleans for a day off, and it was our tour manager's birthday, and subsequently, one thing led to another... and then today, I actually feel normal, even though I have a hangover. I feel like I belong on the road, whereas the last three days [I] was adjusting, you know? At the end of the tour, you're like, “How could I ever live in a house?” At the beginning of a tour, it's like, “How could I live on a bus?” Much like the virus, it's “mutate and survive.”
When did you guys start writing Existence Is Futile?
Whilst we were on the road. It's been a long time between albums, and, well, naturally, we had a pandemic in the interim as well. But we were on the road for three years, pretty much. ... So it was quite a lengthy period between records, and so we just naturally started writing. We finished it shortly after we came back from tour. We finished tour Nov. 1, 2019, and we were in the studio, fortunately, recording drums in February of 2020. Because our drummer's from the Czech Republic, and so is our guitarist, and we couldn't get our second guitarist in, Ashok, [for about] five months, because obviously a lockdown happened. There was no flying between countries or anything. So naturally it’s always good to have the drums down first. I mean, my timing’s okay, it’s not impeccable. So if it had just been me and everybody had to follow my [lead], that would have been something.
It’s a bit of prescient timing that you wrote and recorded this album in late 2019 and early 2020, right before the world collapsed.
Everybody asks, "Is this about the pandemic?" And it's like, no, actually, it was written before. The world went to shit a long time ago. This is just a small wake-up call in the greater scheme of things. I know lots of people have died, and it's fucking literally brought the world to its knees financially, but hopefully it will be a wake-up call. But it wasn't written for the pandemic. It was actually inspired by being three years on the road and visiting these huge, sprawling metropolises — or metropoli, if that’s the correct term — across the world, and just thinking, “You know what? It feels like something is gonna happen soon.” Yes, there's a pandemic [happening], but more serious than that. Like we're heading toward Armageddon or reaching to get our shit sorted out. And you know, maybe the world leaders and the WHO — not the Who, the band, the World Health Organization — actually stick to their promises, and we actually look at the problems the world is facing and address them.
Watch the Video for Cradle of Filth's 'Crawling King Chaos'
What are some of the specific instances or things you observed that you felt you should write about while making this album?
It wasn't necessarily writing about those things. It was a catalyst to bring Cradle a little bit more kicking and screaming into [the modern day]. … But when it comes to direct influence, I'd just say overpopulation. I mean, it was a wake-up call when I was in Mexico, and I was standing in a square, and there [were] so many people, and I just thought, "How is the planet supporting all these people?" Not just here. I'd been to India that year as well, Russia, and it just seemed to me... I know of course you're not gonna put us in a field in Virginia, where there’s no one. We'll obviously be playing shows in big cities, but it still had that vibe to it. I just felt like that day in particular was very stuffy as well. And I felt very claustrophobic, as if all the air was being sucked out of my lungs by other people. … Existentialism is probably the main theme, and we tried to bend that into many shapes on the record.
It just feels like things have gotten so big and messy and chaotic for so long, and it was inevitable that if things kept going in that direction that at some point, a bubble had to burst.
Yeah, it felt like we'd been reined in. That's the impression that I got. And we were lucky, really. I mean, it could have been a zombie apocalypse. It could have been an airborne virus.
You guys certainly used to get off on shocking people and doing things over-the-top. Do you feel that's still something you need to do, or want to do, at this point in your career?
Well, it was never our game plan. It was just like, sometimes you get out of bed on the wrong side of the proverbial grave. And it was just part and parcel of our instinct, I suppose. Obviously the "Jesus [is a cunt]" shirt is still an issue. It will always be an issue, I guess. But no, I wouldn't say we're a shock rock band at all. I mean, we just do things, and people get offended by them occasionally. Then we must be doing it right.