Dani Filth: “We never thought we were Satanic, we thought it was funny”
In conversation with Cradle Of Filth’s frontman Dani Filth about his name, his music and the intense days of black metal
We meet Dani in a pub near Baker Street. He’s hungover from a weekend of partying and is medicating with a pint of lager. We’re the first interview of the day, but certainly not the last, as he’s in town promoting Cradle Of Filth’s new album Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness Of Decay, which he describes as “more brilliant than the last one.” In the new issue of Metal Hammer and on TeamRock+ you can read about the band’s exploration into Victorian literature for the new record, but here we’re chatting about the man himself and reminiscing about the fiery days of the ‘90s black metal scene.
When and why did you decide to go under the pseudonym Dani Filth?
“It was for Cruelty And The Beast and I’ve no idea why, probably because my surname’s shit ha ha. Perhaps I was following Axl Rose. It’s not that great when Nuclear Blast book you into hotels under Mr Filth, and you get your passport out, and they say no – which I’ve done a million times. I have to go online and show them a picture to prove I’m me.”
Growing up, what were your parents’ views on you being a little metal kid?
“My dad was a record collector, but he was into reggae. We used to have all these people show up at our house with funny smelling cigarettes the whole time. My dad had thousands of records, and he’s not into it any more but that’s where I got it from, collecting records.”
Are they fans of your music?
“My mum is, she fancies Tom Araya. They don’t mind my stuff, but they’ve got no idea about heavy metal.”
When did you decide that you seriously wanted to be a musician?
“When I realised I’m not very good at anything else. And also when I made a lot of money – the two sort of go hand in hand. When I bought my first sports car I was like ‘Yeah, this is cool.’ I’ve always loved doing this stuff, it’s brilliant.”
When did you adopt your trademark gothic look?
“A couple of years into the band. Our music had a lot of soundtrack qualities to it and it just came part and parcel with it. Before that I was into hardcore and death metal, I still am into lots of different music. I met Fatboy Slim the other day – he’s really old.”
You grew up listening to hardcore. Why did you transition to black metal?
“I don’t know if it ever happened, we’ve always done what we wanted to do. Musically it was always about soundtracks. We grew up with Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride, but also Celtic Frost and stuff like that. We’ve always been an amalgam of different things. I’m not saying we’re totally original, but we’ve nicked bits from different genres. I’m quite proud of the fact that we still have a lot of hardcore stuff, and people never pick up on that, ever.”
How did you connect to the frozen north of Norway from your secluded spot in Suffolk?
“What I like about that time is the passion about it; I thought it was quite exciting. Some guy down the road in Colchester tried burning down a church, and we got blamed for it. Obviously [church burning] was ridiculous. I have been friends with every single person from that scene since, and I can’t remember anyone that’s said ‘Yeah that was really great’. Everyone said ‘We were idiots, we were kids.’ My friend lives a stone’s throw from the first church that was burned in Bergen, and he knows it’s an idiot thing.
"I’m so happy that I didn’t get caught up in that whole thing because I could have done, but imagine waking up thinking ‘Oh god, I’ve just burned down a church, I’m going to prison for 25 years, I’m an idiot.’
How do you feel when you see your Jesus Is A C-nt shirt in the wild now?
“I think it’s hilarious. It was an anarchic statement. We never thought we were Satanic, we thought it was funny, we were crying when we thought of it and when the guy printed it up we cried even more. My wife used to work at a t-shirt printers in my hometown, they printed the original one up, and she got fired for it.”
Are you happy with your lot in life?
“I’m quite happy with my life to be honest, I love it. When I was a kid, I wouldn’t even have dreamed I’d be sat here talking to you. I’m very happy. I’ve got enough money; it’s not a massive issue, but it stops you working in Burger King. And I get to do what I want to do every day of my life. Some days I get up at half past nine in the morning!”
“I was asked the other day by my daughter ‘Are you one of those people who has their glass half full or half empty?’ and she said I like it half empty. That’s bad isn’t it?”
Do you consider yourself a pessimist?
“I’m happy what I’m doing. If it all goes to shit tomorrow that would be awful, but I’ve always had the time of my life. I love what I do; I’m really fucking good at what I do and our band’s really fucking good at what we do. We sell a lot of records, I make a lot of money – fucking hell, I’m going to rip my clothes off and run down the street. I love it. I love the music.”
Cradle Of Filth's new album Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness Of Decay is out September 22 via Nuclear Blast, and is available to pre-order now.