Musicians have to be accountants and gameshow hosts these days. When we started just being miserable was enough…
Twenty seven years and fourteen albums to their name, Paradise Lost have done more than enough to cement their place in metal history. Considered as pioneers of gothic metal and influencing countless bands, 2015 sees them releasing The Plague Within, an album already being hailed as the album of the year. Here, MR’s Paul Castles talks to vocalist Nick Holmes about the album its production, his experience with Bloodbath, the band’s longevity, and why you need more than a convincing Freddie Mercury impression to succeed in music…
Thank you for taking time out to speak with Midlands Rocks. Congratulations on your excellent new album, The Plague Within. Was the final finish as strong as you had hoped for?
Yes, we plan our albums meticulously before we even record them. They represent what we are going to be doing for the next three years so it’s worth spending time and making things as right as possible
You must take immense satisfaction from the overwhelmingly positive response from the metal media and most fans – It’s already being hailed by some as album of the year!
So far the response has been great. Very happy!
Is the songwriting approach significantly different to when you were writing songs 25 or more years ago?
No, it’s practically the same. Greg (Mackintosh) and I still bounce ideas back and forth, only now we use the internet, Pro Tools, and MP3 files where we once used a ghetto blaster and C90 cassettes.
Is there a more relaxed mood when the band gathers in the studio these days or does it still carry an edge?
We are in the studio to record. It was a bit more of a piss up when we used to record in big residential studios, but now it’s only about the album, and everyone knows what’s expected of them and they just get on with it.
What impact – if any – did the recent Bloodbath experience have on The Plague Within?
Beyond perhaps “finding” my death metal voice, very little, most of the album was penned before I even recorded the Bloodbath album and we had already decided to approach the growling stuff again.
You’ve got a UK tour in October. Do you still get the same enjoyment performing live?
We write our albums with live work in mind; if we are happy with our music then playing new stuff live is certainly more enjoyable. Touring long term can get pretty exhausting though, but then none of us are exactly spring chickens anymore.
If Paradise Lost were beginning today – not 30 years ago – would the journey towards success prove easier or more difficult?
MUCH more difficult, there is too much choice, too much crap out there and no mystery anymore. The internet has changed everything. Musicians have to be accountants and gameshow hosts these days. When we started just being miserable was enough.
You have embraced contrasting musical styles down the years. Has that ability to almost reinvent yourselves at times been integral to the longevity of Paradise Lost and been a factor in your ongoing success?
Despite our various dalliances we have always tried to write decent material. Host was a controversial album, but I still maintain it’s one of our strongest albums musically, despite not even being a metal album.
Is there any advice you would like to share with young bands trying to find their feet today?
Become savvy with the business. Anyone thinking they can have a career just because they can play guitar like Zakk Wylde is kidding themselves, ability counts, but luck is involved way more than people think. Passion is great, but some people are deluded. No-one owes you a living regardless of how well you can sing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.
Does the whole illegal download issue frustrate you as artists or is it just a fact of life and something bands have to accept these days?
It’s just one of those things, it gets music to a wider audience for sure; but the financial effect has hit the business way more than anyone expected.
Paradise Lost has successfully navigated their way across a myriad of changes over three decades. Has there ever been a point when you felt the band were nearing an end?
Personally, not really, for better or worse, it runs alongside my real life and I am very grateful for that, It’s the only thing I really want to do, and a time when it’s not there would suck. Hopefully I’ll be dead before that happens
Is the sense of achievement in making great records and playing to full houses even more rewarding today than in the 90s?
It’s not that different, we just ache more now and can’t hold the booze as well. We still try though!
Aside from the UK tour are there any shows in the second half of the year that the band are looking forward to in particular?
South America is always fun, would be nice to go back to Australia, and I’d love to play New Zealand
Finally, will the UK dates focus around the new album or will you try and build in a healthy balance from the back catalogue?
We will play a lot of the new album and hopefully shake the setlist up a lot!
Thanks for your time Nick, see you in Wolverhampton!
I very nearly bought the kick pedal Lee Morris used on Draconian Times (massive part of the soundtrack to my teens) when I had a drum kit off him a few years ago – so good to see PL are still very much a going concern!
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