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Paradise Lost (Part 2): One of the Last of a Dying Breed

Here comes the second part of the Paradise Lost interview. Part one you can find hier.

There is this nice meme on the internet, it shows how the “things” people hold up during a rock concert has changed over the years, from a fist to horns, to phones and now iPads...
Right, right...I have to say, it´s kind of ruined live music, which is an odd thing to say. We used to do gigs, I can speak from experience, before the internet… and now with YouTube and good quality videos that can be uploaded the next day – it´s ruined the spontaneity at shows, you know, everyone has to worry too much about being cool in their performance and all this. It´s not as exciting and spontaneous as it used to be when it´s been just the show and only those people who were at that show, at that night also saw the show. So anything could happen, it´s more spontaneous, also more exciting. Right now it´s like this: you do a tour and even two weeks before you get to this person´s country, they will know what your setlist is gonna be and everything else, it takes the excitement out a bit. For me as a fan as well, watching the bands I like.

Doesn´t exactly this make it hard to decide on setlists, since it is actually necessary to keep changing at least one or two songs for each concert?
Yeah, it causes arguments. I´ve seen it with other bands as well. One person might spam the internet saying he or she really wants to hear this song played and at the gig it´s dead because no one else knows it. So what´s the point? So you have to, with a pinch of salt, take on board what people say on forums and things, because ultimately they´re coming to see what you do and what your take on music is. Otherwise, why would they buy your records? Sometimes it is important to play a certain thing that the fans want but you have to be careful – we´ve been caught with it a lot of times where it turned out it had been just one person who really wanted to hear it.

So, how does it feel as a person on stage to look at the audience with their phones and cameras up? Do you realise this?
Yes, I do. I´m used to it now but when it first started it was kind of annoying because they´re kind of bright, too. It´s all these phones and things in there, and the flash...Nick, our singer, he hates it with the flash, it´s just something that happens, nothing you can do about it. Get on with it (sighs).

I read somewhere that there will be a new release coming up this year...
We´re doing a thing to time with the 25th which is going to be some kind of rare stuff... It´s called “Tragic Illusion”, there is one new track on it that we recorded specially just for the 25th thing. There´s two tracks that we re-recorded from our very old stuff, like one track from the first album and one from the second album, and then the rest of it is all old and rare stuff...it´s some nice collector´s package, you know. It has great artwork, we had it done by the same guy who did our last album, “Tragic Idol”, he´s done a completely new cover and layout – just the other day I saw it for the first time how it´s gonna look like, in a pdf-file, it looks pretty good!

How come that the new album is called “Tragic Illusion”, your last album also had the term “tragic” in it (“Tragic Idol”)?
Because it is kind of tying up the start of our career and now. “Tragic Idol” was the last album and our first demo was called “Frozen Illusion” when we first started in 1988...
We´ve already been talking about it – side projects, bands and activities that you´re doing besides Paradise Lost... how does all this work out time-wise?
It is really difficult, it really is. I enjoy doing it because it is fun to do but it´s really hard, especially when everyone in the band is in different bands, things are hard to coordinate.

Is it the case here?
No, not really. I´ve never felt the need to be doing much else. Adrian is in lots of bands, we just counted them these days. He´s in “Vallenfyre” with me, he is in “At the Gates”, he is in a band from California called “Brujeria”, he is in a band called “Nemhain” with his wife, he´s in...(silence) he is in another band as well, oh yeah, he just restarted a band that he used to have, it´s called “The Haunted” and he is back with them now. Yeah, he is a very busy boy (grinning). He´s in China right now, that´s why we got our old drummer back with us...It happens like once or twice a year where the schedules clash, but Jeff, our old drummer, loves it because he went back to normal life so it feels like holidays to be coming out with us again.

Would you like to have a normal life, too?
Hm, sometimes. But not really. Not really, I´m unemployable now. I haven´t had a normal job since...I don´t know.

And what if there was no music & music business for you anymore?
Well yeah, I´d be homeless or something, I don´t know. I´m completely unemployable (shrugs). The only thing I´ve ever trained in they don´t even have anymore – I´ve trained as a printer but that was on those old printing machines, which they don´t have anymore, now it´s all computers. So, I have no skill (laughing).

During all the years you´ve been in the business, the music industry has changed a lot. What are you thinking about all the changes?
Downloading has changed everything, it has torn the music industry apart and it has changed everything about it. There is no money in the industry at all anymore because 98% of stuff is downloads now, so your record budget is smaller, your touring budget is smaller, the amount of bands that get signed every year is smaller – it has just changed everything. But there are also other things like making vinyl more popular again when people really want to collect something, they don´t want anything else.

Are you a fan of MP3s or of vinyl?
Hm, vinyl preferable sounds a lot better but MP3s...it´s certain things about it that have improved the business, for instance it has made song writing easier – I wrote most songs together with our singer Nick and it´s just easy, you´re emailing ideas. Before, you had to wait for a rehearsal to take it anywhere, and that was it. It´s been a very slow process, now it got really fast.

But isn´t it, at the same time, negative that such processes have sped up?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I just sound like a moaning one when I say I prefer the old ways, I´d prefer it if there was no internet even though it brings a lot of good things. For the music industry, though, it´s been catastrophic, really.

Makes me wondering what you think about streaming services like Spotify...
I don´t think it´s good, I think it´s terrible – personally. Like we talked about my son, he´s 16, he loves music and is a great musician, but he´s from the generation where he doesn´t even know track titles, he doesn´t even know which bands...these kids, they´re just like go on Spotify or whatever and get tracks, and say “oh I like that track, and that track, and that track” – there is no album involved, there is no name, they don´t know. Even when you download you can have the album artwork and stuff, it´s not the same at all as when having the physical copy but for my son´s generation there is no artwork, they don´t even care. They have absolutely no interest in artwork, design, lyrics, song titles, anything. (looks frustrated). Just this “oh I like that and I like that...”. So it´s gonna mean that bands like us are one of the dying breed where you´re having a real career because there is no interest – just a “next next next next” (snaps with fingers). So that´s sad for younger bands that want to develop as musicians, because it´s going to be like “well this album didn´t work, let´s scratch that thing and try another band”.

Changes in the music industry also led to the fact that music videos have become more and more important – do you like this fact and music videos in general?
Oh, I think they´re pretty crap, I don´t like music videos at all. When we started as a band nobody in our genre or well, there was no such thing as music videos, no one cared about them. We just started the band to make music, we enjoyed it – and we still enjoy it. We´re not models, we didn´t even like to have our photo taken, so why would we want to be in a video? It just seems like the band with the most money has the best video, so what is that proving? Yeah, having hired the best and highest artistic director, that video is going to be good but is the music really good? You know, it doesn´t help the music I think. The whole thing about music when I was growing up was you´d put music on and imagine something – it´s the pictures in your head... And metal videos are worse than any other videos because they´re all the same. I mean, we´re guilty of it but that´s because we´re forced in doing them. There´s a little bit of performance and then there´s a really crap story and that´s it – that´s 90% of all metal videos being exactly the same.

You mentioned that you´re doing videos because you had to...
We had to do it back then but lately we´ve become a bit hands-on in the last few years. If we have to do a video, we want it to be a little short film, and not something about the band but something that is connected to the lyrics. The last couple of videos we did – my favourite ones of all we ever did – we did one for “Honesty in Death” which is really tragic and “Faith divides us” from the album before is a great video as well...

I think there is also a video from last year that has snippets of live performances in it...
Yeah, Steve, our bass player, did it. The record label said they´d want to film another video and we said we did “Honesty in Death” and we don´t think we can do anything better off this record because that summed up everything we wanted to do. And we hadn´t had a kind of behind the scenes type of video, so last summer Steve just filmed everything we did for the whole summer and then just edited it together. It might not be technically brilliant but you can see what´s going on behind the scenes and what happens when we walk out on stage...If you gonna do something and you don´t have much budget to do, you might as well do something that is maybe interesting from a fan´s perspective.

Are you yourself involved with creating the videos or the storyboards?
For the short stories? We discuss this with the person we´ve chosen to direct it, and we´ve probably chosen that director because he´s done something in a totally different field of music or where we just liked the style of it and thought it would apply well to our music.

Last but not least – I am sure that after doing so many interviews, there isn´t much left unasked. But is there anything you always wanted to be asked but never have been?
Never have been asked...(thinks) I´ve been asked some stupid things over the years. Usually, it´s lost in translation, you know, we once got asked if King Arthur was deaf or dead – what does that even mean? (looks clueless) Someone once asked us “Do you ever have the urge to have sex?”...I am not kidding now, we´ve just been asked everything...I´d prefer if people would ask me more stuff about animals because I like animal facts. I don´t particularly like animals but I like animal facts...

How does that go together?
No, I just find certain things amazing. A man can swim through the artery of a blue whale because it´s so big...it is just cool. Like yesterday, lobsters are immortal. That´s fantastic. (laughing) Animal facts, there is the answer.

Then, what are the most amazing animal facts?
It´s mostly about the blue whale because it´s so huge. Like, its heart is as big as a car, a family car, fantastic, isn´t it? Cows have three stomachs, and they shouldn´t exist, it´s an evolutionary mistake, they cannot digest their own food – it has to go through three tracks before it can be digested. Hippo milk is pink, it´s true...I´m obsessed with animal facts, don´t question me (smiles and then laughs)!

Anyways, thanks for taking the time for this interview!
No problem, my pleasure.

I´d like to thank Dario Dumancic from Century Media for arranging the interview, Chris Jones for taking care of me and the interview at Into the Grave festival and last but not least Greg Mackintosh for this enjoyable and very pleasant time!

Author: Carina Ullmann (+ photos)
Date: 2013-09-06

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