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By: Gavin Brown
Doom metal masters My Dying Bride have released one of the years finest metal albums in Feel The Misery. We had a chat with guitarist and founding member Andrew Craighan to hear all about it as well as the band’s touring plans and the highlights from the past 25 years of being one of the UK’s premier doom metal bands.
(((o))): You have recently celebrated your 25th anniversary as a band. That is a long time for a band, let alone a band as extreme as My Dying Bride. What has been the key to your longevity?
Andrew: I think we just enjoy doing what we do. We’ve never really thought about just how long we’ve been going and just write and record as we see fit. Also we tend to be staying at the same level so from a fanbase point of view we feel we’re still a viable band and people still want a My Dying Bride, so we’re happy to be it.
(((o))): How do you think the band has evolved since your origin in 1990?
Andrew: We’ve become more focused on what we do and how we do it. We’re no longer chasing fame and fortune as we’ve learnt that our type of music can’t deliver that, and to be fair they were young dreams that were quickly extinguished by the music industry early on. We now know how to extract fun and value from this and make it worth doing for reasons other than the above and the fact we still continue just for the love of doing this type of music shows in the music itself. It’s free of commercial leanings and is truly My Dying Bride.
(((o))): There are bound to have been some lowlights for the band in 25 years, but what what have been the undisputed highlights?
Andrew: For me the 2 big tours we did will be difficult to beat, Iron Maiden and Dio. They showed us how it is to be done and were brilliant to My Dying Bride throughout both those tours. The new album is for me a landmark success for lots of personal reasons and will probably never be beaten for that in this band.
(((o))): How is it having Calvin [Robertshaw] back in the band again?
Andrew: Calvin re-joined as we needed a guitar player. It just so happened he’d been playing for a year or two again and when we needed to look for a new guitarist as Hamish [Glencross] had left to focus on Vallenfyre he was there to ask. He was keen to re-join a full band and write albums, gig and do all the things bands do. Divine timing.
(((o))): Your previous album A Map Of All Our Failures had more a live sound as in it was a bit rawer than your previous albums, is Feel The Misery similar?
Andrew: No I don’t think it is, we still recorded real drums and guitars with amps so it has real people behind real instruments and equipment, but ultimately it’s a studio album. The sort of “live” sound we tried on A Map Of All Our Failures worked for that album and even more so on The Barghest O’ Whitby EP, but for this album we recorded it in a rather normal fashion. There was no overindulgent buying of new equipment because (insert famous engineer here) said we should or booking a studio in the Mariana Trench and recording it all on water. It was basic, play it right, record it well and then mix it well. I think we managed that.
(((o))): The new album was recorded in Academy Studios where you recorded your early albums. What was it that made you go back there to record the album?
Andrew: Time. We have delayed this album a number of times and it was getting to the point where we had nearly finished writing, but couldn’t get Mags or Futureworks Studios booked. So early on we started looking for other studio options and out of the 3 we had suggested to us Academy was pretty obviously the correct one. We knew it, we’re close to it and with the way we would need to record this album it also helped as we could book small segments of time as and when we could go and record. Remember none of us do My Dying Bride full time. As it turned out I think it was the correct thing to do, and we will more than likely be back there in the near future.
(((o))): What influences you when you are writing a new album?
Andrew: None on this one. I wrote totally for me, I didn’t base anything I wrote in or on any other outside influence at all consciously.
(((o))): Lyrically you have always written in a passionate and eloquent way. What inspires your lyrics, especially on the new album?
Andrew: Sex seems to be prominent on this album. Death and religion make an appearance too. Hopefully in that order!!
(((o))): Feel The Misery is a self explanatory title. Are dark thoughts something that are still on your minds?
Andrew: Yes, always, the album title is probably being misunderstood though. It’s not My Dying Bride that’s saying “Feel The Misery”, it’s a statement of society in general. Our jailers are being exposed for what they are and in an attempt to keep control, we have more conflict, more division, more hate and lies. None of it is actually necessary. Feel The Misery is actually a question designed to provoke (probably naively) a thought as to why it’s like this, have anyone of us actually thought who benefits from bombing each other constantly for example? Follow the money and it becomes pretty clear who’s in charge and who benefits from the division. Not us regular folk the great unwashed.
(((o))): There is still an extreme metal element in My Dying Brides sound. Do you still seek out new metal sounds or do you just listen to the classics that you’ve always been into nowadays?
Andrew: I didn’t realise it was extreme. I thought compared to some bands were now easy listening. When recording the focus is to sound heavy, powerful, but not without clarity and precision. It’s a tricky mixture and we don’t always succeed. As for listening to classics we obviously still do that and I try to keep an eye on some newer stuff as well, but I have to admit I wouldn’t consider a lot of it metal and tend to just avoid it.
(((o))): When you first started, you looked up to bands like Candlemass and Celtic Frost. How do you feel, with your history about bands that look up to you in this way?
Andrew: Yeah, that feels odd when people say things like that, it’s a good sign we have done something of value, but it does feel strange it also reminds us we’ve been around a while and no one likes that.
(((o))): You have a few upcoming European festival dates. Are there plans for more dates once the new album arrives?
Andrew: Yes were trying to plan a short tour in Europe and have the 70,000 Tons of Metal Festival to play amongst other good shows next year. But right now we rehearsing for the Hammer of Doom 2015 Festival this will take place at Posthalle in Würzburg, Germany on November 20-21, 2015 the few others for next year already confirmed are here.
(((o))): You have been playing massive shows for a lot of your career, Dynamo in 1995 for example and you are still playing these big shows and festivals. How do you feel the My Dying Bride sound comes across in such large settings?
Andrew: I think it works, we’re in many ways a pleasant change of pace for a lot of festival goers and our musical diversity shows through too. Remember we don’t actually just play strict ballroom doom, you know one pace, no riffs, no dynamics. We have a lot of diverse songs and within each song are passages that ebb and flow depending on what poor creature is being tortured in Aaron’s mind at that time. It’s doomy, but not in the most obvious way and at festivals it’s been tried and tested and it clearly works.
(((o))): With such a vast range of material to choose from. How do you pick which songs you will play live?
Andrew: It depends on the set length and the “vibe” of the festival and also sometimes on which bands are in front or behind us in the line-up. We try tailor each show as best we can, but once we have a solid set we tend to stick with it and only add remove when necessary. It’s a balancing game that only gigging proves you were correct or not. We then always have ready others songs if the set simply doesn’t work live, as some songs can kill the momentum no matter how great they are on the album.
(((o))): Tracks from the new album would sound absolutely colossal in a live setting. Will you be playing any new material?
Andrew: Yes, 3 for the upcoming shows we have booked have been earmarked with a strong 4th for the potential Headline Tour we’re planning for 2016. I’m not revealing which ones as without any fucking doubt at all they are not the ones people want to hear and I’m not being drawn into that conversation as I would play them all if asked, you heard that here first!!