Can Paradise Ever Be Found?
An interview with Paradise Lost's Nick Holmes
by: Adrian Bromley
As we head into the middle of 1996, it has almost been a year since the European release date of Halifax, England quintet Paradise Lost's well-received fifth release _Draconian Times_, and just over six months since it was released Stateside. In Europe, they have been hailed as heroes of the metal community, praised for their stunning work of metal-meets-goth on _DT_ and have been included in almost every metal publication's Top 10 lists. But while sales of _DT_ may be heading to three times that of 1993's breakthrough record _Icon_ (which sold half a million), the band still has a long way to gaining the same amount of respect, admiration, and exposure in North America.

To make things worse, the band's label over here, Relativity Records, has dropped their entire rock/hard rock/metal roster recently (though they are strongly supported by their publicists over here, Mazur Public Relations). This may make things a bit harder now right? "Relativity just sacked their Rock Department so we are basically fucked right now," says a somewhat astonished and disappointed lead vocalist Nick Holmes. "We are trying to sort things out and trying to get over to North America. It is pretty frustrating for us because we really wanted to get over there. Now we are gonna look into getting on a major tour over there so we can play."

Holmes - along with the rest of the band, guitarists Gregor Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy, drummer Lee Morris, and bassist Steve Edmondson - never saw the incident coming. There was nothing they could do to prepare for it. He accounts, "The people at the record company just cleared their desks. I think one guy was on the phone crying as he was packing up his things all worried about his wife and children. It just happened overnight."

As facts would state, the U.S. is by far the least devoted and worked on market for the band. The band saw some exposure with _Icon_ with a few solo showcases and an opening slot on Morbid Angel's tour that year. In regards to North American reviews of the latest album he says, "Most of them have been good to us but I am not sure how the marketing system works over there. It is more radio oriented over there isn't it? We haven't gotten any AOR over there with this record. We have been doing a lot of radio interviews in the last little while but I can't really say how we are doing." Holmes goes on to say about sales, "In Europe we have sold three times what _Icon_ did. This album is 90% of all our sales that we have done with our albums and hopefully the next album will do the same or better. We are seeing our albums grow in popularity with each release and it was _Icon_ that got us a good-sized following over in Europe. We concentrate heavily on Europe because that is what you do right? You focus on your strong market. We need to get over here and see what is happening, at least hit the key cities and try to expand our North American market."

He adds, "We just need to get over there to actually check out the situation. I mean we are over here in Europe and concentrating so heavily with the market that we are out of the picture when it comes to how we are doing there. We just want to get a vibe by playing over there. We are not prepared to come over there and do an eight-week club date tour. The most important thing is getting people out to see the shows and I don't care if it is a negative or positive response. We were over there playing three years ago and reasonably unheard of and we haven't heard much since then," he chuckles. "We did eight weeks a few years back with Morbid Angel and that was tough for us," he says in reference about the hardships of touring. He reveals the following anecdote; "Six weeks into that tour, it was becoming very soul-destroying and much like banging your head against the wall. We didn't particularly go down well though some of our gigs were pretty good but most were mediocre. We didn't expect to do well seeing that it was a new market for us. I think that point was very tough because we all felt very low and we were arguing and getting on the bus at night and holding our head in our hands and wondering what was going wrong for us."

Though this all looks to be a long hard struggle for the band, it has been the complete opposite. Aside from lack of U.S. acceptance, the road to success for the band in their 'neck of the woods' has been quite easy since their inception in 1988.

In the beginning the band signed to then-Peaceville Records and released in 1990 their debut album _Lost Paradise_ and followed with extensive touring. The band's popularity grew quickly and by the time the band released their sophomore effort, _Gothic_, in 1991, the band had established themselves as one of the main focuses of the death/goth music scene. The band delivered solid riffs marked by emotional lyrics and hardy vocals to match. The music of Paradise Lost had taken shape and would carry over and grow with future releases.

The band in 1992 signed to Music For Nations label and soon followed with the well-received third effort _Shades Of God_, probably the most well-rounded release to date. Onward, the band moved with their quest for crafty songwriting and music of heavenly metal proportions encompassed by the spiritual aspect of gothic tones which led us to the phenomenal _Icon_ release. The band toured heavily in Europe on their own and in support of Sepultura on their Chaos A.D. Tour for quite some time before coming off the road to take time off (there was a line-up change with former drummer Matt Archer being replaced by Morris) and prepare for their fifth and most awaited release, _Draconian Times_.

Preparation and careful thought went into the work of the latest album assures Holmes, but never really any pre-conceived notion of where the band was to go musically. "I think it was a case of just writing more songs and if they change, it is not a conscious thing. I don't think the music here is much different than _Icon_, rather an extension of the music except better. I think the next album will be a lot more different." In what way? "We will most likely be moving away from the heavy sort of way of things and it will be more based around creating more moods and atmospheric music. We want it more darker as opposed to heavy." He confesses, "We are not really into using chugging guitar riffs for the sake of it. We'll let Machine Head or other heavy bands do that because we really have no need for it any more. We'll probably get a bit more gothic."

While _DT_ doesn't really rank up above the work of _Icon_ in my books, it is almost impossible to ignore the sheer power of complexity and intricacy that went into the songwriting and lyrics of this album. The music creates images and sparks emotion throughout _DT_. "We play the music that we want to hear or listen to. We are not in it to please anyone or appeal to a certain market," says Holmes about the band's work style of making music. "We play music we appreciate and hopefully right-minded people will like it and grow with us. If you start to play music to appeal to other people then you basically are selling out on yourself right? You gotta keep it up and keep it fresh. We have been very lucky that we have had more people pick up on what we have been doing than losing it.

"I think it is the songwriting style that keeps people interested," he says, "Gregor [Mackintosh] has his own way of writing music, very distinctive and I think it comes down to that feature that makes _Draconian Times_ what it is." And seeing that he is the key lyricist for the band's music, after almost eight years of writing, how does Holmes keep it fresh? "There are lots of things in everyday life that you can incorporate into a song or certain lyrics. Musically, Gregor has loads of ideas and as we move into the 21st Century with a keyboard and all these ideas plus a studio to use, it makes it easier for us. The songwriting process gets more difficult with every single album I think 'cause people get more precious about the pieces they have written. I'd say it is quite hard to compromise but you have to do it with everything you create."

(article submitted 10/5/1996)

6/23/2007 J Smit Paradise Lost: Requiem for a Dream
9/24/2009 J Smit 9 Paradise Lost - Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us
5/25/2007 J Smit 8.5 Paradise Lost - In Requiem
5/24/2005 P Azevedo 6.5 Paradise Lost - Paradise Lost
9/14/1997 P Azevedo 6 Paradise Lost - One Second
12/13/1995 A Bromley 6 Paradise Lost - Draconian Times
12/26/2003 J Smit Paradise Lost / Deathstars And Out Came the Goths
1/1/1998 N Almeida Paradise Lost / Sundown / Uncle Meat The Lost Paradise?
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