Requiem for a Dream
CoC chats with Aaron Aedy of Paradise Lost
by: Jackie Smit
It's better to burn out than to fade away -- or so the well-worn adage goes -- and no band understands the meaning of that saying more clearly than Paradise Lost. Once the darlings of the English metal scene, their gutsy foray into electronica-tinged goth on 1999's _Host_ quickly saw them written off as yesterday's news, particularly by the trend-hopping press in their home country. _Believe in Nothing_ followed in 2001, and despite heralding something of a return to the band's heavier sound, failed to convince on several counts. But lest we turn this article into an essay of the history of the Halifax quintet, the big news is that their latest opus, the fittingly titled _In Requiem_, more than makes up for past mistakes. Awash with colossal guitar riffs and choruses that are bound to tug at both your neck muscles and heart strings in equal measure, it's the album that fans have waited nearly a decade to hear. A surprisingly chipper, Aaron Aedy couldn't agree more.

"I'm completely pleased with it", offers the shaven-headed guitarist. "It was awesome to be able to work with Rhys Fulber [producer] and then when we got Mike Frasier -- who's done stuff like The Cult and AC/DC -- to mix it, we knew we were going to be able to deliver something very special. So the whole band is extremely positive about this one, that's for sure."

CoC: What made you decide that it was time to crank up the volume again?

AA: The weird thing is that it probably goes back to _Host_, to be honest. We did that album and it was a lot of fun to do, particularly as Greg [Mackintosh, guitars] got to experiment with different guitar sounds and try a lot of new things that we hadn't done before. So it was a great experience for us, but I think what we've found a couple of years on is that even though the album still sounds great to us, it has lost a little bit of its vibe. It's got quite a cold feeling to it, and what I've found personally is that the actual songs sound much better on stage. So when we did _Believe in Nothing_, what we were really shooting for is the sound that we heard when we did the _Host_ live. That turned out to be a funny one too though, because we all recorded our parts separately, where normally we'd do everything together. So that caused the music to lose a bit of its energy, because you're not feeding off any of the other band members when you're just in there by yourself doing what you need to do. So again, when it came to playing the songs live, it sounded much better to us; and that was what we tried to capture with _Symbol of Life_.

CoC: I'm starting to see a pattern here.

AA: <laughs> Definitely, and to be honest with you, _Paradise Lost_ had a similar departure point. Getting to this album, it was really case of enjoying just how heavy some of the last stuff sounded on stage and wanting to replicate that in our new material. We wanted the songs to be more energetic and just be much more upfront.

CoC: Apart from working with Mike Frasier, was there anything that you did differently when recording _In Requiem_?

AA: Nothing much. I think that over the course of the last few albums, we've all gotten to a stage as people where we appreciate much more what we have as friends and as a band. We've always been a very serious and hard-working band, but I think that we're much more focused now on doing our best and improving with every album. We're the best of friends we've ever been in our careers. I've known Nick and Greg since we were all kids, so we've always been best mates, but I think that now we really appreciate each other as musicians and fellow band members that much more.

CoC: You started this band right after leaving secondary school, if I'm not mistaken.

AA: Yeah, I'd just turned eighteen when we got together, and I think we were actually all just a couple of months apart. Nick was the only guy that was younger than any of us. I mean, he was fifteen or sixteen years old when we had those death vocals. I still don't know how he managed it. <laughs> Every time I try that, I get about two seconds in and then I'm coughing for about ten minutes.

CoC: You mentioned Jeff's drumming style being more pronounced on this record, and it's something that I think one definitely notices almost straight away. To me his drums sound much harder and more aggressive than Lee [Walker, ex-drummer].

AA: Oh, definitely, and I think it's because Lee was always into the show-off drummers -- guys like Dean Castronovo and Simon Phillips, and I know that because he was waffling about them all the time. They're the sort of drummers that could never leave the drums alone, if you know what I mean -- if there's a gap between a bum and a tick, they'll immediately go <mouths the sound of a symbal crash> or something like that, whereas Jeff lets the song breathe. Don't get me wrong either, Lee was a fantastic drummer and he was perfect for what we needed at the time, but Jeff's been great, and he's done an amazing job for us so far.

CoC: So he's fit into the band well then?

AA: Absolutely. He's a hilarious guy, and the main thing that keeps this band going is a sense of humour. People probably don't know it to look at our photos, but I'm in a band with some very funny guys.

CoC: That's been something that's always struck me about Paradise Lost -- reading any interview with Nick or with Greg or yourself, you've all always been very self-deprecating and not nearly as morose and sombre as your lyrics would otherwise suggest.

AA: I think that making a record for us is like going to see a psychologist; and if you release all that anger and frustration and negativity, then there's no reason for you to be walking around with a long face the rest of the time. I mean, you read any autobiographies, and the people that are the most depressed are the comedians. If you read any comedian's autobiography, they are absolutely miserable people. So everything is always in balance, I guess. <laughs>

CoC: Why select "The Enemy" as the lead single of this record?

AA: Actually that was the record label's idea. We put forward another song, "Beneath Black Skies". They asked us whether we had any others and we sent them a few more, and they just went with "The Enemy" straight away, which I guess is like the hard-rocking amigo song, you know. Personally I think that they probably made the right choice. We don't really write our music to be released as singles -- we write albums, and we don't really think about what makes business sense. A single is a business too. So when people ask me what my favourite song is on the album, I never know what to answer, because I like the record as a whole. What I listen to depends on my mood.

CoC: Like a lot of bands of your era -- Bolt Thrower, Carcass, etc. -- you've had a lot of bad luck with record labels. How has the deal with Century Media been working out for you so far?

AA: Century Media are awesome. They were actually responsible for distributing the last record in the UK, and then this time round when we were considering labels, there were about six or seven that came to us with serious offers, but only about two that we were considering. Once we met the Century Media guys though and they started talking about what they wanted to do with us, we were all just really excited -- and to be honest with you, we felt the same vibe as we did when we were on Music for Nations. These guys are always coming up with new ideas and they're always calling us with new things that they want to do; it really feels like there's someone fighting our corner for a change. With EMI and GUN -- they were great for the territories that they signed us in, but everywhere else didn't really work out. In places like Norway, the crowds were getting bigger but we weren't doing any interviews, we weren't doing any promotion -- it just felt like the record label didn't give a toss. Century Media have offices everywhere, they're worldwide and they're really helping us in every way that the majors fell down.

CoC: Paradise Lost is largely responsible in my mind for innovating the doom/death subgenre and subsequently the gothic metal sound that's so popular at the moment. Yet you are also often overlooked it seems, particularly here in your home country, in the UK. What are your thoughts on that?

AA: There's a media culture in the UK, which doesn't just apply to music or to rock or whatever -- it applies to everything -- and it's really focused on celebrity. As long as somebody can lay claim to discovering something or someone, that's all they want, and the music business is exactly the same as the tabloid newspapers with their Page 3 wonders. It's quite unique to here, because everywhere else it's not like that. I think that in many ways, the only way that we were able to keep going all these years is thanks to the loyalty of our fans everywhere else in the world, and also because journalists have come round on the last couple of albums to the fact that even if we weren't particularly fashionable or whatever, the music itself was pretty good. We did a mini-UK tour a little while ago and got almost no major press off it, but we were able to make it work because even though there's only three magazines who basically have a monopoly over the metal scene here, the Internet has now evolved to the point where a lot of people don't even read the mags anymore. So now people can make a more informed opinion rather than just reading one or two. The most important opinion in the world is your own, and with record labels doing stuff like e-cards now, it's finally possibly that people can make up their own minds and not rely on what they read somewhere to give them an idea of what an album sounds like.

CoC: The one thing that you've never been afraid of as a band is to mix things up and forego people's expectations when you're doing a record. With that in mind, could you foresee another major creative shift in the future for this band, the way there was a difference between _Draconian Times_ and _One Second_ for example?

AA: It definitely wouldn't be unlikely. We don't write music for safety; if we did that, we'd have recorded three _Draconian Times_. Right after that we'd have split up though, because we started this band to make the music that we wanted to hear that no one else was making the time, and that's still true to this day. We did the _Host_ album and a lot of people were shocked. Of course, it was made worse by the fact that the album happened to coincide with us cutting our hair, but anyway. <laughs> That didn't help, I don't think. But the weird thing is that EMI was expecting a heavier record and I think that they were quite surprised. A lot of people think that they made us change our image, but they didn't. We've never ever been influenced by a record label, and we've always been trusted to follow our own instincts, which is quite a compliment actually. But we did _Host_ and got slated, and then a year afterward a bunch of other bands started doing it and they got accolades! So I could never quite figure that one out. But it's been the same with other bands. Trouble, for example, were a band like that. They were never massively popular, but the people who loved them absolutely worshipped them. I actually remember going to see them with Lee Dorrian from Cathedral back in the Eighties and there were only forty people at the gig, and look at the sort of impression they've made on heavy music.

CoC: So you're doing a North American tour with Nightwish and you'll also be opening for Type O Negative here in Europe. Outside of that, what other plans do you guys have for the next twelve months or so?

AA: Well, it's the first time we've released an album so close to festival season, so we're going to be doing a fair few of those, I expect. The way it is now, you can do twenty festivals in one weekend quite easily. Back when we started there was maybe one or two, but there are so many now that up until September most of the promoters don't even bother booking tours. There's no money in it for them. So we're doing the festivals, then the Nightwish tour starts in October, and then when we come back from that then we'll finish off Europe.

CoC: Thanks for your time, Aaron. What words of wisdom are you going to leave us with?

AA: I'd like to thank all of our fans from all over the world, who have always been absolutely amazing, and I'd also like to say to everyone who hasn't listened to us in a couple of years to check out the new album because it's pretty fucking good. I am being biased of course, but it really is. <laughs>

(article submitted 23/6/2007)

5/10/1996 A Bromley Paradise Lost: Can Paradise Ever Be Found?
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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