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Paradise Lost - Interview

Interview with: Steve Edmondson
Conducted by: T.V.

There's no need of a big talk about one of the most influential bands when it comes to gothic metal and doom/death metal. Paradise Lost, considered as pioneers of those two genres, have in their 27 years long career and with fourteen studio albums behind them, achieved the status of true masters of dark and obscure metal. In june this year Paradise Lost released their opus number fourteen, titled The Plague Within (read the review over HERE), one of the darkest albums ever released by the British quintet, which shows the band returning back into their primary sound of early albums like were Lost Paradise, Gothic and even Shades Of God. By still keeping a high dose of gothic metal dynamics and an interesting touch of crust, Paradise Lost satisfied mostly their old fans who were addicted back then with their original, yet melodic and symphonic doom/death metal style. But still, Paradise Lost did not only just copied their old style, they have made it surprisingly modern. This year was even bigger for the band, because a couple of weeks ago they released a double live album, Symphony For The Lost, which was recorded at The Ancient Roman Theatre of Philippopolis in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, with Orchestra of State Opera Plovdiv and Rodna Pesen Choir. The band was recently touring through Europe in support of The Plague Within and on 29th October they stopped for a concert in Mostovna, Nova Gorica (Slovenia), where I meet with one of the original members, the bass guitarist Steve Edmondson and in a friendly conversation he revealed how the tour is going, some things about the new album, live album, some future plans and other interesting things.

T.V.: Hi Steve! The Plague Within - Europe 2015 tour is in full run now. Tell me how it went so far and how are you satisfied?
Steve: It's going really really well. We are now on tour for five weeks and got two weeks left. It's a lot of hard work as it's pretty kind of old school this time, but it's been really well and can't complain about anything. Gigs have been very cool so far.
T.V.: I was checking out a bit the setlist you have for this tour and it's obvious that you put quite a lot of emphasis on the new album, The Plague Within and the heavier stuff of yours. I was a bit surprised when I noticed that you left out the songs from Tragic Idol. Why such a decision?
Steve: Are we skipping it? Are there no songs from this album? I didn't even noticed, but you know... we have so many albums and it's difficult to select tracks. We should be on the stage for five hours to comply with everybodys desire. I really didn't realize that there were no songs from Tragic Idol. But we tour all the time, so maybe next time. The setlist this time consists mainly of new songs, a good third of the set is made out of new songs. We try to focus on this one, because it's time to promote it.
T.V.: Your new album is quite a change in the sound of Paradise Lost, at least from what we were used to hear on the previous couple of albums. Is this turn or better said return into more doom/death waters kind of a consequence of Greg's and Nick's recent trips into those genres with Vallenfyre and Bloodbath?
Steve: Maybe, I don't know, maybe yes in a way or maybe not, I'm not quite sure. You know, we don't do the same album twice and we used to play death metal before, so we said let's try it again. But I don't think we started it consciously, we were just trying to keep it different from the last one. We also changed the producer with whom we did our last two albums. You know, we wanted to stop sounding the same.
T.V.: And how do you make a decision which songs will you play on a certain concert or on a tour. Is this a democratic decision of all members or is there one person who decides those kind of things?
Steve: Well, the thing is with Nick's voice and the band can't play anything. If we're on tour for seven weeks he has to protect his voice. You know, he's not an instrument. It's hard to be perky, like with guitar. But we use to change our setlist a bit here and here. So, to answer your question, it's mainly Nick.

T.V.: How much do you take in regard the popularity of a certain song and then play it live. Do you check out how many plays it has over at YouTube for example?
Steve: Oh yes, we'll always play for example "As I Die" or "Say Just Words", because those are two of the most popular songs and we have to play them. How would it be if Black Sabbath won't play "Paranoid" or something, also Ozzy will always play "Paranoid" (laughs).
T.V.: It's interesting to see that Lucifer are playing as a support on this tour. Quite a different band in style... So, how do you get along with them?
Steve: They are nice guys and girls. We know Gaz from Cathedral for a long time now and also their drummer Andy from another band where he played few years ago.
T.V.: So, how did it came that you went on tour with them. Is this just because you're friends or was this the decision of managemnt or label?
Steve: I think it has probably more to do with business mould than anything else. On the other side it's also because we all know Lee Dorian and they are signed to his label (Rise Above, e.d.), and yeah, we are all good friends.
T.V.: You are just about to release a live album, Symphony For The Lost. What can you tell me about that experience where you played with symphonic orchestra?
Steve: It was quite a different experience really. They are all real musicians, you know, nice, and quiet... But it's something I don't want to do it again. It was quite unusual. We couldn't turn the amplifiers up, playing it easy,... it's quite hard and we were playing for about two hours with them, but in the end it turned out quite good.
T.V.: You played that very concert in the theatre in Plovdiv in Bulgaria, which seems to be very popular right now. Also Anathema recorded there their live show...
Steve: Yeah, it is, a nice place... I think it's around 2000 years old. And yeah, Anathema,...they have the same management. Probably that's why we both played and recorded there.
T.V.: What can you tell me that we can expect from this live album? How does Paradise Lost fit with the whole orchestra and choir behind your backs?
Steve: We already did some orchestral parts over the years, and you know, it just sounds bigger. It sounds more like a film score. Paradise Lost film score ha,ha. More atmospheric also.
T.V.: Yeah, as well on the album Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us you've had two songs recorded with orchestra and released as a bonus on some editions...
Steve: You're right. That was recorded with the Czech orchestra and also that sounded quite right.
T.V.: Which are the songs that you prefer to play live?
Steve: I prefer playing new songs and songs that we haven't played for a long time, more than the classic old ones. You know, we are playing for 25 years now and some become quite a boring thing to play. I like the new songs and it's cool to play them. But honestly, when we will have our next album it will be boring to play the songs from this album I suppose. It's always that way that the new stuff is more cool to play.
T.V.: How did the crowd on gigs accepted the new songs?
Steve: Oh really good. The reception of new stuff was valid and ok, there was no buuu-ing or something, at least I think so. I think as well that the fans of our earlier albums appreciate the new songs very much, at least most of those older guys I know.
T.V.: So far you've got positive reviews of the new album, and I wonder how much of an importance do you give to reviews and critics?
Steve: Well, if you see a bad review you pretend like you didn't got it, you know, nobody likes to be criticized (laughs) and you try not to care much about it. On the other hand if you see a good review is good in any possible way.
T.V.: Must tell you that I'm a huge fan of Paradise Lost ever since your Gothic album and my favorite albums of yours must be Icon and Draconian Times. Now I wonder which album of yours is your favorite one and why?
Steve: It's hard to say really... I think that I like the most the Icon and Draconian Times period, just because of the touring we did back then, it was just like one level up in regard to Shades Of God. Those were really great times... It's not that much about albums, but mostly about those times, those were crazy days.
T.V.: And how do you feel about the changes that happened since the early 90s until now. It must have been pretty much different for a musician like you back then if compared to present days?
Steve: I'm physically getting older also... You know, the internet kind of changed things a lot. It's easier for people to get the music out. Back in the early 90s it was just magazines, fanzines and radio maybe, there was a lot of tape trading, there were metal shows on TV once in a week. Now everybody can make a record in his bedroom and sell it on the internet, a lot of them do exactly that thing.
T.V.: How much did this new era affected the sales of albums for Paradise Lost?
Steve: Pretty much I think. But still to be honest it's not such a problem for us. I mean, we still sell songs, that's why record companies do vinyls, special editions, collectors editions and similar stuff, and it's great to see that there are still some people who actually buy this things.
T.V.: But do you get more money from selling records or from live shows?
Steve: We get less money from records now. Before it was even, maybe even more from records, but like said before times have changed a lot. Obviously not so many people are buying records anymore. But, they still do, not so much as before, but they do. Big bands, I don't know, they still sell a lot, but bands on our level have sliped down on the scale of sales.
T.V.: Of course, and those "big" bands also get much more from concerts...
Steve: Yes, of course. We have to adjust, that's why we are touring for seven weeks in a row, do many festivals, that's the reason that we try several things, like for example playing the entire Gothic album on some of the upcoming festivals.
T.V.: The first time I saw you playing live was in 1992, just few kilometers from this place, in Hum. It was a tour you did together with Tiamat, when you released Shades Of God. Do you remember that?
Steve: I remember that day and gig as well! Mostly because there was no PA system at the venue when we came there. There was nothing, just like an empty hall, and it was like, "oh, where did we came?", so, we had a fire, sit around it and we began drinking and people came, sitting there and talking. But then the gear finally came and we were able to do that show. It was one hell of a day and everything turned out just great.
T.V.: Let's return back to the latest album of yours. How it was composing, recording, producing it? Are you satisfied with the final product?
Steve: Ah, it was really cool. It's a different sound because we used different producer, Jaime Gomez Arellano, we tried to us a bit different techniques, just to not sound the same as on previous albums. We tried different styles, but I think everything went pretty well.
T.V.: You are one of the bands that for every album makes a completely different artwork. You never use kind of a same artwork concept... I'm also interested in your point of view in how does the new front cover artwork corresponds with music?
Steve: Yeah, we choose the artwork that best represents the music, it's like a drawn on the music. First I didn't like that album cover, but them more that I looked at it more I thought how cool is it. It kind of fits well to the music.
T.V.: And how do you select the front cover? Do you have many proposals for that?
Steve: Well, the record company offers a lot of options from many guys. This guy who made the cover for The Plague Within is a huge fan of the band, ok, most of them who design those covers are, so yeah, he knew what to do and in the end we choose that one.
T.V.: Paradise Lost released last four albums through Century Media Records and I wonder what's the relation with this label and how are you satisfied with them?
Steve: Yes, we are satisfied. The label is great, thy are doing everything just great, they do a good promotion for bands. It's a good team and great people are working there, with many good ideas. You know, they are really cool. They don't push us with anything, we are having our freedom and we do just what we want to do. They never told us for example, "oh no, you can't do this or that...", but we never been told what to do neither before.
T.V.: So far you've released one video clip for the track out of the new album, it is for "Beneath Broken Earth". Do you have any plans to release a new video clip for any of other tracks?
Steve: Yeah, I think there's a new live video coming out from the show in Plovdiv where we recorded the new live album. But I'm not quite sure for which song would it be. At this very time it's not finished yet, it still needs some editing, but I think it'll be online in a couple of weeks, and I'm sure it'll be a great tune, you'll see. (Video was recently released for the track "Victims Of The Past", e.d.)

T.V.: I know that Greg is responsible for most of Paradise Lost compositions and Nick is the main lyricist, but I'm interested how much of an impact do you other guys have in the creations of songs?
Steve: We all add our own part into the songs. The songs are there already made, really, we cannot add different chords for example, but bass lines or drums are then all made in the studio. So, the final product is always made by all of us in the studio.
T.V.: And how much do you relate with Nick's lyrics?
Steve: Hmmm, well... Nick's lyrics are obscure and they mean different things to different people. You know, many lyrics don't really mean anything and you can make whatever you want and feel about out of them. His lyrics are not just black and white. But of course, we trust him in what he's doing.
T.V.: So you guys must already be like a family after all this years...
Steve: Yes of course, we argue all the time about many things. Sometimes we get bored of each other, you know, who wouldn't be bored of being in company with same guys for seven weeks, there's gonna be some tensions anyway. But there's nothing to bad. Back in the days we used to party a lot after the shows, now not that much anymore, we still do drink some beers, but not every night.
T.V.: You are one of rare bands where the main core of the band stayed together for all this years, except for the drummer.
Steve: In a way we are like Spinal Tap (laughs)...
T.V.: How often do you make a visit or take a trip around a certain city where you play?
Steve: Sometimes. We've been on tours for so many years and already been everywhere, we walked around most of the cities in Europe, so we've seen almost every one how it looks like.
T.V.: In the past you did quite some cover songs. One of my favorite was "Xavier" of Dead Can Dance and I wonder why don't you ever play it live?
Steve: I like that song very much, it's as well one of my favorite covers we ever did. I don't know why we don't play it, maybe we should, I don't know. We make those songs like extra tracks or bonuses, so I think that's the reason, we never really play those extra tracks live. But who knows, maybe someday as kind of a surprise, if you ask me I would love to play that one live.
T.V.: Some time ago I was reading an interview with Aaron where he was talking about his favorite Paradise Lost songs, now I wonder which ones are yours. Maybe your top 5 Paradise Lost songs?
Steve: Five Paradise Lost songs, huh, it's kind of hard for me to name and point out to five or six of our songs, really, and we see it almost the same. If I try I can mention, "As I Die", "Say Just Words", "Rotting Misery", there are a few from our new album, but you know, I change in that regard all the time. To me they are like kids, I like them all. There are some that I like less of course,... we have so many songs, so it's difficult to say...
T.V.: As you've mentioned, "Rotting Misery" is one of those early songs of yours that keept me hooked for quite some time back then. Do you ever play it live?
Steve: Yeah, it's a really great song and if you remember we played it a couple of times on our last tour, while touring for Tragic Idol album.
T.V.: Now I do remember that and it was fantastic to hear it! After the release of your live album, do you maybe plan to do another tour or play some shows in support of that?
Steve: After this tour we'll be doing some shows, for example in Holland on Roadburn Festival where we'll be playing the whole Gothic album, then we'll do also some extras.
T.V.: Do you prefer to play shows on festivals or in clubs?
Steve: It's a different kind of thing, really. Good thing about festivals is that those are mostly for the weekend, so, you fly to the show, do the show and then go home. You have then the whole week free, while on tour you don't have any time left between days. The bad thing about festivals is that you play less songs and in that regard the concerts in clubs or halls are usually better. You also have more chance to set up better PA and lights.
T.V.: Have you maybe already started to think about your next album?
Steve: No, I don't think so, not right now. Probably in the end of next autumn we'll start to think about it. I think that our next album will be released somewhere in 2018, maybe 2017 or sometime close to that.
T.V.: Tell me Steve, beside being one of the core members of Paradise Lost, do you maybe play in any side project or side band?
Steve: Ah no, sometimes I make music for myself at my home, but I don't think anybody would like listen to that. But still, when I came home I try to leave music at side, I rather enjoy listening to some music.
T.V.: And what are your personal musical favorites?
Steve: Even though I listen to music quite rarely I would always put in the player some good old Black Sabbath.
T.V.: Which musicians inspired you as a bass guitarist? Who was your biggest influence?
Steve: I like Geezer Butler, Steve Harris and cliff Burton. Those three guys must be my biggest source of inspiration.
T.V.: Iron Maiden or Metallica?
Steve: Both of them, but if I have to choose I would say Iron Maiden. Yeah, I like Maiden before Metallica, not only because they are a British group like us, simply I like them more...
T.V.: And what do you think about the last album of Iron Maiden?
Steve: I haven't really heard it yet, but I like very much their first six albums and I'm listening to those quite a lot.
T.V.: Thank you very much Steve for taking your time, it was an honour speaking with you! To end it rightly, would you like to say something to Terra Relicta readers and your fans?
Steve: Yes of course, thanks for following us all this years and hopefully we'll carry on still for a long time and keep doing it as we don't have any intentions to finish it anytime soon. We are too old now and actually can't do anything else, so we have to do it until we die (laughs). And thanks for the interview!

Live photos by T.V. (taken on 29th October at Mostovna, Nova Gorica, Slovenia)

Paradise Lost links: Official website, Facebook

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