Dani Filth InterviewNov 22nd, 2005
Dani Filth talks about how the band - and how they once set fire to Britney Spears on stage.
by Ben Carlish, November 22nd, 2005
Dani Filth is the lead singer of controversial British black metal band Cradle Of Filth. Renowned for spectacular stage shows and Satanic imagery, the band sparked outrage with their T-shirt, bearing the slogan 'Jesus Is A C***'. One fan was prosecuted for wearing it. Filth is working on a book and preparing for a British tour. He lives in Ipswich, Suffolk with his wife and daughter.
What is 'black metal'?
It's a celebration of the dark side - steeped in the occult and mystery. It's like Hallowe'en on vinyl and CD. We are the musical equivalent of writers such as Stephen King, Clive Barker and Anne Rice. It originated here (in Britain) but got big in Norway in the mid-1990s when the fans there burned churches and did everything the lyrics in the songs pertained to.
You don't advocate burning churches yourself?
No. Churches here don't burn. They're made of stone.
Do you worship the devil?
No, of course not. No one says to Stephen King: 'You must be a devil worshipper because you've written so many novels about evil.' We have a healthy interest in the dark side but I also like to play football and drive cars sometimes. That doesn't make me an expert in those things, either. There's a strong Gothic influence in our stuff. A lot of our lyrics are inspired by Byron and Shelley. It's about escapism and enjoying that. Our younger fans have got into reading really great English literature as a result of our lyrics. It's better than going out on the streets pushing heroin.
Isn't the 'Jesus Is A C***' T-shirt a bit offensive?
It's offensive to Christians - that's why we did it. But it's tongue-in-cheek, too. It was a statement to coincide with the artwork on the front, which depicts a nun masturbating. It was designed to incite and inflame and it did that. I thought the penalty for the guy who was prosecuted for wearing it was a bit stiff - 80 hours' community service. But they say God moves in mysterious ways. If all our fans were given 80-hour community service charges, then this country would be spotless.
What does your six-year-old daughter Luna make of your Satanic shenanigans?
She loves it. Her daddy's a rock star! OK, our house is pretty weird - it's full of ancient relics. We've got two sarcophagi and a lit-up skeleton under the kitchen floor. My wife designed an ultra-modern kitchen but the skeleton's my touch. Luna's room is like any other girl's, though. Her schoolfriends' parents aren't afraid to let them come around to our house, unfortunately [laughs]. She's been to a few shows and hung out with us at festivals.
Doesn't seeing you drenched in blood upset her?
You're talking about an old photo. It wasn't human blood; it was cow's blood, which was still pretty gross. Most children are into quite morbid things. Look at fairytales; they're just dressed-up horror stories. Kids are into eating worms and all kinds of horrible stuff. Compared with things that happen in the real world, it's nothing. She watches horror films, so long as they're not '18' certificates. She loves Shaun Of The Dead, although she's not allowed to use the F-word ever... just like her daddy [laughs].
Our house is weird - it's full of ancient relics. We've got two sarcophagi and a lit-up skeleton under the kitchen floor
What's the wildest thing you've done on stage?
We once set Britney Spears on fire on stage... well, an effigy of her. There was a gig where I had my throat slit by these circus performers and they were supposed to drag me off the stage in a trail of blood before I came back for the encore. But they just left me at the side of the stage so, eventually, in full view of the audience, I had to just get up and sheepishly walk off stage. It was really crap.
What's this new book all about?
It's called The Gospel Of Filth. Each chapter, while loosely based around the band, our ideals and aesthetics, explores the ideas behind an album we've done. For example, our album Cruelty And The Beast was based on 16th-century Hungarian countess Elizabeth Bathory, who supposedly bathed in the blood of virgins to sate her desire to remain forever youthful. It's thoroughly researched and mostly written by Gavin Baddeley, a reverend in the Church Of Satan. It's morbid but retains a level of tomfoolery; you can read it and chuckle.
Aren't you worried that he's a member of the Church Of Satan?
Nah. The Church Of Satan is a bit of a hokum cult. It advocates freedom and free speech without any restrictions and lends more to the Hallowe'en fun black and orange imagery than anything else. It's not as sinister as people like to believe. As soon as you put the word 'Satan' in the mix, people run away screaming. That's part of the whole myth; it's supposed to be a bit elitist.
You've got a distinctive singing style. What warm-up exercises do you do?
I regularly visit a vocal coach and I can sing properly as well. It's about technique and exercises, although it's very stylised, as is everything the band does. That's why we sell so many records, because there's a niche for it and we're on the top of our game.
Has an audience ever turned on you?
One time in Greece, we were playing when it was phenomenally hot. It was not long after England had beaten Greece at football. Someone threw a bottle of water at me and it just bounced off my shoulder, so I said: 'And that's why you lost at football.' So for the next hour and 20 minutes, we were pelted by a barrage of bottles. The stage was absolutely covered in them by the end of the performance and our guitarist's wrist was broken by one that hit him. We had the last laugh because there were record numbers of people taken to hospital from the gig that day... as a result of dehydration.