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Aaron Stainthorpe My Dying Bride - Interview
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My Dying Bride

My Dying Bride have been rocking out for 25 years now and in that time have become an influential band as part of the original ""Peaceville Three" of the death/doom genre along with Anathema and Paradise Lost. Musically the band are known for their moody and melancholic sound but as we find out from singer Aaron Stainthorpe, it's not all doom and gloom with their 13th album "Feel The Misery" being released as we chat about the new songs and how it all came together.



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Andrew: The first thing we gotta talk about is the new album "Feel The Misery" so what can you tell me about the album and how it all came together?

Aaron: Well we started on this album a good 2 years now and we spent a lot of time trying to make sure the songs were as good as they possibly could be because we knew it would be coming out roughly on our 25th anniversary. So we wanted to have a bang with it so we spent a long time making sure that these songs were absolutely as good as they could possibly be. Returning to them, making changes and edits and re-writing and re-shuffling them around, something which we never really done much of in the past. Normally when you write a song and everybody is happy, you move on to the next one. You don't normally go back to it and start chopping and changing and we really did that on this one to make sure it was absolutely bang on. So it took a while but I think it worked because the reviews have been astonishing, we always hope we get positive reviews for things that we do but we didn't quite expect them to be as good as they are. We're over the moon about it, we really are and it's nice to know that after a quarter of a century [that] people don't just see it as boring old dinosaurs. We have actually got something to contribute still to the metal world and long may it continue!

Andrew: Yeah definitely! This album is a continuation of your evolution so do you feel that this album is a continuation of where you left off on the last album or is it a different direction again for you?

Aaron: It's still a bit early for me to say because I'm too deeply involved, I can't see it the same as other people can see it. All the riffs in all the songs are a bit like my children, they're all kind of level to me whereas people on the outside can spot differences a lot easier than I can so I think it's up to the public to decide whether they think it's a progression from the last album. We're getting a little bit better as we get older so we like to think that this album is better than everything we've done in the past because practice makes perfect but some people will always prefer some of the other stuff we've done. New albums take a while to embed in but hopefully this will embed in quite quickly because there seems to be more commercial stuff we've done on this than we've ever done in the past. Particularly the opening track "And My Father Left Forever" is getting a lot of airplay at the moment despite it's length and people are loving the fact that its not 100% doom and gloom anymore. There are crushing, dark riffs on there but there's some foot tapping, head stomping stuff as well so we've expanded a little bit more, it's not all just uber heavy, C-Sharp, must be the doomy thing ever. We're expanding a little bit more to try and bring a bit of, dare I say brighter music into the fold, the variety is the spice of life.

Andrew: Yeah it's funny that you mention that it's a little bit brighter than usual because I feel that the album cover is a bit brighter than usual as well. Was the intention behind the album cover a reflection of that brighter mood of the music?

Aaron: Not really. We spoke about doing the stained glass church window for many years so I spent years photographing loads of different church windows just to see if we could find one that we thought would be suitable. And there never is one that's just right and so we got our friend and artist Matt Vickerstaff to create one that we knew then that would be perfect because we would be contributing to it. The artwork started months and months ago and it gets tweaked a little bit here and altered a little bit there and the colors get changed with hues and saturations altered ever so subtly, which I'm sure some bands think is completely unnecessary. But we don't have a manager which means every single step of making a record, myself and Andrew (Craighan, guitar) nitpick and analyze and we make sure that we are 100% happy with it. So we went with the stained glass, the one we've been after for years and have finally got it. I think it's a bit too bright but Andrew loves it, I would of put a much darker hue on it pesonally but I've seen the merchandise as well and it does actually stand out really good, it looks really nice. So yeah, happy that we finally got this stained glass thing that we've been after for at least 15 years.

Andrew: Yeah it looks fantastic and obviously the religious aspect on there which I guess is something you have always been interested in as well because religion can be a good topic to talk about as far as the dark side of humanity I guess.

Aaron: Yeah it really does affect people in all different ways. The world would be great if there was one god but unfortunately there is quite a few of them all barging each other out of the way for top spot and their followers are doing a similar thing. I mock religion sometimes, only half heartedly, but I appreciate the fact that it's there to help people through life but unfortunately it seems to have quite the opposite effect sometimes and causes great suffering and pain and misery for not only the people who believe in it but for those who don't believe in it at all. But the bible has always been a great source of inspiration for me because it's a great, big, huge book with hundreds of smaller stories contained within it and written in such an over the top manner that it's just ripe for picking at and it's great to take a few little stories from the bible and give them a little twist so that you can call them your own. I never poke fun at it but it's always there as a great source of inspiration. It's a very powerful thing in religion and you gotta be careful when you do start singing about it because you do upset...I mean you're going to upset people anyway...but I'm not out to seek controversy, I appreciate why religion is there but it's not for me thanks.

Andrew: And for this album was that a source of inspiration? Or were you drawing inspiration from other sources?

Aaron: There's always some kind of religion on the album because as I say, it's quite a powerful subject and powerful subjects are what I like. The emotions and the things that affect everybody at some point in their lives, we're all going to lose someone we love and how you deal with grief and how you deal with love and passion. These are all powerful things and I like to write about them in a very powerful way and they help people because, we've had loads of people contacting us even way back in the early days before the internet. People saying how much they've been moved by what My Dying Bride does and the fact that for a long time now we're not just a metal band, we're not just music. There's something else going on there, something deeper and heavier and more emotive and it really affects people and you can see it in the faces in the crowd when we play live as well. They're not just there to watch their favorite rock band, they're there to experience and we're there to deliver that experience. Inspiration can come from anywhere, movies, books, people that you meet, things that happen to your personal life, anything. But you dress them up in such a fashion that they are more palatable to the general public because I couldn't write about some of the stuff personally because it would be like reading a diary, it's too raw. You have to add a certain flamboyant edge to the writing which helps to disguise some of the things you are trying to say because you are afraid to say them.

Andrew: It's great that people are inspired by your music as well, it's a powerful thing that music can do. And the live performance where people can be moved by that where it affects people in a positive way, it's a great thing to hear.

Aaron: Yeah live gigs are tough for me because the subject matter in some of the songs are really close to my heart and it's a real struggle for me. I'm wasted after a show, not just physically because of the lights and the moving around and all the rest of it but emotionally as well. I've gone to some dark places on stage and it's uncomfortable for me, it's one of the reasons we only do only 10, maybe 15 shows a year because it is very hard work. But the fans can appreciate it, you can see them. I mean a lot of them are wailing before we've gone on stage and you think this is going to mean a lot to a lot of these people and it means a lot to us.

Andrew: I do want to ask you about the touring side of things in a moment but I wanted to ask you about the original guitarist Calvin Robertshaw who is back in the band. What was it like working with him again after all these years?

Aaron: That was great. Apart from physical changes, he hasn't changed at all really! He was always a nice guy and he's back again, he got on really well with Lena (Abe, bass) and Shaun (MacGowan, keyboards) and Dan (Mullins, drums) who he had never met before. Of course they were nervous about meeting him what with him being one of the founding members originally. But they get along really well, everyone gets along well in the band now and travelling around is a much more relaxed experience for us and everyone tries to have a bit of a good time whenever they can. He joined too late really to contribute hugely on the new album, most of it was already complete. I think probably 95% was already done, there's a few Calvin riffs and harmonies and what have you but I think for the diehard Calvin Robertshaw fans, you're going to have to wait for the next recording I'm afraid because there's not much of him on this one.

Andrew: Yeah that's OK, I guess the fans can wait as it's still good to see an original member come back to the band. So what have you got planned for touring as far as the rest of the year is concerned and supporting the album?

Aaron: As I mentioned we don't do many shows per year and despite playing in Finland about 2 weeks ago, our next performance isn't until the end of November when we return to Germany. Which to some people who may be thinking that's odd, it's just how we do it. We will do a promotional tour to support this album in March or April or May in 2016 after we have done the 70,000 tons trip to Jamaica, which will be odd but fun I'm sure! We've been trying to get to territories we haven't played before like Australasia and even Japan, we've seen smaller bands playing these territories and we've scratched our heads thinking, 'We can afford to, why don't we do it?' And we really have no idea why we haven't been to these countries yet so we're having a word with our promotional people and saying we need to push harder to go to territories we've never been to. Europe has been amazing for us, they've supported us and been there for us for a quarter of a century but we've played it a thousand times. We need to go elsewhere, the world is shrinking so it shouldn't be too difficult so hopefully in 2016 we might, fingers crossed, finally get all the way down there.

Andrew: Yeah we would love to see you and I know for a fact that there are a lot of fans of My Dying Bride in Australia. A lot of people credit you guys as a huge inspiration and a big influence on a lot of the doom metal that has come out in the last 20 years so there's a market here for you. So it is a bit strange that you have never been down here after all these years.

Aaron: Yeah it's always a struggle when you are a cult underground band to go on the road but I think surely someone must be able to come up with some kind of package where we go down with a couple of other European bands and do the touring thing all in one session. It's gotta be doable, we got to work harder to make it happen.

Andrew: Yeah absolutely, would love to see it. As I said the album sounds fantastic and thanks for your time today, it's been an absolute pleasure talking to you!

Aaron: I appreciate that Andrew and thank you for your time!

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on September 16th 2015