The last time we spoke to paradise lost, it was on the eve of their hugely successful ‘Draconian Times’ tour which saw the band play their landmark album on a handful of dates to promote its re-release. It seems the band enjoyed playing the set immensely with the London show recorded and released last year as a CD/DVD set and the new album ‘Tragic Idol’ strongly influenced by the vibe of that earlier release.
With ‘Tragic idol’ having received rave reviews (not least here at SonicAbuse) and a full European tour now underway, the band are incredibly busy playing shows, doing press and generally promoting an album that is easily one of the finest in Paradise Lost’s long history. At the Wolverhampton show, we took the opportunity to hook up with Paradise lost bassist Steve Edmondson who kindly talked us through aspects of the new album including the development of the artwork and his desire for Paradise Lost to crack America.
The first thing that many of us heard or saw of ‘Tragic Idol’ was the artwork, and you’ve always as a band had very striking artwork – ‘Draconian Times’ is stunning and ‘one second’ had a great visual impact – but this seems to go even beyond those. You used Valnoir and what I was wondering how did you settle upon him and how long did it take to develop the finished product?
It was suggested by the record company actually and Valnoir happened to be a big fan of PL and so he already kind of knew what we’d like I think. The first images he was sending we were impressed – it’s kind of a play on the ‘icon’ cover I think. He’s a big fan and he was pleased to do it.
Looking back at your past it seems that it’s always been very important to Paradise Lost to have editions of the record that which are very much for the fans. All the way back to Draconian Times there have been special editions of the albums and with you, it’s always the first editions which add something extra – is that something as fans of music you look for in a band?
Yeah – it makes something special you know – limited edition – people collect them so… And it’s good for the initial sales as well – it’s a cynical thing, a record company thing, it’s something we don’t really think about, it’s something that the record company suggests to us really. But if you’re into a band it’s like the ultimate thing – if you’re collecting it – a special edition, special artwork or whatever.
Another area where Paradise lost stand out as a band is in the field of music videos, particularly with the last few releases your videos have moved away from conventional clips towards short films – how involved are you as a band and how important are they to you?
Oh very involved – we talk to the director, for the last video we did ‘honesty in death’, we met with the guy and explained we’re very into road movies and stuff like that and the images that we’re after. We have a big input, it’s like 50/50 with the director and we each bounce ideas off each other.
Since you did ‘faith…’ you went out and toured ‘Draconian times’ and also a couple of members went off to do Vallenfyre – how did those experiences affect the development of the new album?
‘Draconian Times’ was a big influence on the recording of the new album, obviously, because that’s what we were playing at the time when we started writing the new material and it definitely rubbed off I think on the new album… for sure.
Performing ‘Draconian Times’ there must have been some songs in that set that you hadn’t played for ages – was there anything there that was particularly difficult when you came back to it?
Um… the biggest surprises were in the arrangements because how we arrange music is different now, but not really, no. There were a couple of songs there that we’d never played before live, but it was all kind of easy to pick up.
When you started work on ‘Tragic Idol’, did you have any thought or overarching theme to write to, because as a listener the album feels very dense and very complete and I was wondering if that came from having a plan to work to beforehand?
We all knew 100% what we were doing beforehand because the album was written before the recording. But yeah, what we wanted was a really heavy, modern sounding ‘Draconian Times’ really. Basically that’s what we were looking for and I think that’s what it is.
Production-wise it’s crushing, but also crystal clear – how much work went into developing that sound?
Well, Jens who produced it, he mixed the album as well and he’s been with us for a long time and we spent a couple of days per song really mixing it all. But getting sounds initially, when you’re first recording, is the way to do it really and we spent a lot of time on the guitar sound, drum sound, bass sound, all that sort of stuff.
You’ve had a very varied career as a band and, in some quarters that’s been quite controversial, but to what extent do you feel that the variety is what has kept Paradise Lost going?
For sure – it’s definitely prolonged the life because if we’d done ‘Draconian times’ four times I think people would have started to get tired – people do start getting tired of the same album and I think it did give us that extra… now we’ve gone beyond it and now we’re just around – it’s like a name. it definitely helped, diversifying the sound back in the day and at the time it seemed good if you know what I mean – but I think it did definitely… a lot of bands just repeat the same album and people get bored.
One of the interesting things – I remember reading a quote with Nick who said that paradise Lost have always been one step ahead of where everybody else is and interestingly people seem to be very much more into ‘one second’ and ‘host’ …
Yeah – absolutely…
…Which kind of backs up that feeling that you were ahead of the game…
Yeah – a lot of bands have expanded and, you know, put that into the sound – all the samples and keyboards – sure. I mean a lot of people like the album , a lot of people… everybody says… every PL fan you meet, it’s their favourite album.
You’re on tour now for the whole of May…
… and a lot of the summer, is there a point where you think ‘we’re out on the road again’ or if it’s still exciting about meeting new faces…
Yeah, it’s exciting – well to be honest with you it goes really fast because we’re always busy so… it’s still exciting – you never get bored of it because it’s different every day.
Is there anywhere you particularly look forward to touring?
Um Greece probably – it’s probably the place where we have the biggest fans and the biggest response – it’s definitely Greece.
What challenges do you feel still exist for Paradise Lost?
I don’t know really – I’d like to do better in America really – there’s a lot of work to be done there in America and that’s the only thing really. Everywhere else is pretty cool, but America would be cool to see.
Having been so influential over the years does that add to the pressure in the studio at all?
No it’s really easy – we do what we’re into, we don’t think about what we need to do. There’s no pressure at all on any recording – we just go in there and record what we feel like and that’s really easy for us.
Many thanks for talking to us!