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Entretien avec My Dying Bride, till death do us part

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“Some people think that I’m a religious guy, but I’m not. I’m just using the Bible as a form of inspiration as I do with movies”

 

MDB

La mariée a beau être mourante, depuis vingt-trois ans, elle se porte comme un charme ! My Dying Bride se relève d’entre les morts avec son nouvel Ep, The Manuscript. Louvoyant entre mélancolie baudelairienne, inspiration biblique et riffs de guitare doom/death, les membres du Big Three britannique (en compagnie de Paradise Lost et Anathema) se sont certes assagis, mais n’ont en rien perdu leur sens inné de la mélodie catchy. Aaron Stainthorpe, le charismatique leader qui, depuis plus de deux décennies conduit la mariée vers l’autel, lève le voile (en version originale) sur la belle endormie.

 

 

Are passion and emotion the feelings that led you to doom music?

Not originally, but when I was younger, I didn’t realize that there was music like doom. I assumed it did not exist.

I thought that heavy metal was just loud and aggressive. A kind of “in your face” music. However, when I started to research rock music a bit more, I discovered there was more than just the classic metal bands. There were also many different genres.

That’s when I started to discover bands like Candlemass for example and interesting stuff that I never heard before. I thought that there was lots of power here.

At that time, I was already fond of poetry. I was wondering if I could put poetry into this kind of music. We did it and it worked out pretty well.

I just think it’s important for me to put emotion and passion from your heart into your music. Even if you’re displaying some of your most hidden secrets. I believe it’s worth doing, rather than just writing three minutes pop songs for fame andfortune. I’d rather write ten minutes songs telling passionate stories and remain a cult band forever.

 

Is the sadness and melancholy in your lyrics a kind of release or are you as dark as your lyrics?

Well, it’s a bit of both because when you write songs, you’re normally not in a kind of depression. Nor are you the happiest man in the world..

It’s obvious that passion is coming from the heart and sometimes I would write things that happened to me. Regarless if I try to disguise them , so that it’s not obvious. Other times I would write about stories I’ve heard or books I’ve read but again, you have to rearrange them in such a way that it becomes your own story. Otherwise people may perceive to be “ripped-off”.

Most of the time I write  lyrics in the middle of the night because there’s nothing on TV. The telephone won’t ring and there is no interruption, so it’s the best time to write. And yes, it’s a bit cheesy, I have a glass of wine and light a few candles because it adds to the ambiance. You really feel passion for writing if you get the ambiance just right. I couldn’t write a song on a train, planeor anything like that. You’ve got to be in the right place at the right time, to find the dark moments in your mind.

 

If your music was a book, would it be Les fleurs du mal from Baudelaire?

Possibly but it could also be Paradise Lost from Milton. Or works by Byron because he was a bit crazy. In fact, I try to make the words timeless so that when you read them you could be anywhere in time. I try not to use modern references or political views because I want our music to be a journey. A voyage out of your life and into something else for an hour or two. So I try to write in a more flamboyant way, in a style that we don’t hear today. I want My Dying Bride to be a little bit of escape from the dreary days that we sometimes have to live.

 

If your music was a landscape?

That’s an easy question really because where we live, in Yorkshire. We have beautiful hills, lakes and forests. However it’s mostly raining, so it’s quite close to what our music is. It’s a bit dark sometimes here, and I find it really influential to walk for a few hours in the hills, amongst the trees, alongside the lakes. You almost feel the earth as a being. You are sharing a moment on this planet with the trees and it’s a very passionate thing. If you painted a picture of My Dying Bride music, it would be the Yorkshire landscape. Complete with the three-hundred-year-old trees, the cold lakes, the mist, the fog and the rain. It would be a perfect visual form of what our music really is.

 

Are the Album Covers the essence of the entire Album?

Kind of, but when you’ve got an album with seven or eight songs, you try to make a cover representative of all those tracks.This can be very challenging when you have variety of music.

When I did the cover for The Manuscript, I really focused on the eponym song of the album. Which was something that I don’t usually do. But there are just four songs on the EP so it was easier. To pick one song and decide to use it to illustrate the cover is not the same thing than doing a cover that represents a message of what the entire album really is. We spend a lot of time on the covers because like a book’s cover. It should be the first thing you see when you hold the record in your hands. It should be interesting enough to catch your eyes and give you clues about what the music sounds like.

 

Do you think that doom music could be the soundtrack to illustrate what our world is today?

I don’t know because our world to me is much more aggressive than our music. In the early days of My Dying Bride, we were a doom/death band. We had pretty extreme moments and that would represent what the world is today. There was a lot of slow doom, anger and hatred. We still love the death/doom thing, but we’re not doing it as often in our albums. As we get older, we prefer to restrain ourselves when it comes to performing music. If you are more controlled, then people can better appreciate what you’re doing.. There’s no point having a really killer guitar riff, playing it at a thousand miles per hour, when no one can hear it properly. If you’ve got a great riff, control the speed and the tempo, let people hear how good that riff is, and that’s what we do now. We slow down a bit and want people to hear our songs, as they really are. Indeed, when you’re younger, you just go fucking crazy.

 

You were the first band to introduce violin in metal music. Was it to express an emotion that guitar can’t express?

Yes, in an easy way, because you can get guitar to do anything. We just have two guitar players and we would need four or five of them to do such things. Violin was the easy option there. Anyway, we do not use the violin too much. We do not use it in all songs and all through the songs because that would become ridiculous. Like a gimmick. We only want the violin to be there when it needs to be there. The guitars are the body of the song and the violin is the closing that goes on it. We just use it from time to time, to emphasize a point. It’s beautiful and it adds a lot more sorrow to the music that guitar would . We went a long time without violin but now it’s back and it sounds great again.

 

Has the writing and recording process changed over the years?

Not so much the writing, but the recording has changed a lot thanks to technology. In the past, we would rehearse in a room, the entire band, with a cassette tape. We would record some ideas or riffs, then go home and listen to them. The next day coming back to rehersal with fresh ideas. These days, Andrew and Hamish are two guitar players that have full electronic drum kits, all connected with the computer. With the software we have now, they can write entire songs in their own home, without anybody else needing to go there. When we meet up, they bring songs on a USB stick and we listen to semi-finished works. This would have never been possible in the past. Although the passion for writing music comes from the heart (that will never change), the way you apply it has changed. Technology makes things easier for us.

 

Is it easy to keep the inspiration, as far as doom is concerned, when you earn money throughout your passion?

I love to read which helps me a lot as far as inspiration is concerned. I don’t think it matters how much money you’ve got, as long as you keep the passion. If we were in music just for the money, we would be writing three minutes songs. Our music is to make your heart jump a little bit. We want you to “feel” the music not just listen to it. You can’t do that on a three minute song.. We could make much more money if we had calmed down a little bit. Focusing instead on pretty catchy riffs but that’s not what we wanted to do. We consider music as a form of art. My Dying Bride is our chosen art form. We love the music we make. If it was not the case, I think we would have split up a long time ago.

 

My Dying Bride live performances are always very emotional with obvious religion references. Is life and death of Jesus Christ something in which you are very interested?

Only in the same way I’m interested in other powerful books. Even if I don’t believe in the Bible, we must say that it’s a great story, with all kind of characters. When you take inspiration from the bible, people know exactly what you mean. Some people think that I’m a religious guy but I’m not. I’m just using the Bible as a form of inspiration, as I do with movies. I do understand that religion is needed by a lot of people to help them live their lives. I’m not gonna tell them that they’re right or wrong. Even if religion is not something I need, the Bible is a perfect reference for writing songs and lyrics. On stage, that’s the easiest type of music to act out because everybody is familiar with what happened in this book. On stage, I’m locked up in my own special world and sometimes I don’t even know where the hell I am. But I like to be on that journey, as painful as it could be. Even if I don’t look forward to it at the beginning of a show, after one or two songs, I’m carried away. By the end of the show, I’m completely exhausted mentally and physically. Regardless if we play a fairly short show, as we are playing at the Hellfest.

 

Will the next war be a religious one?

Probably, it seems to be heading that way. People who live next to each other, as it happened in the Balkan war, suddenly want to kill someone because they don’t share the same religion. This is completely insane. There isn’t even firm proof that God exists. People are killing other people because of a story. In 2000 years time, people might believe in The Lord of the Rings. They may think it’s a true story just because they read it. How can we take another human’s life because of a book? That sounds crazy to me. That’s what we wrote in The Manuscript; when people find a document and think that every word in that document was written just specifically for them. The Manuscript tells them what to do to obtain a higher status. Part of what they have to do is to kill people whome don’t believe those words. One could draw parallels with what is happening today. So the Third World war won’t be a nuclear one, as we feared few years ago. I think it it is more likely to be some kind of dirty war. One in which you don’t know who the enemy is. Some people don’t wear their religion as openly as they wear a military uniform.

In the First and Second World Wars it was easy to determine who the enemy was. However today, the enemy resembles, or is, your neighbor.

 

And if doomsday was tomorrow, what would your last wishes be?

I’ll probably consume quite a lot of wine, which I do anyway. A Châteauneuf-du-Pape would be great with hot Asian food, then I’d go to bed.

 

Propos recueillis par Nicolas Valiadis

Thanks to Andrew from Pittsburgh

 

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