Ben of the Moshpit Backstage podcast recently conducted an interview with lead guitarist Greg Mackintosh of British doom metal pioneers PARADISE LOST. You can listen to the full interview below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On whether the band’s forthcoming “Medusa” album is their heaviest in years:
Greg: “I would probably say it’s our heaviest album to date, really, partly because of the way the songs are written. Also, partly, because of the production. The production is very kind a bit of a throwback production in a way, and also very organic. It’s basically the mics recording everything, no editing, no nothing. It’s very much a doom metal album. We had a very clear idea of what we’re doing before we even started writing this album, which we don’t normally have. Normally, we start writing and see what happens. But with this record, we had a very clear idea that we wanted to do a doom metal album. And, it just worked that way. The first song on the album is eight and a half minutes long and our label [Nuclear Blast], when we told them we wanted to put it first, they were a little apprehensive because it throws people into the deep end. It’s not as immediate as maybe as some of the previous albums, but I think it’s a grower. That’s the whole point to me. But yeah, it’s very heavy, very doom metal. It can be quite eclectic in parts and there’s a range of vocal styles and a range of different musical styles on there.”
On whether having a pre-determined direction affected the band’s writing process:
Greg: “Yeah, a little bit. In my head, I had a brief. I had something that I really wanted to achieve with it, so that does affect the writing style a little bit. But we completely changed our songwriting, we started to do it on the last record [2015’s ‘The Plague Within’], it was a successful way of songwriting so we applied it to this record in its entirety. The idea came to me from David Bowie. I don’t know if you know how he used to write his lyrics. He used to write the words down, various words, snip them up into pieces and throw them on the floor. And I thought it would be a cool idea to try something similar but in an audio way. I would send Nick [Holmes], our vocalist, a couple of riffs and said ‘Can you sing as many different vocal lines as possible over this? Gruff vocals, clean vocals, harmonies, various different melodies and send them back to me.’ Then I’d completely strip everything apart and build it like a jig-saw from scratch. It became a really intuitive and fast way of writing. Instead of having one version of a song that you’re working on over and over to try and get the best possible version, you can have 10-15 versions of the same song at any one time and try out lots of different things really fast. This album, all it took, was six months to write and we usually take a year. I think I’m going to carry on with this songwriting style because it made everything so intuitive and it really felt like you had a grasp on everything at one time.”
On the motivation behind PARADISE LOST revisiting their classic sound, which includes growled vocals from Holmes:
Greg: “It was almost accidental, really. I was pushing for it a few years ago, I was pushing Nick to try some of that vocal style out again. He wasn’t interested in doing it. But then, when we started this kind of songwriting that we do now, it gave me kind of the impetus to build it for him. He would give me little passages. Then if I could make it fit really well to whatever I was doing, then he’d have to say, ‘Yeah, you’re right. This is really working.’ I wasn’t really pushing for it, but I like to have that at my disposal, if you know what I mean. So if a part demands something like that, you already have it there and you can use it in your palette. I think that’s the way this album went, it became heavier and heavier as we were writing it. The gruff vocals were the thing that was working the most on a lot of the passages.”
On why PARADISE LOST has always made stylistic changes from album to album:
Greg: “I think it’s a natural process. If we did, not every record the same, but say we did five records in a row and they were all very similar, it would be like working on a production line for me. It would feel like, just very pedestrian. Personally, I like to be challenged, but also have something fresh. I think the reason we’re still going after all this time is when we approach a record, we approach it as if we’re a brand-new band and this is our first record and we have no history and no baggage. That really affects your viewpoint then, on everything. It can really change your writing style. I think that’s the key to me, just thinking, ‘What am I one-hundred percent into at this moment in time? Let’s just go for that.’ It can change year-in, year-out, you don’t know. The music you got into when you’re 15, 16, always stays with you at some degree, always keeps coming back, but you can still diversify from that and keep it all fresh for yourself.”
“Medusa” will be released on September 1 via Nuclear Blast. The artwork was created by Branca Studio and shows the infamous Gorgone Medusa from Greek mythology, carrying venomous snakes as hair and turning anyone into stone who would dare to look into her eyes.