Fiendishly vivacious Ipswich metallers ‘Devilment’ have released their second studio album The Mephisto Waltzes following the success of their debut The Great and Secret Show. On a dark and stormy Monday night, I battled my way through the forest of imps and goblins to catch up with the notorious front man Dani Filth to discuss the next chapter that he’s unleashed upon the unsuspecting metal world. And my god, it’s awesome!
Hey Dani, I last caught up with Devilment at Hammerfest 2015, what have you been up to since then?
We did a bunch of summer festivals, some mainland Europe festivals like Summer Breeze, Grass Pop etc etc. Cradle were busy writing their record and went on a world tour, then Devilment starting writing their new record and subsequently went into the studio this year for four months. The product from that is The Mephisto Waltzes.
Yes of course, that’s due for release on the 18th November?
Exactly, yes! There’s been two singles from that so far, the lyric video (‘Under the Thunder’) and the full one (‘Hitchcock Blonde’). We have now have a new video as well ‘Full Dark, No Stars’, which is anime and has been closely on the heels of ‘Hitchcock Blonde’ which we actually filmed in the summer, so there was a lot of time to get that ready. Then suddenly, we’re being demanded to finish this video and it’s like, shit! It only got started two weeks ago. So bit of a flurry over that!
So, The Mephisto Waltzes… Mephisto himself being a German demonic figure and with this album being heavier and darker than your previous album, did that come into play when choosing your album title?
The name was actually inspired by the album cover. We had the artwork but we didn’t have a title. We wanted something special. It’s inspired by the fact the women on the cover seems to be doing some strange canontella “The dance of death”, in fact that inspires ‘Dea Della Morte’ as well. We called it ‘Devilment: II’ (Two) as it’s like sticking two fingers up and saying “This is our second album”!
I think it’s fantastic that you’ve released your second record; it shows anyone that referred to Devilment as a “Side project” that you mean business!
That we’re a proper band! Also Danzig had the albums one through six and also has an album subtitled ‘Lucifuge’ which is anther demonical figure in the hierarchy of Hell. He was also involved with the Misfits and they did a song called ‘The Mephisto Waltze’ based on an occult murder mystery film from the 70’s called ‘The Mephisto Waltze’. It was also based on the works of Franz Liszt because the antagonist in the film was a concert pianist who wanted eternal life. Something like that anyway. It also implies that all the songs like movement and are of a greater dance or a piece of music and it works with the fact the band’s called ‘Devilment’.
Looking at the album cover, there’s a beautiful dancing woman in a long black dress, how would you say that represents Devilment?
Because it’s extremely gothy, not real gothic of course because it’s expensive Laura Ashley wall paper in the background! It’s actually a double sided album cover, the other side is similar…in fact, it’s the same image that’s been on my facebook page for the last five years. We are really lucky to get hold of it. The reason for that is that I’m going to go into record shops and turn it over so people buy the same record twice (we laugh).
The artwork is fantastic, by Elena Vizerskaya and also there’s a special edition with two extra tracks that no one’s heard of yet, which is good! We don’t actually decide on track listings until the end. If it were up to us, they’d be eleven tracks on the album not nine. But they wanted to put two beyond the veil, I don’t know why.
I wanted to talk to you about the tracks you’ve released, the lyric video for ‘Under the Thunder’ and the full video for ‘Hitchcock Blonde’. ‘Under the Thunder’ comes across as a vengeance song and I love the description in it e.g. “Under the Thunder the war dancers writhe, red feathers..” which instantly points you in the direction of a brewing fight? Who wrote the lyrics and how did you come up with the concept?
I write all the lyrics, the only time in my whole career anyone’s contributed was on ‘Full Dark, No Stars’. Lauren wrote something for ‘Full Dark, No Stars’ and it fit the theme of the song. So all I’d of been doing was rewriting something that was okay as it is, the amount of words etc etc. It all fits perfectly. That’s the only time ever, that I’ve gone “Yeah, that’ll do. That’s cool.” (He laughs).
So what inspired you for ‘Under the Thunder’?
Sometimes I don’t know where it comes from. It’s quite an aggressive song.
I’ve met you in person and you don’t strike me as particularly aggressive
The whole album is about, beneath it all, it’s all about human emotions and bad human emotions. The album’s cathartic it’s about bad emotions be them suffering injustice, revenge, infatuation, obsession, fanaticism or depression. It’s all about overcoming that and turning it on its head. ‘Under the Thunder’ is quite therapeutic. It’s actually based on North American Indians, that’s kinda the vibe you get, with the going to war. They’ve been wronged and it’s about retribution. Again, it’s cathartic but in a dark way. It also reads on a different level, it’s about the people that have done me wrong, or done anybody wrong having their comeuppance. Like, don’t tread on me kinda punk vibe.
I always love reading your lyrics as there always seems to be a deep, dark poetic meaning to them. So I find it fascinating to ask about how you come up with not only the lyrics but also the concepts over the years for your songs.
Well I actually leave my slippers at the end of my bed at night and Elves fill them with little transcripts.
Little demonic Elves?
That brings us onto the second track ‘Hitchcock Blonde’. There are some classic Hitchcock horror connotations amongst others running through the video. I like the part where you’re peering through a hole in the wall. We’ve seen it in Nymphetamine Fix but it’s also a classic from The Shining.
It’s good you brought up that fact; the room number at the end 239 wasn’t actually 239. We borrowed that from another room to put on there, but that’s the room from The Shining.
I was going to ask if it was a coincidence or if you pinched it.
It’s from a different door, we um, we just….
Well we can’t tell the Suffolk Tourist board that! We ‘Moved’ it about.
I love the video, classic Hitchcock references and I think it’s one of those videos you can enjoy regardless of if you’re a Hitchcock fan or not.
Yeah, well we are obviously and the song even name checks ten of his works. I wish that point came up more often as it makes writing the lyrics easy. We’ve also used the same video producer that’s done the last few Devilment videos (Samuel Scott Hunter). We collaborated on it after he read the lyrics and we were sourcing the venue to shoot in. We found this hotel; it’s a massive hotel in the middle of Ipswich. Literally in the town centre. I think it closed fifteen years ago; it’s on the Lord Nelson Estate. A really big, famous hotel. I remember it being quite popular and people would go have afternoon tea there. It was very weird being in there because it was the hottest couple of days this summer and you’d be standing in the ballroom looking out, right in the middle of town thousands of people wandering round, yet you felt like a bit of a trapped ghost. No one knew you were there and you just sort of retreated into the shadows at this place. It was quite a labyrinthine as they added to it over the years, they’d been a fire etc etc and they’d built bits. There was a weird bit the corner where you went to the third floor but it still had the second floor numbers, it was totally confusing.
It sounds like an amazing location!
Yeah, it was amazing and creepy as hell! It was just very strange, so when he (The Director) knew we were going to be using this place, we did a bit of a recky there and had a look around. So when we knew we had this hotel and it was Hitchcock based, well you put two and two together.
I enjoyed the quotes written on the wall.
There were bits everywhere. We were going to shoot a bit more but at one point we were filming with, well its quote funny really, wasn’t at the time though…We were filming with dry ice. It set off a load of alarms we didn’t know were in operation. We went to try and turn them off and we accidentally shut down all the electric to the Costa Coffee that was beneath! It’s weird as you could get into the back of it as well through the hotel. You could literally walk straight into the kitchen. It was very odd, so the area manager came out and she was…..very angry!
We lost two hours because of that otherwise there would have been a bit more but I think with videos you can go on and on and on. You’ve got to think style over substance.
Well I thought it was great as it is! Compared to the ‘Great and Secret Show’ where there was more of a funky sound to it, now you seem to have a heavier, darker and more honed sound. Do you think you’ll continue to evolve and experiment or have you found what you were looking for?
I think we played on the strings with the first record that was why we incorporated more of Lauren. We had that Beauty and the Beast vibe going on.
(He Laughs) Yeah! It’s awful isn’t it!
With that in mind, we’ve experimented as much as we could I think. It’s like ‘Shine on Sophie Moon’, it’s a punky, bad religion kinda vibe and it’s my favourite track. Just because of the weirdness of the transit bit in the middle when it all drops down. I think we went as experimental as we could do without losing the vibe from the first album. We don’t want people to say it’s a great record, but not what they brought into the first time they listened to it. We want it to remain a Devilment album and not be like chalk and cheese.
I like the first album, but it’s the second that holds no punches for me.
I know you’ve not heard the two extra songs, but we actually dropped a song after picking apart the album for the final track list. It was hard to throw things away you loved and there was one song called ‘Plot Spoiler, There will be Monsters’ and I loved it. In fact me and Nick both loved it but we were ruled out on it. I respect their opinion but I really liked it as it was a cross of ‘Under the Thunder’ and ‘Shine on Sophie Moon’ vibe and with all the sound effects, it was going to be really weird. That’s how we really played the whole album. Lauren wrote the chorus for ‘Under the Thunder’ because she wasn’t happy with the one I picked. There was no deciding once we finished the song because hers sounded better but didn’t fit as well so we ended up with half of hers and half of mine. That’s kind of how the record was; just kicking all the pride out of it and saying “Fuck sake, not having this just because you wrote it”. So the album was cathartic and the process was very cathartic.
And finally, tell us about the new video that was released on Monday?
Yes, it was released Monday 14th. It’s anime, so somebody’s drawn it all. It’s half lyric, half anime. A little bit like Korn but it’s not had millions of pounds spent on it, it’s cool! And it’s for ‘Full Dark, No Stars’ so between the three songs out, because they’re so different, I think it gives a good window into what the album’s about.
You’re touring the album next month aren’t you?
Yes, tour started December 6th for the UK. We post regular updates on our social media so always good to check information there.
This album is certainly one for the Metal collection and as always, there’s some great stories told through it, expectantly twisted and with a pinch of darkness to manifest the deep routed blackness of the human soul. It’s amazing! See our full review here.