Monday, April 15, 2024

My Dying Bride — Ghost of Orion — The Interview

Over almost 30 years, West Yorkshire’s MY DYING BRIDE, formed in the ebbing summer of 1990 by vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe, with guitarist Andrew Craighan and the original drummer Rick Miah, have become England’s most doleful export and a worldwide phenomenon… the viziers of doom-death!

But since Feel the Misery [2015] and a group of live shows that had to be canceled (due to the illness of Stainthorpe’s 5-year-old daughter, who is currently in remission) and then the departure of Dan Mullins followed by Shaun Taylor-Steels, (drums), as well as Calvin Robertshaw (guitars), things seemed to become pretty ill-omened, even for a bunch of demise-ridden, fatalistic, doombringers like MDB. But, somehow/someway, and from the gloomy state of misfortune they found themselves lost within, the band have managed to collect-up some excellent songs and to create an incredible new 11-track album, titled: The Ghost Of Orion due March 6th 2020 and out via Nuclear Blast.

RAMzine had the opportunity to talk with Andrew Craighan, founding member and principal composer and guitarist, about the process of making this exciting new album:

Ghost of Orion artwork by Eliran Kantor
Ghost of Orion artwork by Eliran Kantor

Hi Andy,

Congratulations on a truly remarkable recording. What an adventure… even though it’s been a strain, as I can imagine…

Do you think your new album, THE GHOST OF ORION looks back as well as looks forward? For example, do you think the album shares similarities with ‘The Angel and the Dark River’ [1995 / 1996], for example, the riff on ‘Your Broken Shore’ reminds us of ‘The Cry of Mankind’.

Craighan: If it’s not too soon to say “retrospectively” then yes, I do. I do think that. But it didn’t seem like it when we were recording. But now, along with your comment, we’ve had about three of four other people who have pointed this out and that’s a complete accident… I never saw it while we were recording and no one ever mentioned it while we were recording. I’m not massively concerned about the similarities, though, now that they have been mentioned, because I do love that record (The Angel) and I think it’s one of our better ones, so if we’re “accidentally” doing anything at least we’re copying ourselves! Not consciously of course! And it’s one of the better records we’ve been copying… but it’s certainly not something that we’ve done by design.

Tell us about writing more accessible/acceptable moments on the new album?

Craighan: We have written something, this time, that’s not brutal, horrible doom-metal… some of it can be described as in the realms of straight-forward metal — but also with the elements of what we think is the My Dying Bride style… and again it was not particularly deliberate, it is a natural progression and, considering what we were going through at the time, it’s how we felt.

And is it true you worked alone for the writing process? [bassist Lena Abé was on maternity leave and Stainthorpe was completely dedicated to providing mental and physical support for his daughter’s fight against cancer)…

Craighan: For most of it, yes. It did start in the rehearsal room with a full band but it didn’t end-up that way. By the end of it I was re-writing lots, everything, actually, every single song, for various reasons; and made sure that everything was what people wanted them to be. Also, there was no other guitarist to talk to, but we had plenty of time for decision making when we moved into the studio with the band (that was still there) and we tried to “fill in the gaps” as best we could… which I have done before… This is probably the third album I have recorded singularly now, the first one being The Light… [1999] then Feel the Misery [2015] and now this. It’s not something I particularly enjoy, it’s not something I would choose to do if I had no other choice… but it was sink or swim, the album needed writing and that’s the thing that I do…

How did you achieve so much without any inspirational spur from others?

Craighan: That was the inspiration. Staring into the void… the void looks back and tells you to get on with it. But to put it into context: I wasn’t in any pain, I wasn’t going through what Aaron was going through, I was just thinking about writing the next My Dying Bride album. And, of course, I am one of the fiercest critics this band has ever had… and so, probably, my biggest problem was second-guessing myself…

Tell us about the recording process, we guess it was exhausting!

Craighan: Yes, I was having to get into doing it very early in the morning then, after a days work, I would continue with it. It was a run of long days and seemed like it was never-ending and it became a little bit tiresome, to be fair. But when Jeff came in he decided he wanted to drum the album and when we decided to do the drum-part for ‘Your Broken Shore’ things changed — it became obvious we had a “real drummer” and suddenly there seemed to be light at the end of the tunnel and we thought we might actually make progress… we may actually finish it! So once the drums came in, things did genuinely improve, from a morale point of view, picked up, and the album started to come alive…

Was Neil (Blanchett – guitars) working with you on this?

Craighan: No, he came in after the album was completed. He’s basically been learning the stuff for the live-shows…

My Dying Bride

Tell us about ‘The Old Earth’ — how would you like the audience to experience it?

Craighan: Loudly! It’s a tricky song in that it starts quite delicately and the vocals tend to lull you… Oddly enough, this track has the best riff, in my opinion, on the whole album. The riff sits under the line. And we’re in the eighth or ninth. For me, if someone was to ask which song typifies “My Dying Bride” from this new album I would have to say ‘The Old Earth’ because it has everything that My Dying Bride tends to do well…

But would you say it typifies My Dying Bride now, as in 2020?

Craighan: That’s a good question, the other songs are something within themselves aren’t they? But ‘The Old Earth’ makes me think. Hmm! Does it represent My Dying Bride from a historical aspect? Yes, I think it very does. But does it represent us right now? I’m not sure… I’m not sure that it does.

Tell us about going over to Nuclear Blast, the label. Will the label change make any difference?

Craighan: They already have. The difference is black and white. Peaceville were great for us for many years and they were loyal to us and we were very loyal to them, anyone will tell you. But it came to a natural end… we think their focus wasn’t on new albums, albums like ours. I think the Snapper label that’s behind them is more interested in re-releases… so when the contract came to an end and were looking for other labels, everyone told us: “Nuclear Blast. It was obvious. And so far, working with them over the last six months, it just feels like a “proper” record label.

You are often described as “Gothic” but do you see yourselves as a gothic band? We only ask because we don’t see the band that way: we’ve always seen you as something that sits outside the genres… Are we wrong to think that?

Craighan: No, in fact, like you, I don’t think we are a Gothic metal band. Yes, we dress in black… but the Gothic thing, obviously, I don’t mind it… I’m part of it in many respects… but I think we’re more “heavy metal” than Gothic and our death-metal vocals keep us out of the Gothic realm, don’t they? I think, my understanding is, Gothic Rock is more The Sisters of Mercy type of thing. People have always needed something to liken you with, specifically when they’re describing your sound, and I don’t actually dislike the idea that we get described as “Gothic” … I just don’t see it for myself. I know we have Gothic aspects, which gives us a broader spectrum of topics we can work with, I suppose, but I would say we are more “Doom-Death” whatever that might be!

So what’s next from the album? Another video?

Craighan: Nuclear Blast are planning a lyric video for a song called ‘Tired of Tears’ [Track 3] which will be interesting. And in February we are recording another video, this one for: ‘To Outlive the Gods’ [Track 2] — so we’re quite busy now — now we’re back. We’ve been invited to return to Hard Rock Hell to do H.R.H. Goth (Sheffield – 12/13 September). H.R.H. have been very good to us and we promised to do this show a while ago and we’re excited about it…

In April we ae playing in Glasgow [Lords Of The Land, 4th April] and if anyone wants to see us play this album live for the first time, this is the show to go to. And we are also playing some very big festivals in Europe, across the summer…

Once again, many congratulations on a very fine album, and good luck on your resumed and relentless musical adventure!

Neil Mach
Neil Mach
RAMzine Senior Writer - With a career spanning 30 years author / journalist Neil Mach is an expert on the music business and is a reliable guide. He especially loves heavy metal, prog & blues.

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