Interview With My Dying Bride
In spite of all the commotion, and Covid-19 ensuring it’s been one hell of a year (with no end in sight), My Dying Bride has managed to have a pretty good year as a band. They’ve overcome some very serious problems in their personal lives, overcome the sudden loss of two band members, forcing Andrew Craighan to compose their latest full-length, The Ghost of Orion, on his own. The album received great acclaim and their return has been hailed as nothing short of triumphant. Now, with a new EP looming on the horizon, vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe was kind enough to sit down with myself, 365 Days of Horror and Link Leonhart for a group interview.
The band’s new EP Macabre Cabaret is being released a few months after The Ghost Of Orion. Should listeners view the EP as a continuation of The Ghost Of Orion or as its own self-contained collection of songs?
Aaron: A bit of both if I’m being honest. The EP songs were recorded at the same time as the album and chosen by Nuclear Blast to be released as an EP on a later date, that being November 20th, but our studio engineer/producer Mark Mynett has tweaked the sound of the EP to give it its own feel so it doesn’t sound just like the LP.
The artwork for Macabre Cabaret and The Ghost Of Orion, like your other albums, is very striking, but very different. How important is the visual component of presenting your music?
Aaron: I think the visuals are crucial as they are often the first thing people know about a new release and if it looks a bit lame then that is not the response anyone wants. Making a striking impact will always leave a firm and good impression which sets up the listening process perfectly.
How have the pandemic and shutdowns affected the band?
Aaron: It’s a great pity that we can’t play live as this year would have been our first live performances for two years so it looks like next year will see our return to the stage—possibly! We released The Ghost of Orion just before lockdown so the pandemic hasn’t really affected sales much and I guess most people will order online so I doubt the EP will be hit hard either. Things are just a bit quieter for us, that’s all, so no major worries here.
Do you ever see doing further shows and tours in support of Macabre Cabaret and The Ghost Of Orion or do you think the band will move forward with work on the next release?
Aaron: It depends on how long the pandemic continues. If it eats well into 2021 then I suppose we must consider writing new material as sitting and waiting to play live could be fruitless. Even if we do release another LP before lockdowns are lifted, we will still perform something from these current releases too because the songs are strong and need to be played live.
My Dying Bride is a very deep and emotional band. I can imagine it can at times be difficult to perform songs, especially in light of all that you’ve been through with your family. How do you prepare and cope for a performance that requires you to revisit those emotions and struggles?
Aaron: It is never easy and I often become very stressed before shows—which is why the pandemic is not so bad for me. Even after 30 years I still get incredibly nervous before gigs and feel like sneaking off and making my way home, but I can’t because fans have paid hard-earned money to see us so I have to suck it up. But it’s very tough on stage—my favourite part being when I say “goodnight.”
Personally, I’ve had my own strong emotional responses to some of your songs, although my feelings may not have matched with what your words were describing. Is it more important for the listener to understand what you’re trying to convey or to interpret and experience it for themselves?
Aaron: I believe the listener will always find their own understanding within the lyrics as I did when I originally wrote them. They may be ambiguous to most and a certain degree of reading between the lines is required but ultimately, finding your own meaning is where the treasure lies and I love getting feedback from fans who regale me with what they think a song is about and how it appeals to their own specific desires.
Through various releases in recent years, certain songs tend to have an orchestral sound. Do you think you will use these more orchestral elements to a greater degree in the future?
Aaron: We have used violins, keyboards and a variety of classical musicians in the past and will continue to do so as they always add a certain element which highlights areas of the music which benefit from these embellishments. We really went to town with our Evinta albums, utilizing many classical instruments to really give a flourish to our music. How much we use in the future will depend on the mood of the track but we will always touch on those desirable instruments.
In the past, you’ve mentioned you’d like to be involved in making movies. Would you be interested in sitting in the director’s chair for a future music video?
Aaron: I would quite like to make movies—not those big Hollywood ones but small independent efforts which generally have more soul about them. I rather like being in front of the camera too which I’d be happy to engage in conversation with anyone willing to offer me a role. I may even start making mini My Dying Bride films to start with…..
Would you ever consider having a My Dying Bride album or even just a song turned into a movie? Any album or song in particular you’d like to see on the big screen?
Aaron: I’d love it if someone would even use our music for a soundtrack! But perhaps ‘”The Angel and the Dark River” would be a good choice as it would make for a terrifying biblical horror full of stunning visuals and macabre happenings. I think the songs we created on Evinta would be just perfect as any soundtrack for a film.
There are bands in many different styles of metal that cites MDB as a direct influence to their sound and media outlets claim some of your work is considered as “quintessential”. How do you embrace the legacy you’ve created?
Aaron: We are naturally thrilled that so many folk consider us as an influence and cite much of our canon as essential but we certainly never started out expecting such praise—though it is warmly welcome. We put so much thought and effort into what we do that we hope people will appreciate it even if it’s not exactly their “cup of tea” as they can see the workmanship that has gone into creating this kind of music.
You’ve been at this for three decades. Is there anything you and the band are still hoping to achieve that has so far eluded you?
Aaron: Not much to be honest. I’d like to play in countries we’ve yet to visit like Japan, Australia as well as more South American places and Africa too. We have only done a few shows in the US and they were ages ago so a return there would be great.
For having such a long career, you’ve only done a handful of guest vocals. Why is that?
Aaron: If I have the time and I like the music then I will often lend my voice to a project but if those things elude me then I simply have to say “no”. My Dying Bride has never had a manager—myself and Andrew run the ship which means we are busy in the background all the time so actual free time for spare vocals does not come easily.
While 2021 looks as unsure as 2020, beyond the new EP, what can fans expect from you and My Dying Bride?
Aaron: The new video for “Macabre Cabaret” is out very soon and we just released a beer too called Old Earth, which is delicious and can be obtained from www.darklandbrewery.co.uk and we may do one of these online gigs too but only if 2021 is looking bleak regarding live shows. And if it really goes pear-shaped next year, we will begin a new LP.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions. We really appreciate it.
Cheers and thank you for you time.
Make sure to keep up with My Dying Bride through Facebook or Instagram, or the new-old fashioned way, through their own website. Check out their latest single, “A Secret Kiss” from Macabre Cabaret as well.