Exclusive interview for hellfest.fr: Aaron Aedy (PARADISE LOST)
“Hellfest’s a really cool festival: it’s a very nice atmosphere there.” – Aaron Aedy – 11/09/2015
How’s the tour going so far?
Do you know what? I think it’s probably the longest tour we’ve done for a long time. It’s a good seven-tour week tour. But it’s been brilliant. Number of the shows have been sold out or close. The crowd’s reaction to the new album material has been fantastic. So it’s been very good. We’ve had a very nice tour with Lucifer. They’re a bunch of very nice people as well. Our run has been really good but we’re looking forward to getting home for a few days (smiles).
Today is November 9th. That’s the anniversary date of the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989). How do you personally intend to leave your mark in History tonight in Paris?
Headbanging! Headbanging and adoring it! (laughs) No, I mean, in the UK, there was Bonfire Night the other day. It’s about a conspiracy about a gentleman who tried to blow up the House of Parliament ages ago. It’s funny because there are so many things happening at the time of the year. We missed that the other day. One thing I’m looking forward to is playing. We’ve always had a good show here, in Paris. We’ve finished a number of tours as Paris as our last show. We finished a tour on my fortieth birthday and it was a great night! The sadly departed Elysée-Montmarte… It’s a shame because I loved that venue. Tonight I just want to have a good show.
And what has been your favourite moment on that tour?
Goodness… We probably had the best show we’ve ever played in Finland. In Helsinki on that tour. There’s a new song on the album called “Beneath Broken Earth” and I’m loving playing that live. Myself and Greg (McIntosh – guitar) love the doomiest stuff. And that, live, is working very well. So, playing that song every night probably. I mean, the crowd has been universally very good so we’ve been very fortunate on this tour. It’s hard to pick up a highlight. So yeah, the best show we’ve ever had in Finland… The Spanish shows were some of the best we’ve ever had there… Great show in Milan… It’s been very good so it’s hard to pick up a highlight, really. Playing the new material is fun, you know! (smiles)
As you said, it’s been quite a long tour… So how have you been doing to get occupied during that long period?
Well, Internet helps these days, I suppose. You can sort of keep in touch with your family a lot easier. I like reading books, I read a lot of books. We’re kind of used to it after over twenty-five years of touring. We also watch a lot of comedy programmes. And drink! But you know, after the show (smiles). We’re all really good friends so we just get on, we talk most of the time. Even after all this time. I’ve known Greg since he was eleven and I’ve known Nick (Holmes – vocals) since he was twelve: we’ve been friends for a long time. Before the band even. I think that helps. So we talk to each other a lot (laughs).
You released a new album a few months ago (The Plague Within – June 2015). Which was rather surprising in terms of artistic direction and…
Both Nick (with Bloodbath) and Greg (with Vallenfyre) are already involved with old-school sounding bands but were you all interested in going that way with the new album?
Definitely. When we recorded the album, in November-December last year, we were all very excited as we were putting together, the guitars went on, the harmony guitars went on and we were all: “This is very cool”. The only reason why we started the band was to make the music that we love. That’s still the reason why we do it. The day we stop loving what we do, we’ll just finish. That will be that. And we were getting like teenagers. With the new recording and stuff. When we finished recording we were like “Woohoooo!” (smiles). We just wanted people to hear it because we were so excited. And it’s great that we’re still feeling like that. The same than when we were eighteen! We absolutely love it. We’re playing, I think, six of the songs live on that tour. Which is the most we’ve done for a long time. We usually do four or five and we do a best of kind of set. But this time, we’re playing six of the new album and it sounds great live. Like I said, I particularly love “Beneath Broken Earth”. That’s my favourite. “An Eternity Of Lies” is good as well… But they’re all good! (laughs)
I’ve seen you many times live since 1996 and I have to admit that I’ve always considered you as the odd man out: the only one within the band who smiles and seems to constantly enjoy himself on stage. So I guess that means that you’re very happy to be part of the whole thing. But somehow, you’ve only been credited once on a song: isn’t it sometimes frustrating to just be some kind of simple soldier within the band?
A friend of mine once told me that every army has a general… You know, there’s been more bit stuffs put in or helped out. But you don’t always get credit because there are the little things. I absolutely love playing the music that gets written. That’s why I’m happy on stage. I love the music. At home, I’ve got my own studio. I’ve had a studio for twenty years. I just write at home for pleasure, just for fun. You know: if it’s not broken, you don’t try to fix it. I do pinch in. Nick likes my opinion on things too, so it works fine.
So, no need for a side-project so as to fully express your own creativity?
No, no… I’m quite shy that way, quite shy that way. I’ve been writing loads of stuffs for years at home but I’ve got no desire to do anything with it. I’m married to Paradise Lost. And then, between Paradise Lost, I’m married to my wife! And I like to spend time with her too! (laughs)
I really think that two of your albums did not get the recognition they deserved at the time: Host (1999) and Symbol Of Life (2002). Looking back at them, what’s your appraisal?
I think they’re great. I mean, we’ve got a lot of people mentioning Host these days. I think it was a big shock at the time. The combination of the direction change and all of us with short hair… I think it was too much. With a regular long hair, we could probably have got away a bit more but it was too many changes at once. But the album is probably the darkest we’ve ever written. It’s very, very dark. We nearly put a song of Host on this tour because we got a list of about forty songs that we wanted to play. So we had to chip it down. So we nearly did “Nothing Sacred” of Host which we have not played for a long time. That just missed out. Symbol Of Live is really popular actually. We did “Isolate” on the last bit of the tour this Summer. That and “Erased”: they go down very well. I’d love to play “Pray Nightfall” from this album, actually. You never know, maybe one day… Because we love to change. We play a song of Gothic on this tour that we haven’t played since I was 21 years old so… No! Since I was 22! (laughs) So it’s just nice to slot in different things.
Your most popular album remains Draconian Times. How does it feel that people keep on referring to that album twenty years after its release?
The biggest compliment you can ever have is that somebody felt the drive to make their own music or learn an instrument because they heard your music and it inspired them to do so. Forget ten good reviews: THAT is the best compliment anyone can give you if you’re emotionally driven then to make their own music. When people say that, it’s pretty cool.
Another influential album of yours is Gothic. An album that you’re going to play in its entirety at Hellfest this year. Is the idea yours, actually?
It was Walt (Hoeijmakers) from Roadburn who asked us. We were like: “Why not? We’ve never done it”. We’ve never played all these songs live so it will be quite interesting! And then Hellfest said they wanted it as well… We asked Walt if he was OK with us doing Gothic at Hellfest and he said : “Yeah, fine” so… (smiles)
That’s gonna be your third time at Hellfest. Any memories of the previous ones?
I think it’s a great festival. The line-up – the one we played in 2014, with Black Sabbath – was probably the best in Europe that year. They had everyone. I think it’s a really cool festival. It’s a very nice atmosphere there. It’s almost like “Wacken in France”, you know. It’s similar somehow: it’s based in a small town, everyone sorts of ships in, lots of volunteers… The community aspect of it: the fans being involved in it, that makes it special, I think.
Ever had time to walk around to experience it as a normal festival-goer?
Yeah! My wife was there last time. So we had a walk around, watched a few bands. It was really cool. We watched Sabbath. We played with them four times over the Summer and it was the best they played that Summer: the Hellfest one was the best one. I was really pleased with that. I was in the audience watching that: superb! (smiles) Personally, I like playing in the tent even if it can be a bit dusty. The lights have a bit of an impact on it. The sound is always better because the wind doesn’t blow about… That was cool. And it was packed. Which is always nice to see!
You already had a look at the line-up?
Yeah! It looks cool! I haven’t actually checked which day is which band but I’ve seen the poster! I’ve got my fingers crossed! King Diamond is playing Abigail, right? (blowing) I might have to stay for the weekend! (laughs) I really hope I’m on the same day as King Diamond! I remember myself being on the bus home as a teenager with a piece of vinyl: Abigail, in 1987. I can still see myself with the record on the bus home… You inspect the artwork, you read the liner notes, you read all the lyrics… Abigail is very special for me in that way. I’m dying to see it. Really, really…
To conclude, could you finish that sentence for me: “I’ve never told that story before and I probably shouldn’t but…”
The Hellfest we were just talking about… The reason I remember it – it was so dusty in the tent – is because halfway through a song I was playing – an acoustic part – Nick walked over to where I was stood and on the top of the monitor in front of me… He drew a cock and balls on the dust! (laughs) And he gave me a wink and I was just trying to concentrate on this part and I was laughing my head off! I’ve never told the story outside the band before so here you go! Oh, dear… (laughs)
Le Trabendo, Paris – 11/09/2015
Many thanks to Valérie (Century Media).