Formed in Halifax, West Yorkshire, in 1988, Paradise Lost are forerunners of the UK Gothic Doom scene. Over thirty years later, and the band are still turning out one classic album after another. Current album ‘Obsidian’ see’s Paradise Lost continue in the rich vein of form from the last few years. Rhythm guitarist Aaron Aedy took some time out from lockdown to talk to us about ‘Obsidian’, as well as a subject close to his heart: the Heavy Metal Truants charity bike ride.
The release of ‘Obsidian’ has obviously helped to keep you busy, but how else have you been keeping occupied during lockdown? Discovered any new music, books or films you would recommend?
I really enjoyed “A Black Cloud” by Fred Hoyle, based on a recommendation at Space Rocks a couple of years ago. I also finished off C J Sansom’s “Tomblands” (Love the Shardlake books), Bernard Cornwell’s latest “Sword Of Kings” and “A Short Ride in the Jungle” by Antonia Bollingbroke-Kent. I finished those as I did a ride with the Truants through Vietnam on our bicycles in January. I loved it there, and wonderful people too. I also finished “The Mandalorian” (absolutely ace) and just started watching “Space Force”. Aside from that, a lot of guitar playing and some MMO action
As a Northerner myself, growing up in the gloomy moorlands of Saddleworth in the eighties, do you miss the ‘North’? Do you think geography can dictate the sound of a band?
I think geography can, but I think, with so much doomy and goth music coming from the North, I really think the weather plays a part. I mean, with the exception of Black Lace, it’s a hot bed for miserable music. Also, I think because Black Lace had “black” in the title, maybe they had intentions to later explore darker, more gloom-based music and then got trapped in the pop trap, haha! But aye, there’s always something in me that yearns to be there. I don’t think that ever leaves you.
Agadoo! Now, since the release of debut album ‘Lost Paradise’ in 1990, you have been on quite an adventure with Paradise Lost. What’s the secret of the bands longevity?
Honesty and friendship has helped a lot in the past, also our shared love of the same comedy. At the end of the day, if you can laugh together, you can live together!
What are the most memorable highlights from your career so far?
Getting our first album out and seeing our names on a record sleeve for the first time was a biggie. Also, as metal fans in the early 80’s, playing the last ever Donington “Monsters Of Rock” festival in 1996, which also was the last show of our amazing, but gruelling, Draconian Times tour. Co-headlining the Dynamo Festival in ’95 with our friends, Type O Negative to 130,000 people is a sight and emotion I’ll never forget as well. However, the main thing, most importantly, is still enjoying this after 32 years, and with enough people who feel the same way about our music as we do is incredibly humbling and inspiring in itself.
The band have enjoyed a renaissance over the last few years with ‘The Plague Within’ and ‘Medusa’, both being received well. What’s it like being seen as the “Guardians of the Gothic Doom” scene in the UK?
We literally just concentrate on what we’re doing and thankfully people, ourselves included, still love this music. It’s pretty amazing to think that a band of 50 year old’s are still relevant, as many of our contemporaries are too! It’s brilliant to see so many bands we met in the late 80’s and early 90’s, or loved in the mid late 80’s, are still doing it and doing a great job. I guess everyone in the scene, music lovers and music makers alike, have all grown up together. It’s wonderful.
‘Obsidian’ is a less heavy affair than the last 2 albums. Was this a conscious decision, or did it take form naturally in the writing process?
It’s weird – we always seem to go in two album circuits. We do something we like, and then usually, the next one has all of the elements that what we enjoyed about the last one, and we remember what songs we enjoyed playing live as well. First and foremost, you have to keep things interesting for yourself, which is the most important thing. If you’re not enjoying what you’ve done, or your soul isn’t in it, then it shows. Fans are smart and can always spot when someone is faking the emotion. We never wanted that, and I hope that shows.
Do you still get nervous before the release of a new album, or are you just excited to get it out there?
Oh, of course. You have faith in everything you do, as you’ve made it for yourself, first and foremost, but there are still nerves as much as there is excitement, as you can’t wait to share it with everyone. Nerves and excitement remind you that you care. If some people don’t like it, then as long as you’ve stayed true to yourself and feel passionately about it, it’s fine. You can’t expect everyone to like everything, but if you’re happy with it yourself as an artist, then that’s cool.
‘Ghosts’ is a great track, and I love the Sabbath-esque ‘Raveghast’. What new songs are you looking forward to playing live, whenever that might be?
All of them, for sure! I can’t wait to put the live stamp on these! However, I’m right with you, “Ghosts” is going to be a cracker live, I’m really looking forward to that. I’m excited for “Darker Thoughts” too, to be honest, but “Ghosts” mainly. Love it.
‘Ghosts’ will be immense live! How does the creative process begin between you and Greg in the early stages of an album? Do you work on riffs, breaks and solos together?
Greg does all the writing himself, and Nick writes the lyrics. It’s been like that for years, and if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
There have been so many changes in the music industry over the last 10 years, particularly in the way people consume music. Are you grateful to have a solid fan base who still enjoy physical products?
Absolutely. I’ve had a resurgence for buying vinyl myself in recent years too. I really missed that – having a format that makes the artwork worthwhile is a massive thing for me. Albums are so much more special when you have something tangible, be it limited editions, CDs or vinyl. I am always happy to sign our items at shows, etc. It’s the very least I could do.
Good luck with the new album Aaron, but my final question: Have you finally recovered from the Heavy Metal Truants Charity bike ride from London to Download last year. It must have caused some serious chafing! Any plans to do any further charity events?
Well, I didn’t get much cycling in last year after that. I think as we were all pushing ourselves so much harder to just get the sections over with. I had a problem with my knees for a number of months after that 150 miles in cold heavy rain. Don’t get me wrong, as a Yorkshireman, I love drizzle, but that was something else. Also, speaking of, I just got in after the third day of this year’s Heavy Metal Truants “Eighth Of Spades” ride. I’ve managed just over 121 miles in three days, but this year it’s being done by everyone virtually or locally.
However, as there’s a longer period to do it this year, and with the Motörhead theme, I decided to do a “No Sleep Til Hammersmith” distance, the 175 miles that the ride was originally going to be to Download from Hammersmith Apollo (Odeon), so I’m doing 350 miles there and back again. I’m so out of shape, it’s really hurting already! Haha.
The four charities “Save the Children”, “Childline”, “Teenage Cancer Trust” and “Nordoff Robbins” have lost millions of funding between them, due to cancelled fundraisers and charity concerts, etc. with the current problem, so funding it needed even more than ever. My sore body (and backside!) are a small price to pay compared to the good they do with the donations.
A big thank you for asking about it. It’s something that means so much to me and the other Truants, and even more so to those that need the help, and those that give it. Donations will be open for a while after, if anyone wants to donate posthumously. (Check out the Heavy Metal Truants, and make a donation here)
Thank to you too for the interview. Look after yourselves and hope to see you at a concert one day.
‘Obsidian’ is available now through Nuclear Blast.
Interview – Dave Blizzard Shaw
Paradise Lost images – Anne C. Swallow