"Life without you is like a broken pencil...pointless."
AN INTERVIEW WITH PARADISE LOST
by Richard Karsmakers
After I had succeeded in interviewing both Anathema and My Dying
Bride, two major bands in their genre that I really admired, it
soon became one of my temporary goals in life to achieve
something similar for Paradise Lost. They would be performing on
March 11th, the very release date of this issue of ST NEWS, in
Tivoli concert hall, Utrecht. If ever I had a golden opportunity
it was this.
So I contacted Tivoli, where they told me to contact Mojo, the
company that arranges nearly all bigger concerts in the
Netherlands and some in Belgium too. These, in turn, told me to
contact Rough Trade, the company that distributes the Paradise
Lost material in the Netherlands. So I did. To my considerable
surprise, nobody else had requested an interview. This was
largely due to Paradise Lost already have toured the Netherlands
last autumn, and all major magazines having spoken with them
around that time. I was really lucky. I also realised that this
might just turn this issue of ST NEWS in one of the hottest ever.
Never before had it had four interesting interviews (Anathema,
MDB, Paradise Lost, and CIH of "Maggie" of course).
At Rough Trade the interview agreement was quickly confirmed.
They had faxed to Music For Nations and I had to contact one
Martin Walker, their tour manager, to be able to interview
Paradise Lost around the sound check at Tivoli, on Friday
As usual, there was a problem. Only this time the problem was of
a totally different kind. The whole band was present with the
exception of vocalist Nick Holmes, whom we had also seen walking
out when we came in (we = me and Erwin, co-member of "VIRUS" and
photographer). He was sent to a dentist because his wisdom tooth
had started playing up and he needed to have it sedated or
something - not pulled - in order to be able to sing tonight.
After a bit of a delay, and after having made a decision to
start and hope for Nick to pop up some time later, Martin
arranged for us to talk to Matt (Matthew Archer, drums). I have
to admit we were a bit disappointed, because in our minds we
already envisioned the interview being confined to Matt. Not that
he's uninteresting but, you know, we sortof had our hopes set on
exchanging some words with Nick Holmes (vocals) and/or Gregor
Mackintosh (guitarist and sole composer). Erwin got out his
cameras, I switched on the Aiwa Dolby B stereo recording Walkman
(a.k.a. in times long gone as the Headache Obliteration Device).
Matt, like My Dying Bride's bass player Ade, turned out a verbose
and willing talking partner.
Thanks for wanting to speak with us. Let's kick off with your
Matt: I was born on the 14th of July 1970.
Could you give us a short history of Paradise Lost?
Matt: Basically when we were all 15 or 16 I got a drumkit for my
birthday, Greg got a guitar for his birthday, Aaron (Aaron Aedy,
the other guitarist, ED.) got a guitar for his birthday, and we
all knew each other because we went to school together, going
since we were 10 or 11 years old. We basically got together and
made a complete racket in my house and after making a lot of
rackets for about 2 or 3 months we thought, "Well, all right,
let's release a demo," so we released a demo which Hammy at
Peaceville records heard. This was about six years ago now. After
doing a couple of demos he gave us a deal for two LPs which we
recorded for Peaceville. There was the "Lost Paradise" LP and
there was "Gothic", which got very good critical acclaim
throughout Europe and we got a good response which we didn't
really expect to be honest with you. That was a bit of a shock.
After that deal ended - we signed only for 2 LPs - we got signed
to Music For Nations for a 3 LP deal. "Shades of God" was
released, and "Icon" for which we're touring at the moment. And
that's about it. We recorded 4 LPs over the course of about 6
years, that's how long we've been going. We've known each other
from school and we're now all 22/23.
After "Lost Paradise" your music changed quite a lot. To be
frank, "Lost Paradise" was not as good as the others. What caused
Matt: Basically when we did the "Lost Paradise" LP the band had
been going about 8 months and Hammy wanted to get a record out so
basically people could hear us instead of through tape trading
demos. So he said, "Right, I'll put you in the studio, can you go
in in two months and record an LP?" We had about 9 or 10 songs
which were very...well...bad, but we said, "Yeah yeah, okay,"
'cause it was our first record and we were all excited and we
didn't have a lot of money, we didn't have a long time to record
and the actual studio we recorded in, at that point of time
anyway, wasn't a very good studio, so it was a bit of a rush job
all around. We're not actually very happy with it, looking back
at it, obviously. It's not a very good way of letting people know
what we're all about if they bought that LP. At that time we were
only playing our instruments for a year or so, so obviously the
band's chemistry wasn't there yet either.
With "Gothic" we had a lot more time to write material. Instead
of making a racket at my house we really had time to go to the
studio and do the recording. We actually knew that we had 10
months or so to write material for "Gothic", so we had a lot more
time working out song structures and basises of songs rather than
getting told, "Oh, you're going in the studio in two months". We
had time to set aside to write for it. After "Lost Paradise" we
stopped listening to death metal bands because there were just so
many death metal bands coming out at that time. Hammy and Greg,
our songwriter, thought rather than do a death metal LP like
"Lost Paradise", we'd do something else. There were so many other
bands that we would have to compete with, so we literally went
out on a limb and tried something different, "we'll have a sortof
like an orchestral piece and a female singer and we'll try
something different." I mean it could have been a complete flop
but as it happens it wasn't, no. To this day it's still some
people's favourite LP. It's about four years old now but it's
still some people's favourite.
Nick's vocals have changed quite a bit on "Icon" when compared
to "Shades of God". Was that a conscious decision on Nick's part
to sortof save his voice or was it just natural development?
Matt: In a way yes, the rehearsal places we had before were
literally a garage. It got to the point when we had written the
"Icon" material it sounded great musically but Nick still had to
- "Aaarrggargl" - shout because he couldn't hear himself because
of the volume we were playing. So it wasn't until actually we
went to the studio that he thought, "Well, this doesn't really
sound very good at all," it wasn't until he got to the studio...
The door opens and in steps Aaron. "Sorry," he says, and already
is leaving again when I ask him if he'd perhaps care to join. He
would, and that added another even more talkative person to the
lot present in Tivoli's dressing room.
Matt continues: It wasn't until we got to the studio that the
producer, Simon (Simon Efemey, ED.), actually thought, "Well,
let's try a different vocal style". It was a conscious decision
on Nick's part, anyway, not to sing as growly, because he was
getting tired of the growling and people coming up and saying,
"Oh, your vocals are like Glen Benton's (of Deicide, ED.) or
something, because he's completely different. He was getting a
bit pissed off to be seen as a death metal vocalist, especially
since we weren't playing death metal anymore. In the studio we
tried very consciously indeed to try and move away from the death
metal and all the growling and stuff and sing, well, more
Aaron has in the mean time seated himself next to me. He is one
of those instantly likeable guys, who displays keen interest in
what's going on. He's definitely the kind of guy you'd like to
have a beer with. I make use of the opportunity to ask his date
Aaron: I was born on 19-12-69, and I'm a guitarist in Paradise
Lost. In my spare time.
As usual, I wanted to get an idea of what kind of people these
guys are. So I asked them what the first albums they ever bought
were. Before they get to answer one of the crew comes in and asks
Matt if he wants a new bass drum pedal to try out. Matt makes use
of the opportunity to congratule this guy, Brienne, with his 22nd
birthday. After that, Matt is the first to reply to my question.
Matt: Adam and the Ants, "Kings of the Wilf Frontier".
Aaron: Good God.
Matt: Saved up for about 4 weeks and then bought it from my
pocket money, and then I was dancing to it for about 2 years.
That was about ten or 11 years ago, when I was about, well, 10 or
11. At the time I was into bands like the Police and, well, Adam
and the Ants. I wasn't really into metal, or hard rock, until I
was about 15 or 16, with Status Quo and Iron Maiden, and
Motörhead. And then I was into Kiss for a while, and then it just
took off from there.
Aaron: The first contemporary album I ever bought was "The
Specials" by The Specials, which is a fan-tas-tic album and I
actually wish I still had it today 'cause I think I would enjoy
it more now than I did then. The first rock album I ever bought
was "Farewell to Kings" by Rush, which is an absolute stor-mer of
an album, an absolute beauty, and I went straight from there on
and about one week later I got "One Night at Budokan" by MSG, I
just went for the full metal onslaught.
What albums do you play most now?
Aaron: The album that I've missed most on this tour that I
haven't brought with me is the first Masters of Reality album.
That has always been a hot favourite of mine. And I think the new
Rush album, "Counterparts", is a hot played disc at the moment.
The thing is we are surrounded by a particular kind of music so
often when we're touring, some bands are even more extreme than
we are, so when you get home the *last* thing you want to do is
listen to that same kind of music. When I get home I'd rather
listen to something like "Achtung Baby" by U2 or Depeche Mode,
Rush, anything I like, Dead Can Dance, whatever.
Matt: (Sensing an opportunity in the momentary silence, a bit
hesitant now Aaron seems to be taking over more) The LP I listen
to most is the Frank Black LP, Pixies, because I'm a big Pixies
fan, and probably "Badmotorfinger" by Soundgarden. I like that a
I turned to Matt. Who influenced him most?
Matt: I don't know, 'cause I mean, me personally, as a member of
the band, I don't write the material, Gregor actually does that.
Drummers that influence me, that I'm rather keen on, are Matt
cameron of Soundgarden, and Stewart Copeland. I've got a large
range of drummers that I like but in the end when it comes to
writing material Greg's the man who gets a lot of inspiration
from bands like Depeche Mode and the Cult and Sisters of Mercy,
several gothic kindof bands.
Aaron: My first influence for playing guitar was Randy Rhoads,
rest his soul, I was very much a big Ozzy fan, you know, at the
time. He died just before I actually started playing guitar. I've
always liked the way he played. He was, like, slightly different,
not your typical metal player. He might integrate classical
influences in his music. Vivian Campbell was another influence.
At that moment Nick walks in, back from the dentist. Concerned
with their fellow band member, Matt and Aaron ask what happened
and how he's feeling. He shows some boxes of medicine and says
the dentist sucked the infection out. He has some stuff to gurgle
with, and some penecillin. Nick is so different from the way I
had reckoned him to be like. He's a quiet type, rather shy too,
and he struck me as a totally, well, normal and friendly fellow.
Erwin can barely contain his enthusiasm - Nick Holmes, Paradise
Lost frontman, just walked in! I was getting pretty excited
myself. I want to make sure Nick will have his say, too, so I
first ask him whether he'd be able to sing tonight without being
in perpetual agony.
Nick: Yeah. By the time we get on stage we're usually, you know,
Not with that penecillin though.
Nick: Yeah, but I might not have to use it if I gurgle with this
(shows a medicine powder of kinds).
He decides to join. Whereas I could have sworn he was a bit
reluctant at first he seems to have realised we're doing things
rather informally - besides, we're no big hot-shot magazine.
Genuine fans, genuine interest, not here for the money, that sort
of thing. I ask him his date of birth.
Nick: 7th of the 1st 71.
Is something already known about the next album? Are any of you
thinking of riffs already, working on it, or perhaps recording
Nick: (With emphasis) I'm not.
Aaron: Me and Gregor are working on some music at the moment.
Steve (Stephen Edmondson, bass) peeps through the door.
Matt: (To Steve) Hey, Steve, what's your date of birth?
Steve joins as well, positioning himself himself sortof
comfortably across some chairs.
Steve: 30th of 12 1969.
Matt: (To Aaron) When's Greg's birthday?
Aaron: (Thinks for a while) 20th of 6th 1970. (To me) You're not
doing star charts of us, are you?
I tell him we certainly won't; maybe someone else'll get the
idea some day, though. I get him back to talking about any things
he might care to divulge about the new album.
Aaron: We haven't had any time at home, really. We've started
formulating ideas, me and Gregor are, like, bouncing off ideas
at each other but it's difficult to get the whole band together
to sortof start writing, 'cause everybody's really got to be
together. When we come home we'll probably start writing after a
couple of weeks' rest. We've been touring for something like 9
months and I'm pretty sick of it. We don't know anything about
the title or track names yet, of course.
Any idea when it may be out?
Aaron: We're looking at next year, May next year. We hope to
record it in January and February.
Speaking of recording, where do you guys actually get your
Aaron: (Who seems to be in charge now) Real life, real life.
It's real life music I think. It reflects the moods of the time.
It's, like, when everything is a bit of a bummer there's still a
light at the end of the tunnel.
Do you have a goal with your music, a message?
Aaron: No, not really. If there is any message we do try to
spread I suppose it's, like, do it for the love of music. We like
to do our stuff, we don't set out to write music to please anyone
else. If we are happy with the music, it's good enough for us,
and if other people like it we're flattered. It's, like, we never
do it to please a certain amount of people or to get to this
certain audience. We don't care, really. Each one of our albums
is different, you know, we have matured. Our first album was done
when we were, like, 18, and now we're all 25/24. The music has
changed in proportion.
Nick: And *they* should just try to play their instruments
Aaron: Of course we try to improve ourselves musically.
Steve: We try not to sound like a sack of shit *all* the time.
Nick retreats a bit to brush his teeth. Erwin, a dedicated
photographer, spots a chance at an unusual picture and takes out
his camera. Nick tells him not to bother, after all he's just
cleaning his teeth (even though it sounded more like "momt
mother, am hust bwushim by deedf"). Besides a photographer, Erwin
is also a true fan. Paradise Lost is to him what people like
Satriani and Metallica are to me. Anyway, I fire off my next
question - are their songs in any way autobiographical?
Aaron: Obviously it's our angle on life. It's things that, like,
directly affect us. I suppose in a way it could be
[autobiographical], but there's no real story behind it. It's
more emotionally driven rather than sortof "tales of the life of
Paradise Lost". There's a bit of everybody in every song. I'm
personally akin to "True Belief". Even though I didn't write the
song I have some sort of special link with it.
A relieved sound in the background, accompanied by sounds of
running water and his rinsing his mouth out, indicates that Nick
has finished brushing. He shifts his attention to the interview
Will you be playing Dynamo Open Air?
Aaron: No. It doesn't look like it, at least, at the moment. It
looks like we're playing "Rock am Rhein" in Germany and that's
at the same weekend at the moment. But they might be moving up or
down one of the festivals, I don't know. There's nothing definite
at the moment.
Well then, on to the faves department. What's your favourite
band in the same genre?
I didn't ask the question to anyone in particular. When there's
a silence for a few moments, Aaron breaks it. It seems he's
rather good at being a breaker of silence. But, to use Paradise
Lost's own lyrics, his words are not a waste of silence.
Aaron: I don't know, because there aren't too many new metal
bands around at the moment. But I class myself as playing in a
heavy metal band so my favourite band in the same genre would
be...erm...Ozzy. It's very difficult, actually.
Matt: I'm not a keen, like, metal fan. In our own genre I can't
think of any bands at the top of my head.
Steve: Not really, no. I have my favourite bands but not in this
same style of music.
When I listened to the interview tape I hit myself for not
having interrogated him further. Instead I heard myself continue,
asking them what their favourite Paradise Lost song is.
Steve: "True Belief".
Aaron: There's a few that I like, there's "Joy of the Emptiness"
and "True Belief" and "Dying Freedom".
At this moment Gregor Mackintosh walks in. Somehow, fate seems
to have wanted Erwin and me to meet the whole band anyway. To say
this was a bit of a climax to this interview would not be too
much of an exaggerration. Gregor is quite laid-back, and his
clothes betray a taste of music earlier hinted at by Matt. He
sits down and melts smoothly into the interview.
Matt: (Continued where we left off) "Shallow Seasons" and "True
I told Greg I was just asking the others what their favourite
Paradise Lost song was. What was his?
Greg: I might be really boring and say "True Belief"...I like
"Remembrance and "Joy of the Emptiness" as well. We'll playing
all these songs tonight, by the way.
Nick: I like "Ember's Fire" and a little bit of "Daylight Torn".
Matt: Because you don't have to sing in it?
Nick: No, I just like it.
OK then, who are your favourite artists playing the same
instrument as yourselves?
Aaron: Randy Rhoads, again.
Matt: Either Matt Cameron or Dave Abruzzi, the Pearl Jam
Aaron: (To matt) I thought you were sneezing there, "abrusszzz".
Matt: Or Stewart Copeland.
And you, Gregor?
Matt: Igor Cavalera, actually, of Sepultura, yeah.
Greg: Jerry Cantrell or the Edge (of Alice in Chains and U2
respectively, ED.). I get influenced by The Edge, yeah.
Steve: (Deep sigh) Er...Cliff Burton.
Matt: (To Steve) You're one of the few people who saw him,
Steve: Yeah...he was a good bassist.
Nick was studying the box text on some of his medicin. When he
had finished I went on to the next question - fave band all-over?
Nick: Aerosmith. We don't like bands, actually. I find it hard
to like a specific band. I like different songs of different
bands. The only band we sortof all like together is Alice in
I told him it was obvious, pointing to the Alice in Chains T-
shirt he was wearing.
Nick: No, it's not that. It's just that it's clean. Alice in
Chains is probably the only band we can all listen to and not
argue about what's being played.
I'd like to get back to fave album for a while. Greg, because
you write all the tunes obviously, I'd like to ask you this
question too. I asked some of the others already.
Greg: Rush' "Counterparts" or again "Within the Realm of the
Dinosaurs" by Dead Can Dance.
On to the favourite band all-over.
Greg: R.E.M. or Queensrÿche. That doesn't reflect much on the
music that we do.
Matt: R.E.M., Alice in Chains, U2, or Pixies.
Aaron: Masters of Reality, Rush, Aerosmith.
Steve: Bad Brains, the first three Metallica albums. The last
one was a corporate sell-out though. It's good but I grew up with
the first three, so...
Matt: (Who has a habit of adding bits) Pearl Jam.
Fave drink/beer, then?
Matt: Löwenbrau (the tour had just brought them through Germany
before these few Dutch dates, hence this choice probably).
Greg or Nick (couldn't quite make out on the tape, possibly
both): Probably Guiness.
Now for the "words to react to" section. Whenever you feel you
have something to say to a word I mention, feel free to speak.
My first word was my usual one, my favourite, that always gets
bands to shred MTV, at least partly.
MTV (who are organising this tour).
Steve: Vanessa Warwick.
Aaron: It's a very important medium for advertising. Rather than
a kid reading a magazine and getting their opinion from someone
who wrote it there they can actually see the bands themselves and
see what's it's like on MTV.
Nick: It also kills music.
Gregor: I kinda liked music more when MTV wasn't around.
Nick: It does kill the record purchasing industry but at the
same time it's still the best advertising. It kills magazines as
well. I mean it's been good for us so far, hasn't done any
John Milton (the poet of the old and famous English poem
Aaron: A dead poet.
Nick: I read about a page of the poem, and I felt, well, I like
what it's about but I can't be bothered reading the rest of it.
Matt: At first we just had to come up with a name for the band
and at that point in time we were called, I think, Morbius.
Nick: I had a list of about 20 names and we just went to look
which we liked best. The point is we didn't want to have some
sort of typical death metal name. We wanted to be a little bit
different, not just the average...(thinks of the proper word)...
Nick and Aaron: Hammy.
Aaron: Nice people.
Matt: They did do very well for us.
Aaron: Paradise Lost.
Matt: It's good to begin with and then it's good to end with as
Steve: The first week and the last week are OK. The middle bit
is a bit less.
Greg: During the day it gets a bit boring.
And (to Nick) I suppose it's not too great either when you're
having trouble with your wisdom tooth?
Nick: (Heartfelt) With a toothache it's fuckin' awful.
Greg: It's good between soundcheck and coming off stage, but the
rest of the day, you know, is just really boring.
You mean interviews and stuff?
Matt: No no, interviews relieve the boredom.
Nick: We don't have many interviews this tour, so when they
happen I do like them most of the time. But when you get, like, x
amount every fucking day you get worn out. Especially if they
each ask "tell me the band history" or something.
Matt: (To Nick) You missed that one.
Sarah and Denise (who did the female vocals on some of their
songs, older work and more recent respectively).
Aaron: Female singers.
Why don't you take them on tour? Are they housewives?
Nick: If you were to take them to a concert and put them at the
side of the stage, dressed very nicely, in front of a thousand
screaming drunk adolescents...
Greg: ...we don't think she'd get the respect she deserves.
Aaron: Well, she would sing perhaps three lines in the whole set.
Queensryche did it, they brought along Pamela Moore on the
Nick: Well, they're pretentious. I like them a lot but they're
very pretentious. The thing is with Queensrÿche it's a bit like
Michael Bolton. When you go and see him in concert it's like
everybody's there to see him singing and there's a girl singer
and there's high notes and they're cheering and shit because he
can get those high notes. People kinda listen to the singing.
Steve: A different audience.
Nick: Celtic Frost took a girl on the road once, I don't know if
it was Tom G.'s (Tom G. Warrior, Frost vocalist/guitarist, ED.)
girlfriend or whatever, but she just looked like a tart and
everybody was spitting on her and saying, well, "get your tits
out," and, you know, if we brought a girl on she wouldn't want
that to happen. We don't want her just to be a sex object.
To wrap up the interview, Greg, I'd like to ask you some
questions of a rather technical nature, perhaps of interest to
the few guitar afficionados that may bereading the interview. Do
you use alternative tunings, pickups, string, picks, etc., when
Greg: I suppose it's sortof different from other people in other
bands, but not from song to song. Every song uses the same
tuning, we always tune to D (that's a whole note lower than
usual, ED.). I've got EMGs in one guitar and Bartolini pickups in
another guitar. We have our plectrums made by a company, medium
weight, not that special. I use 9 to 46s hybrids rather than 10s.
That wrapped up the official bit of the interview, with a
desperate request from my side to have someone point out to me
the location of the john as I could barely walk from excess
bladder contents. When I got back we got out the CD liners and
other stuff we liked the band to sign. We brought out some
bottles of Grolsch beer for the band members to enjoy. Aaron told
us it was the heavy metal beer in England, although he claims
it's more and more getting to be a yuppie drink.
They further reminisced about concerts in smaller clubs, like
Attak in Enschede, a few years ago, where people went as far as
stagediving off the balconies. They seemed not to like too much
the fact that their audiences are getting younger and younger,
especially in Germany. I asked what their girlfriends/wives
thought of perpetual lives on the road, at which Gregor said his
girlfriend has left him because he'd been home only for 6 or 7
weeks in the last 18 months.
Aaron: Girl? What's that? Is that in the same mythological
dictionary as "sunshine" perhaps?
They were interested in getting our opinion on their recent EP
release, "Seals the Sense". When I said I was a bit disappointed
because there was only one really new track on it, they said they
didn't like the way it was being marketed as if it was some sort
of totally new EP whereas, obviously, it's just a CD single to
promote "Icon" with one new track, a live version of an older
track and two regular tracks.
After we took some pictures of ourselves with the band, and
after Nick had stopped gurgling, I got him to promise to wear a
"VIRUS" T-shirt on stage that night. After that Aaron, Greg and
Matt went with us to White Noise (Utrecht's prime record shop,
maybe known by you if you're one of our faithful readers, where
Matt bought U2's "War" and "The Unforgettable Fire").
Not long after that our ways parted. Erwin and me went to a
shoarma bar to have something to eat, after which we had to go to
the "VIRUS" regular bar where between 7 and 8 pm I expected to
sell the last of the total of 62 Paradise Lost concert tickets
that I had bought for "VIRUS" members and their friends.
Nick and Aaron showed up at the same bar at around that time,
played pinball and had some Guiness. They disappeared after about
half an hour but Aaron and a few crew members and Martin, the
tour manager, came back within a few minutes and stayed until
about half an hour before the concert. He even beat a few "VIRUS"
members at the pinball machine.
At 20:20 the gathered members of "VIRUS" left the bar, too, to
join the fray in front of Tivoli where a couple of hundred fans
were already busy blocking all traffic.
But to read on about the actual concert experience you'll have
to refer to another article in this issue of ST NEWS, I'm afraid.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.