Aaron Stainthorpe: “The purse of gold and stars is kind of a metaphor for somewhere where you keep all of your greatest memories, all the finest moments that you ever experienced in your life. So it is not a reference to real gold, it is a reference to something that is invaluable, something that will remain in your mind until the day you die and every time you’ll remember it, you’ll always be happy.”
Gelukkig was er in dit vermaledijde jaar 2020 nog een constante stroom aan nieuwe albums die als het ware een balsem voor de ziel waren. Engelse doom metal meesters My Dying Bride zorgden zelfs voor een volledig album ‘The Ghost of Orion’ en een EP (‘Macabre Cabaret’) en zullen ongetwijfeld weer vernoemd worden in menige jaarlijst. Om de release van de EP ‘Macabre Cabaret’ enige luister bij te zetten, hadden we wederom een hartelijk gesprek met zanger Aaron Stainthorpe en daaruit blijkt dat de band allerminst stil gezeten heeft dit jaar nu alle concerten in het water vielen.
Vera Matthijssens Ι 10 december 2020
Last time we talked was in January this year on behalf of ‘The Ghost Of Orion’ which came out early March. Well, the world has changed since then…
Yes, it changed quite a bit actually, but I think we are coping with that. At least we managed to release ‘The Ghost Of Orion’ before lockdowns happened in this country, but I don’t think that would have affected record sales much to be honest, because I think most people buy records on line. I guess a few people bought it from record stores before they closed. By total we were lucky, because we were one of the last bands to be able to release an album before the lockdown happened. Of course, all the gigs have been canceled. That’s a great shame, because this was kind of going to be our comeback year. Our last show was in September 2017. In 2020 My Dying Bride, you could actually see them alive again, but unfortunately not. So hopefully 2021 is when My Dying Bride is going to play live again and then it would be over three years since the last time we played live, so that’s a long time to be off the stage.
We know from our previous conversation that enough material was recorded, mixed and mastered by Mark Mynett to spread over an album and an EP. Now it is time for the EP. It is called ‘Macabre Cabaret’. Was there a kind of special reason for calling it this way?
You know what a cabaret is: a variety of interesting things. And a macabre version I think would be a reflection of the lives that we live. We all like to sit and have a coffee and watch life go by. And we like the gossip of people about other people’s lives. It is just kind of my outlook on life at the moment. It is quite broad, there’s lots of horrible people in the world, but there’s lots of nice people in the world too and I don’t. kind of write in the normal style. It is sometimes difficult to people, for listening to the music and read the lyrics, to understand what I am really trying to say. But that is fine, I like that, because it means that people can read the lyrics and decide for themselves what they want the song to be about. Then we see people on Facebook telling us what the song is about and that’s great. And then we open a conversation and I tell them what I thought when I wrote the song and we start a conversation. It is nice to have a song which is open to interpretation and not just ‘a story’. There is nothing wrong with stories, but sometimes it is just nice to have a comment on the world (and not just society). The world is working and living together. How people live when they are in love and how they sometimes conflict there. Sometimes you have to give more of yourself to make the relationship work. So ‘Macabre Cabaret’ is about finding your own way in the world among all the weird freaky behavior of the other people.
That will take a lifetime I think…
Oh definitely. We might never find it.
You have created a video clip for that title track. What can you tell about that?
Yes, we have made a video clip a few months ago now, it has just been released. I went down to London to shoot some stuff there and then the camera crew came up to Yorkshire to film the band in our rehearsal space. It actually went well. There’s no crazy stories, nothing went wrong, it all went according to plan. It came out on the same date as the EP, last Friday and it looks pretty good. We are very proud of it, we put a lot of hard work into it and I think it is a good representation of the music, because, again, it shows how relationships can go from brilliant to very, very bad, in a short space of time.
The song ‘A Secret Kiss’ reminds me a bit of the early days, with firm amount of grunts…
Yes, a lot of people are telling me that the song – and actually the whole EP – reminds them of an earlier time of My Dying Bride, which is not something we did intentionally. It is just the way it came out. We released the song ‘A Secret Kiss’ first, about a month ago now. That got a lyric video with it, by Nuclear Blast, which is rather nice. It was the first new song since ‘The Ghost Of Orion’ that people heard and again, it went down really well. We looked on the platforms of social media and people loved it and said that they were really looking forward to the release of the EP. When the EP was released, it sold out right away, which was amazing and we heard that Nuclear Blast had to reorder copies before it was really released. That was really good news, since even though it is only an EP, everybody wants it, which is wonderful for us!
That’s true, but I think now that people are more in isolation, they might have rediscovered the charms of listening to music while doing nothing else besides it…
It is an interesting time, because, if you love music, this is the exact time to enjoy as much music as you can, because when life gets back to normal – which may be in another year or even longer – you find that you suddenly becoming really busy again and you don’t have time to listen to as much music. So I think now is a great opportunity for people to listen to as much music as possible without interruption. So it is a great time for music lovers, not for them who want to see bands playing live though, because that is a terrible time because nobody is playing live.
Yes, I think it has been since I was twelve that I did not do concerts for such a long time…
Yes, it is crazy. As I told you it has been three years, but it does not impact My Dying Bride as much as it does other bands. You know, some bands play like 150 shows a year. Those guys are going crazy now, because they are not earning any money, they are sitting at home, they never spent so much time at home, since they were children and it must be driving a lot of musicians absolutely crazy. Some bands will probably split up, some bands will find the time to create a new album. Actually 2021 is going to see a lot of albums from bands that should be playing live and cannot. They are probably writing and recording new music right now, so there could be more albums released next year than in the history of music.
Indeed, more and more musician tell me that they are thinking about a next album…
Well, you always get to think ahead… I know Andy is already writing new material for when our next record will be. We are not focusing on doing a new record, he is just writing. As a song-writer he is always writing material, he never really stops. You know, if 2021 does not look like a good year for touring either, then we might enter the studio for doing a new album, but it is not the plan. The plan is: let’s get back on stage, but let’s see what the pandemic does first.
Can you tell something about the third and last song on the EP ‘A Purse Of Gold And Stars’?
Yes, the purse of gold and stars is kind of a metaphor for somewhere where you keep all of your greatest memories, all the finest moments that you ever experienced in your life. So it is not a reference to real gold, it is a reference to something that is invaluable, something that will remain in your mind until the day you die and every time you’ll remember it, you’ll always be happy. It will always bring a warm feeling in your heart and your soul and so for me, the purse contains memories of gold and stars as memories, the most wonderful memories that you have had. But also a place where you can put the memories you haven’t had yet, the future that lies in front of you. You know you are going to experience some great times in the future and the purse is there waiting to collect all the very, very best moments. And it is that purse, that sits with you on your last day on earth and you remember only the very nice moments, that’s when the purse is open for the final time, when you take your last breath and you enjoy those wonderful moments that you have experienced as a human.
What about the artwork?
We had an Italian guy for the EP, called Roberto Bodin. I will be talking with Roberto on Facebook in a few weeks time. When I get my box with EP’s – haven’t got it yet – I am going to do a kind of un-boxing for people who haven’t got a copy yet. Surely we will talk about the artwork and show some of Roberto’s works and ideas. So there is going to come up a talk with Roberto in the next couple of weeks.
Now it is positive to have social media to keep in contact with the fans… so it seems…
Yes it is great. It took a long time before I joined social media, I only joined last year. I am finding it very interesting. It is very capturing as well, because as soon as you join social media, you get hundreds of messages from all over the world every day and I cannot answer them all, I do look at some of them and I do answer a lot of them, but it is just impossible. But it is good, because it is a way of communicating with people. Well, in the past we did not really talk to our artists much, but the fans want to know who those artists are. They want to know how they created the images and in the end social media is a great platform for just extra talk, like bonus chats. So we are taking that opportunity to talk. I have already done an interview with Eliran Kantor (artwork for ‘The Ghost Of Orion’ – Vera) about a week ago, we are just putting the video together now, so that will come up very soon too. So there is two new videos of me chatting about the artwork in the next few weeks. It is a nice way to share extra stuff.
So we can see that as a new hobby or a way to be artistic in isolation?
Well, I have been busy anyway. In the first lockdown, I was looking after my daughter, because the schools were closed. During the second lockdown, the schools were open, so I had a little bit more free time now, which gives me time to do more interviews and do these social media events, for instance to promote the My Dying Bride beer, because that was a recent thing as well. It takes a lot of time to make the band run, because, as you know, we never had a manager. Myself and Andrew run the band, so we have to come up with ways of talking about the band, because if people cannot see us live, they still want to know what we are doing. And it is my job to tell everybody what we are doing, so I now have a little more time to dedicate to the band, because with the first lockdown, I had no time at all. Now I can talk more.
What can you tell about the My Dying Bride beer?
We worked on it about a year actually, last November we started talking about doing a beer and we found a local brewery, called Darkland brewery. We did a lot of sampling, which was great fun. We came up with our own recipe. We picked the ingredients and we mixed it ourselves. And we came up with this really nice beer. It is called ‘Old Earth’ after one of the songs on ‘The Ghost Of Orion’ and it was launched about one month ago now I think. It would have been nice if we could held a big party, but of course we couldn’t, because of social distancing etcetera… , but the beer is selling really well. We are trying to get it licensed in different countries. If you live in Germany, you can buy it from Germany. If you live in Belgium, you can buy it from Belgium. That is what we are trying to work on for the moment, because it is expensive for someone, say in Canada, to buy a case of beer from England. Because beer is quite heavy, the shipping cost is a lot of money. So we are trying to work out licensing deals with different countries, so that they can brew the beer in their own country, so the fans over there can get it. So that is the next big step: I am trying to do research on how we do that. So if anybody is reading this, please get in touch with Darkland Brewery and help us out!
Are there still other news facts you can share with us?
Well, I did some guest vocals for a couple of bands at the moment, because it is big fun. It is quite interesting to sing on music that is not My Dying Bride, so that is quite interesting. Again, I could not do it during the first lockdown, because I was looking after my daughter all the time, but now I have a bit more time to do some guest vocals for other bands. And I am still working on new merchandise ideas for My Dying Bride. We are doing a beer T shirt, and a beer mat and some other alcohol related items. There is possibly going to be a My Dying Bride wine, called Macabre Cabernet, which would be great fun. We are still researching that at the moment. So yes, I am keeping busy, trying to keep My Dying Bride busy.
So, I think we have covered everything then, because the live shows matter is still a question…
Yeah there are two or three vaccines coming up, so things may change quite quickly, I really hope we get to play next year. If we don’t, then we must surely play in 2022. But I hope it is 2021, but if things still look bad in 2021, then we are probably going to do an on line gig, like a number of other bands have done. We haven’t confirmed anything yet, but we are looking into doing it if 2021 looks like we are not playing live. Maybe sometime early next year. The demand is great and fans seem to like it.