Haaving surpassed all expectations with sublime new album “The Plague Within“, Paradise Lost frontman Nick Holmes found the time to have a few words with ThisIsNotAScene.
Hi Nick. “The Plague Within” is totally smashing it across the board, with fans, critics, internet blogs, magazines, etc. Does this cycle of post release activity feel a little different to the last few albums, in terms of buzz, praise and hype around it? I ask because as a huge fan, it does seem a little more intense than the last few releases?
I guess there is a little more interest, as it’s a quite a different album to what we have done over the past few years.
I listened recently to an interview with Greg (Mackintosh – PL guitarist) by Thomas Haywood Jr. and when they were speaking about the vocal approach this time around, they said that perhaps (Nick‘s death metal side-project) Bloodbath had given you more confidence in that aspect of your voice again – would you agree with that?
Well I suppose it helped me find the growl again, but we recorded two old PL songs (‘Gothic’ and ‘Our Saviour’ for the “Tragic Illusion 25 (The Rarities)” compilation album) before I actually did the Bloodbath album, and that actually made us decide to go more down the harder route.
Following on from that, do you, or have you ever, used vocal coaching for technique and breathing, etc.?
I used a coach around the “One Second” album and had about five or six lessons. They do help for cleaner singing but for growling it’s all about personal technique; I don’t think anyone can teach you how to do that sort of stuff.
I really have to ask about the vocal phrasing in ‘Beneath Broken Earth’. It works, but it really shouldn’t. Was this a result of the slightly different approach song writing that Greg has mentioned, asking you to do many different takes at the demo stage and then splicing and chopping them up?
We didn’t actually do that with ‘Beneath Broken Earth’. I wrote the melodies and we kept them as they were for that one. That song has a great core riff to bounce off vocally, and with the harder voice it’s just a matter of wrapping the words around the riffs. If voice chopping happens it’s usually on the more subtle vocal.
How were the shows in Germany? Were there some songs that were definite highlights? What tracks will make the normal sets on upcoming shows?
They were great. We played three new ones which were all very well received. I think we shall play a large percentage of the album when we tour in September.
I can’t find record of it happening, and I certainly do not remember it, but other than “Draconian Times” have you ever played a PL album in full live?
No, only “Draconian Times” until now.
Greg recently discussed his love for Depeche Mode, and I was really fascinated in what he said about how he likes most of it up until “Ultra” but then feels after that they really have lost an edge. That is exactly how I feel. I wondered what your take was on that and also, what your preferred era and record is from Depeche Mode? Undoubtedly for me, “Songs of Faith and Devotion” is untouchable.
I think Depeche Mode have loads of really great classic songs but I wouldn’t class myself as a fan per se, I don’t think I’ve ever listened to an album all the way through, but I would also agree everything after “Ultra” didn’t really interest me at all.
What was your favourite record of 2014? And what has excited you this year musically, so far? Take us through a week in your life, when not on the road? What would you listen to over seven days?
From 2014 I liked the Pallbearer album but this year I’m really into the Sleaford Mods. It’s a totally different end of the spectrum, but I love the anger and the Britishness of it all! When I’m not playing I like to cycle but most of the time I’m just a slave/cash machine for my children.
Would you ever consider working with Simon Efemy again?
Yes, why not!
Is there a TV show that no one would ever expect that Nick Holmes from misery mongers Paradise Lost enjoys?
No big surprises, I like all the ‘box set’ US shows. I tend to not really watch much terrestrial television. Only documentaries and sometimes a good comedy but those are few and far between these days.
You’re home in Halifax, are you relatively unknown around town or do you get the odd fan that sees you chats or asks for a picture, etc? Can you go down your local pub relatively quietly?
I haven’t lived in Halifax for over 25 years; in fact no one in the band has! Going out to the pub, though, is never a problem.
Does Adrian (Erlandsson – Swedish PL drummer) understand the band’s dry Yorkshire wit and self-deprecating humour? I take it part of him coming in as a member was a lot to do with how he gelled as a person as well as a musician?
Adrian understands and practices it on a regular basis. He probably gets it a lot more than perhaps someone growing up in Essex may do.
Finally, what one song are you most proud of from “The Plague Within”? And then answer the same question from the following PL albums – “Shades of God”, “Icon”, “Host”, “Believe in Nothing” and “In Requiem”?
Not enough retrospect (for “The Plague Within”) but I can do the others! ‘Daylight Torn’, ‘Embers Fire’, ‘Harbour’, ‘World Pretending’, ‘Ash & Debris’.
Thanks Nick, and can’t wait for the UK tour later this year.
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