Call it happy coincidence, call it supreme planning, whatever… but in the week when Sentinel Daily crowned Halifax misanthropes Paradise Lost the Kings of 2017 via their superb Medusa opus, I find myself in the bowels of Sydney’s Metro venue chewing the fat with the band’s rhythm guitarist Aaron Aedy. The band were shortly to take the stage to deliver a solidly impressive set in support of said album, but first the affable six stringer was happy to chat on a variety of subjects… the first of which was how recording has changed for the band over the years.
I’ve talked to both your former producer Simon Efemy and manager Andy Farrow in the last few months about the recording of your Draconian Times album. Has the way you approached the recording of Medusa changed much in comparison to the way you put together Draconian Times in 1995? “Not massively, no. When we were doing Medusa we were doing it at (producer Jaime) Gomez’ (Arellano) home studio (Orgone Studios)- he was still fitting it out and putting it together so it wasn’t as residential as some of the studios we’ve used. The studios usually have enough space for us all to live there, if you like to be there for the whole month or whatever… I usually like to be there for the whole thing. But Gomez only had a couple of rooms so we couldn’t all be there at the same time, which is a shame because I think the vibe is better when you can do that. It was a lovely spot, but there wasn’t enough space. Besides that aspect… we do like being shut away to do an album. For the last couple of albums we’ve wanted to get back to a more organic sound. When we first recorded with Simon there were no Protools – you got a guitar sound, you recorded a guitar sound, done. There was no reamping… we’ve had producers in the past where we’ve got a good sound in the studio and used it and then they just go away and make up their own amp sound. Which was good, but not what we actually got ourselves. So for the last couple of albums we’ve just wanted to get the sound and record it. The way we used to do it in ‘the good old days’… people loved that stuff so there can’t be much wrong with it!”
Surely yours and Gregor (Mackintosh, lead guitar)’s guitar tones are crushing enough without the need for third party fiddling? “To be fair those albums did sound good, but they didn’t sound how we envisaged it. Sometimes that’s why you hire a producer – for their vision as well as yours – but we’ve generally been trusted with our own vision of how it sounds over the years. Obviously Peaceville did, and Music for Nations were a great label for us. Even the labels that didn’t do so well for us had people working with us who were great, and then Century Media and Nuclear Blast have been great too. We just wanted for this album to have it how we wanted to hear it. And then nobody can fuck about with it”.
I think the first time I saw you live was around 1996, on the Draconian Times tour. You’d been going a while already then. “Eight years by then”.
Did you think at that point that Paradise Lost would still be very much a going concern over twenty years later? “We never looked beyond the next album. Not that we never thought we’d go for one album more than Draconian Times… it was evolving, it was going well, we were enjoying it, but you never think beyond the next record because anything can happen. Somebody could die, you fall out, there’s no longer a love for what you’re doing… you can’t plan ahead or you’ll inevitably be disappointed. We look low but aim high! Optimistic pessimists!”
That’s a very English way of looking at things. “We’re from the North! That’s why I always describe us as a grey cloud with a silver lining! It’s very much a Northern thing. That’s why there are so many good Goth bands and doom bands coming out of the area”.
You’ve done a fair bit of touring behind Medusa. “Yes, we’ve just done a seven week European tour”.
Festivals next year? “Definitely. We’ve got some UK shows in February, looks like we’ll be going back to South America and Greece although those aren’t definite yet, then it’s the Festival season, we’ve got shows coming in for the Autumn as well…”
Busy times ahead! I used to do a bit of touring in the late nineties and early years of this century, and I found that by the end of that time it didn’t matter what country you were in you’d start to see many of the same shops in different cities… is this your experience? And do you think fans are getting more alike the world over or do they maintain their national characteristics? “There still is an element of that… if you play somewhere like Athens they sing the solos, not just the lyrics, and it’s the whole crowd, not just a few people! You go to Chile and it’s bedlam! Argentina and Brazil are great as well, Mexico has always been pretty good for us too. Spain is always passionate as well. That’s not to take anything away from somewhere like Germany. They love it too but in a different way. I think with the internet making the world smaller it’s definitely having an effect and with the next generation it might be even more noticeable. I think people are keen to hold on to as much of their culture though as they see it being taken away. Not through immigration but through commercialism. Immigration and the blending of cultures is one of the most beautiful things in the world. But commercialism, where they shoot an image ‘this is what you want’ around the world, and people aspire to that image, leeches a lot of individuality out of us. But people still have their own little ways, but like you say it is getting to the point where on every corner you know the first five shops you are going to see. Certainly in the bigger cities”.
Moving away from PL for a moment and on to some of the questions we’ve been asking all our interviewees at this time of year, what’s the best album you bought this year? “The last album I actually bought was the fortieth anniversary picture disc of Out of the Blue by The Electric Light Orchestra. I’ve loved them for forty years! I remember getting into them with that album in late 1977/78. I went to see them for the first time earlier this year at Wembley and they were fucking incredible. Is that the best album I bought this year? It’s one of my all time favourites. New albums? There’s been some pretty cool music coming out recently but now you’ve asked me I can’t remember anything!”.
Sentinel Daily has just started a Radio Station, and we’re asking everyone we speak to nominate the five metal songs they feel every metal station should have on its playlist. ‘Masters of Reality – Blue Garden. Iron Maiden – The Trooper. I fucking love that song”.
Do you like Trooper beer? “Yes I do! I’m good friends with (Maiden manager) Rod Smallwood, we do the Heavy Metal Truants charity bike ride. I fucking love him but he’s always ‘Trooper! Trooper! Trooper!’. I love Iron Maiden. One of the reasons I’m sat here today is Number of the Beast. But the Trooper has got my favourite solo in it”.
Are you an Adrian Smith man or a Dave Murray man overall? Do you know what? I love Dave Murray! Because he just lets it fly! But Adrian Smith does have some great parts – and that’s the beauty of them – they are completely different! That’s why they are amazing together”.
I think that’s a bit like KK Downing and Glenn Tipton isn’t it? They are brilliant for different reasons. I’m a Smith and Tipton man but I understand why people like Dave and KK. “It’s what they both bring to the table. Downing and Tipton – I can’t split them! Whereas with Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton from Queensrÿche it’s Chris DeGarmo. Michael Wilton’s a great player but Chris DeGarmo had that extra little bit”.
Well that’s two songs down. I will say that at this point – and you’re about the thirtieth person we’ve asked to do this – Iron Maiden are the only band that absolutely everybody has nominated. We expected Black Sabbath to be the universal nomination. “I was going to say Sabbath but they get played so often I wanted something different. I absolutely love Rush. It’s the fortieth anniversary this year of Farewell to Kings as well, and that’s the first rock album I ever got. But trying to pick a song off of that… Xanadu’s my favourite but it’s fucking long! You wouldn’t put it on the radio! Although it could be a toilet break for the DJ…”
We’re broadcasting twenty four hours a day, seven days a week so song length isn’t a problem. “Alright, Xanadu by Rush. What next? Scorpions… In Trance. I love the Scorpions. Actually my favourite album is Fly to the Rainbow. There were a few blokes on our road when I was growing up and we all liked the Scorpions. But we didn’t have much money so we picked two or three of their albums to buy each and then just tape them for one another, just the four of us on the road… I ended up with Love at First Sting, In Trance and Fly to the Rainbow. I saw the cover and thought ‘oh for fuck’s sake this is going to be shit!’ Even the Scorpions say ‘what the fuck were we doing with that album cover!’ They’d used the same company to design the cover of the album before, Lonesome Crow, which is good… A bit like us with Believe in Nothing – ‘what the fuck’s this? Oh, it’s out!’. (laughs). But it’s actually a great album. It’s still got a bit of Michael Schenker in there but then there’s Uli Jon Roth. I actually saw Uli Jon Roth in a supermarket in Wales! I never knew but he lived in the same village that my wife comes from. I was in the supermarket one day and through the trolley I saw this pair of pixie boots! I thought ‘who the hell is that?’ – and Uli Jon Roth is in the supermarket! He was actually pretty well turned out – dressed like you’d expect him to be, but I didn’t say anything. I just froze!”
Last track? “Michael Schenker – Attack of the Mad Axeman. Especially the live version on One Night at Budokan. That’s four. (It’s actually five but keep going, I’m enjoying this – ED.). I’d better make the last one a good ‘un. I’d like to put Metallica in as they were a big influence, James Hetfield is a rhythm guitar God… I also want to put Accept in there! Actually no – Motörhead’s Iron Fist”.
Nice one! Not the usual Motörhead selection. “I got into metal when Number of the Beast came out in 1982 and Iron Fist came out around that time”.
That’s the first tour I saw Motörhead on. “I never saw them then because my mum wouldn’t let me go to concerts until I left school! The first gig I went to was Metallica when I was sixteen! I was so blown away!”.
Our conversation moves on to PL’s watershed album, One Second, a chat which space demands we save for another day. After we wind up Aedy heads back to the dressing room to prepare for the show, whilst Sentinel Daily heads to the bar for similar preparation. Congrats to Aaron Aedy and Paradise Lost for releasing Sentinel Daily’s top album of 2017, Medusa!