Q&A with Dani
Sheila Rene': Hang on Dani while I turn off the new CD. I've been listening to your album now for weeks.
Dani Davey: Have you really.
SR: This is a great piece of work. What I'm about to say may not surprise you, but it did me. I called up CoF on the Infoseek search engine and came up with 17,604,533 mentions.
DD: Bloomin' hell. Hang on, let me write that down.
SR: The first 15 or so were great sites having to do with this band from all parts of the world. I read reviews, interviews and looked at pictures. What fun.
DD: (laughing) Glad to hear it.
SR: The band name is one you came up with in your school days.
DD: Yes, it was one of the names on my list.
SR: Have you always wanted to be in a band?
DD: I've always wanted to do something and not necessarily of a controversial nature. A focal point I guess. A job or something that influences people in some way.
SR: Has the signing with Music For Nations and Fierce Recordings already made a difference in your fan base especially now that your album is being released in America?
DD: Most definitely. I found that out since we've been in New York for this interview session. We've had incredible response and it has landed on a lot of people's desks and they've played it. The reaction has begun.
SR: Word of mouth is still the best way to get the word out.
DD: The underground is still very important.
SR: Do strange things still happen to you. I read about a show where into your second song a bolt of lightning took out all the power.
DD: Yeah, I'm trying to think of other instances.
SR: Excuse me, but you'll never guess what just happened in my office. The desk light just exploded and I'm sitting in the dark with only the light of my computer. That's wild.
DD: Just this very minute. (laughing) We live in the witch county where Matthew Hopkins the Witchfinder General held sway for the inquisition.
SR: Gallows Hill and Constitution Hill.
DD: That's right. We've got both of those in our village. A lot of strange things are always happening around there. We live in a particularly old house that dates back to 1685 .
SR: It's a castle isn't it? The one of the cover is beautiful.
DD: No, it's just an old house. (laughing) No, we moved out of that. For example, I have a friend who's a medium (not an extra large but a medium). (laughing) She comes around the house and she sees a lot of people who...
SR: Where you live is certainly more conducive to your writing the way you do.
DD: Certainly. I couldn't imagine writing this kind of music or coming up with the atmosphere in New York. The new album is based on atmosphere and has that soundtrack quality. It would have a totally different flavor if we lived in a city. I'm really enjoying being here. It's great and a big culture shock at the same time.
SR: Of course, you know we have a lot of Witch Generals still living in America. You and I would be burning.
DD: Actually, if I were transported back 100 years I'd be dead that number of years by now.
SR: I can't figure out why we can't have interest in things about the occult and ceremony and rituals but the Catholic Church can.
DD: It does. The power of the church in England is waning considerably. They've had a lot of scandals lately where priests have been found abusing children. It doesn't affect us really as much as it does over in America. You have the Bible Belt, etc. The Catholics and the Protestants are still warring in Northern Ireland. You know about that business. I find the whole concept of Catholicism so bizarre. It's as simple as black and white. The concept of heaven and hell. The balance between the two is just so ridiculous I find.
DD: (laughing) I was having a conversation recently with this Christian and we came to the conclusion-- fair enough, if there is a God then perhaps the Devil is a necessity.
SR: In the Christian religion you can't have one without the other.
DD: No, but it all goes back to all this Catholic kind of black and white ideas. We put forth the idea to him, that he kind of agreed upon, how ridiculous it would be to find out at the point of death where he would transcend or what have you and after he denied sexuality all his life and certain other pleasures that we've been afforded. To look back at the point of death and he suddenly realized there was no point in living...you just lived to exist and how would he react to that? You just realized there wasn't any Jesus.
SR: You've said that creative writing is your real high in life. How long have you been at it?
DD: I have had a lot of influences. I'm a real fan of 19th Century authors like Byron, Shelly (Percy and Mary) and Sheridan Lefenue to name a few. I loved their decadence and the drama of the period. The verbosity of it all, the cadence of the words. I think books today are just pulp. People don't speak with so much passion anymore and there was a repression back then--especially sexually.
SR: Back then?
DD: You mean today. It's very open now. I was just thinking hypothetically. You have sex therapists and sex on TV.
SR: There's more sex on TV than in your albums.
DD: Exactly. They didn't have TV back then and it came out in the prose and the poetry. I really do find that period of history to be influential.
SR: I agree. King Diamond has sometimes come up with ideas through dreams.
DD: Occasionally, because I have trouble sleeping sometimes anyway. I have disturbing dreams..my waking life is like that. Things I surround myself with and the things we do has that aura like the album covers. My dreams are strange, weird sort of - not visions but events that don't make sense. That's the scary thing, the bizarre, and not the nice bizarre. Inspiration does come from dreams I suppose but the majority is what I surround myself with and how I act. It's a lifestyle that you're born into. You know what I mean?
SR: Yes, I do.
DD: I revel in what I do because I believe I was born into this life. I enjoy every facet of it. It's no trouble for me to sit here speaking to you now, for example. It's my life style.
SR: Would you agree that the biggest difference in this album as one writer put it--is more condensed but yet expanded. The guitars are expanded.
DD: It was recorded on 72 different tracks. The first album was recorded on 24 tracks. The drums alone were 21 or 22 tracks. The fact is we were trying to make everything paint a picture. Every listenable gap in every frequency is absolutely covered. All of it. I think this aids the effect of the album. It sounds almost inhuman at times. It's not six people creating music but rather that the sounds were grown. I like that sound.
SR: I love that double riffing.
DD: We have two very talented guitarists.
SR: Who does the solo on "Beauty Slept In Sodom?" It's the only guitar solo on the whole album.
DD: We don't really go too much for the solo. It was Stuart. He went to a guitar college or something like that in London and studied. Morbid Angel on their first demo every place there wasn't singing they put a solo and it ruins the mood of the song. The one solo he has done on this album is amazing.
SR: It's very sharp. Was it your idea to bring in Kit Woolven. I love his work.
DD: There's a strange story here. We were looking for someone to produce the album but we wanted to get someone to give us the soundtrack-type thing. Two weeks before the studio time was to start we were a little panicky. Then our manageresse asked if we'd like to use her husband? It was Kit Woolven and it was a done deal. At that point I knew nothing about him. I knew roughly about his work with Cathedral and Thin Lizzy but I had not made the connection with her. He did a really good job. He has given it the kind of respect that everything has to have its place.
SR: Did you have a lot to do with the producing as well as the mixing?
DD: Yes and no because CoF is about us. It's all about us getting our own way. We like to get involved in everything we do and so this was a new thing for us...to allow Kit to oversee the project. Then again, this is the first time we've ever used a proper producer like that. On previous albums it was just an engineer. Producers usually have fixed ideas and fixed ways of doing things, but he was trying to transcend those. Every now and then we'd interject something like 'we know you've done this many times, but look at it from our perspective.'
SR: How do you do it? You use no devices to make your voice sound the way it does.
DD: There were a couple of things I used..a harmonizer because I go so high, that's me and I go so low, that's me, but there is some of it where I use a little reverb. My voice has changed so much because of the way I sing.
SR: Do you take care of your voice in any special way?
DD: I'm ashamed to admit that I'm a bit lax with that. I used to sing properly.
SR: I have to admit that the high pitched shrieking held me off guard for a while. I wanted to be able to understand the words. So after a couple of times through the album I knew some of the words and it was okay. Once I listened to your voice as a separate instrument I got it.
DD: That's exactly it. The new material we've been writing is more catchy in that respect. You can hear the words more. The thing about Dusk - And Her Embrace is that it is closing a chapter in our history.
SR: Principle Of Evil Made Flesh, the EP Vempire or Dark Faerytales in Phallustein and now Dusk.
DD: We really wanted to drive it home. In the studio at that point I hadn't rehearsed in nine weeks. I had been doing my warm up tape but something just broke inside me.. On tour, for example, I can't sing like that night after night. I revert to doing deeper vocals. I play around with my vocals.
SR: I love that deep stuff. The trilogy is complete. What is the common thread throughout these three works?
DD: The trilogy can be tied up because the imagery is themes of resurrection, role playing, triumph of vice over virtue and there's a hook there as well about the attraction of dark beauty. There's a hope there as well. The beauty and the beast for instance. The covers do suggest that with extreme beauty. When you step back and look at the concept of it that's the beast. The evil inside all of us. Other bands such as Deicide promote evil and evil for itself nothing else. There's no reason to back it up except for hate. We vent our hate but there's a lot of dark sapic love involved. I suppose when we speak of the trilogy it's putting the past behind us.
SR: Didn't that make you stronger and put you in a much better place?
DD: It made us immortal because we went through a lot of shit.
SR: Is this perhaps the most spiritually connected of all the band's formations? I'm crazy about your drummer's look. I don't like people calling him "Uncle Fester."
DD: As you were talking, I actually looked at a picture of Nosforatu. That was strange.
SR: Exactly that's who he reminds me of.
DD:There's a better connection now. We had it in the original lineup. It was really, really strong. Now it's different because we know we have everything to work for and everything to lose. The whole future is there for us. We put all that lawsuit stuff behind us. We've started to write material for a new EP which will be released in the fall. The material is brilliant. One track in particular, "Cruelty Brought Me Orchids." It's superb and then again people will make their own minds up. We know we've got a lot to show. We've come to America, not to sound pretentious, but we have been labeled the biggest thing in this scene. We don't see this as a competition. It's our lifestyle and we're all like this. We've done these albums and there's no reason we shouldn't continue into the future. We have a great sense of who we are.
SR: I don't particularly like the term "black metal." I prefer to call it dark gothic. What does the "black metal" term mean? Gothic is so much more romantic
DD: To me the term relates to anything that has a gothic influence. You can see the romance involved in all of this.
SR: About the T-shirt saga, the kid was arrested for offending the holy ghost. What's the shirt for this tour?
DD: The purpose of that shirt was designated to cause a reaction. Some people can't see the satirical side of it. The fact that there's a nun simulating masturbation on the front and the Jesus Is A Cunt on the back. No one saw the connection there really. I couldn't think of anything other than the Jesus Loves You pap. I just thought it summed up how he lives in the minds of millions of people. We don't have an anti-Christian message. Band's who do have that message should grow up unless there was something in their childhood that was so bad maybe from being abused by a priest that makes them that way. Ignorance is bliss when it comes to that kind of thing. Everyone is offended by it. Jesus takes a lot of shit doesn't he?
SR: Let's talk about Simon Marsden, the ghosthunter/photographer and how you hooked up with him for some of the cover art?
DD: I've been a fan of his work before and it just fits the idealogy of Dusk --And Her Embrace. His work was perfect to represent the band's music. We got in touch with him and at this point he still hasn't listened to the album. We gave him the lyrics and he understood it all. He does creditable books about his trips around Europe where he has just taken loads and loads of pictures. He has also adapted an Edgar Allen Poe-like collection and illustrated with his work. It's quite interesting. He essentially is a ghost hunter/photographer. His photograps were done with night vision cameras.
SR: They're all stunning for sure. Who photographed the centerfold picture with the message "Never Leave Me" under a beautiful woman?
DD: If you've seen any of our merchandising, you know we always feature beautiful women, most of whom are famous English models. You can't be half-hearted about any of this. If you going to do anything you might as well go full-hog. Anything, I'm talking about. It would look half-hearted if we were flaunting the imagery of women. We put them on pedestals. If women don't like that, it's tough.
SR: Women are the dominant species, we all know that.
DD: (laughing) Yes, quite right. I won't argue with you. Can you see the point of that?
SR: Yes, of course I can. There's a really fine line of danger between living the lifestyle to its fullest and not getting too deep into it that you can't come back.
DD: You're quite correct. I think that's where families come in. That's a part of my social circle that I keep very hidden. I draw them into the fold to protect them. My Grandma doesn't want to be sucked in to all this. Those kind of people literally bring you back down to earth. My Mother knows everything about the band, she has come to our shows and she's really up for it. She can bring me straight back to earth with a few simple words every now and them.
SR: What's your stage show like? Do you dress for the music?
DD: We generally wear leather clothing straight out of Edward Scissorhand.
SR: Your music demands that kind of costuming.
DD: Not only that, we have a great lighting guy who comes up with some strange effects with patterns because the beams are so powerful. He knows the part and really plays to the atmosphere of the music, all the highs and lows. We have great sound man. We use a lot of candelabras and dry ice. The whole show has that gothic element from beginning to end. It's raw, raucous and rock and roll.
SR: Cronos who does the war speech on "Haunted Shores." Refresh my mind about what band he's from?
DD: He's in Venom.
SR: Who are the beautiful female voices on this record. I pulled up the names Danielle and Sarah.
DD: That's right. They're very good friends of the band. They sometimes tour with us. We recently did an MTV show where we played live and they came with us for that. We go to Europe in six weeks. It's impractical with 16 people and the crew on the bus and also it just involves a lot more time and is more expenditure. It's a bit sad really. When we do larger gigs when we come to the U.S. for 15 shows, I think we should be bringing them along with us.
SR: That's great news. I hope I'm at one of those 15 shows.
DD: So do I.
SR: Thanks for your time and your music.
DD: It has been a pleasure. Thank you very much.