by Christopher Lee
Paradise Lost, need no introduction! The UK's pioneers of gothic, dark, melancholic metal, a sound that has spawned countless imitations via classic records like "Gothic", "Draconian Times" and the groundbreaking, yet controversial "One Second". Throughout all their various era's one thing has remained paramount to the theme of Paradise Lost, and that is, pain is liberation! "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger", and makes for great albums, which is why they have maintained a career over the course of 13 studio records and 25 years! Paradise Lost is an artform unto themselves! Crypt Magazine spoke to main man of pain, Nick Holmes on a foggy night direct from England to discuss the bands recent release "Tragic Illusion 25" (The Lost Rarities) out NOW on Century Media Records, among other things! READ ON!
Crypt: Good morning Nick, it's an honor to talk to you! So how is the weather in the UK right now?
Nick Holmes: It's pretty good mate, it's just foggy, it's like Jack The Ripper kind of weather (laughs)! But it's OK, I like it though, it's OK!
Crypt: So with the release of "Tragic Illusion 25 (The Rarities)", were all these tracks songs outtakes that were recorded during the Lost Paradise and Gothic recording sessions?
Nick Holmes: Uh, no, the songs we recorded, kind of rerecorded 2 old songs "Gothic" and "Our Savior" their the ones that we recorded about 6 months ago. And we wrote and recorded a new song called "Loneliness Remains" which is a brand new song, which had not been released before, it was written specifically for that album. And then the other song was kind of like, uh, an extra song perhaps fans might not have heard, unless your kind of like "uber fans" you can now hear these songs and some cover versions as well which are, kind of went under the radar kind of at the time ya know, so...
Crypt: After 13 records and 25 years of writing music, what inspires you to write such amazing lyrics, one would think you are one depressing, miserable bastard!?
Nick Holmes: (Laughs). Eh, cause I like to read, I like depressing stuff, ya know, I find it all quite uplifting, I like to read miserable kind of literature, I mean I like things that are "dark", ya know, I like dark movies, I like sad movies, I just, ya know, it kind of lifts me up, and I know that Greg (guitarist Gregor Mackintosh) feels the same, ya know?
Crypt: I feel that way myself, it's almost like a Paradise Lost lyric, there is a certain beauty to celebrating the B-side of existence, it makes you appreciate things more!
Nick Holmes: Yeah, I mean, and like I said and some people that seemingly kind of find such funny, kind of happy things, they are kind of usually the most darkest inside anyway!
Crypt: I know its always been hard for Paradise Lost to gain stable ground in the US, and you have done a few tours here in the past few years, probably your first since the 90's, any plans to come back again?
Nick Holmes: Um, we toured with Devin Townsend, I think was, was it 2010? That wasn't too long ago I don't think, so...I'm not sure actually. I mean, ya know, any opportunity we get to come over, we'll definitely come over, the more we tour, the more fun we have, ya know, it's always nice to come over, sure. We just need to get the right break, get on the right tour support, or possible headline, who knows, we certainly, ya know, if we see an opportunity we'll take it!
Crypt: Did you ever find it frustrating that when it came to the US, you guys were always competing with the death metal trend and never got the attention you deserved?
Nick Holmes: A little bit, I mean, but we didn't really count on any of it really, cause we toured with Morbid Angel in 1993, and it was a very long tour, and we were, we were kind of wet behind the ears, we really didn't know anything about touring. And it kind of killed us off a little bit, we were kind of scared to come back after that, and then we didn't come back for a long time, we started to gain a little bit of ground in Europe, and so we concentrated on Europe more and we neglected to come back to the states, I think that crosses allot of, ya know, we could have covered allot of ground there but we neglected that, so, regardless of any trends or what was said about us, we just, we never came back, we couldn't prove anything. I kind of regret that fact really, ya know, but I mean, since then we love coming to the states, but ya know, it's just one of those things...
Crypt: Well I remember you guys touring with Morbid Angel and Kreator in 1992 I believe, and driving four hours to Tampa to see you guys since it was your first time in America, and the band only played 4 songs! I was still ecstatic to see you guys perform, any memories from that tour being your first time in the US?
Nick Holmes: Um, I think most of our memories are from THAT tour to be honest (laughs). I mean we got, I mean it was a long tour, I mean obviously we felt so far away from home because we never traveled much of anywhere, but yeah it was kind of, we've got so many memories of it, in hindsight it was very amusing, there was some very funny times! But I mean at the time we were all kind of really strict vegan vegetarians and we could not get any food half the time, right now it's easy to get it, but at the time it seemed kind of tough to get it, and we were, I remember just starving all the time. I mean now it seems silly, there's tons of vegetarian food, but then, it was strange to get, and uh, yeah, it was very different but yeah it was cool ya know, meeting Kreator we kind of became good friends on that tour, and we're still friends ya know, it's all because of that tour... Yeah, I'm glad we did it, ya know, it was an experience!
Crypt: Any problems with Morbid Angel, cause I heard stories of them butting heads with Kreator on that tour?
Nick Holmes: No, they kind of fell out but I mean, he's kind of, I almost felt like he was playing up to a role he was expected to be like, cause in fact, he's a nice guy really, you can tell he is. I just think he was kind of, living up to a role he was expected to be, ya know? Cause I've met him a few times since and he's a nice guy really, he just played the role of "David Vincent"!
Crypt: Yeah you're big and evil!!!!
Nick Holmes: Yeah exactly (laughs).
Crypt: Which is your personal favorite Paradise Lost record and why?
Nick Holmes: Um, I always liked new songs, new albums cause the last thing is kind of the freshest thing we have written, obviously being involved in the writing process, for me, it's gonna be the new stuff. Uh, so I would say "Tragic Idol" at this point. But if I can look at stuff in retrospect, I think "Shades Of God" is a pretty good album, uh, it's a very heavy album, that's probably slightly our death metal album, uh, I think Shades Of God and the new album, and um, its kind of, there's songs I like playing more than other songs, its different when you write, I mean you look at them different than some people do, but generally speaking I always like new material!
Crypt: And what is your favorite Paradise Lost track to perform live?
Nick Holmes: Oh that's a tough one, I don't know, again, it's nice to play new songs, because you know you can do something like "Faith Divides, Death Unites Us" and it goes down as well as anything within our career, so if you can do a new song and people like it as much as an old song then, you know, that's something I think where, ya know, we're not gonna rely on things we wrote 25 years ago, and were hopefully not quite a "legacy band", so anything that ya know goes down well that is new, then I'm happy with that, so again, it would probably be something off the last album. But I mean, songs like "Never For The Damned", just songs off anything from the last 5 years, there's certain points where I think well, ya know, "this is cool, and this works"...
Crypt: With all the Paradise Lost albums being released on different labels in the US who didn't promote you guys properly, most of which have now folded making it hard to find them in the US do you plan on re-releasing them domestically at some point now that you have a stable home with Century Media Records?
Nick Holmes: I don't know, I mean, there's so much business with the licenses, and I just don't know, it might happen, it might not, I'm sure we would have nothing to do with it if it does, but I mean now, ya know as I said, the whole things allot different now with the internet , its completely changed everything, everything is allot more accessible and if you want something you can get it. So...I don't know, who knows, but we would probably be told about it rather than just starting it off, ya know...
Crypt: Speaking of the internet, how does Nick Holmes feel about illegal downloading, etc, considering you were making records for a good 15 years prior to this happening. How has it changed things from your perspective?
Nick Holmes: Um, I mean, its completely changed the job description, ya know, you used to get paid quite a lot for doing very little, and now you have to work as hard as everybody else now (laughs). I mean, uh, its a double edged sword and I've gone from being from when I first kind of noticed people bootlegging albums, I saw them downloading albums, I was kind of horrified about it, and now its kind of heavily seeded, I am glad ya know, cause it means people want it! Even though we don't make anything from that. So it's gonna change now, where if something has been downloaded, where it has tons of downloads, well cool, it means people want it, but I mean obviously its increased the "live" output, you've got to play live and if you don't want to perform live, you are not a going to be a professional band, it's simple as that ya know, you have to play live. Uh, there's always revenue streams, there's ways you can make a living, it's not just about the "albums" anymore obviously, but it has, obviously changed from a time where it was still a pretty creative kind of business, but now that's just reserved for British football I think, ya know (laughs).
Crypt: The "One second" album is one of the best things you guys have ever done and it is quite a departure, while still maintaining the trademark PL elements, when you released it were you afraid of how fans would react to it!? It was really a departure for the time, but darkness on a whole new level no one had achieved before you, definitely a breakthrough album! But it really put you guys on the map in Europe right?
Nick Holmes: Yeah, I think it's probably our best selling album...
Crypt: It is amazing, every song is great! The true definition of "gothic"...
Nick Holmes: I mean, it's a weird thing, it kind of came out and everybody bought it, and a lot of people were saying they didn't like it, the initial push was really big and then those people, allot of people were pissed off by it cause it wasn't, ya know, like "Draconian Times Part 2, or something...
Crypt: Draconian Times is amazing, but One Second, destroys everything and you guys had a lot of balls to do an album like that! From the first time I heard it I loved it, and I knew it would alienate the fans who just want more of the same, I for one, loved it! Mercy, Lydia, Say Just Words, everything on it, amazing!
Nick Holmes: Well thanks mate (laugh), I am glad you like it, actually I still think its a strong album, I mean we just approached it completely different, we kind of, uh, we did a massive tour for the Draconian Times album, ya know that album was very successful for us and we did A LOT of touring and we just got a little tired of the same kind of format, ya know, so we completely changed (laughs). And it was a little bit much for allot of people to swallow, I mean the one afterwards (HOST) even worse, that kind of went down even worse with lots of people, but...I still maintain, I think, some of our best songs were written around that period. Some of our best material is of that time, even though it's not really "metal" as we know it, ya know?
Crypt: How does it feel to influence a generation of depressing melancholic bands with no will to live, cause no one was doing this before Paradise Lost! And so many bands have followed in your footsteps, Katatonia, Nightwish, etc. So it the age old case of seeing people reap success with a sound you pioneered?
Nick Holmes: I mean, I dunno, it's just a typical scenario, where because you are still involved and you get old, you watch other bands just coming along and ya know, copying their favorite band and developing their own style, but ya know, there's bands influenced by bands we influenced 2 generations ago, ya know, this like "4th generation", and then some guy said to me we sounded like a band he was in and they started in like 95' or something, and its a strange compliment, but I think cause we're still doing it, we're still around. But if you stick around long enough you might hopefully influence somebody somewhere ya know (laughs)!? It's cool, it's inspiring, but we're still here and to a degree I guess its inevitable with any band I think!
Crypt: Who of what got you interested in singing, who influenced you, and what bands would you cite as being the biggest influence on Paradise Lost?
Nick Holmes: I started doing the vocals because I was always the most kind of outspoken person in the group of friends, so I was always the one who had an opinion on something I would not stop talking, so it was always, it kind of went, ya know it just worked out that way. I really didn't necessarily want to sing it just happened, um, I always liked vocalists who I kind of sing like, ya know, like uh, Ronnie James Dio, and what's his name, from Deep Purple...uh Ian?
Crypt: Ian Gillan...
Nick Holmes: Yeah! I always loved the vocals where you couldn't sing like that if you tried (laughs). But I mean, death metal, I was very much into that, so the early death metal, like Jeff Becerra from Possessed, I used to LOVE his vocals.
Crypt: OF COURSE!
Nick Holmes: I mean, like I said, the old death metal, and a guy called Troy Dixler from a band called Devastation (Sindrome) from Chicago, I used to love his vocals as well, he was a really good death metal singer. So, but then yeah, obviously the longer I'm in the band I got into, like I said, the great big metal singers, Geoff Tate, etc, um, bit I mean, ya know, it's not like you can emulate those guys, I just admire their talent, ya know, more than anything. It's the same with the band, we started off listening to death metal, we loved DEATH or Possessed, the old, old school death metal, and then we got more into Sabbath, we got into Sisters Of Mercy, and ya know, I think that kind of developed the sound where we crossed over, kind of Candlemass, death metal and Sisters Of Mercy, we mixed it all together and that was the kind of result, the Gothic album, I think, so...
Crypt: What are you proudest of as far as all of the achievement of Paradise Lost, out of everything you have done?
Nick Holmes: I think, in hindsight, we've been to a lot of places all over the world, where we would not have gone, ya know, places where you just probably would have never gone for a vacation or anything, ya know, we've been to pockets of the world where it's just great to have been there and seen these places. I mean the vastness of where we've traveled, there's not all that many places that we haven't been really, so it's just really cool and it feels good to know that we've toured the world, ya know? Um, along with, ya know, having people admire you and stay with you for years and years, that's cool as well! Yeah, kind of looking back at everything, some of the big concerts, we've played with just about every metal band we ever liked in our lives, so that as well, again, we wouldn't have had a chance to play with them or even see the concerts perhaps, so yeah, there's certainly a lot more cool things that we've enjoyed...
Crypt: For someone who is unfamiliar with Paradise Lost, what record would you recommend they start with to get a good idea of what Paradise Lost is all about?
Nick Holmes: I would say start with the new one and work backwards, ya know, I think that's the best way. Cause if you kind of start with like number one (Lost Paradise) it's gonna be strange to work that way I think. So you have to get a start, I mean, when I check out new bands I always start at the beginning and work backwards ya know. (Laughs) For me it works that way!
Crypt: I am going to ask you some questions, each pertaining to "the last time".
Crypt: Last time you went to church?
Nick Holmes: Oh god, uh (laughs) it was probably about, oh sorry, probably a funeral or a wedding, uh maybe, 5 or 6 years ago. A wedding, yeah.
Crypt: Last time you went to a funeral?
Nick Holmes: Oh god, uh, 12 years ago.
Crypt: Last person you talked to?
Nick Holmes: My eldest daughter.
Crypt: Last person you told "I love you"?
Nick Holmes: Probably my youngest daughter when she went to bed last night.
Crypt: Last concert you attended?
Nick Holmes: Oh shit. It was...Oh fuck I forgot completely!
Nick Holmes: I think I've caught a lot this year, I soon forgot, it might have been, it could have been Soundgarden "possibly".
Crypt: Last person you told to "fook off"?
Nick Holmes: (Laughs) That was a good impression! Oh, probably our guitar tech today, we were kind of messing around in the room and I, yeah it was our guitar tech. I tell him to "fuck off" all the time so it's OK!
Crypt: Since we are on the subject of family, what does your family think of Paradise Lost!?
Nick Holmes: They have no interest (laughs)!
Crypt: Really? They aren't interested in all the amazing stuff their father has created musically? Forever Failure? As I Die? Pity The Sadness? Mercy? Etc?
Nick Holmes: No, as long as they get some cash for the weekend, that's all they care about (laughs). Yeah, it's "The Bank Of Holmes", that's all they are interested in!
Crypt: Well thank you for talking with us, any last words you would leave to leave for our readers?
Nick Holmes: Cheers mate, I appreciate the support, thanks very much! Take it easy, check out our new album, check out all our albums, theirs fuckin' loads of them! LOL!
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