Interview - Aaron Aedy from Paradise Lost
by Nicholas Holmes
After days of glorious sunshine, ominous grey storm clouds gather over the hills around the North Wales coast. It coincides with the arrival of arguably British metal's greatest purveyors of doom, Paradise Lost, who are at Hammerfest 4 to play a special co-headline set with US thrash legends Anthrax.
The press area in Prestatyn's Pontins holiday camp, a room full of packed down billiards tables and lights, is buzzing. The mood is far from gloomy, and affable PL rhythm guitarist, Aaron Aedy, shows the remnants of a tan after the band's recent trip to Australia. He is obviously keen to talk about the their new album, “Tragic Idol”, which will be released on 23rd April soon after their 24th anniversary. Other subjects include the forthcoming tour campaign, a fond farewell to long-time buddies Cathedral, happy BMX-ing memories of Pontins and being a tight-fisted Northerner abroad!
Just back up from Down Under, so to speak – how was it?
It was great. It was the first time we've been back to Australia in 17 years. The Soundwave Festival is an unbelievable feat in motion. You play Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth, and it's a one-day festival in each of the cities over the space of two weeks with 62 bands on! It happens and it works! Only one day we were running behind due to one band in front of us, so we had to cut a song or two. Besides that, I can't believe it. Great festival.
We also did some non-festival shows with Cathedral. Their last ever shows were with us. Bizarrely, when we went 17 years ago we were with Cathedral. We've known them for years. Our first ever gig, nearly 24 years ago in June, was supporting Acid Reign which was Gazza's (Garry “Gaz” Jennings) band at the time. Within six months we had played with Napalm Death and Lee Dorrian was still in them. So we've known them guys a long time. Kind of sad. They're some of our best friends on the touring rock scene, so it's kind of sad to see them end. Kind of nice to be with them, though. I watched the whole of the last show in Perth.
Is that really the end for Cathedral?
They seem pretty adamant that they're not going to play again, but they have got an album down to put out. I said, “Come on....”, but they're really not keen at the minute.
Does the touring wear you out too?
This is the weird thing. We're probably enjoying it more now than ever. It's quite humbling. It's our 24th anniversary this month, and it's quite humbling that we're still about and doing it. Four out of five of us are still the mates that formed the band.
What's the secret of keeping it going that long?
I don't know. Humour, I think (laughs) Common humour. You've got to have a laugh. The only time we're not laughing is when the photos are being taken! Or when your dinner is shit! (laughs) That's it really. We're just mates. We're friends and I think that's the most important thing. Friends before the band.
Did you manage to do any sightseeing?
Yeah, we had a few days off in Sydney. We did the tourist bit, which is something you don't always have the time to do. We went for a long walk. We went round the botanical gardens, then we walked on to the Sydney Opera House. Then we went to the pub! There's a guy who used to be our tour manager and sound engineer, Rob, from Manchester. He's out there at the minute, so we bumped into him and it was his birthday while we were out there. So it was nice to see him. I walked back with Adrian (Erlandsson, drums), who is a keen photographer. So as we went back we were taking pictures of all the fruit bats and various birds and stuff. It was great, a really nice day.
Although the price of things over there wasn't that good. Steve (Edmondson, bass) was whinging about the price of cigarettes. It was ten quid a packet. At the cheapest. Very expensive. It was more expensive than here, a lot more. Beer as well. Everything. The internet was nineteen quid for three hours in the hotel! It's ridiculous! So we didn't pay it, being Northerners! (laughs) We're Yorkshiremen – we didn't pay for it! Alright, it's no-net.com then! (laughs)
Did you ever have the holiday camp experience as a kid?
Do you know what? Some of my best childhood memories are to do with Pontins – but I never stayed there! (laughs) When I was a kid I was really into BMX-ing big style. The Pontins at Southport had a fully fledged racing track, which was part of the national circuit for BMX racing. Also the two guys who were the stunt testers and riders for BMX Bike Weekly worked there. We used to camp up the road in a caravan, and I used to ride down. 50 pence in for the day, and I used to spend all day on the track and the quarter pipe. And the trick ramp. Awesome! (laughs) That's the first time I've ever done that answer in an interview, answered about BMX-ing at Pontins. I've never said that in an interview in 24 years. It's a kind of rubbish exclusive! (laughs) But a sentimental one.
It's how I met Nick Holmes – our Nick Holmes! (laughs) Through BMX-ing. I met him when I was 12 because we were both mad about BMX-ing. That's how I met our Nick. He was actually really good at racing.
When you play at an event like Hammerfest, do you do anything very differently from normal?
We play so many different types of festivals and concerts...or supports and headlines that it's quite easy to do. All we ask is, “How long's the set?” Then we work out how much we can fit in to that really. How much time we have. Easy peasy! (laughs)
Do you feel pressure to play your most well known songs at festivals?
Yeah. It's weird, because you get some people who want certain off the beat tracks, and then the majority of the people want to hear the more well known ones. Funnily enough, we've just been discussing the European tour that's coming up and we've been thinking we should just bang a load of old songs that we haven't played before or much, or for a while, use them to replace the ones we play all the bloody time! (laughs) I was just on about it yesterday. We were just trying out some of the songs. Some I didn't agree with and some I did. But then again if I look at the set list, it's like “Hang on. That's a set list without “Say Just Words” or “One Second” or “As I Die” - people might want those.” I think we'll mediate on that, but we're thinking about trying...I mean we don't want to play the same songs all the time. It's quite nice to throw some different ones in occasionally. To be honest, we never rehearse “As I Die”. We don't need to. We wrote that 20 years ago. Actually we recorded that 20 years ago this month. When we play it live and the crowd are into it, you forget how many times you've played it. It's like the first time you've played it every time. That's why I love playing live. It's my favourite thing.
What's your least favourite thing about being in Paradise Lost?
Airports. Spending hours in airports. I'm up and down. Sometimes I just really don't want to fly, and sometimes I don't mind it. It's travelling to get to the places. I'd rather be on a tour bus all the time than fly. You've got your own little kitchen, your own little lounge. You can chill out, watch films. Flying's essential. We play all over the place. We've played in over 40 different countries. It's an essential part of it, really.
Airport prices actually. That's the one thing that annoys me more than anything. Especially Copenhagen. Beautiful city, one of my favourite cities in the world, and Oslo. Two of my favourite cities in the whole world. Absolutely love them, but the airports are so expensive. It's mental! (laughs) It's the price they'll charge you because they've got you there, and there's no other way you can eat or drink. They've got you by the danglies, and they know it! (laughs)
What can fans expect from the new album?
It's the hardest work I've had to do on rhythm guitar since “Shades of God”. There's quite a lot of riffs and it's guitar-centric. It's all about the guitars. I'm totally biased, but I think it's the best album we've ever done. This is an album where we've had to leave a song off, and I didn't want to leave it off the album. It would have been one of the strongest songs on most of our other albums, and we've had to leave it off. It's such a shame. It's just strong. Any of the songs would have been strong on any of the last albums. That's my opinion, and other people will make their own when they hear it. If you like guitars, and you like Paradise Lost, it's up your street.
Will you release the song that was cut at some point?
It's an exclusive track for Japan or something. Good song. It's got one of my favourite Adrian Erlandsson drum fills on it (makes drill-like drum sound). It's just a mental drum fill. I was like, “Wooah!!” the first time I heard it. I think the album is really strong, I am super excited about playing the songs live.
What are the touring plans for the album?
A six week tour. The first two weeks in Britain, which is a first really. Because normally we do at best seven shows...six or five is usually what we do. We've got a new agent and he wants to get us out there, so it'll be interesting. He's like, “You're British – you should work Britain harder!” I'm quite excited, because some of these places we've never played before. It'll be good to go there and hopefully win some new people over. We'll be touring most of this year and then again next. Maybe some more festivals and then sit down and think about a new album. It goes in about year and a half to two year cycles. Last one was three, which was a first for us.
No end in sight for Paradise Lost then?
We are enjoying it more than ever, so no. I think the day we're fed up of doing it is the day we'll stop.
Full UK Tour from April 16th to April 30th – details here: http://www.paradiselost.co.uk/
12th August @ Bloodstock Festival – details here: http://www.bloodstock.uk.com/
Video for “Honesty In Death”, taken from the forthcoming album “Tragic Idol”
Released 23rd April through Century Media http://www.centurymedia.com/