Sometimes you spend ages worrying about what questions you’re going to ask in an interview, and what impression you’ll leave with the person you’re talking to. Will they give good answers? Will they want to talk to you again on the next tour?
No such concerns with Aaron Aedy, guitarist with doom metal stalwarts Paradise Lost. PL were one of the first – if not the first – bands I ever interviewed, back when I was still a student messing about with the university radio station in Bradford. Most of the group hung around in Rios, the local rock club, and when I worked in the local PC World (Leeds, before the Bradford one opened) Aaron popped in to buy an iMac for some obscure reason. He may be a great guitarist, but the guy has no clue about IT.
What he does have, though, is an incredible memory. Meet him once and he’ll know you by name the next time he sees you and will greet you with a big smile and a firm Yorkshire handshake. This was never going to be an interview. This was going to be a chance to shoot the shit with a man I’ve not talked to in nigh on twenty years. Thanks to Simon at I Like Press for organising stuff, and to Les the awesome tour manager who we’ve also met a few times over the last couple of years.
This interview from just before their Glasgow gig at the Garage on October 1st. 2015.
I think the last time I spoke to you as a band member was in the Queen’s Hall in Bradford on the Icon tour.
Wow, that place is long gone. Closed down in ’97 or ’98. That would have been our last show. March ’94 if I remember rightly. [Told you he had a good memory – Mosh]
So… how have you been keeping?
Well, in the interim, not bad, yeah! Less hair, but it is 21 and a half years ago! Loving it. Loving touring on the new album which has been going down great.
You should be pleased. The reviews have been very positive indeed.
I know. The worst one I’ve seen has been eight out of ten which is pretty amazing, really. And he admitted that he doesn’t like us! I’m sure there are worse reviews out there, but it’s been very, very positive. We finished recording it in December, so we were like kids in the studio. We do it for our own pleasure first. That’s our mantra after all these years. It’s why we started the band, it’s why we continue. But we were all really excited about it and had to wait six months before it came out! Gomez was great to work with.
What made you decide to take what many people musically think of as a backwards step, back to the roots on this album?
You know, I’ve been talking about this a lot with people of my age. Basically, over the last few years we’ve started to listen to the music we listened to when we were kids. You spend time experimenting and trying to find new sounds, but I’ve found myself over the last four or five years re-buying all the albums I had when I was a kid on remastered CDs or whatever and really enjoying them. It’s almost like we’ve reinvigorated what made us start. The last few albums have been getting heavier anyway, but it came to a head on this one.
One major change was the reintroduction of Nick’s “deathy” vocals. Was that his idea?
I think the Bloodbath thing might have got him back into it. I know he’s really enjoying doing that. And I know the reason he’s not done it in the past is that he found it hard to mix the clean singing and the gruff vocals. The gruff one would fuck up his clean voice and is he was doing clean then he couldn’t do the gruff one… He wasn’t warmed up in the same way. And a combination of loving all that stuff from when we were younger.
Were there any major changes in production this time around?
We had quite a different attitude. We were going to record it to tape like we did twenty-odd years ago. We had the guitar sound we wanted in the studio and we were recording DI lines – that’s the flat signal without any amp or anything on it, then you can later on plug it into an amp and make a new sound – re-amping. The producer we used for the last couple of albums was really into that, so the guitar sounds were good but they weren’t exactly what we wanted. So this time we decided we were going to get the sound out of the cabs and just record everything all at once. Play it like we were playing to tape. Commit. And that’s what we did – it was refreshing going back to doing that. Not thinking “we’ve got the guitar tones we want but, oh, he’s going to change it.” We’ve got the sound, record that, no DI’s – nothing. It just made it feel a bit more organic. The good thing with Gomez was that he got it and he understood us. We had another guy booked to mix it originally, but Gomez just got it so well that we asked him to mix it. We’re pleased, he’s loving it – he’s an old PL fan, used to do PL covers in a band in Columbia when he was a kid!
You guys have been together since 1988…
March 27th, yeah.
Four out of the five of you have been in the band for that entire time. Hardly any band manages that. What’s your secret?
Comedy. Having a laugh. And honesty. We’ve got a common love of certain comedy programmes. We literally talk all the time and have a laugh. I’ve known Greg since I was eleven, Nick since I was twelve. We used to go BMXing together when we were kids. I’ve known Steve since I was about sixteen. We were friends before we started. Yesterday at the Manchester gig we almost had all our drummers there at once! Lee Morris nearly popped down but he didn’t, but Tuds and Jeff were both there. We were only missing Adrian!
I know you’re down in London now, the rest of the band still up north. But would you ever consider moving elsewhere? Germany seems to have a massive metal following, for instance.
There’s a lot of things I love about Germany, actually. I remember the first time I went there in 1990, I think it was, I saw a cigarette vending machine on the street and it hadn’t been vandalised. And it worked. That wouldn’t last two minutes in Britain! The streets were clean, there was no litter. It just seemed cool. I love Germany.
The German charts seem to favour metal. Powerwolf were number one recently for instance.
Yeah, well the only thing you’ve got to fight against is German rap which is massive. And the Schlager music which is the “oompah” stuff. That gets in the top ten. It’s bonkers. Although Schlager is pretty fun if you’re pissed, I suppose.
One of the chaps who works for us made some t-shirts up some years ago aimed at a gentleman called Dave Everley who gave you a fairly unfavourable review… Are you on speaking terms with him yet? [You can read the review via this link – Mosh]
I saw him the other day. I… I forgave him recently. Yeah. He was at a charity event I was at. He was a little bit sheepish! He was told to do a hatchet job, basically, and he’s always regretted doing it as he’d just started as a journalist. In some ways it was better than getting an average review. Getting zero or on is better than getting two-and-a-half or some mediocre score because everyone talks about it. It was annoying at the time, but you move on, do another album…
You’re not the first band that Kerrang has torn into for no readily apparent reason *cough*Machine Head*cough*
I don’t know why, but they did seem to have a policy of doing it ever now and then. Then they’d absolutely laud somebody up who’s shit. But I can’t slag the album off as they have given us many good reviews, and I’ve got so many good friends involved with it. If you don’t like what’s in there, you don’t buy it. But, bloody hell, I remember the shirt, yeah! I know John Marks had one.
I know it’s early doors with the album only out a couple of months ago, but… what’s next?
We’re touring the rest of this year, all of next year and maybe the start of the year after that. When we feel like it’s time to write, we write. This is the longest gap we’ve had between two albums – it’s been three years. Normally it’s around two years. Fourteen in twenty seven years. Not bad going for a bunch of old codgers. You spend more time touring these days as that’s your income. If you’re lucky enough to make anything off it, that’s where you get the money to record another one.
Twenty-odd years, so many shows… what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen or done at a gig?
Surprisingly few to pick from as we’re actually quite sensible chaps. I’ve seen people in wheelchairs crowdsurfing. I always find that quite impressive, especially when you can tell they’re hanging on for dear life as well! All of a sudden they’re at an angle… respect to that guy. Assuming he’s allowed it and they haven’t just picked him up and set him off!
There was one gig when I was younger and I was windmill headbanging and I got dizzy. I was wearing these slippy army boots and I lost my balance and just ran off the stage. Mind, windmilling looks great when you’re bald. No it doesn’t. It looks fucking shocking. Look… [And he kindly proved his point by demonstrating! – Mosh]. See? Shit.
Looks like Joe Satriani having a fit!
But without the talent.
You guys have been together… forever. If you met a band today who are in the position you were in in 1988, what advice would you give them?
The business is a very different creature these days. The best advice is what we’ve always done: make the music for yourself first. Then even if people slag it off you can be proud of what you’ve done yourself. Do it for your own pleasure, don’t try to please other people. The lack of honesty in the music shows. Be true to yourself. Enjoy it!
I’ve done a gig to 140,000 people. Headlining. And it was fucking amazing. But I’ve also done a gig to 150 people in a pool hall in Sweden. And it was fucking mentally good. Don’t think things need to be bigger than they are. Enjoy the moment. But most of all… be honest.