Been friends with the guys since we charged over $500 on my credit card one evening, drinking bottles of champagne, poolside at the Foundations Forum, in Los Angeles, back in '94. A year later, I was privy to the recording of Draconian Times and then went on tour with the band for three weeks, through Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. In the decades since, our paths have crossed several times, the Brits taking a self-induced roller-coaster career trajectory that now sees them widely lauded for Tragic Idol, their 13th studio effort, one that rediscovers the glorious sounds of a bygone era. As the Epic Kings & Idols North American tour wound down, BraveWords.com sat down with Steve Edmondson, prior to the Philadelphia show recently. It was supposed to be conducted with Gregor Mackintosh, but the guitarist was investigating the myriad of eclectic shops on South Street, with his family. Thus, the usually quiet bassist leapt at the opportunity to do an interview.
While In Requiem and Faith Divides Us-Death Unites Us both signaled a willingness to rediscover the past, the current Century Media release slots in nicely between Icon and Draconian Times. "It's better played and sounds more modern," begins Edmondson, "in terms of the production. We didn't think about going back. We were like, 'This sounds cool.' We approach every album like we don't have a history, like it's our first album."
That might be, but there's no denying the similarities, even if the current live set was devoid of all pre-Draconian material. That said, at least five Tragic Idol tunes could become classics, with the 'Crucify',- 'Fear Of Impending Hell' - 'Honesty In Death' trilogy (encapsulating the various sounds within PL music) the strongest running sequence in almost two decades. The actual order was almost down to luck. "It wasn't my first choice, or the band's first choice, to start the album with a slow song ('Solitary One'), but it works." In the end, the final outcome was the result of, "a lot of to and fro-ing between the record company, band and producer." Asked about his favorites, Edmondson thinks, before responding, "It changes, depending on my mood. I really like 'Crucify' and 'Theories From Another World'. Sometimes you don't play a song for a while, then it becomes your favorite."
As if there weren't enough strong songs amongst the ten proper tracks, two bonus tracks: a cover of SPEAR OF DESTINY's 'Never Take Me Alive' and an uptempo 'The Last Fallen Saviour' (available exclusively to subscribers of Philly based Decibel magazine) are worthy of investing the extra money to obtain. "I'm surprised they were left off the album," says the bassist matter of factly. "It didn't fit the vibe. I think that's one of the best cover songs we've ever done. Greg's a big fan of that ('80s British) stuff. The guys at Decibel are massive fans of the (old UK) grind scene. We didn't know what we were going to do with it, but a lot of it comes down to the record company. The magazine guys are big fans of PL. It's quite rare, on a flexi!" While it is possible to hear the track online, to date it's only been available as a flexi-disc (flexible plastic single, inserted in the pages of a magazine, for those of you without turntable knowledge) for an American publication!
'Honesty In Death' has garnered a large amount of the attention. In a word/title association game, Steve claims it reminds him of, "The video basically, because I spent months making it and editing it! I've been dabbling in (video) for a couple of years. 'Tragic Idol', the title track of the album, I did a video for, without telling anyone, but the band. It's a free video, so they like that."
In the years surrounding Draconian's creation and tour, glam was long dead. Grunge/alt-metal had a firm foothold and nu-metal was on the horizon. IRON MAIDEN was in turmoil, without a vocalist, same with JUDAS PRIEST. SAXON and BLACK SABBATH, with Tony Martin were playing a couple hundred seater clubs. The Big 4 were struggling with line-up changes, vying to keep up with the jones, opting for mainstream acceptance. Even the vaunted METALLICA had abandoned metalheads: cutting their hair, putting on eyeliners and crapping out a Load. The argument can be made that, for a short time, apart from PANTERA (who were already showing signs of imploding) Paradise Lost was the best (not the biggest) metal band on the planet. The usually hyperbolic UK music press (who hadn't anything homegrown to write about in more than decade, were calling PL the saviors of British metal and globally, may saw them as the "next Metallica." Lofty, and uncomfortably, position to be in. "If this had come out after One Second, maybe we wouldn't be here now," theorizes the bass player. "I think that's why we did One Second. The pressure of all that was huge, people expecting Draconian Times II. We just got bored of it, so we went with the electronic stuff. Host is another matter (all together). If we didn't do One Second, we might have split up. The pressure of being 'saviors' or the 'new Metallica,' we got scared of it.We're Yorkshire men, the total opposite of LA."
Asked if there's one misstep (or path not taken) that the band regrets, he answers, "There's a few revolving door moments. We got offered the Sabbath tour, years ago, the original reunion, but we were too tired, sick of touring. I really wish we would have done that one."
No such sentiments this time around, as teh boys are busy and happy to be. Don't look for any new album before 2014. "Probably. Maybe the back end of next year we'll start recording. Maybe start writing the end of summer. We do Barge From Hell, which should be an eye opener, then South America, in December. We're definitely coming back to the States next year. We've got our visas, they're so expensive (might as well use them again). We've got our Social Security numbers. The guy at Social Security was like, 'Now you can be employed by any company.' Kind of given me a green card. We've been on tour all year. We've not been this busy since the old days. It must mean something."
Means they're still creating great music and people want to hear/see it. Have you?