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Interviews : “This is our heaviest album yet…” An Interview With Nick Holmes (Paradise Lost)

By on December 6, 2017

Nick Holmes – Paradise Lost

Doom metal is synonymous with the name Paradise Lost. Formed in 1988, the band hailing from Halifax, England have been a force to be reckoned with in the world of metal, carving their niche in it as one of the pioneers of the gothic doom metal sound. Thirty years on, and the band continue to leave fans and music lovers alike, in awe of their distinct style, most recently with their 2017 offering, ‘Medusa’. Their mesmerising and rather dark 15th studio album has been a favourite amongst many the last few months, given that it is without a doubt, that it is their heaviest release yet. Metal Obsession had a chat with  Paradise Lost’s vocalist, Nick Holmes, about Medusa, the band’s latest album, the myth behind Medusa itself, the band’s longevity and more.

The band will soon be on our shores promoting their latest album around the country and my, has it been a while! “It’s going to be so great going back, it’s summer as well there now, isn’t it?” Nick said with a mixture of relief and glee. ” We’re just finishing a long European tour, so I’m having a bit of a vacation, and soon I’ll start working out a set list for the Australian tour.  It’s always great to play in places that we aren’t able to play in very often, so we’re all really looking forward to it!”

Medusa has been out for a couple of months now and is undeniably one of the band’s darkest, heaviest releases yet, much to the delight of old fans and new. ” The response to the new album has been really good; we couldn’t be happier. I feel we can do the new songs very well against the old ones live; it goes down well in particular with the really old material. So it’s been great thus far, another good chapter in the band’s history and very positive. Thirty years now!” Always a versatile band, I’ve loved how Paradise Lost still maintain their signature gothic, doom sound but that’s not all their music is about. “Well, I don’t mind the doom, gothic or psychedelic tag; whatever. It doesn’t bother me” confesses Nick. ” For us, it’s just about making music that we’re still into and so passionate about. We enjoy making the music we do, and people can take it however they want; it’s for them to interpret.”

Agreeing with Nick on how too much focus is placed on labelling music these days, we talked about the music of Medusa itself. “Our sound has always been that of miserable and dark music; even when we wandered completely out of metal in the 2000 era, it was always about making our music as dark and miserable as we could. That’s what we do.  There is a definite gothic element in the new album, but it’s more about pure heaviness. Gregor has a very specific way of playing the guitar and when I add my growly vocals to that guitar, it reminds us of the old stuff we did in 1998. I guess that’s what triggered the spark for this release.”

‘Medusa’ is a very raw sounding, intense, dark and extremely heavy album which is probably why it appealed to me so much. That and the fact that it’s named after one of my favourite creatures in Greek Mythology. “You’re right; it’s definitely our heaviest album; the heaviest we’ve done. The idea was to keep it simple but dark and heavy, and I think we’ve achieved that. Musically, I think Gregor had a very good idea of what he wanted the album to sound like. For instance, we wrote the song ‘Beneath Broken Earth’ which is on the last album, but it could’ve fit on this one. We wrote it rather spontaneously, but since it was already on the previous record, we just wanted to do more of that. We felt it was one of our strongest songs.”

The question I had been waiting to ask: Why Medusa? “Well, when Gregor writes songs, he gives them working titles, so he called one song Medusa.  There’s no real meaning to it. It’s not something I would use in a song and wouldn’t use as a title either. I liked the thought though. When we were kids, Medusa was the scariest character we knew. As I looked into it, I found a lot of different metaphorical meanings that she represents. There was one sentence I read which was ‘Attempts to avoid looking into her eyes represent avoiding the ostensibly depressing reality that the universe is meaningless’, which made a lot of sentence to me. To me, this is what Medusa stood for. There are many different interpretations, but this was mine. ”

Nick also shared his thoughts on the band’s writing approach to this album as well as in general. ” Greg will send me a single part he’s written which I’ll do vocal lines for. I do different versions; cleans, gruff and in between. Then I send him a bunch of singing takes which he just patches all together really. When he sends it back, I have no idea what it’s going to be! He also changes the music completely sometimes, to what I sang originally. So yes, the way we write music is incredibly unorthodox but obviously as a musician and a writer you have to look for new interesting ways to do things. If it works, great! There are no rules on how to do things, but it’s all about the result. How you get there, doesn’t matter.” Wise words.

It has been thirty years since the band started their career, and I was keen to find out what has changed for Nick in that time, regarding his music career. ” Everything changes over such a long period; a lot of things are different and change over the years. For me, one thing would be the way I approach my vocals but more importantly, I take things a lot more seriously now. When you’ve been doing this for so long, you realise you’ve got a timeline – you can’t do it forever. It might seem that way when you see guys in their 60s still performing and playing music. I just really respect the fact that I can still do this, I don’t take it for granted at all. When you’re younger, you’re cocky, and you just expect things to work when  but it’s not like that later on;  you can fall on your arse really easily.”

Thirty years; performing, playing, creating metal and a style of heavy music that Paradise Lost can call their own is no small feat. Forming a band and staying together despite your differences is what it’s all about. “We still love this; what we do. We’re still very very passionate” Nick said when I asked about the band’s mantra for their longevity. ” Each album that we release reflects what we’re going to be doing for the next two or three years so it has got to be as good as it can be. I don’t want to be pedalling around Europe with a shoddy album, talking about something I’m not interested in.  So it’s about passion for sure, and also when we started the band, people bought albums, we had a good foothold in the scene. But ultimately we have been very lucky – which is an incredibly important part of this business. I’d like to say its all down to the albums, but there’s so much luck involved and I’m grateful for it.”

Catch the mighty Paradise Lost on their upcoming Australian Tour on the following dates. Tickets from Metropolis Touring.

About

Prarthana is a vegan, Indo-Aussie, heavy music addict, fluent in sarcasm and metal. Traveling is an obsession as she enjoys taking in the history of various countries and following her favorite bands. She’s either eating, teaching grammar or learning an instrument, when not occupied with windmilling in the faces of other humans.