About Me

Interview with Paradise Lost

There are no words to describe Paradise Lost. These Brits have influenced an entire generation of musicians and fans. On the 1st September, the quintet is back with “Medusa” which sees them returning to their roots. Metal Imperium had a conversation with Nick Holmes, one of the best vocalists of the metal scene, about this masterpiece.

M.I. - Medusa is Paradise Lost’s 15th album and is about to be released on September 1st. Are you excited about it?

Yeah, yeah, it’s interesting to see what people think and playing the new songs live as well as the full album in the show in Stuttgart on September 1st. Of course it’s always nice to play live. I know the album leaked a few weeks ago and it was a bit disappointing but that’s a fact of life now.

M.I. - That’s a huge bummer, I didn’t know about that!

It happens to every album, if it’s 2 weeks it’s ok, but it was like 5 weeks and it’s a bit annoying cause it is a long time, but that’s life.

M.I. - For the Stuttgart show, the fans could chose some songs for you to play and most tracks are from “Draconian Times” and “Icon”. Are you happy with the selected set?

Yeah, most the songs chosen are pretty much songs we already do on live, there’s only “Small town boy” that we haven’t played for a long time. It’s gonna be interesting to do it but it’s songs that we have done for many years so it’s completely fine.

M.I. - They’ll fit in well with the heaviness of the new album.

Yeah, it’s gonna all be good hopefully.

M.I. - Why have you inspired yourselves in “Medusa” for the new album?

The song “Beneath broken earth” on the last album, we wrote that very late in the recording and decided to do more songs like that. That song was the catalyst to this album. Maybe it’s a bit nostalgia I don’t know but it seemed the right thing to do at this time.

M.I. - I think it’s nostalgia. This album, along with the previous one “The Plague within”, has been considered a return to your roots and is even considered one of the heaviest... do you agree? Were you missing the heavier tunes?

It’s probably the heavy sound. You get a mellow album when you get older and a lot bands do that so we tried to do the opposite... maybe it’s a midlife crisis of some sort. Lol!

M.I. - It reminded me of Gothic...

Yeah, when we wrote the early albums it was a very natural thing for us to do because we were young guys and were trying to find our identity with the songs and this album was very reminscent of that. We weren’t trying to innovate, we just wanted to do what we’re best at.

M.I. - Where does the inspiration come? 

We still are passionate and get excited when we write songs, there’ss still a buzz there, a little spark. As long as that is there and we’re fans of music, we’ll keep on doing it.

M.I. - Some tracks deal with religion and others with humanity… who writes the lyrics? 

I write all the lyrics and Greg writes all the music.

M.I. - It takes quite a lot of research. How do lyrics come up?

I can write about specific subjects but then I change them a bit into something more cryptic. I don’t like to read lyrics that make sense. I just like to think about things on my own perspective. I’ve always been into poetry because it can be difficult to understand. It’s not a standard way to write because metal lyrics tend to be more black and white. Religion is always fascinating, because it is what makes people tick. Human life itself is also full of surprises and fascination.

M.I. - Religion is news everyday so it probably inspires you in a bad way, right?

It doesn’t inspire more than it ever has. As soon as I was old enough to have a thought process I thought it was ridiculous. I could never grasp the concept of worshipping something that doesn’t exist. I could never understand how people are so mentally ill and they use religion to mask their mental problems. Generally speaking, if a belief system helps someone and turns them into a nice person and makes them help other people, that’s not bad. Fundamentally that’s what’s religion is about but, these days, it’s mostly about greed and that’s an horrific thing, particularly at the moment.

M.I. - The Medusa on the cover is drawn and is very retro. Who designed it?

It’s a Spanish company and all their work is kinda retro. We didn’t want to have snakes out of the head, we didn’t that cause that’s far too obvious… but we have the crown of thorns, our logo. Medusa is such a specific image and when you think of it you think of snakes coming out of the head and we wanted to avoid that. But on the back cover there are snakes coming out of the head but for the cover we didn’t want the typical image.

M.I. - There is a video “Blood and chaos” out… why did you choose this track to present your new album?

We didn’t, Nuclear Blast did, so… lol… it’s the fastest song the album, I don’t think it represents the album, but  it’s the catchiest. When we write albums we write as many songs as we can and we don’t think about singles because we have been gone through that in the past. Then we just chose 10 songs for the album and that’s all we think about and we leave all to the label to release what they want for the promotion.

M.I. - The band has been signed to a few labels already but Medusa will the be first album out via Nuclear Blast. What do you think of this label?

So far it’s been fantastic. They’ve been great with the band and we feel like a priority band, it’s great. With Century media it was great as well but we gotta change and Nuclear Blast came up. But we have been very lucky with our labels.

M.I. - Some of your tracks have made it into the chart positions all over the world being “Say just words” and “As I die” the tracks that have reached further up… is there a track on this new album you think deserves to be on the charts?

Hmm, I don’t know. The album charts that’s fine if you get into the top 10 and that’s a nice feeling but, as far as singles are concerned, we don’t pay attention to those because they are just a vehicle for the album. 

M.I. - Paradise Lost are considered pioneers of an entire musical generation. Does this put much pressure on you?

We don’t really think about it too much, we got a lot of peers that were inspired by our “Gothic” album because it was quite different and we mixed a few styles that no one had ever done before but the same happened to us because we were inspired by Candlemass. So inspiration is like a cycle, but we don’t think about being pioneers or anything like that… we just get on with it.

M.I. - Having been in the spotlight for the past 30 years (almost)… what is the most difficult thing about it? How do you manage to keep your personal life and professional life separated?

I mean that’s probably the hardest thing especially when you have children and they’re small and you have to go away. That’s not an issue now but leaving family is always a tough one. You can get a bit of separation with your friends on tour. People can’t relate to your lifestyle and the longer you are away, the harder it gets when you get back. But you do have a lot fun as well. But it certainly isn’t easy.

M.I. - The band has been on the road many times over the years… when you’re on the road… what helps you keep your sanity? 

I think you just gotta watch what you drink really. Drinking when we were kids, we could drink and be fine the next day. Now if you go out drinking, you’ll feel bad for 3 days so you can’t do that anymore. You must watch that side of things, got to eat a lot better, look after yourself, do exercise… these are things I’d never think I’d care about when I was in my 20’s. But if you want to maintain this lifestyle in the band, especially after you’re 40, you got to get to bed, not every night, but most nights. Lol!

M.I. - Nick is considered one of the best voices in metal and that is perfectly clear considering your vocal range… what do you do in order to take care of your voice? 

The best for vocals is sleep. On tour it’s important not to go to clubs and try not to shout… sleep is the best medicine. You can see a difference after a good night’s sleep.

M.I. – Have you had any vocal training?

I did when we did the “One second” album. I saw a vocal tutor for about a month, it was an elderly woman that had trained quite a lot of people and it was interesting as she taught me breathing techniques and new techniques. It was interesting to have someone give me some advice. 

M.I. - This year also marks the 20th anniversary of “One Second”… are you thinking of making it standout live?

As it is falling on the same time as the new album, we probably won’t do anything but we haven’t discussed it because we’re all about the new album at the moment.. it’s not out of the question but it’s not something we have thought about. It’s not the best time for the 2 to happen at the same time but we’re still very proud of “One Second” because it’s a very different album. 

M.I. - The band hasn’t been afraid to try new sounds... is there an album you’d do differently if you could change it? 

Not really, maybe we would remaster the “Believe in Nothing” and it would sound better now with a different production. Musically no because everything we’ve done felt great at the time, we were the same people and we change all the time, and whichever album you did at the time represents how you felt then so I don’t think I’d change anything.

M.I. - Nick, Greg, Aaron and Steve have been the core of the band ever since the beginning... what’s the secret to keep on putting up with each other? 

When you do an album, the cycle goes quite fast, it’s like 3 years and you start touring and, before you know it, 10 years have gone by. When we did a decade of the band, I couldn’t believe it was a decade. We don’t live on the same city, we just hook up when we do concerts. You just gotta learn to give space. We have the same sense of humour. We have the same taste in films. We like similar music. We started the band as kids because we listened to the same music so it was quite honest. 

M.I. - The band’s current drummer is old enough to be the son of any of you... how complicated or easy is it dealing with someone so talented but so unexperienced compared to yourselves? 

He’s easily old enough to be my son! He’s actually very mature for his age, he doesn’t come across as a 23-year old, he’s quite independent and he’s not needy, he travels on his own, he’s happy to be on his own, he gets the humour as well. I don’t think of him as being 23, certainly not 46, but not 23. Lol!

M.I. - Of all the dates that have been released, Portugal isn’t included... why? 

I don’t know because it usually happens later on the routing, it depends on the tour, it’s hard to get there. I am sure we’ll play next year but it’s usually down to routing. I am sure it will happen.

M.I. - Most bands say the same and they come to Madrid but don’t come here...

In that case I don’t know but I am sure we will get there at some point.

M.I. - Do you have any fond (or not so fond) memories of your shows in Portugal?

I haven’t got any band memories at all. I always say it’s the same as Greece, cause in the early shows we used to spend a time there, it was like a mini holiday, the shows were great, you could hang out a few days. But nowadays we fly in and fly out so we just see the airport, the hotel and the venue. Portugal has always been great.

M.I. - The band will play in Australia for the first time in 6 years and there even are VIP tickets. Do you have an accurate idea of the dimension of your “fame”?

It’s not so much that, it’s the fact that it’s a package. That’s the kind of environment and a lot of my friends in bands do the same thing. The last time we went there, we did massive touring but it was pretty good.

M.I. - The band has such a long back catalogue… which songs do you hate playing live?

I don’t hate playing anything live. If we hated it I wouldn’t do it. We played “As I die” a thousand times but I don’t have an opinion on it, I just play it, but I still don’t hate it or they wouldn’t be on the album. It would be easy to say “As I die” or “Say just words”... I don’t hate them, if it’s on the set, I just do it and don’t even think about it! 

M.I. - Which ones do you love?

I just love to play the new stuff. It’s like a real kind of break in the set, a new thing on the set, it’s a bit more exciting.

M.I. - Did you, at any point of your career, ever think about giving up? 

No, not yet, as long as I’ve got my health. I couldn’t speak for the other guys but I certainly haven’t.... Whatever is happening in our personal lives, the band is always a parallell along but there’s been no hiccups and I haven’t considered the idea of stopping doing this at all.

M.I. - Today’s society is sick, most values are gone, people are giving more importance to objects than to people... does this concern you somehow? Are you worried about the future of your kids? Do you give them any advice regarding this?

Hmm, I mean each generation must find things out for themselves, haven’t they? Society is very disposable, instant gratification, everything happens pretty fast and the internet has completely changed the world. I tend to just keep my feet to the ground and see if they’re happy, then I’m happy. But our society is shockingly disposable and it is quite scary but that’s the way it is now.

M.I. - What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned with age and experience?

Probably to accept things that you can’t change, the sooner you accept it, the sooner you can move on, that’s the way to appreciate the most of what you got cause you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

M.I. - Hope PL come to Portugal soon and that Medusa will be a huge success.

Ok, we will. Thanks! Cheers!

For portuguese version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca