About Me

Interview with My Dying Bride

This band has, once again, surprised us. We had the opportunity to chat with Andrew Craighan, founding guitarist. He explained it was a difficult album in every way, how they came up with the title “The Ghost of Orion”, Aaron’s daughter’s disease and so on. What are your opinions about this album? Sit tight and read all about it.

M.I. - Hi there and welcome. Hope all is well with you.

Yes, very well, thank you. How are you?

M.I. - Fine, thank you. In the beginning of this year, you announced a new album: “The Ghost of Orion”. The release will be on the 6th March. What was your inspiration for this album? Was it a difficult album to write, record and produce?

Yes. Yes, it was. It was very difficult and not at all in any musical or noble reason, that you might write an album. It was difficult for a number of different reasons, actually. I’m not sure how in-depth I should go. You’re probably aware of the situation with Aaron and his daughter, which was one of the biggest hurdles that the band had to overcome and that really did slow and even stop the band at some point, it was almost like My Dying Bride didn’t exist for a while. That certainly didn’t help the band in any way, so that was one thing and then some of the other difficulties were the sudden departure of members, for reasons unknown, still we don’t fully understand what’s taking place. We just have to live with that and move on. So, it’s not been a great album to work with and it’s not been a great album to work on… but I think the product we have now is potentially a great album. We’re very much behind it. We think we’ve made the right decisions in places that we must think about in a different way than we do normally. Inspiration wise we didn’t think: “Let’s take the album in this direction or let’s take the album in that direction. This was just… we must continue. If we don’t continue, the band is finished. So, for us, I guess if there was any inspiration, it was just the key to keep My Dying Bride alive.

M.I. - This album is going to be one of 2020’s most waited and best doom releases. Do you agree? What can fans expect?

I don’t know the answer to that. That’s not a question for me, really. I can’t say, whether this is going to be one of the best doom/death metal records of 2020. For one, I don’t know how the albums from other bands are coming out. So, I would like it to be successful, it doesn’t have to be a massive album for us to be a success. Let’s go the second part of the question... I’m not really sure what to expect from it. We’re just thankful that it exists. I think the fact it would come out and we prove that we can do it against so many different obstacles. That I would consider success.

M.I. - How did you come up with the title “The Ghost of Orion”. What’s it based in? 

Mmm… Well, I didn’t come up with the title. The title’s a line, it’s one of the lyrics within that song, there’s a line that says: “…A ghost crawls from the mouth of Orion…”. And my understanding is that, this is the rumblings of a madman desperate for some sign that things may get better. And we grabbed on that as we liked the idea. “Caster” originally was the title, which was much shorter than the “Ghost of Orion”. So, “The Ghost of Orion”, the song itself, is so very different to the others. We just liked the title. But that’s the line that sold it to us, that was the one that brought the attention to us.

M.I. - The cover seems like someone painted it. How did the idea of making covers like this come up? Could you, please, explain the meaning of it?

Well, I can tell you how it came up. I wouldn’t want to talk about the meaning just yet. It’s too soon for that. I mean, there’s plenty of hidden meanings in there and there’s plenty for people to see and decide and interpret it for themselves. The cover was a bitter of a gamble, let’s say. We had a couple of covers that we were choosing and working with. When we gave Eliran Kantor, he’s the chap that did this cover, the brief of what we wanted and how we wanted it, we didn’t give him very much. We deliberately kept a lot of information back, because we wanted his interpretation of what we were saying, using the lyrics in some titles we gave him. So, we were beautifully surprised, when the cover came back. We really think it’s a very classy My Dying Bride cover and we were amazed. We think the cover very much suits the album, the title and the music. And certainly, it suits the theme of what My Dying Bride is presently living through. So, we were just very pleased if we just had a cover. And yes, you’re correct!!! It does look like a painting. We think it’s a phenomenal piece of art.

M.I. - Lindy-Fay Hella (WARDRUNA) adds an ethereal beauty to the album, and so does Jo Quail (acclaimed cellist). Do you think they brought more beauty and magic to it?

Yes, without a doubt, yes. Both in very much different ways but both equally very classy, very professional and I think different versions of the same, I don’t know how to describe this, it’s just phenomenal again. What Lindy-Fay Hella brought on the solo, is equal to what Jo Quail brought with the cello, but in a different way. They both surprised us in many ways, because they were so easy to work with and what they brought us was quite special. We’re very thankful for bringing them in, as much as we thought originally that it might be a risk, not to use them, we no longer think that.

M.I. - “Your Broken Shore”, is the first single music video was released on the 10th January. Well done and amazing. It’s in fact a My Dying Bride video. What can you tell us about it?

Well, the song became quite vital for My Dying Bride, because while we were recording the album, we were struggling as you know, because Aaron was away taking care of his daughter. So, the band was really without a singer. And “Your Broken Shore” allowed us to speak: “Look, we’ve got some music here that we’d like you to listen to and if you can, make time just to sing in this one, to see where we are”. And he liked the songs so much that we managed to drag him away just for a short time from looking after his daughter to sing on this song. Which allowed us to build something to show Nuclear Blast as it also showed the band that there was something worth working on. So, the song is very special in that aspect. It gave Aaron and the rest of the band some hope that there was still some light at the end of the tunnel and the song certainly is special in that way. For the video, this is just my personal take, I normally don’t like videos. I understand why we must have them, that’s a necessary “evil”, as I like to call it. I try to avoid them, I try not to be in them. But, on this one, for reasons I still don’t fully understand, I wanted to be involved. I wanted to be in a video for the first time in years. I felt like, maybe it was time, I don’t know, just to go there and do one. So, for me, it’s new, because I never felt like that before. So that’s why it was enjoyable specially for me, because it was the first one, I really wanted to be part of and I’m glad because it brought the band together for the first time. When we did the video, we did a behind the scenes video as well. We showed how much comradery there is now. And that was the very first time all the band were in the same room at the same time. So, that is quite special for me and the whole band. It brought us together, it really did.

M.I. - Has this music a personal importance to the members?

I would have thought so. It has for me. It’s difficult not to, when you put so much time and effort into something, really. When you put something in, you invest your time and your energy, it does mean something. Particularly like we think we’ve done; we don’t think it’s too bad. People may have their opinion, I’m sure we’ll hear that, but we’re quite proud of what we’ve done and quite proud of the fact that we managed to complete it in the way we did. It’s difficult not to feel something like that.

M.I. - On the 1st March 2017, after 27 years with Peaceville Records, you’ve signed with Nuclear Blast Records. Do you think that every label brings a unique sound to the band?

No, I don’t think so. I understand the question. I can see where this is leaning. We thought about this, even before we signed to Nuclear Blast. We kind of thought how things might be interpreted, because before we signed to Nuclear Blast, we were already thinking how we would approach the production on this album, because our long-standing musical producer, Mags, has been with us for twenty-six/twenty-seven years, and he couldn’t do this album, he couldn’t find the time, for very personal reasons. So, even though we were heavily delayed, we had to find somebody else and thankfully we found Mark, who did the production on this. But we know we were going to change production, we had already decided this. It was almost like we had nothing to lose. We can try whatever we want, we can do whatever we want, it can’t get any worse than this, because at that time, we were having such a bad time ago, I suppose. So, we didn’t change the production style because of Nuclear Blast, in regardless of whoever signed us, was getting this album. 

M.I. - On the 18th September 2018, you cancelled shows, due to Aaron’s daughter’s disease. How do personal problems affect the band? Are you friends and give moral support to each other?

Well, to answer the first part, this personal problem affected the band very much, as you can probably understand. When we received that news, I don’t know how to describe it, you can fully believe it was so shocking, it was truly unbelievable. And that’s for me, never mind what Aaron might think. I was on the phone, when he was telling me these things and you know that this is the worst thing as you have to say something and it will mean nothing and it will not help, but you have to say something, because you’re on the phone at that point and it’s so hard to try to find words to say something, even though you’re truly helpless. So, this personal event had a terrible effect on everybody in the band and, I’m sure, around Aaron’s family and friends. That’s an obvious one and it was very, very deeply felt. Yes, I think we did. I didn’t know we would do this. But we did on this instance, which was nice to see, and it wasn’t easy, because we still tried our best to live our own lives as well, but we try our very hardest to make it very easy for Aaron. And we tried to make sure that there was something over My Dying Bride for him to come back to, to give him some hope sometimes, because we genuinely didn’t know if he would come back completely broken, destroyed even. We didn’t know if he would come back or wanted to be in My Dying Bride anymore. Who could tell what’s there and what type of person would come back after this? So thankfully, he did come back and is beginning to feel a bit normal again. We’re still not fully back on 100%, but I think we did help each other.

M.I. - Will there be a tour? Which countries will you visit? 

I don’t think we will have a tour in the traditional sense where we drive away and play for months and months and months. We were very much used to that years ago, but we don’t do that now, because we’re not a full-time band. We all have normal jobs, but we have some shows coming. We’re trying to get to as many places as possible, within the constrains of our normal work and lives. Who knows? We’re now talking with people from Greece, Italy, Germany, Holland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Ukraine and even Russia, which is great. We’re big fans of going to Russia and even local gigs in Scotland, Ireland and England, which we don’t play very often. So, almost everywhere has asked us in one form or another, it’s just trying to decide which ones we can genuinely do without losing our jobs, basically. It’s the best way to put that (laughs).

M.I. - Is there any country or countries you haven’t played in yet and would love to play in?

Yes, Japan. Everybody wants to go to Japan and play and I would quite like to play in China, as well. Maybe not right now but when we get rid of this virus’ business. Japan seems like a place that is very popular for Heavy Metal and we’ve never been there, and we’d like to do that (laughs).

M.I. - You’ve played in Portugal, specifically Porto and Lisbon. What do you remember about those gigs? Did you like the experience and want to come back?

Yes, I did. When we played those gigs, the actual venue was right on the river. So, we were fortunate to have a very nice hotel and the venue was beautiful. It was an old building and just down the road, we did the usual Port tour, where we took a look at all the facts and how Port wine is made, because back then, myself and Adrian, who was playing bass at the time, were big fans of Port wine, but not so much now. So, we did that. We were quite surprised how English you felt there. It was very much like home away from home. Yes, we enjoyed Portugal a lot. 

M.I. - The band has toured with Iron Maiden and other legends. How do you describe the experience of touring with big bands?

Well, the Iron Maiden tour was probably quite long and, I would say, it was the single most important episode of My Dying Bride’s career. And the main reason was we learned so much from Iron Maiden, how they operate, from their crew and Iron Maiden were so very nice to us. It taught us how to be a professional Rock band, even though we’re not truly professional, you know, we don’t do it full time, but it taught us how to behave correctly in most cases. And we still do stupid things every now and then. We’ve learned so much from them, we could never thank them enough for this. That was phenomenal. In a similar way, we’ve toured with Ronnie James Dio in America, maybe five weeks or something like that, it was very similar on that one. I think we’ve learned so much. He was such a nice guy, very humble and very nice to us, even though we were just a little support band. Again, it was a brilliant experience. And then, we’ve played with Metallica in Greece once. We sat back and watched how they operate. They are phenomenal. We sat back and were amazed to see how a big Metal band operates, and we tried to copy that. We tried to be like that in our own way, so when we’ve toured with these bands, we’ve tried to learn, tried to be a better band, tried to be better people, because some bands aren’t nice and we hope to not be one of them. And so, without those bands, those experiences, I don’t think My Dying Bride would be quite what it is.

M.I. - How do you feel about touring? Do you enjoy it as much today as you did when you first started off?

No (laughs). There are a couple reasons: one, when we were twenty-five, touring was different, and we were doing it for different reasons. In 1995, Heavy Metal and how things worked was different as well. It’s changed a lot now, I’ve noticed I changed a lot, because I’m much older but I still enjoy it for different reasons. It’s not quite the same. Some of the festivals now are very restricted and its backstage is sterile. It is very much, you know, get on, do your thing, get off, goodbye… some of the life, some of the soul has left the large festivals. Touring as a headline that’s still great, it’s hard work but it’s still great but, again, it’s not quite the same doing it when fifty years old as it was when you were twenty-five.

M.I. - Aaron delivers a compelling performance and his vocals are unique. Do you believe it influences the band’s success?

(Laughs). That’s a good question. I’ve got to be careful here, but I don’t think so. That would be like asking if any singular instrument on the album or on My Dying Bride can create a singular success. I think collectively makes My Dying Bride My Dying Bride! I would say I think Aaron’s lyrics do help and make the band a success, but whether his vocals are so brilliant, I’m not sure. I think there’s more to it than that. 

M.I. - This year, you will turn fifty years old. Now that you are going to reach half a century of life, do you feel that you have already achieved everything you wanted, musically speaking?

No, not even close. No, not at all. I think that’s what keeps me going. Even though we’ve just finished this album, I have songs that I think are better than the ones we have just done. I want to record them. So, I want to work with the rest of the band to record them as I’m already hitching to play these. I’m not sure that I’ll ever be fully happy, but there are a few people around me that are happy with it. But I don’t think I can ever truly reach my goals in this, because My Dying Bride’s music is what is it. It limits us in many aspects. So, I think I’m proud of what we’ve done but have I achieved what I thought I would by being in a band? No, I don’t think so.

M.I. - You have released fourteen full-length studio albums, three EPs, one demo, one box set, four compilation albums, one live album, and one live CD/DVD release. Did you ever expect to be such a famous and accomplished musician? 

No, not at all. I wouldn’t be able to remember all that. That’s quite an achievement. I’m still genuinely surprised. Firstly, how popular My Dying Bride is, considering what we do and the fact that I am now creeping up towards fifty and My Dying Bride is still getting bigger. With each album we are a bigger band, which just makes my head spin sometimes thinking: “How can it be??? We’re not writing very popular music, we’re delibly odd, delibly awkward and yet it stills seems relevant… that still surprises me.”. I’m thankful, I’m very thankful and I do try to take some enjoyment from it, which I do in most cases. But after all, I’m very surprised. I’ve never expected it to last this long. 

M.I. - My Dying Bride have been mentioned as a major influence by many bands. How do you feel when you hear this?

This is weird, because I don’t hear that. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that from anybody, apart from journalists like yourself. I’ve heard it a couple of times in the last couple of weeks since starting this new album and doing some interviews. And I didn’t know that. It’s a nice thing to hear. I appreciate hearing how our music has an influence on that level. But, unless I have forgotten, I don’t remember meeting anybody that said: “My band or my style is because of My Dying Bride”, reasons like that. I’m quite surprised, pleasantly surprised. 

M.I. - Did you ever imagine that your life would be what it is when you founded the band?

No, to be honest, I wasn’t sure what I was thinking. When we started the band, we didn’t really have a plan, I mean, we had an idea of what we wanted the band to be musically more or less. But we never really thought it would come to anything, I mean, you put yourself some time into those kinds of thoughts, you just keep going. We did an album, an EP and then it was time for another album so we did a tour, another EP and suddenly here we are. Time flies so fast, it really does, and it seems to get by faster the older you get as well. Only old people say that. I’m just amazed of what we have done. Even though I have very high standards, what I consider to be success, we haven’t achieved it yet, because we need to work for a living. So, that’s the bad, that’s how high I consider if a band has made it, you don’t work for a living at the same time. So, when you ask: “Do you think you achieved everything?”. No. To answer this one: “Has my life turned out in the way I expected?” I don’t think anybody really expects their life to go in one way or the other. What I didn’t expect was for this album to be this hard, to write, to create. I never thought it would be this tough to create an album. It’s been the most awful album to work on, because of external issues. Besides that, my life is not bad.

M.I. - Hope all goes well with this album. I thank you for the interview and hope to chat with you soon.

Thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure.

For Portuguese version, click here

Interview by Raquel Miranda