MY DYING BRIDE "Surely Goodness And Misery..." 

By Lord Randall

Being in a band for a quarter-century is no easy task. Being in one of the (Un)Holy Trinity of British doom that cropped up on Peaceville Records in the late ‘80s-early ‘90s for 25 years is an achievement bordering on the monolithic. 2015 finds founding MY DYING BRIDE guitarist Andrew Craighan none the worse for wear on the eve of the release of Feel The Misery, the band’s 12th. Lord Randall brushes the cobwebs from the entrance to the crypt…

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: 25 years, man. Did you even remotely see yourself doing this back in the days of "Towards The Sinister"? 

ANDREW CRAIGHAN: Probably no surprise if I say no. Back then the demo was a big thing, I remember sitting at home folding out all the inner sleeves we had printed (my quota anyway) and lovingly folding them up ready to be sent to fanzines all over the world (please send back my stamps and all that). 

WC: What do you think has kept the muse returning? 

AC: I think in a paradoxical way not being able to live from the band has allowed it to continue as it has. We're free to walk away and there is no pressure to be in MDB because we have to. I'm not saying I would turn down a METALLICA style lifestyle but for MDB that seems unlikely now. So we are genuinely still into it is probably the short answer.

WC: Every musician – unless you're in BOLT THROWER – writes things they don't feel would fit within the scope of the band they're known for. Do you, and what does that material sound like if so?

AC: Some of the stuff I can't use is even darker than what MDB presently is and also heavier and more brutal than the MDB right now. I am working on getting it together for release at some point but not as MDB.

WC: "Feel The Misery" is really all over the map of MY DYING BRIDE’s recorded history thus far. Do you feel the need to expand on the sound of the band at this point, and what of the internet/industry “critics” for whom, as good as you can be, it’s never “good enough”?

AC: Being in a band leaves you open to all sorts of mindless and often uneducated criticism about your music and it can have you chasing your tail if you start reading it, but it's all bollocks. We're MY DYING BRIDE and this is what we do. If you want SLAYER (which we all know we do) you don't put on a CELINE fucking DION record, you put on 'Spill The Blood' and you turn the fucker up, or if you fancy 'Rime Of The Ancient Mariner' you go get out "Powerslave" and turn that one up too, but if you're in the mood for feeling something a little darker you can dig out any MY DYING BRIDE album...and this probably now goes without saying... and turn it all the way up. 

WC: Is there anything you knew you wanted to stay away from going into writing/recording that maybe didn't work on "The Map Of All Our Failures"? Anything you knew you wanted to highlight? 

AC: I knew I wanted to avoid being something we weren’t, that’s for damn sure. I wanted things to be heavier, to get back into the death metal vocals. I must also point out that in the end Shaun [MacGowan, violin/keys] , Lena [Abe, bass] and Calvin were all singing from the same hymn sheet on this one and once that happened the songs opened up once more and we then got into them from a fine tuning point of view, arrangements etc so I can't take all the credit / blame.

WC: "Feel The Misery" also brings the past, the band's halcyon days, in a few ways, one being the return of your original guitar partner Calvin Robertshaw. What led to his initial departure, and was there really any other choice than Calvin when it came to this album? 

AC: He said was he was literally burnt out after the "34.788% Complete" album, which we understood but didn't want to agree with back then. We never split as friends as he is effectively my brother in law so all of this time he was out we were always talking. With no disrespect to him, this album would have been more or less the same without another guitar player. It's not the first MDB album I've written alone and with respect the stuff he has added he has made a very positive difference. As for another choice we thankfully never got to that stage, the album would have been written and recorded by me anyway but with Calvin agreeing to step back in it made sense to get him right back into it  as soon as possible as he was now the "old" new guy. 

WC: How do your styles blend, and at what points to you feel they differ? Just because a band has 2 guitarists, it doesn't mean they're inherently complimentary. Not everyone can be Tipton/Downing or Denner/Shermann, obviously. How do you make your partnership work? 

AC: On this one, it was finished when Calvin came back in. We extended a few places to drop in a couple of his ideas that worked and re-arrange a few parts but there wasn't much to talk about, the vibe of this album pretty much dictated any ideas. The same goes for 'Hollow Cathedra' that was written and then extended to get some of Calvin's harmonies in, which totally worked and made for a better arranged song. As for actually trying to answer the question it's always about compromise and being able to sometimes say yes I agree to that change of a riff or idea but then being allowed to say no I really want it this way if you think the changes are negative. It can be a tricky game but Calvin writes a lot like me in many respects so it's far easier for me as I like his riffs. He, as it happens, doesn't get my timing, but he's sort of used to that.

WC: You've also returned to Academy Studios, where most of what we'd term "classic" MDB was recorded. What was it like recording there again, and what was the vibe during recording like? Any recording/studio rituals? So many bands are superstitious when it comes to that sort of thing...

AC: I was really looking forward to getting back there and cracking on but the love was short lived. The vibe started out really good, the band played the game however completely professionally and turned up sober and lively for each recording session they had. It wasn't like the old days at all for us, I think one beer was drank through-out the whole set of sessions and that was Calvin, who pretty much doesn't drink. As for superstitions, maybe the others, but not me, I was very pragmatic about it all, arranging when who and where I though it all should go. That pretty much went tits up once in the studio though as no plan survives first contact with the enemy. 

WC: The last time we spoke for "A Line Of Deathless Kings", you were listening to a lot of martial music. What are you listening to these days? 

AC: I think that was SOPHIA I was listening to, and still do. As for what I'm listening to, BELPHEGOR is a favorite of mine, particularly "Blood Magic Necromance". It simply has to be one of the best albums of any genre ever but I've been so busy with this album of ours that I've only recently started listening to music again and started with JUDAS PRIEST’s "Redeemer Of Souls". I was never really into them but this record has some great songs on it and I am now officially a fan. 

WC: What's coming up for MY DYING BRIDE? With today's musical climate (and the fact that most if not all of you have regular jobs as well), do you think it's becoming less and less feasible for the road dog, months-long tour for a band like yourselves? How do you decide when/where to play?

AC: We, as you say,  are not full time so our gigs are based on how much time the band can sacrifice to them and how understanding their respective employers are. So we simply play the best shows we're offered, like Graspop, Party San and Wacken for example. These are all top level festivals so we're not getting bad gigs. For those reading and thinking “Why no UK gigs?” We are working on that, but we don't get many UK offers at all.

Back on topic. I'm not sure it's actually less feasible to tour, though I think it's less feasible to be full time metal artists and not have to tour all the time. People still see downloading music as a victimless crime. Streaming via Spotify, YouTube etc has only one winner and that's the company itself, not the bands, so touring and merch sales are the only real way to make any brass unless you have a full time job. I like the setup we have, as I really couldn't do the level of touring it takes to be full time now.

WC: Thank you very much for your time and your music, which – morose as it fucking is – has actually gotten me through some pretty harrowing times. 

AC: Thank you for the interview, it was a real pleasure with some very interesting questions. Getting people through harrowing times is all part of the service. Send the next patient in on your way out.