Martin Powell Interview – Cradle Of Filth – Re-upload

Posted on September 30, 2019

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Back in 2014 I happened to get in touch with former long time Cradle of Filth keyboardist Martin Powell and: turns out he’s an amazing guy and we had a really nice conversation.
Not only did he agree to do an interview for my blog regarding the Nymphetamine recording sessions, but he also send me some demos of his songs from the album, demos which (according to him) has never been heard outside of the band.

Martin Powell has always inspired me for some reason and he did a really amazing job with Cradle of Filth during his time with the band, and I was fortunate enough to see them perform live during the Nymphetamine tour in 2005 which was probably his last tour with them.

Just to get the opportunity to talk with Martin and get this interview is some of the coolest things that’s ever happened to me, so I thought this interview deserved to get brought up again.
The first time I published it I put it together with a review of the album, but now I think it should stand on it’s own for everyone to read without me bullshitting about Nymphetamine ;)
He also brought up some interesting insider stuff on Cradle of Filth at the time that hardcore fans might find interesting :)

And Martin, if you’re reading this: I truly hope you’re doing awesome!
Please get in touch because I have some questions about Damnation and a Day ;)

Enjoy!

1. How was the writing process and recording session for you? Was it a challenge for you as a musician or was it just a walk in the park doing something you love?

Martin Powell:
I recall that Nymphetamine was written in a much different manner than on previous releases. We had progressed from writing as a full band in the rehearsal room, to each of us working on our own songs on our own studio set ups. I recall that we went away to a studio in Monmouth (South Wales) for a few days for all of us to write with no distractions.
I ended up writing a few whole songs on the album, namely: Nemesis, Absinthe with Faust (which I wrote almost entirely on keyboard then re-arranged for guitar), the majority of Nymphetamine (the track) and Swansong For a Raven.

I don’t recall that there was anything inherently more or less difficult in the writing of this particular album then in the process for any others.

The recording session was quite arduous though. The producer wanted to record the skeletons of the songs in a live setting (drums, bass, guitars), with the band playing as a whole. He tried for a while, but it simply didn’t work out. We reverted to the old formula of tracking instruments separately.

2. I have heard that the band had much material over from Damnation And A Day and that some of that (maybe all) was used for Nymphetamine. Is that true? If so, can you name which songs?

Martin Powell:
No. That’s not true. There was nothing left over from Damnation and A Day, though I still have demo recordings of songs that we wrote for Nymphetamine that were never used.

3. What did the album mean to you then, and what does it mean for you now?

Martin Powell:
I am certainly proud of some songs on it. But it’s a strange album to look back on. Whereas an album like Midian was a very collaborative effort, the songs on Nymphetamine were not really written this way. We all delivered almost fully-formed songs. That being the case, there are songs that I do like, but others I cannot stand to hear. Of course, I played keyboards on the album, and on all the songs, no matter who wrote them, but I am most proud of the ones I wrote myself along with a few moments in other songs.
Of course it was the last album I was involved in with CoF and I am proud of what I, and we, did.

4. You did not only play keyboard/piano on the album but also guitar like on Damnation, why didn’t Paul or James fill that role entirely? Or was he (James) just a live/session guitarist at the time?

Martin Powell:
James was only ever a live/session guitarist. Whilst he was involved in the writing process, he was just paid a fee for his song writing contributions. I played guitar on the songs mentioned above, and as with the nature of people writing their own full songs, it was far simpler and quicker for each of us to record the parts we knew intimately. Paul played guitar on his songs, but a lot of that was replaced by the producer (Rob Caggiano, ex-Anthrax, Volbeat) as it simply sounded tighter.

5. You left Cradle relatively shortly after the album’s release and tour, was that something you suddenly felt was the right thing to do or was it something that had gone on for a while? Do you regret it?

Martin Powell:
I certainly don’t regret it. I have moved into entirely different areas of music composition and appreciation. It was certainly a little strange to go from the chaos of being in CoF, with touring, song writing, videos, promotion, heavy partying!, to a life of relative leisure, but it was definitely a break I needed. I had become somewhat jaded by the the whole environment. I believe I lost passion for that type of music and it really began to show. I think it was partly due to the way the band dynamic developed.
The band went from six people all contributing their own voices (as we did on Midian and, to a certain extent, Bitter Suites…) to just myself and Paul writing the material independently of each other. I think that’s been the case ever since I left. Paul writes all of the material to the best of my knowledge. My own view is that the quality of the music suffers when only one person writes all the music – at least for a band. I have heard a few songs from the band’s output over the last few years, and although it’s certainly not bad, I always feel that it could have been something far greater, had more musical voices been involved in the writing. Of course, this is just my opinion, and the band seems to be doing well as far as I am aware.Martin Powell

6. How was the album tour for you? Since it was your last with Cradle, was it fun or painful in any way?

Martin Powell:
Back then I was quite a heavy drinker! Haha. And also quite heavy! A lot of the gigs are absent from my memory, but I do recall with fondness the tour with Bleeding Through and Arch Enemy. Touring was always quite fun. And although many musicians will bemoan the tedium of the days one encounters whilst on tour, it’s certainly always preferable to being tied to an office desk in a regular job.

7.Which song do you like the best of the album? And which song did you like the most to perform live?

Martin Powell:
Swansong for a Raven is my favourite song from the album. It’s probably quite selfish of me, but it’s a song that I wrote entirely and played the guitars and keyboards on. It turned out very well and it has a three part structure which exhibits quite different moods, which I thought was something that was something inherent to Cradle’s style.

As for a favourite song to play live? I always liked playing songs that I had not been involved with. I would say that The Twisted Nails of Faith, Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids and Nocturnal Supremacy were always up there as my favourites to play live. Cruelty and The Beast is actually my favourite CoF album.

//Martin Powell – 2014

A huge thank you Martin for taking your time and answering these questions, and a huge thank you to Matt Lombard for the pictures!

All photos by: Matt Lombard