Nearly three decades into their career, legendary British doom/deathsters Paradise Lost continue to make outstanding albums. Their latest opus Medusa finds them increasing the heaviness and growling vocals. We caught up with guitarist Greg Mackintosh, who fills us in on their new drummer, the album, some recent reissues, touring, his other band Vallenfyre and other subjects.
Chad Bowar: How did drummer Waltteri Väyrynen come to join the band?
Gregor Mackintosh: I did an online audition for the drumming position in my other band Vallenfyre. His drumming was amazing and his personality fit the bill so he got the job. About a year later the drumming position in Paradise Lost came up so I put him forward for that and he got that, too.
How does having someone that much younger as part of the lineup affect the energy and chemistry of the band?
He doesn’t seem that much younger when you talk to him. I know guys in their 40’s who act more childish than Waltteri. Having said that, his enthusiasm is very catching.
Was there anything unique about the songwriting for Medusa compared to the typical PL album?
Yes, I had an idea to change the writing process. I would send a riff or two to our vocalist Nick and get him to do as many different vocal styles and melodies as possible over the top. Then he would send these back and I would strip everything away and cut up the vocals and then start to build a track like a jigsaw.
What led you to work with producer Jaime Gomez Arellano again?
We liked working with him on the previous record and it made perfect sense to use him for Medusa. We were headed down more of a retro sounding path and that is Gomez’ specialty.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Honestly, the countryside surrounding the studio. It was so peaceful and beautiful. It helped to give great clarity to the recording process.
Generally as bands’ careers advance, they get softer/mellower. The last couple albums you’ve returned to your roots and become heavier. What inspired that?
A love of the music I grew up with, which was all pretty heavy or extreme. That music has always been with me, but it wasn’t until the last few years that I felt like creating it again.
How did you come to sign with Nuclear Blast?
We got offered a great deal and Century Media was in the middle of being taken over by Sony at the time so it was a fairly obvious decision for us.
What do you expect from a record label now compared to 10 or 20 years ago?
My expectations from a label haven’t really changed. Just to distribute and spread the word.
How did you pick Stuttgart, Germany for your album release show?
It’s a venue we have played many times and it was also the venue where we filmed our first official live video Harmony Breaks.
You have a few European dates currently on your calendar. Are there plans for a North American run in 2018?
Yes, we have plans. The ideal scenario would be to jump on a really good package tour of like minded bands. We are currently looking into this.
Were you satisfied with the response to Vallenfyre’s latest album Fear Those Who Fear Him?
Yes, it has had good reviews and people have been very positive in general. It’s a pretty extreme record and it is a divisive form of music, so I like it when people either love it or hate it. It’s the middle ground that I find offensive.
What does the future hold for that band?
Fear Those Who Fear Him is the last studio album Vallenfyre will make. We will be doing some festivals and a few small tours. The first tour being in Europe in September 2017. Our plan is to continue gigging as far and wide as possible until the end of 2018 and then call it a day.
Your 1997 album One Second was recently reissued. As you listened to the remastered songs, what stood out most?
How inventive it sounds. I think you can truly feel we were just having a blast making it and experimenting like crazy. It was also quite a bold move in hindsight I guess, but I’m glad we did it.
How did that album impact your career?
It divided our fans right down the middle. I think the alternative scene in Europe embraced it more than the metal scene at the time.
Are there plans for Music For Nations to reissue any other of your albums?
Yes, I think they are reissuing pretty much everything to my knowledge.
You’re not necessarily a political band, but what do you make of the current situation in the world with Brexit and Trump and Russia and the Middle East? Have you seen this much turmoil in your lifetime?
The world right now reminds me of being a young teenager in the early ’80s. It was also a very volatile situation. Lots of anger and division. I think it was scarier back then, however, because the world wasn’t as controlled by conglomerates as it seems to be now. It seems to be much more about business now rather than huge political chasms.
(interview published August 31, 2017)