Interview conducted June 18 2017
Interview published June 23 2017
"We're 90 per cent sure now that we'll never record
anything else with Vallenfyre."
Greg Mackintosh and Nick Holmes
of Paradise Lost came to Stockholm to promote their coming record Medusa
[Street date: September 1st] and Metal Covenant therefore took the opportunity
to also talk to Greg separately about his side project Vallenfyre's third
and new record Fear Those Who Fear Him [Out June 2nd].
A couple of minutes into this interview
Greg unexpectedly and kind of out of nowhere dropped the bomb that this
record most likely will be the final one from the band and I can assure
you that this interview took a little bit of a turn from that moment and
"When I was a kid I suffered from depression really
badly and I used to have to take these various tablets."
Tobbe: Fear Those Who Fear Him was out on
June 2nd and in what way does it take off from where your last record,
Splinters , ended?
Greg: Well, Splinters we were totally happy with
and I'm still totally happy with the production and I don't think it
could have been any better for the type of album it was meant to be.
But then we did a bit touring for it and when we were touring America,
with At The Gates, Converge and Pallbearer, we just started to really
get into the groove of playing it live, but it sounded different to
the record. A bit more over the top, if you know what I mean? A bit
crazier, and messier, and we kind of liked it.
I just mentioned to Kurt [Ballou, producer] that if we were to do another
record, 'cause I hadn't written anything then, like "What did you
think to that idea?" and he said "Yeah, that would be cool.".
So then I came back and just started to write stuff and still we weren't
convinced we were gonna do it, but then when we thought the material
was strong enough and that we had enough, we thought "Yeah. OK."
and we basically tried to make a live sounding version off that, you
Tobbe: Yeah, the overall sound of the record
is pretty rough, I would say. For being kind of an old school death metal
album in a sense I think it's quite diverse, so how do you personally
look for variation in what could possibly be a narrow genre?
Greg: Well, over the records, from the first
record [A Fragile King - 2011] to Splinters to the new one we widened
the variety of influences. So the first record: the influences would
have only stuff from maybe '88-'91, you know. And the second record:
a bit further. And this record: anything from when I was 12 years old
in '82 to whatever, you know. So there's a lot of proto crust and grind
and hardcore punk, and whatever else, post punk and all kinds of stuff
in there. But still the death metal as well, but it's all just mixed
together, with a big stick, you know.
Tobbe: So out of all these different types
of songs you have on the album, which are the easiest songs to write for
Greg: For me personally it would probably be
the doom stuff, because I'm just so used to it with Paradise Lost, I
guess. But also, I find the D-beaty stuff quite easy, because I've been
into that so long. I mean, it was the first type of music I ever listened
to, really, from being 11, 12 years old, Discharge, English Dogs, stuff
like that. That was all I knew 'til I was about 14 years old. So I find
that stuff fairly easy.
Tobbe: And quite a few songs are kind of
short, so does that decision, to keep the songs short, kind of serve some
purpose, if you know what I mean?
Greg: Yeah, it was to cut any of the stuff away
that just was not necessary. You know, as soon as I started to get bored
with the songs that we do in something like Vallenfyre, then just stop
it. Don't even continue with that song. Just end it, you know. There's
a few there who are very short. It was just because of, you know "This
song doesn't need any
". You know, I tried adding of the parts
and it just didn't work, so I just thought "Leave it as it is.".
When you're kind of demoing the songs and come to the vocal parts, do
you kind of stand in front of a mirror and, like, shout the lyrics?
Greg: Well, I've just got a studio at home. Just
in a room at home, you know. It's taking me years to build up, how it
is now and it's quite good now. And I kind of just try out percussive
lines first. I'll do that in the day. And on a night I try and write
lyrics and then I'll go back to it the next day and try out the lyrics
I did to the percussive lines and see how it works. Just do that, you
know. There's no mirrors involved. [Laughs]
Tobbe: As you're writing stuff, how do you
kind of separate the Paradise Lost stuff and the Vallenfyre stuff, respectively?
Greg: It comes down to how the song makes me
feel; how the individual riff makes me feel, 'cause it's all about feeling
for me. Paradise Lost is very melancholy, sometimes bittersweet, like,
almost reflective, but Vallenfyre is kind of nasty and it's a bit malevolent
and not very nice. The feeling I get from it is totally different, so
it's as simple as that. That's how I separate it. I was writing both
records at the same time at one point and I'd spend two days on Vallenfyre
and two days on Paradise Lost. Go backwards and forwards. And it has
kind of helped in a way. I wouldn't wanna do it again; it was a lot
Tobbe: Would it be rude if I would suggest
that your heart is kind of with Vallenfyre, but your common sense is with
Paradise Lost nowadays?
Greg: Um, Vallenfyre is like my Saturday night
out. Yeah, I have fun with it. I can't deny that, but I can't say that
I take it too seriously. Again, like with Paradise Lost, the music is
quite serious, but it's like, you know, having a few drinks and going
down to the pub with your mates type of thing. But I wouldn't say the
heart, no. Because I don't intend
We're 90 per
cent sure now that we'll never record anything else with Vallenfyre.
So we'll leave it as a trilogy. So if that's where the heart was I left
it behind me.
Tobbe: That comes as a surprise to me, because
I haven't heard a word about that.
Greg: No, but I haven't said it. It was just:
I was talking to Hamish [Hamilton Glencross, bass and guitar] about
it the other day and we just seemed to think that as a trilogy record
it makes sense.
Would there have been a Vallenfyre if it wasn't for your past accomplishments
with Paradise Lost?
Greg: Vallenfyre only happened because of the
one event that my dad died. I had a thought about it for many, many
years, regardless of Paradise Lost. It would have been in my head, like
"I really wanna do this thing that has something to do with the
music I grew up with.". But I would have never done it and I'd
have just gone "Maybe, maybe, maybe.".
And it takes something like that. Everyone will
go through something like that. It just makes you more, like, not carefree,
but more like "Fuck! What's the worst that can happen? I'll try
something. I'll try this and I'll try that.". And even me being
the vocalist in Vallenfyre was an accident. I didn't mean to be the
vocalist. I just couldn't find a vocalist, so, you know. Yeah, it would
have happened anyway, with an event like that, you know.
Tobbe: You've told the story about how you
started Vallenfyre, but you haven't so often told people why you kept
going with Vallenfyre, really.
Greg: It's a series of events where, you know,
just a certain amount of enjoyment came from it and we just thought
"Fuck it! Yeah! Let's do another one!". 'Cause we weren't
even gonna do a gig and then we got offered a gig in Helsinki [Finland]
and it was like "OK. Let's do that. I would quite enjoy that.".
And someone offered us a tour in Spain and then
Decibel tour and before you know it we're doing another record and stuff.
It was "Never say never. Just see what happens." and just
go with the flow. And just because we're enjoying it, like I said. A
few drinks, go on stage, enjoy it for what it is and that's that, you
know. I mean, we certainly haven't made any money out of it. In fact
we've lost a lot of money doing it. But that's not the point, is it?
It's something totally different.
Tobbe: But has your involvement with Vallenfyre
in any way interfered with your involvement with Paradise Lost?
Greg: No, I think it's helped it in a way. It's
invigorated me to what Paradise Lost should be, I think. Because I think
it's easy to become complacent and maybe I was becoming complacent,
but I think Vallenfyre has made me appreciate it actually; Paradise
Lost more, in a way. It's good for Paradise Lost and it's good for me.
it's not that we can't do what we want in Paradise Lost; we can do whatever
we want, but there's a certain amount of freedom to something when you
don't have the history, because whatever we do with Paradise Lost will
be judged by our history and our legacy and whatever. But with something
like Vallenfyre you can do what the hell you want. It doesn't matter.
You're not trying to sell records. You don't care. I don't care if I
sell one record. You know, it's just what it is.
Tobbe: Must be a good feeling.
Greg: It is a good feeling. Even if it's not
Vallenfyre I would probably like to continue something eventually one
day, just to keep things fresh for me in Paradise Lost, if you know
what I mean?
Tobbe: You've been in this industry for
almost 30 years, but you still have a good 20 years to go until you, like,
Greg: Or drop of the stage, yeah.
or if you ever will retire?
So is there in a sense a way to possibly predict the future just a little
Greg: Predict the future? No, not at all. Not
at all. Not in this life. Recent events in the world can show you that.
You never know what's around the corner. I mean, again going back to
why Vallenfyre formed, that's a good point of why you can never predict
the future. You know, you could walk out here and get hit by a bus and
then you didn't try the thing you were gonna try.
When I was a kid I suffered from depression really
badly and I used to have to take these various tablets. I used to have
to go and see someone and this person said "The most overwhelming
thing is to think past tomorrow. Just be comfortable and confident and
happy within the 24 hours and if you can do that then you'll never worry.".
It's not always easy to think like that and in some ways it affects
me badly. I never had a pension and I have no escape plan from this,
you know, so. But what the hell, you know.
What do you think people will remember from Vallenfyre in about 5-10 years?
Greg: It's impossible to say. I mean, for me
it's nice to have been accepted by my peers. You know, there's a few
guys who I really respect who endorsed Vallenfyre shall we say. It's
nice to go back to a scene that I came from, that I haven't really been
a part of for a long time. So, just that I did it for the right reasons
would be good enough for me, regardless of what it was musically.
Tobbe: But would the decision to call it
quits be really final? Because a lot of bands tend to do reunions and
come back after 5 or even 20 years and
Greg: Well, on the first Vallenfyre record there
were 5 members, on the second there were 4 and on this one there's 3,
so it's gonna disappear anyway, you know. [Laughs] When you get to,
like, my age, or even 10 years younger than me, finding musicians that
can just "OK. I'll come on tour." is not that easy, especially
for a band that makes no money. You know, people have jobs and responsibilities
and it's not like I can say "Yeah. Give up you day-job and come
Tobbe: Did you have a day-job before Paradise
Greg: Oh yeah. For the first two records [Lost
Paradise  and Gothic ]. I didn't give up my job until Shades
Of God  and that was purely because we were having so much touring
that I couldn't get time off work. I had a two-year old daughter and
a good job and I had to make that decision and I just thought "I
can't not, because even if it goes wrong I can go back and get another
job, but if I don't do it then I'll just resent the fact that I didn't
And I'm glad I did, because the job I left, it
was a good job and everyone on the job said "You'll be back here
very soon.", but the place I worked at closed down two years later
and everyone lost their job.
of the album Fear Those Who Fear Him