MEB staffer Michael Tahmasian was able to talk to Aaron Aedy, the rhythm guitarist of English metal band Paradise Lost during their only tour of the States this year. The two discuss the band’s newest album Tragic Idol along with playing live, the dream of having an album go platinum, and more.
MEB: You guys released your thirteenth album, Tragic Idol, earlier this spring. How do you feel the album was received among longtime fans and by the metal community in general?
Aaron Aedy: Actually it’s had the best reception that we’ve had in ages. I mean the past few records have increasingly been doing better and better. Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us did really well and Tragic Idol has won a number of “Album of the Month” awards across Europe. It’s been going great and reception to the songs has been really well live.
It seems like there was a definite focus on melody this time around. Was that something you deliberately chose to do or did it come naturally?
That’s part of our history. We had a lot of harmony guitars – twin guitars – when we first started really. We did a bunch of Draconian Times shows last year around Europe. They went really well and we really enjoyed playing the whole album in its entirety. We really enjoyed playing those songs from 1995 and I think probably subconsciously that sort of tripped in a bit.
Tragic Idol is the first album to actually feature Adrian Erlandsson on drums, even though he’s been in the band since 2009. Did having a new drummer affect the writing or recording process in any way?
I think it did. Unless you’ve played [with] a number of different drummers, you just think all drummers sound the same. They go “bum” “tit” “bum” “tit.” But they don’t. The drummers we’ve had couldn’t be more different. They all bring something with their style into how we interpret the music. I mean Adrian’s drumming on the album was phenomenal. But my favorite fill that he did actually ended up being on the Decibel Magazine flexi disc, “The Last Fallen Saviour.” It’s on that song, so it’s not on the album. But he did a brilliant job, a really good job. He’s been with us for two or three years playing live, so it already gelled really well.
Can you give me any insight to any of the concepts behind the album title Tragic Idol or some of the lyrics off the record?
That’s probably more down to Nick [Holmes, vocalist] really. But Tragic Idol in a nutshell, from one thing I heard him say, is about how you can put people on a pedestal – muscians are the typical ones – but they’re just human beings and sometimes their failings are worse than those people who worship them really. It’s more of a statement about that really. We’re all just human.
This tour right now with Devin Townsend and Katatonia is the first time you’ve been over to the States this year. How has the reception been to the live show here and how have people responded to hearing new songs played from Tragic Idol?
Brilliant actually! It’s been quite surprising since we’re third on the bill. I mean the first time we came here in ’93 with Morbid Angel and Kreator, we had some really good shows and there were some shows they’d be opening the doors when you went on stage. This tour’s been great. The rooms have been full when we’ve been on stage. The reaction has been better at the end than at the start, so hopefully we’re winning some new friends over.
What are some of your favorite songs to play live – off either Tragic Idol or any past work?
I do like “The Enemy.” It’s a good headbanging song. “Faith Divides Us” is a really cool song. But “Tragic Idol” has been going down really well, the song itself. But you know what? There are so many I love to play live, I’d be up there all night if I could.
You guys have been a band since 1988, which is a feat in and of itself, and since the time you started there has definitely been a lot of change in the metal scene. Are there any younger bands you really enjoy listening to and support?
The thing is, since we’re on tour so much we don’t always get to hear new stuff. But we toured with a band recently [called] Swallow the Sun. They’re a great band, really lovely guys. It’s weird because I know people as friends as much as liking their music. I mean we had a band called Ghost Brigade supporting us on the Faith Divides Us Tour and I’m actually quite a big fan of theirs after that tour. Actually me and Daniel [Liljekvist] from Katatonia sat around listening to Ghost Brigade last night with a beer.
Is there anything you haven’t done yet, being in a band, that you hope you get to do before you retire?
A platinum album would be nice. [Laughs] But these days, it’s so hard to do with everyone illegally downloading. That’s it really. I’ve done it all. The thing is that we’re enjoying it now more than we ever have done. We’ve been going nearly 25 years and four out of five of us are original members. The day we don’t enjoy it anymore is the day we’ll stop. It’s weird because I think we’ve become quite humble in our feelings towards what we do. Because it’s like “Hang on a minute. We’ve been going nearly 25 years and we’re still doing it. We’ve got a lot to be thankful for, you know?” It’s rejuvenated our enjoyment of it, especially with the new album out. Everyone was on fire when we were doing it. It was like the first album all over again.
Are there any places you wish you could go to that you haven’t already toured?
I don’t know, I’ve been to about 44 different countries. I haven’t been to China, that would be pretty interesting. New Zealand would be cool, mainly because I want to go there on a holiday. I haven’t been to Japan in a few years, it would be nice to go back.
If you could create a dream tour, to be a part of or to just attend, what bands would be on that bill?
That’s a tough one. One band I’d love to see, but they’d have to be doing a specific album set, would be Masters of Reality doing their first album in its entirety. That would blow my mind. I just found out I’m going to be missing Voivod in a couple of months. I haven’t seen them since the ’90s and I love them. My friend’s band Doom are touring with Voivod while I’m on tour in Europe. And they’re playing right around the corner from my house, which is even worse. I’d love to see Voivod doing Killing Technology in its entirety, Masters of Reality doing their first album in its entirety, and, if you could get it to happen, have Mercyful Fate play all of Don’t Break the Oath in its entirety. That would be a fucking awesome night seeing those three. I think then I could die happy.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell the people reading this?
You know what? It’s been really nice that people have been coming to the shows early and giving us a chance on this tour. If you haven’t heard Paradise Lost or you haven’t heard us for a long time, check out the album Tragic Idol. It’s ace. I am seriously biased, but it is really good. Thank you for coming to the shows, if you’ve come down, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it.