» Aaron Aedy - Paradise Lost
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Interview conducted July 14 2017
Interview published August 17 2017

"Any obstacle has a potential positive outcome and that's the way I look at it."

Medusa, the new album from Paradise Lost, is arriving on September 1st and in many ways it's a return to the band's sound in the beginning of the '90s. Metal Covenant recently spoke to vocalist Nick Holmes and lead guitarist Greg Mackintosh about the album, but since the band was performing a few weeks later at Gefle Metal Festival, an opportunity opened up for also listening to what rhythm guitarist Aaron Aedy had to say about the band's brand new creation.

Tobbe: Medusa, the new Paradise Lost record, is out on September 1st, as we both know, and in your opinion, what could be the key to success on that album?

Aaron: Our awesome live show, which everyone can capture in the autumn on our tour. You know, I think, the one thing with Paradise Lost, we've always been music first, and I think the new album is really good. I mean, I thought after the last album we'd have a trouble matching it. I think we've done an album, which doesn't sound like the last one, but in a way is a beautiful next step, you know. I think the album will make its own success and we'll just go out and play it live and enjoy ourselves, you know.

Tobbe: It's the 15th Paradise Lost record and when you're in the studio or recording, is everything kind of like the day before or the day before that?

Aaron: Do you know what? It's weird. I think the older we get, the more we seem to appreciate what we've got and what happens, you know. I mean, the people actually still like us enough to buy the records, to help us continue. It's quite humbling, you know, in a lot of ways. I remember, there was a part when we were recording the last album [The Plague Within, 2015], 'cause the last song we wrote for it pretty much was Beneath Broken Earth, and we were putting it together in the studio and I just remember looking at Greg and we were like "Oh, it sounds pretty good, doesn't it?" and we were like teenagers again.

You should be like that when you're in the studio 'cause, it's a bit of a cliché, but you're giving birth to something and hearing it come together is one of the most magical things. I mean, I'm somebody who loves playing live. I absolutely love playing live; it's my favorite thing, but there's something magical about seeing all the components going in, you know. I suppose the top chef has the same thing with his signature dish, but I mean, obviously an album takes longer than a signature dish. [Laughs] But we still get excited about it and that's why we still do it. I think the day that we don't enjoy it anymore we'll stop, 'cause if it's not from the heart and the soul, people know.

I mean, we could have done Draconian Times [1995] and gone "Oh, that's done well. Let's do more!", you know, but I think we'd have split up after another 2 or 3 albums, 'cause we'd have been bored, you know. We've got to keep it exciting and interesting for ourselves and we're our own biggest critics. But yeah, I think we're our own harshest critics first, so I mean, there's a lot of bullshit filtering going on before it's done.

Tobbe: And I heard that Beneath Broken Earth set the tone for the new album too.

Aaron: Yeah. Especially me and Greg love doom music. I remember when he sent me that. It was only a couple of weeks before we went into the studio and I was just like "Man! Awesome!", you know what I mean? I love that kind of thing. I'm a sucker for Candlemass and Trouble, you know. So yeah, I know, it's perfect.

Tobbe: The record has obviously an older sound to it. So how was it to, like, revisit those days, but still being such better skilled players now?

Aaron: I mean, I can't say you record it quicker, 'cause in those days you went into the studio, 3 days, done! But I think you approach it with more confidence etc.. Don't know, don't really think about it. It's like the excitement of doing what you're doing is sort of, like, the overawing feeling, really.

Tobbe: Greg told me that everything you do around the music is fun, but the actual music is very serious.

Aaron: The thing is I've read lots of autobiographies for instance and when you read comedians' autobiographies, people who make people laugh for a living, they're usually miserable as fuck in real life, whereas we make miserable music as our release. And to be honest, on tour, the reason we've been going for 30 years next year is because we have a really good laugh and we love each other's company.

You know, obviously it's good after a big tour that you have a bit of a break. But you know what? We can still sit down, grab a beer and we'll just sit around talking and laughing. I mean, we still do that, you know, and I think that's the most important thing. We're friends first and then we love what we do almost equally as much, you know, and it's all very symbiotic that way.

Tobbe: So when you're recording stuff, are you always on the same wavelength or do you have kind of different opinions until you finalize the product?

Aaron: That's another thing. We kind of all want the same thing and I think, you know, it makes it easier. There's obviously gonna be some songs I like a little bit more than others, but still it's like "This is great! I can't wait to play this one live.". You know, I think a lot like that. We've kind of been together for so long and we stand because we wanted similar sort of things. Although, originally, when we started, we thought we wanted to be like a mixture between Sodom, Kreator and Celtic Frost. Tudds [Matthew Archer, original drummer] is a diabetic and he couldn't actually play blastbeats for long, so we decided we'd become a slower band. So in some ways, Tudds, not being able to drum fast for a long time, helped develop our sound.

Tobbe: Then what is the biggest challenge about making a record in 2017, when the music climate is so different now to what it once was when you first started out?

Aaron: I think we've been quite lucky that we've had very good management for years. I mean, we never got massive advances. We got enough to make the record and to sort of tide us over and then we spent the money on the tours and everything, you know. But we never overspent, whereas I know that some bands that were our size and bigger, around the sort of mid-'90s, thought it was a ride that never gonna end and they'd have, like, a wah-wah pedal go in a taxi from London to a studio 100 miles away and the taxi costs more than the wah-wah pedal, you know.

And it was just stupid things like that. People wasted money, but we've always had very good management. So I mean, for a lot of bands these days it's the income stream, I think. A lot of bands now have to go on tour to sort of perpetuate and being able to record an album up to a standard that people expect, you know. I think that's the main difference. You used to spend your money on records and that used to help keep the band going and then the band did spend it on a tour, or lose money on tours usually. And then, literally dead on the millennium it almost seems like, it has turned into, you know, you make money on the tour that helps you pay for the next record.

I mean, for some bands it must be so difficult. Especially new bands. But I think, if you're a new band starting now, because you've always had this as the way it is, you sort of approach it in a different way. But a lot of bands had to really adapt if they were like sort of pre 2000, you know. But our managers have always been good helping us at being very prude and with not spending too much, you know. Things like that. So I mean, that's helped us have longevity as much as our friendship.

Tobbe: For you guys it must be nice to come from a different generation though, before all these new things started.

Aaron: Yeah I mean, we've got the advantage that we've got, you know, a whole bunch of people that might only like the first 2 albums. Some people love Icon to, like, One Second. Some people only like Host and One Second and hate the rest. There's different audiences, but we've got people over the years that kind of love us all the way. Having people who know who you are helps, you know, and I think the only difficult thing with the digital age is it's so easy to get your music out there. It's fantastic.

I mean, literally you can record a song in an afternoon, put it on the internet and you could have 1000 people or more listening to it in a day, you know what I mean? But then, the only problem is you're a needle in a haystack. That's the only thing, but I mean, there's so many pros and cons to how it is. Now it's amazing, 'cause you don't have to rely on somebody picking up your demo and say "These guys are great!", you know. But you don't get a lot of investment by record companies to sort of build bands anymore. It's like they give money and they want it back quickly. I mean, labels like Music For Nations, for us in the '90s, they were like "We're gonna build you and we're supporting you." and that was great, you know.

There are some independent labels which do that now and, really, Lee Dorrian's label [Rise Above Records] is very good. He's got a very good ear and he's a good mate of mine as well. I mean, he's label is great and he's discovered so many great bands and helped them to sort of establish themselves. Lee's got a really good ethic that way, I think. So it's good there are people out there that still wanna do it.

Tobbe: Besides your own guitar playing, what has been your biggest contribution to the band, ever since from the start?

Aaron: Positive attitude. Yeah, I'm the guy that gets up after one and a half hours of sleep and goes "Morning!", which really pisses everyone else off to be honest. But I don't know really. I feel very much a part of what we do. I like to be the positive one and I like to keep people going, you know. I don't like laying obstacles. Any obstacle has a potential positive outcome and that's the way I look at it. I'm a very positive person, so. But I don't know, beyond that I'm just a guy who stands on the left and headbangs, really.

Tobbe: With closed eyes.

Aaron: Yeah. That's what I mean. Sometimes that helps though if you play in a venue to, like, 30 people. In my mind I'm playing Dynamo '95, you know, like it doesn't matter. Like I said, I love playing live. I get lost in it to be honest. I love it. I always say that if the crowd enjoy it half as much as I do, they've had a good night. You know, that's the way I look at it.

Tobbe: You know, Nick and Greg have their side projects with Bloodbath and Vallenfyre, but has it never crossed your mind to do something else?

Aaron: Yeah, it has, but it's really weird, like: I feel almost married to Paradise Lost. I feel like I've been betraying them in a way, really. I mean, I was the first one in the band with a mini studio and a home studio. And I always write at home and I always have done, but it's for my pleasure in a way. Who knows? Maybe one day. But yeah, I don't know, it's just never felt right. I'm quite enjoying having Paradise Lost, and then being able to spend some time with my wife, and just do, I don't know, programming. I'm really into coding and stuff as well, so.

Tobbe: So when they're off and doing things for their side projects, you're pretty much at home and doing whatever you want?

Aaron: Cycling, coding, programming, playing guitar, playing piano, playing drums. I'm a hobby drummer as well. My first love is drums, but my mom wouldn't let me have a drum kit, so I got a guitar.

Tobbe: But the amplifier and the speaker can be real loud too.

Aaron: Yeah. I don't think she realized that. But I have 2 younger sisters who were like 1 and 3 at the time, so when I think back, a drum kit would have been a bad idea, really. Yeah, you know, so I'm a frustrated drummer.

Tobbe: If we look forward a bit. Do you kind of in a way ever see an end to Paradise Lost?

Aaron: I mean, it must end at some point. But d'you know what? I think when we started this band we didn't even think about it. It's like you never think you're gonna get past more than 4 or 5 years and then all of a sudden you're doing your 10th anniversary, then your 20th anniversary, 25th anniversary and we've got our 30th anniversary next year. I don't know, but if there comes a day when we're not enjoying it, then we'll just stop, you know.

I don't know, situations change. You never know if something happens in your home life or something, you know. Or somebody gets ill. I mean, I don't really wanna think about all that, but none of us are getting younger and you never know, so. To be fair, we never really plan too far ahead. When Nick and Greg start writing the album and even when we used to sort of chip in more as well; when we had 6 songs there was no master plan for what the other 6 were gonna be like. It's very much about the moment, you know. So, no, we never plan beyond what the next album's touring rate is, you know. There's no point, 'cause you never know.

Tobbe: The core of the band, the 4 of you. You've soon been together for 30 years and if one of those core members would suddenly and unexpectedly quit, what kind of effect would that have on the band?

Aaron: I don't know. It would be really weird 'cause the 4 of us… I mean, we were friends before it. I've known Greg since I was 11 years old. He was in the next classroom. I've known Nick since he was 12. No, he was 11; I was 12. 'Cause we used to go and BMX-ing together when we were kids in the early '80s. And Steve [Stephen Edmondson, bass] I've known since I was about 16. So I don't know. You know what? I don't think you can say it 'til it happens, really. It wouldn't be nice, you know. It wouldn't be nice. It depends who it is as well, you know.

Tobbe: If it's you who's quitting, they won't care, right? [Not to be taken seriously, of course.]

Aaron: Probably not. [Laughs] No, they probably wouldn't. They might go "Fuck! We haven't got that happy guy in the morning.", you know. It's one of those things that you really don't think about. I mean, you have some bands that, you know, a lot of tragedy happened. I was watching a program the other night and it was Brian Johnson from AC/DC interviewing Joe Elliott from Def Leppard and they were talking about Rick Allen losing his arm and then Steve Clark died and then Vivian Campbell got cancer. I mean, all right, you've got millions and millions, whatever, but it's like: these are your friends and that isn't about money, is it? You know what I mean? It's quite hard, really.

Tobbe: What's the biggest motivating factor to come out with records so frequently like you guys do and not like many other bands just tend to rely on the old stuff?

Aaron: What else are we gonna fucking do? [Laughs] No, I mean, seriously, we have never been about that. I mean, the band started because we wanted to make the music we wanted to hear 'cause nobody else was doing it and that remains more true now than it ever has done. I like to still think we've got our own little niche, you know. But, because it's still exciting.

Tobbe: And you are always evolving and go back and forward between different music styles.

Aaron: Yeah, and I mean, especially around the electronic period, I think we needed to throw a curveball to come back. I think we would have split up if we had done, like I said, 4 Draconian Times. Finished! You know, because then there's no reason in your heart to be in a band anymore. That's a financial decision; not a soul decision, you know, and this band is about heart and soul. Always has been, and for our own pleasure, more than anything.

See also: review of the gig the same day
See also: review of the album Medusa
See also: an interview with Nick/Greg conducted one month earlier

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