Interview mit Daniel Firth von Cradle Of Filth

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Interviews are usually done during the promotional stage of an album or a tour – and then they centre around these topics. However, albums and shows wouldn’t exist if the interview partners weren’t such enthusiastic instrumentalists. In our series „Saitengespräche“ (pun: „string talks“/“side conversations“) we want to take this into account – with interviews that focus entirely on instruments, amplifiers, effects, and other tech stuff. From gear nerds for gear nerds – and for those who aspire to be.

In this part of the series we talk to Daniel Firth, bass player of CRADLE OF FILTH.

When did you start playing bass guitar?
I was actually quite a latecomer to the instrument. I only got my first bass when I was 25, though I’d been playing guitar for about ten years before that.

What made you want to learn bass back then?
The main reason was so I could record bass parts on my home demos. I’d always been kind of intrigued by the instrument though, and as soon as I had my own I took to playing it a lot. It helped that a friend instantly invited me to join his Misfits tribute band upon hearing I’d bought a bass!

Have you already learned (had to learn) another instrument before?
Like I mentioned, I’d been playing guitar for about ten years at that point. I also learned the trumpet for a short time back when I was in school, and actually still have one. I occasionally take it out for a quick blast, but years of neglect have made me truly awful. I recently got a mute for it, so now I can play in the flat and not embarrass myself quite so much.

Do you remember which model was your first bass?
It was a ‚Vintage‘ brand P-Bass, which I bought second hand for just over £100. It was actually pretty decent for the price!

How many basses (and guitars) do you own?
 I’ve got about fifteen in total. It’s not a massive collection, but I don’t like to see instruments sitting unplayed. I’ve sold all the guitars I had before I started working with Schecter, apart from two – my very first electric guitar (a Yamaha Pacifica 112J) and my acoustic (a Washburn EA8B).

Do the instruments have different uses for you, so do you have different ones for different bands or occasions, like studio, live gigs and holidays?
When it comes to guitars, I quite often change up what I’m using to achieve different tones, and I have some in different tunings too. Tonewise, the main variable would be the pickups, so on one end of the spectrum we have my Schecter PT for vintage jangle, and on the other my main Schecter Hellraiser, modded with Fishman Fluence Modern humbuckers. In the home, I’ve recently been playing a lot of acoustic, so there’s plenty of variety. However, for bass I almost exclusively use a Schecter Hellraiser Extreme-5. It’s great for the heavy music I do, but the standard version is actually quite versatile as well, thanks to a split coil option and three band EQ.

What do you attach particular importance to from a technical point of view, what criteria must an instrument meet for you to be satisfied with it?
Great tone and playability are obviously very important. Reliable electronics are a boon for someone like myself, who doesn’t have much knowledge about the inside of guitars and basses. I can do a passable setup, but tend to leave the electronics to the professionals, so I’m glad that my instruments very rarely have such troubles. In terms of specs, I’m very much a five string bass player, and I like a longer scale so it can better handle down tuning (we almost always play one step down in CRADLE OF FILTH).

You often hear about musicians who seem to have a special connection to their instrument. Do you feel the same way? Do you have a favourite instrument?
Two instruments come to mind – my Washburn acoustic guitar, which I’ve been playing a lot recently, and my custom Schecter bass, which has been my main touring bass since I got it in 2017.

Did you make special modifications to it or is it a custom model anyway? Can you tell us the technical details here?
The bass was custom-made for me, based on the Hellraiser Extreme-5 model I’ve been using since 2012. Aside from the custom paint job (a satin finish dragon burst), I also asked for some modifications to the hardware. These included a hipshot bridge, Seymour Duncan Blackout pickups and a Darkglass Tone Capsule preamp. I love the sound of this combo, but have since been experimenting with Fishman Fluence Bass Soapbar pickups, and plan to use them in a future bass. I put some in my backup last year and it sounds great.

Is there a model, such as the instrument of a great role model, that you would like to play one day?
I’d be very interested to try Steve Harris’s P-Bass. He’s got such a distinctive style, so it would be cool to know how his bass is set up to complement that.

Which picks do you play and why exactly these?
I use Dunlop 1.5 Gator Grips. They feel comfortable in my hand and I like the tone. They’re thick and a little rounded, so they don’t give that harsh, scratchy sound you can sometimes get with picks. And as the name suggests, they’ve got a good grip to them, though I actually go a step further these days and score them. I don’t think I’ve ever dropped a pick during a CRADLE show, but it can get very sweaty on stage, so I don’t want to tempt fate.

Amps are often leased for tours – is that okay with you or do you have your own amp with you? Which model do you play?
I always use a Darkglass B7K Ultra and simply DI for CRADLE shows. It’s an incredible piece of gear, and so compact. I can easily take it with me no matter where we’re playing in the world, so I don’t have to worry about amps at all. Not that I dislike amps, but you can’t beat that kind of portability, especially when lots of flying is involved.

Besides the instrument and the amplifier, sound effects play an important role in the sound. Do you rely on single pedal mines, a multi-effect board or a combination?
I actually like to keep things very simple! For CRADLE OF FILTH, I just need one crushing tone for the entire show, and between my bass, the B7K Ultra and our excellent sound engineer it’s well-covered.
When I’m playing guitar with my hardcore punk band, Fit to Work, it’s pretty much the same philosophy of simplicity. I have a Boss tuner and noise suppressor, then go straight into a cranked Peavey 6505. I’ve tried adding additional pedals to this, like a Tube Screamer, a RAT, an HM-2, but I always felt they took away more than they gave, even after lots of tweaking. The music is really fast and busy, so I feel that effects like reverb and delay would just muddy up the overall sound and take away from the immediacy. I guess I’m not very creative when it comes to effects, but maybe it’s something I’ll eventually get into.


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Mind game: You are allowed to take one single (!) effect on stage only – which one do you choose? Which effect pedal makes up your sound?
Haha, even taking one effect would be more than I usually have! I do enjoy a bit of wah sometimes, and have been considering reintroducing that. It’s definitely not something that I’d consider an intrinsic part of ‚my sound‘, but it’s good fun.

Do you use a noise gate – why (not)?
For bass, I don’t find I need to use a noise gate. For guitar though, because I’m cranking a high gain amp on small stages, I consider my noise suppressor (a Boss NS-2) to be an essential piece of gear. Some bands like that screeching feedback vibe, but I don’t!

Finally, do you have a tip for beginning musicians?
If you’re not in a band, join one, or start your own. It doesn’t matter if you’re not very good to begin with – just getting out there and playing is the best way to learn how to be a well-rounded musician.

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