At the very end of 2014, Rock Sins was granted an interview with one of the greats of British metal from the last twenty years. Nick Holmes, best known as frontman for Paradise Lost and now more recently as the new man behind the microphone for the death metal super group Bloodbath. Rock Sins’ Philip Whitehead was able to catch up with Nick to talk about both bands and a few other things besides. Over to you Mr Holmes…
How are you fitting into the band (Bloodbath) right now?
Nick Holmes: Well I’ve only done the album, so that’s all I’ve done at the moment. I’ve known the guys really well for years so it’s not like having to get to know people cos I know them anyway, so it’s so far so good.
There’s obviously a lot of expectation after following in the footsteps of Mikael Akerfeldt but what’s the fan reaction been like?
NH: Well when you’re replacing existing singers, especially someone as prolific as Mike, you’re gonna get shit, you know, and I knew that going into this anyway. But now that people have heard the album it’s turned things around a lot but when they’d only heard the first couple of tracks it was all “bring Mike back” but he’s not coming, also I’ve done the album now and whenever I see Mike’s name mentioned, any criticism loses its sting straight away because he’s not in the band anymore, it’s simple as that. But there’s been a lot of what I’d call negative criticism coming from a lot of people but that’s death metal and there’s a lot of people like that and it’s a very blinkered style of music. I mean, when I was a kid I was no different to that.
With Paradise Lost you haven’t done any death growl-style vocals for a very long time, what’s it been like for you to use that vocal style again after such a break from it?
NH: It’s fine, the hardest part is just remembering how to do it, because you tend to force it when you haven’t sung like that for a while, like someone would do if they’re trying to imitate somebody and isn’t how you do it, it’s not really as full on as that. There’s a lot more control to it than what it actually sounds like. My voice has changed anyway from how it sounded in my 20s and the stuff I did with Paradise Lost. But it was fine, I did a lot of practice before recording and it was fine.
Do you think the rest of the band has adjusted their song writing to accommodate you or has it been business as usual for them?
NH: About 90% of it was written prior to joining, there’s 2 songs I co-wrote with Anders [Nyström aka Blakkheim] although he’d done the music a while back and I just did the lyrics. It was kinda nice singing everyone else’s stuff as when you write songs you kinda pull everything apart and it was nice not having to think about that because it had already been done.
Obviously Mikael left some big shoes to fill in the band and had a very distinct vocal style. When playing older Bloodbath material can we expect you to put your own twist on the songs or do you think you’ll be playing it safe to start with and keep things closer to the original style?
NH: I’ll just kinda copy what I hear. I’m not gonna sound like Mike because it’s not him doing it but I’ll do the best I can to remain true to the record. I won’t be changing anything but it’s not gonna be the same because it’s not them.
I hear Paradise Lost are hoping to release new material sometime next year. Do you think this time in Bloodbath will have an influence on Paradise Lost’s future output?
NH: Again, most of the stuff had already been written. We’d done two songs in the last few weeks but we’ve actually finished recording it now. It’ll be out in Spring next year I think but there’s a lot more of the death voice on this album, a lot more than I thought I did actually but it was a conscious decision before I even agreed to join Bloodbath to be honest because we just wanted to do a different album this time because we’d done about 3 or 4 albums that had a similar feel to them so we sort of wanted to go somewhere else with this album which we have done with a good proportion of it. A lot of it’s very different to what we’ve done in the last couple of years. But a lot of it was done before I’d even agreed to join Bloodbath. I mean, Greg’s [Mackintosh] also in Vallenfyre and a lot of that probably rubbed off on it as well.
Any exclusive news you can share with us on what to expect in 2015?
NH: Well the new album covers every single base that we’ve tried except the keyboards. There’s loads of death metal, there’s loads of gothic metal, there’s lots of 2000 era songs. There’s a real mash of different PL styles on there but it all works. There’s some songs that could’ve been written in 1989, a couple of really old school doom/death songs which are gonna surprise a couple of people when they hear it.
As we’re near the end of the year, what’s been your favourite album of 2014?
NH: It’s funny, I was just chatting to a friend about this, and we couldn’t find 5 albums we all liked this year, cos I was looking at the end of year lists from this year and there’s something like 50 albums and it’s like “how can you get so many albums?” But this year I kinda liked the new Pallbearer album. There’s not a lot of albums I like but Pallbearer ticks the box for me, I really like that album. And obviously there’s the Behemoth album which everyone’s calling as Album of the Year and that’s a really good album too.
Oh and one final question I just wanted to ask, what’s your perfect Sunday?
NH: Umm… cycling all day and roast beef! Very British!
Nick Holmes and the rest of Paradise Lost will release their upcoming album, The Plague Within on June 1st 2015 through Century Media Records. Nick Holmes’ first album with Bloodbath, Grand Morbid Funeral is out now on Peaceville Records. Stay tuned to Rock Sins for further updates on both Bloodbath and Paradise Lost as well as Nick Holmes himself. You can also follow Nick on Twitter at @nickholmespl.