Paradise Lost are just a few short weeks away from their first headlining tour of Australia in roughly 20 years! We took the rare opportunity to have a chat with frontman Nick Holmes about the upcoming run.
With the Australian tour front of mind, Holmes tells us, “It’s a while since we did any kind of headline type, our own club shows there. The last thing we did was the Soundwave Festival. It’s kind of hard to judge how things are at a festival anyway. I think the last time we did that, came over there doing club shows, was with Cathedral. It was a fucking long time ago. It was before the Internet, that gives you an idea of how long ago it was!” he laughs. “So yeah, we’re looking forward to it. It’ll be good fun.”
Amongst other things, Paradise Lost will be sharing some of the new music from their latest album Medusa, which Holmes tells us has been going down well with audiences. “When you play the new songs,” Holmes says, “if they go down as well as the old songs or the old classics, then you know you’re onto a winner. We don’t feel like we’ve gotta skip songs, or just stick to playing the old stuff because the new stuff hasn’t had a particularly good reception. I mean, we’re in a position where we’ve done 15 albums and I don’t think people expect us to do the same thing every time. The general response has been very good, there’s been some fans perhaps around the 2000 era that say, ‘Oh, it’s a bit too heavy for us,’ or whatever, ‘but we’ll see what you do next,’ et cetera. We do have a body of work, so we always make it a little bit different every time if we can, and hopefully that helps with the longevity at the same time. I don’t know how much we’re going to do off Medusa,” he points out. “We usually do a lot of songs from each album live, but because we don’t play Australia that often, it may lean more towards a ‘best of’ kind of set, I don’t know yet.” It turns out the set list isn’t planned yet, but Holmes assures us, “We will definitely play at least two songs from it, I imagine. It might be similar to what we just did in Europe because the set went down very well, but we’ll see.”
So what does the eponymous figure of Medusa mean to Holmes? Holmes takes a deep breath and considers his response.
“When we write songs, Greg [Mackintosh] just has working titles for songs, he writes just the first thing that comes into his head, and he wrote down the word ‘Medusa.’ I like that mainly because it’s a word and a title of a song I would never think of, just something I would not even go there. Obviously after writing so many albums, as soon as I hear something that’s like something I wouldn’t use, it instantly attracts me somehow. After that, I thought, ‘Yeah, that’s quite a good title, and not a typical title either, for us to use.’ The Paradise Lost dictionary’s not very big, so it’s always nice to bring in new words,” he chuckles. “But obviously when you come up with a title like that, you want to look at the history behind the word, and that. But there was a sense about it that was from a nihilistic perspective that I read about, and it was about attempting looking into the eyes of Medusa was like attempting to avoid the depressing reality that the universe is meaningless,” he says with a stirring weight to his voice. “That sentence alone is just brilliant. So I thought, ‘We gotta love that one.’ So that’s basically it. That’s why we went with the title.”
Holmes expands on the “Paradise Lost dictionary” and the lyrics, telling us, “I love metaphors. For me, even as a kid, I always hated very ‘meat and vegetable’ Metal lyrics where ‘this song is about this subject,’ or ‘this song is about this.’ I always found that really restrictive. The more vague, the more interesting it is for me. I mean, Celtic Frost lyrics were always, for me, I don’t know if it’s just about how much English Tom [Fischer] spoke at the time, none of it made sense, it was just fantastic words put together,” he reflects. “Even Sodom as well, the early Sodom, the lyrics were fantastic. They were just really bold, English words put together into a sentence. What does this mean? I don’t know, but it sounds great, you know? So I always found that really appealing when I was younger. But it’s like now, everything’s gotta make sense now. I mean, why should it? This is art. Art doesn’t need to make sense. If it sounds good and you enjoy it, that’s all that matters sometimes. I mean obviously some songs have very literal meanings, and others you can take where you want. But like I said that sentence just kind of spawned the whole album, really.
One song that stands out on the album as a little different lyrically is ‘Until the Grave.’ Holmes explains, “It was more about a bullying culture. It wasn’t necessarily about social media, but I just think it’s perhaps preying on someone who’s weak, someone stronger preying on someone who’s weaker. I mean, it’s in the animal kingdom obviously, so it’s just about innocence being lost by someone else wrecking it for you. More about a bullying culture really but it wasn’t a social media thing, I wasn’t thinking about that, more about human nature. It’s human nature to prey on someone who’s weaker than you. Pretty much from that, ‘Until the Grave’ means it will continue until the grave.”
As for his thoughts on the ‘Blood and Chaos’ video, Holmes explains candidly, “We didn’t think anything about it, we just gave the lyrics to Ash [Pears]. It was just kind of a dystopian future. What we love about that is it’s incredibly dramatic all the way through, but he was doing all these things just to get a battery for that kid. It was such a little thing. So I was thinking, if you’re in an extreme circumstance, the littlest things are going to matter, so I guess having light is going to be a really important thing, or having water. The littlest things become a massive issue, and it’s things we just take for granted in everyday life, so the whole video I love the fact that Ash kind of took that and went with it, and he was killing people just to get a battery. The concept was basically around, I said the book Lord of the Flies originally because I just like that concept of kids trying to kill each other, but then a guy thought they were just playing. It became a very tribal thing, so I liked that concept. [Pears] went off on a slightly different tangent with it, but always found Lord of the Flies a fascinating concept ever since I was a kid. So the video was loosely based around that idea.”
In wrapping up, Holmes tells us, “We’re looking forward to playing Australia again. We don’t do it enough actually, it’d be nice to do more, play there a lot more than we do, but at least we’re getting the chance to come back again. Looking forward to bringing the flip-flops, and I was going to do loads of Australian clichés but I won’t bother. We’re looking forward to it, it’s going to be fun!”
GET YOUR TICKETS FOR PARADISE LOST’S AUSTRALIAN TOUR HERE!