Paul Carter is one of the great unsung heroes of British metal, not only with his metal band Thus Defiled, a band of great integrity (a trait shared with Paul himself), but his other project, Dreamfire. Paul is also a fascinating individual in his own right, and has many interesting tales to tell….
Paul, When you started Thus Defiled in 1992, did you think you’d still be going strong now? After all, you’ve seen off the world of trends!
I never saw things in terms of time, more if I thought what we were creating worked then we’d always continue as a band. We’ve had a few line-up changes over the years, indeed I am the only remaining original member, but any band with a history as long as ours is bound to have people going off to do other things – marriage, kids, other bands, work commitments etc… One thing that does remain constant as the band evolved over the years is that we have always given the middle finger to trends – and that is something that shall always remain true.
Do you consider Thus Defiled still play black metal, or do you find the label limiting, and would rather just be a metal band?
When we started all those years ago the term black metal stood for something so different to what it has become – nowadays just about anything can be classed as black metal. These days I class us primarily just as a metal band because that is a very pure label to have and what anyone wants label us beyond that stylistically is fine with me. We have as much in common musically speaking with extreme black metal as we do true real heavy metal and there will also be some classical aspects in the compositions too. Dark as hell and metal as fuck!
Once Thus Defiled went in for the corpse-paint look, this is no longer so, is this due to it being devalued by so many bands doing so for the wrong reasons?
Absolutely! Once it stood you apart from the majority of bands out there, then almost overnight it became the norm. We wanted nothing to do with being a part of a scene that was becoming almost uniform in both image and sound so took the logical step of removing it completely. There are some great bands that do the whole corpse-paint thing very well, but for every one of them there are a myriad of bands that offer nothing either musically or lyrically.
You first release was ‘Through The Impure Veil Of Dawn’, looking back on it now, how do you feel about it?
It was raw as hell and has a naïve charm (in the darkest possible way) to it. It also had what many English bands have always had – originality. It’s always good to revisit your early albums as after so many years, it’s interesting to see how you have progressed as a band, an individual and a musician; but it’s also interesting to see how things are still very similar to the musical ideals you had back in the day.
You followed it up with ‘Wings of The Nightstorm’, do you feel you progressed much from its predecessor?
‘Nightstorm’ was quite a big progression as we were developing the more epic style of the band. Things were less brutal, more cultured and crafted, more hypnotic and sinister. I think it was an album a long way ahead of it’s time and it’s my favourite album from the early years of Thus Defiled.
Out of all the bands you’ve played with who was the most, and least memorable?
There have been many memorable times, I guess playing with Cradle of Filth at their local pub when we were both demo bands has great memories, and indeed playing the Astoria with them too – from something like 50 people in Colchester to 2,500 or so in London a few years later. Touring with our great friends in Rotting Christ was awesome, sharing the stage with Dissection when they were touring ‘The Somberlain’ album; a lot of memorable bands and shows from over the years but those are the few that spring to mind immediately. There have been a few less memorable bands we have played with too but I won’t grace them with any publicity by mentioning them. Luckily the good far outweigh the bad.
Thus Defiled have had their line-up problems, is this due to the demanding nature of your music, or the problems associated with trying to keep a band together?
As I touched on before it’s really a product of having been together as a band for so long that members will go through different stages of their lives and in some cases their personal situations mean they can no longer commit to being in a professional band. It’s a huge commitment playing in a professional band and it doesn’t work for some people for a long period of time.
Have you got any plans to do an official release of ‘Fire Serpent Dawn’, as the one track from it that featured on ‘Britannia Infernus’ is outstanding, so certainly that release deserves to be heard by a wider audience?
There may be an official release of the 2 promo EP’s we did (‘Fire Serpent Dawn’ and ‘A Darker Beauty’) with perhaps some additional bonus material too at some stage, though I have no definite plans at the moment.
Which leads me nicely into my next question! I feel that Britannia Infernus is an extremely ambitious and well-thought out compilation, and there is great credit due to our mutual friend Crin in putting it together. You must be very pleased to be associated with it, and do you feel that it represented, shall we say the spiritual aspect of black metal, as well as the more obvious ‘shock-horror’ side?
Yeah, it was a great release showing how the music developed over the years in many varied styles all sharing a common dark theme. It also showed without a doubt that black metal was born and bred right here in England!
Certainly, on Britannica Infernus, with such bands as yourselves, Sabbat, Hell, Venom and The Meads Of Asphodel, you were in the company of some of the best and most influential metal bands Britain has ever produced, that is as it should be!
Thanks! All are great bands and I hope we have done something over the years to add to the varied and rich history of UK metal.
The fact that both Thus Defiled and The Meads Of Asphodel both featured on Britannia Infernus leads me into my next question…both Thus Defiled and The Meads Of Asphodel appear on a split release could you tell us about that?
I got a call from Metatron about an idea he had to put together a hand-picked selection of bands that represent the dark side of the underground in all its varied and magnificent (an indeed malignant) forms. It sounded like a great idea, especially as we have no wish to be lined up alongside a selection of acts that all sound the same, as by doing to they miss the very point of black metal. So, we began working on a new version of “…And They Shall Fear The Night” that Sakis from Rotting Christ mastered for us (and also provided backing vocals for), and then I reworked the final version in my studio. The EP features ourselves, The Meads of Asphodel, Taake, Sigh, and a collaboration from Evo and Algy Ward (from Warfare and Tank respectively) under the monicker EVO/Algy! The EP rejoices in the monicker Swine of Hades!
Thus Defiled’s subject matter is fascinating. What inspires you lyrically?
Many things inspire me, but I always prefer people to take their own interpretations from the lyrics and the music rather than tell people what I wrote them about. Lyrics are a living thing and should always have their own energy and enigma for each person that contemplates on them.
You’ve been part of the Black Metal scene for many years, do you find that while a hatred of Christianity is almost a given, that the same treatment is not afforded to other religions?
I really have no feelings for Christianity and indeed other religions one way or the other – unless it directly affects me. It seems pointless wasting time and energy on such things. If people need to hate such things to define themselves as a person then so be it, that is their choice. It’s true that hatred can be creative, but only to a certain level.
You actually received airplay from the late great John Peel, you must be proud of that.
The man is a legend and it was an honour, what more can I say? He did so much for the music he loved regardless of genre and it is a huge loss that he is no longer with us. He is one of the greatest supporters of fringe music of our generation.
I feel your Demonspawn album was a new peak for the band, marrying NWOBHM-inspired dexterity with state of the art black metal fury.
Daemonspawn was a big step for us, Paul F and I had been playing together for a few years and we pretty much know each-other’s style inside out so we could really work on every level of the compositions to create something very special. On this album we also flew to Texas, USA to the incredible Noise Farm studio to spend a full 4 weeks working on it. This is the longest we have spent on any album and it really shows with its huge production that has the perfect blend of delicacy to grace the aggression and savagery. We also got the legendary James Murphy in for mastering duties too and our good friend Sakis of Rotting Christ also provided some backing vocals.
Your artwork and photography is a cut above the norm too.
We have worked with some of the top photographers in the UK from Paul Harries at Kerrang to Ester Segarra from Metal Hammer/Terrorizer to Liz Stanton who is better known for her work in the alternative modelling scene; she was responsible for the pictures for Daemonspawn. It was our bassist Chas that created the stunning artwork for the album – he did a fine job, it’s one of the best inlays of any genre I’ve ever seen!
Some great talent there! Personally I believe that Thus Defiled should be a much higher profile Band then they are, is that something you would like to see happen? Would you like to have a bigger label/management?
I really care nothing for profile, fame, anything like that. Musical respect and integrity is the only thing I wish to have. It’s kinda odd looking back as I still totally describe us as an underground band, even after so many years – but an underground band that has so far spent 8 weeks recording in the USA, played at the Astoria and toured with some of the greats. All on our terms, no selling out, no bending over for the corporate machine.
What are Thus Defiled’s current and future plans?
We’re not rushing to do anything Thus Defiled-wise at the moment. We have the next EP already recorded (it’s presently at the mastering stage), but at the moment I’m working on material for my solo project Dreamfire (which fuses epic film score themes with ambient soundscapes and classical inspirations), and Paul F is busy with his serial killer grinding death metal band Basement Torture Killings. So we’re taking a step back from Thus Defiled for a while, and then when we feel the time is right we’ll look at releasing the covers EP which (which features Mike Browning of Morbid Angel/Nocturnus doing lead vocal on our cover of the Morbid Angel classic ‘Demon Seed’), or perhaps even add more tracks to make a full album. It’s good to be actually able to take a step back and not feel in a rush to put something out, so be assured that when something arrives from us it’s not just a “stop-gap” to fill in part of a schedule, it will be something killer!
Now, having hopefully covered all things Thus Defiled! I would like to turn my attention to Dreamfire, what I see as the light to Thus Defiled darkness, would you care to tell us about this project?
It’s my solo project (though project is really not an ideal label to put on it given the amount of time I am spending on it). But it’s my personal journey into ancient times and legends – huge musical vistas that I describe as where music meets infinity. A soundtrack to dreams with the balance of nightmares.
That’s a great description, it really does reach the realm of dreams. Spiritually, do you see Dreamfire as coming from the same place as the well Thus Defiled draws from?
Only in a very small part. There is only so far you can go with a metal band, this is entirely unrestricted by boundaries. Imagination unleashed.
It certainly unleashes my imagination.. I find Dreamfire very uplifting, particularly Resonance Of The Pyramids, is Egypt a special subject of inspiration?
Indeed. I worked a lot of Egyptian mathematics and magic into the composition and it will take you on a journey to the Duat.
And I can see the inspiration of such things as Atlantis, perhaps Stonehenge of Newgrange?
The whole Atlantean saga is also of great interest to me and I’m already excited hearing the composition unfold and feeling the energy it holds. I’d love to visit Newgrange at some stage, you have some great ancient history over there in Ireland!
Indeed we do! You would love it! Finally anything you’d like to add?
Thanks for your time and support Steve!
Many thanks to you too, Paul, and good luck to Thus Defiled and The Meads Of Asphodel with the much awaited split release. To those reading this, check it out Swine of Hades EP on Godreah Records, well worth buying, as UK Black Metal spilt releases are rarer than phoenix feathers!
Swine of Hades bands contacts are as follows…