Greg Mackintosh

Paradise Lost

PARADISE LOST is a very well-known name in the Metal community, pioneering the Gothic Metal genre. Recently, Metal Temple writer Caio Botrel had the chance to catch up with Guitarist Greg Mackintosh, to talk about their latest album, "Obsidian," and other things. Check it out here!

By Caio Botrel
August 18, 2020
Greg Mackintosh - Paradise Lost interview
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Hi Greg, it is an honor to have you here at Metal Temple online magazine. How are you these days?

Greg Mackintosh: I'm good thanks and thanks for having me. It's not a big difference to me when I'm at home, because I'm quite antisocial anyway and I don't really leave the house, so it is all normal for me.

So you are doing what you usually do when at home, but are you working one some new stuff?

Greg: Well, I'd love to say yes but I'm probably like a lot of people. You struggle to find the motivation when you don't know when the end of it will come, so really my days consists in a lot of red wine and movies and occasionally a bit of music. I'm kind going through the new Paradise Lost album in the moment, rehearsing that stuff, messing around with my side project Strigoi and writing some material for that, maybe in the future.

Great! Can we expect something from Strigoi for the next year?

Greg: Possible! Depends on how it goes. I just started working on it about two weeks ago, got some lyrics together…maybe, it all depends on how this lockdown goes on. Because if goes on for many more months, yes there will be something to release.

What are your thoughts on the live streams that bands are doing these days?

Greg: I'd call it a necessary evil, it is something that bands and labels have to do to adapt to the situation, but it is not the ideal. I think the whole thing misses the point of a live show, because the whole point to me is getting ready for the show, you go to the place and meet your friends and interact with the band, there's the feeling of hearing and seeing the music as well, so you kind of misses the point of an actual live gig, but I see the point of why bands have to adapt.

I agree with you, because I believe that for us metalheads, the real deal is what matters for us. Going crazy with our friends and stuff.

Greg: Yeah, I mean it is not just the music, it is the whole event. Watching it on a screen kind of misses that.

How did you get yourself into music and what influenced you back then and what does influence you now?

Greg: Well, when I first got into music I was 12 years old and my older brother who was like a punk skinned guy had a huge record collection and I just used to go through his collection. So at that time it was most of punk and hardcore music from the early 80's and then it kind of progressed towards the end of the 80's into metal and other things. So at first it was a lot of different English punk stuffs, Discharge and stuffs like that. As it went on, I got into Candlemass and found out about things like Black Sabbath, but also I was into any kind of sad music. I'm kind into classical music and that doesn't really matter what kind of music it is, as long it is sad.

There are any band or classical musician that you recommend for us? Some new stuff or even old that is kind of unknown that you are listening to?

Greg: Yes, but I like the old composers with pretty sad and miserable sounds. There's also a lot of great soundtracks with classical music like the Schindler's List soundtrack is fantastic, Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance works well, she did stuffs on the soundtrack and she's got an amazing voice. I like some Syrian music as well, I went to Greece on a holiday about twenty years ago and I saw a Syrian band playing live and I never heard that kind of stuffs before, so I'm just kind of constant learning and being surprised about things.

I have a friend from Syria that came to Brazil as a refugee and he's a musician, so I have seen he playing a couple of times and there is a lot of culture on their music.

Greg: Yes, but the Syrian thing that I like the most is the chord progression because they are very different from a lot of stuffs you hear. It is not just middle-east sound, it is something else and it got some other kind of flavor to it.

Following this line, what drives your most intense desire of making art?

Greg: Well, it is a number of different things. One part it is kind of a catharsis, I don't go out and get road rage, get angry or fight people, I put it all the feelings into the music. It is a one way of thinking about that, it is like a catharsis. Like I said before, it is just a passion, I love hearing about new bands, finding out about musicians and hearing their stuff, it is inspiring and inspires you to do something, you know.

It is common for many bands to soften their sound during the career, but Paradise Lost became heavier and darker than ever. It is something that just happened or did that just happen naturally?

Greg: Well, we did soften our sound and went to different kind of eras, did some electronic type, but then slowly we found our way back to heavy stuff. I think that when you are a teenager, wherever music you hear first and become passionate about, that will always stays with you and no matter whatever you do, you can't get away with it. I think it is fine and great to experiment into different kinds of music, but that initial love for music that you find when you were a teenager always come back around eventually.

Well, you have the new album "Obsidian" coming up on may 15th and as far as I could hear from the new songs, they reflect what Nick Holmes said on an interview: that this is the most eclectic album ever made by Paradise Lost. Do you agree with him and if yes, was it a natural thing?

Greg: Yes, it is true! It was something we discussed before writing the record, we did say that we wanted to do something a little bit more vary, but we didn't know how and didn't know what was it going to take. So we just take time and each song have different influence, so it ended up with this eclectic mix. We did wanted to be vary, but it turned out to be even more vary than we thought. Some songs on that album sounds very different, some sounds more Paradise Lost and also I think that there is a theme into the album that sounds like a musical biography of Paradise Lost. You can hear a lot of different elements throughout our career as well.

How does the writing and recording process usually works in the band?

Greg: We changed the way we write songs about two years ago, our kind now is a more random way of songwriting. What we do is get some very short pieces of music, it doesn't matter if it is a piano, bass or guitar line, something that is just very sharp and maybe a few seconds, then I will give it our vocalist Nick and ask him five or six different vocal styles over the topic of this piece of music. Maybe a harder voice, some kind of melodic or a falsetto, something very like that… then he will pass it back to me and I will start to build it like a puzzle and put it together. This style of songwriting that we started doing a couple of years ago kind of make the results more interesting, because you can put things that you maybe wouldn't think of, so we get this quite interesting results and intuitive way to write. The lyrics kind come a little bit afterwards.

The guitar sound on the album is really awesome. What did you use?

Greg: Oh it is quite simple actually. For the main rhythm sound we just used a Marshall JVM 50 War Head and a Marshall cabin with two old tube screamer, so that was it. But most of the other guitar sounds like the leads, acoustic, semi-acoustic were recorded in my own studio and we use a lot of different pedals, amps and messed around with lots of things and I experimented for quite a few weeks coming up with vary different sounds. There were too many pedals to mention, but I like Daisy Chaining pedals experimenting to try to get the right sound for a part.

Why did "Fall From Grace" was chosen as the first single?

Greg: Well, actually the band Paradise Lost decided on three tracks that would be good for someone to hear first and they were: "Fall From Grace", "Ghosts" and "Darker Thoughts", so we just said to the label that any of these tracks were good but we would probably like "Darker Thoughts" as the first single, but they thought that this song was too different from the last album so they chose "Fall From Grace" as the first single because it is kind like a stepping stone from the last album "Medusa" into the new album "Obsidian", it kind of breaks people slowly and it is the most similar style to the previous album I guess. So it was really the label that chose that song.

Cool! The music video for "Fall From Grace" shows a man in a complete state of despair and in a kind of a madness. I must say that the part where he light up the stick as the guitar solo goes in was really intense, it is kind of hypnotizing actually. Can you share the concept behind it all?

Greg: Well, the song "Fall From Grace" is very self-explanative, but it is maybe reflecting and regretting on things. He loses everything through his own choices and then he tries to regain them by this metaphorical portal that he might think the might get back to his family, but he realizes that he can't, that he can't go back, he gives up and lights this and that's when the solo kicks in. So he ends when he started. It is kind of a caution retail to live your life as true to your self as possible, as you have no regrets.

Cool man! I really enjoyed it and it kind of gave me a desperate feeling like: what am I doing?

Greg: Good, good! That is how I like to listen to music and that is what I hope people get from my music when they play it. It kind of paint pictures in your mind, that is what music should do, you know, make you think in a certain way and express a certain mood. I'm glad that it that for you.

Well, the artwork on the cover is really impressive and have everything from nails to hearts. The music video for "Ghosts" was based on the cover… what is the concept behind it and also the lyric video for "Ghosts"?

Greg: Well, the title for the album "Obsidian" came first and we did some research into what it represents, because we knew that it was a black shine rock, but we found that it was used a lot in old folklore as talismans and things. So that led to think on the cover and the artist to do something that was a iconographical from this Christian and Pagan iconography, so it is all talismans and things that symbolizes like the cross, ravens, teeth and nails were used to evil spirits… we don't believe in that kind of stuff, it is just an interesting concept and it makes a good artwork, because there are a lot of different symbols on it. The song "Ghosts" itself is pretty much representative of the whole album, I mean, the previous album "Medusa" was a much heavier album and the lyrics were more nihilistic because of that. But on this recorded we were reflective and eclectic, the lyrics become more introspective and a lot of the lyrics that included "Ghosts" kind of deal with looking back on your life and wondering what you could have done different and what different outcomes could may have been. So it is all very reflective and about looking into your own life and how you deal with things.

Well, the next question is from a fan who interviewed Nick Holmes a few months ago and he asked if Nick thinks that you and him are like the McCartney Lennon from Gothic Metal and that at least one of you is already dead. Do you agree with Nick (laughs).

Greg: (laughs) I don't know, that is a strange (laughs) the only way it is the same is that the songwriters wrote a lot of songs, but our music is very different indeed. Lennon and McCartney is something iconic and it is subjective, if you like our music it is relevant, if you don't, it isn't relevant. But yes, we've written a lot of songs together, some better than others and it is a nice thing to be compared to them, but I don't know whether if that is true or not. But I'm sure Nick was joking (laughs).

Can we expect Paradise Lost here in Brazil after this virus is dead, buried and gone?

Greg: Of course! We've been coming there for many years and we'd been there this year. We will definitely be back, but we don't know when this thing will end. The government doesn't seem to have a clue, but even when the virus is over it will take a little bit of time for the whole aviation, flying and travel… but we got to be optimistic so we hope to be there as soon as we can.

There are any Brazilian bands that you like?

Greg: Oh yeah, we grew up with a few. We used to look into Sarcófago back in the days and they were brilliant. It was really the old school Death, Black and Thrash Metal bands. We toured with Sepultura in 1993 or 1994, so there is a lot of bands that we grew up with.

Thank you so much for this interview. Would you like do give a message to your fans out there?

Greg: Oh thank you! Yes, I just want everyone to have patience really, everyone's got a little bit out of patience at the moment, but hopefully the live scene will be back on track and we can be back in the venues with people and friends. So just kind of stay safe and it is a good time to taking out, listen to things, read books, watch movies and keep yourself sane. The thing not to do is don't go crazy, loose yourself in some art and maybe our album will help and I hope it will.


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