Girl was lucky enough to catch up with Cradle of Filth‘s Canadian keyboardist Lindsay Schoolcraft on the eve of the band’s newest album release, Hammer of the Witches. Here’s what she had to say:
Hi Lindsay! How have you been?
I’ve been great thanks! It’s late here in Canada right now, I’ve just been hanging out waiting for the guys so we can get together for rehearsal before we get out on the road again. It’s a bit different being in an international band, I’m so used to being in local bands. But, it’s a good challenge, and the internet is a great help – it’s tough and lonely sometimes but we keep in constant contact.
So Hammer of the Witches is the first Cradle of Filth album you’ve been involved with writing, how have you found the whole process?
It was definitely an interesting one. I had never written an album from across the globe before. Plus I was also writing with film score influence in mind and I am so used to writing structured rock songs. Writing for the new album really pushed me out of my comfort zone. But I was also able to learn a lot too. There really is no real proper structure writing progressive metal and I like that each song could go on in almost any direction. And just my watching the progression of how Martin built up the soundscapes on the tracks he really taught me a lot about building an atmosphere to a song.
There’s some hints of the harp on the record – besides keys and harp, what else do you play?
Yes I was lucky enough to be able to put the harp in bits and sections of some songs. I’m happy the guys wanted me to add that. I’m trained on piano classically and doomed to probably never finish my grade 6 conservatory piano exam. I missed it the first time cause I hurt my hand at my previous job in 2012 and then when I scheduled it for the second time I had to fly out to meet Paul to be hired for Cradle. So maybe one year, but I don’t think it will be happening this year! I also played bass guitar for eight years and took lessons. Sadly I got bored once I started playing funk, slap and reggae styles. Which seems like a bit of a loss because I feel if I kept going I could have probably been a decent death metal bassist. But in my early twenties I wanted to change direction anyways and honestly had no idea that genre of music existed at the time. There were also a few years there where I attempted to play the cello. The cello is a lifelong commitment though, so I sold my cello and that’s how I was able to purchase my first harp.
I know it’s difficult to choose a fave track on an album, but which one strikes a chord with you most right now?
Absolutely it’s difficult because it would be like picking a favourite child! Sadly I do have to pick and the one that I’m enjoying the most right now is our dramatically romantic piece known as Blackest Magick in Practice.
What has the feedback from fans been like ahead of this release?
I’ve actually been shocked and overwhelmed by all of the good feedback and reviews we have been getting. In the beginning we just set out to keep this band alive and write good music. We weren’t trying to outdo ourselves or think too much about what was done in the past. With the current lineup we are all fans of older Cradle of Filth from Midian’s release and backwards so as fans we took influence from those albums. Not to say that the other albums after Midian weren’t great. Each and every album has something to offer. Like I personally love Darkly Darkly Venus Aversa.
The whole album seems to be a celebration of sorts of the feminine. So what’s it like being the only female in a metal band?
For me it’s easy. It feels like home with a bunch of big brothers. I was always the tomboy growing up and wanted to go and play with the boys, you know, dig in the dirt and play sports. I was never really interested in what the girls were into when I was in elementary school. So now hanging out with the guys on tour is really natural. They watch over me and in return I make sure to carry around a first aid kit for them.
Chela Harper (ex-Coal Chamber, White Empress) is a friend of mine, and another great Canadian metal chick – what kind of support do women like yourselves get at home? And who do you look to for inspiration?
Chela is a really cool lady! She actually just moved to my home town so on occasion we’ll see each other around. She’s good people, very talented, I always like talking to her. I definitely consider her part of my supportive circle and there is a lot of love and respect for female rock and metal musicians here in Canada. Growing up I got a lot of inspiration from such local acts like Bif Naked, Kittie, Scratching Post… to name a few. I’ve had a lot of support and encouragement from Alissa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy and Justine Ethier of Blackguard the last few years. They were there from the beginning of my upswing when I just joined Cradle of Filth. I owe a lot to them, including helping me keep my sanity intact. They are really strong and courageous road warriors and I look up to them like big sisters.
You were all of… five? when Cradle of Filth formed. I’m guessing you weren’t into metal that young – what sort of music did you grow up listening to?
Haha yes you could say that’s true! It’s weird to think that when I was seven years old and just discovering playing country songs on the guitar that Dani was already 20 and about to release The Principle of Evil Made Flesh. Naw I had no idea or even clue that metal music existed at that point in my life. I was heavily influenced by Johnny Cash and Led Zeppelin, but also songs from various Disney movies. I didn’t start taking the idea of a career in music too seriously until I was 15 and decided to form my own all-girl punk band when I was mid-way through high school. My musical tastes have changed so much throughout the years and to this day though I may continue to write symphonic rock and metal I find I am consistently moving around in what I listen to as a music fan. Like currently all I’ve been listening to is the Canadian hip hop artist The Weekend.
How did you come to join the band two years ago?
Good old social media led the way (laughs). The guys found me via Facebook. It was one of those, “Hey, I know a friend of a friend,” situations. I’m glad the guys brought me on and considered me. At the time it was just for a temporary live position, but here we are now one whole album later.
Australia was one of the first places you toured with Cradle, wasn’t it? Any standout memories?
We actually had a few tail end dates of the Asian tour fall through so we had a whole week off in Brisbane. And boy did we need it at that point! I remember we were all exhausted with the time change. I got to go around the city for the week and visit newly made friends. I find Australia is like a warmer Canada. Everyone is so friendly and happy. I felt at home minus the snow and koalas instead of raccoons (laughs). I do remember enjoying each and every city though and the crowds were a riot to perform for.
Any chance we might see you here again off the back of this record? Soundwave ’16 maybe?
That’d be amazing if we could play that festival! I do know that an Australian tour is in talks and we are hoping to extend it to New Zealand as well. So here’s hoping it actually happens.
I notice you rock a lot of Black Milk Clothing – are there any other Aussie brands or products you’re into?
I do love my Black Milk. The ladies at the company have really been so good to me. I sadly do not know of too many more Australian brands. I am hoping to look out for more vegan beauty products next time I visit.
Biggest “OMG” moment to date?
Every time we run into Within Temptation on the road, which has been twice now. Sharon and the guys have always been so kind to us. It may not seem like a big deal, and I try not to make a big deal out of it, but their albums The Silent Force and The Heart of Everything really changed my life as a singer and songwriter. Those albums came to me at a time in my life when I really needed them the most. The last time we ran into them we had to change rooms next to one another when we played Graspop in Belgium and the guys kept poking fun at me and told me to “go say hi”. And I’m like, “Guys, they can hear us, stop!”
(Bonus fan question): Your name is perfect for stage – is Schoolcraft your real surname?
Well thank you! Actually, my mother was originally gonna name me Nikita before my Oma, bless her, interjected and told my mother to please give me a name that didn’t make me sound like a stripper (laughs). I think Nikita Schoolcraft would have been stellar, but so many people close to me do say I suit the name Lindsay so much better. Schoolcraft is actually the first nation Native American name in my family and I decided to adopt that to pay tribute to that side of my family and bloodline.
> Hammer of the Witches is out now through Nuclear Blast