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Old 03-24-2015, 12:51 PM   #1
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Interview with Richard Shaw of Cradle of Filth

Tell us a little bit about your self, your journey as a musician so far.

I have always been drawn to the sound of the guitar since I was young. I remember hearing Elvis and Buddy Holly songs as a kid and wondering what that sound was. I started playing guitar at age eleven when I became obsessed with Queen and Metallica. I joined a band at age thirteen and started performing in pubs and clubs. That band eventually became what is now NG26. I knew that music and playing guitar was what I wanted as a career and I was lucky enough to study at The Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford, Surrey from 2003-2006. From there I became a guitar teacher and musical theatre guitarist full time and continued to tour and record with NG26. I was later approached to join Emperor Chung where we went from strength to strength including a performance on the Pepsi Max stage at Download Festival 2013. In late 2013 I was approached by Cradle of Filth to be a temporary live replacement for the guitarist who couldnít commit to their European tour in 2014. Once that tour was over, I was asked to join the band and have gone on to tour the world with them as well as writing and recording the new album [the new album is due in June].
Were there any moments that made you doubt yourself or almost forced you to turn your away from it all?

There have always points in my career where Iíve wondered ďwhy am I doing this?Ē but, as cheesy as it sounds, it always comes back to music and the love of playing and being creative. Itís all I think about. I have always had insecurities about my playing and how good I am, but then I remember how much I love it and stop comparing myself to other players. As long as I enjoy what I do, I will keep doing it.

Is there a particular moment that happened recently that has made you realise 'this is why I am doing this?í

Every time that I go out and play shows. Whether itís in a pub, club, theatre, festival or arena, the love of playing is what gets me through. Obviously itís great when itís paid, but more often than not it isnít. Iím lucky that when Iím not playing shows or rehearsing, Iím teaching and practising. I love travelling and meeting like minded people. When I think back on it, a lot of my friends and relationships have happened because of music.

Is there a moment in your professional career that you think 'oh, maybe I shouldn't have done thatí?

There have been few moments where I can get carried away in the moment and then I look back on youtube footage and see that it didnít look or sound as cool as I thought it did at the time. There have also been times when Iíve turned down great opportunities because I had other commitments that in hindsight werenít worth pursuing. But without those moments, I wouldnít be doing what Iím doing now.
From The Strange Trio, NG26, Emperor Chung to Cradle you are steadily working, writing, gigging and touring with all of these bands, how do you manage to maintain all those relationships? Is there a secret you want to share with musicians looking at starting or joining several bands at the same time?

Iíve been very lucky to be in bands that are incredibly understanding of my other projects. The truth of it is that I get bored easily with one style of music, so itís great that I get to wear all kinds of different musical hats. The members of all the bands have other projects and Iíve been lucky that it works so well. They all know that my commitments to Cradle of Filth take priority, but when I am back home we get down to business in whatever available time we have. I donít think thereís a secret, just communication and a very organised diary.
Out of all the bands that you are in, The Strange Trio is the most bare bones- you play acoustic. How do you find that transition? Do you find it nerve racking because mistakes (which always happen when playing live) can be more noticeable or do you change your approach to it?

I love it. I love the challenge of playing acoustic guitar live and in a studio as it is a very honest instrument. Every mistake, clip and scrape is noticeable, with no effects to hide any weaknesses in my playing. Being in that band has made me a better player. Nearly all of The Strange Trio repertoire is improvised or has had very little rehearsal time so it keeps you on your toes as a player. When you canít rely on tricks and techniques that are easier on an electric guitar, it makes you dig deep and improvise things that you wouldnít necessarily come up with in any other context. It keeps it exciting.

Is there anything specific that drives to be in a variety of bands?

I hate being bored. I like to play in as many different contexts as possible. If Iím not playing shows for a while, I will try to get to as many open mic sessions as possible to make sure I donít get any withdrawal symptoms. I know that each time I play with new people, or with a band Iíve been with a long time, it pushes me to improve. Thatís what it boils down to, the same thing I was doing as an eleven year old just learning to play. The drive to be a better musician.

Do you have any advise for musicians in bands? A holy grail of sorts that helped you; anything specific to being in different bands at same time?

I donít want to sound like I know it all, because I really donít and will continue to learn from new experiences. I would say communication and a good work ethic. You donít need to be the most technically gifted player in the world, you need to be able to get on with people and try your hardest. Donít make excuses, just get on with it and be a nice guy to everyone around you. Leave your ego onstage.

And you play with your brother as well, how influential was he on your playing and guitar-journey?

Massively. We had our first guitar/bass lesson together and have been playing and making music ever since. Heís a talented bass player, engineer and producer and knows how to push me. I might play something that some people will think is good enough, but he will be the one pushing me knowing that I can do better. Itís great.

You balance a musical working life with everything else; do you ever find yourself at conflict with it all? Do you think there will be a day where you have to chose one over the other? Have you already got a plan worked out so you can do all the things you love?

Always. As much as I love having my life filled with music, there have been times where I missed birthdays, weddings and big moments in day to day lives of friends and family. I havenít been there to share those moments and that can be hard. Cradle of Filthís commitments come first in the musical pecking order, but I will try to balance everything as much as possible for as long as I can.

You have played many festivals, gigs and toured both with NG26 and CoF; how you deal with the 'come down', the after effect of the excitement of being on stage for a great show or at the end of tour?

On a show to show basis, I seem to be okay to be honest. I find it easy to switch between the onstage high and the come down. Iíve never taken drugs and Iíve been known to never drink on a tour. I donít seem to get carried away with it. If I do, slap me! At the end of a tour is worse. Itís such a constant crazy experience that when I come home the post tour blues sets in for about a week or so. But when surrounded by people who keep you grounded, itís easier.

When you toured with CoF, which was not long after your audition, how did you prepare yourself mentally and physically? Did nerves take the best of you at some point or were you in the moment, at zen lets say?

When I found out I got the call I only had a few weeks to learn the set and get everything ready for the tour. It wasnít easy but I was so in the moment and I knew I had a job to do that it didnít really hit me until the tour was over what just happened. Physically, I only had to warm up a little bit as all of the head banging can take its toll on your neck and back if you donít look after yourself. If I had got the call in my late teens/early twenties, I probably would have freaked out more than I did, but I like to think Iíve been doing it long enough to know that I have to be professional and get on with the task at hand. Only after itís done I look back and realise how cool it all was!

So you have been playing guitar professionally for some time; how do you approach learning new things on the guitar?

Iím always looking for new players that inspire me. I trawl youtube or recommendations from guitar playing friends. A lot of times I go back to earlier influences too. Trying to rediscover what makes them great with fresh ears can be really inspiring. If I feel Iím practising too much of one thing, I will try to mix it up by transcribing, improving my ear, working on my improvisation, improving my songwriting and sight reading skills. Too much one thing bores me so I try to keep mixing it up (time allowing).

How do you deal with those moments when learning something new seems difficult or impossible?

I swear a lot. Seriously though, I have to remind myself that I will get it eventually. It might take a few minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, sometimes years but it all comes down to time and practice. Some things, I have had to prioritise as there will always be things that I want to learn but not use very much, so that stuff can wait until the time comes.
Is this the same for new projects/bands/material?

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