In the second part of our WHITE EMPRESS special feature, we were able to sit down with guitarist and founder Paul Allender to try and dig deeper into the mystery and mystique behind her. And while he couldn’t give away too much, it only served to whet my appetite for what’s to come. Have a look:
Amps: Tell me about the WHITE EMPRESS concept…
Paul: I didn’t want to do just another band. We’re still sorting all of it out, because we’ve got a comic book coming out as well. But she’s this superpowerful entity that commands armies and pillages and takes over. I’ve taken it over to a dark, twisted side though. She’s a warrior queen who takes over countries. She’s got an aura about her that she can’t be killed. It’s like a really, really fucked up Snow White kind of idea. She’s the main focus of the band, of the videos, of the story. She’s this all-powerful all-seeing figure that nobody fucks with. Because at the end of the day women have total control of the earth whether we like it or not. And the music goes hard, but then it lightens up and is nice, and then it goes hard again. Basically like her mood swings. So whether she’s out on the battlefield killing or sitting on her throne the music will reflect that. This will give the listener a really good perspective on what type of woman she is.
Amps: How long have you had the WHITE EMPRESS in mind?
Paul: I got really bored listening to the same old crap in the scene. I wanted to do something a bit different and spread my wings a bit more. D.J. (Gunnarson), the other guitar player, he helps me write a lot of the stuff. I hate it when songs sound like one person or a whole album does. It was about two and a half years ago after the last CRADLE OF FILTH album. We started writing stuff and I hit upon these really dark, twisted riffs. So I put them down and I gave them to Martin (Skaroupka) the drummer and he came back with the beats, and I thought it really sounded great. So now I had to find a vocalist, bass, and keys. We went through two singers before we got Mary (Zimmer). Then we were able to get Chela (Rhea Harper, bass) and Will (Graney, keyboards) and now we’ve got everybody except for a live drummer. Martin is writing yeah, but he’s super-busy as well. This new stuff for the album is a lot heavier, and it’s a lot darker, and it’s really fucking cool.
Amps: Will the songs from the EP be on the upcoming full-length or will this be all new songs?
Paul: It’ll be all new tunes. I’ve just started writing another one, too. What we’ve got coming is really cool. I’m not gonna say anything more because I don’t wanna jinx it, but if it happens we’ll release another EP, play a whole line of shows, set up for this thing that hopefully happens, and then finish another four or so for the album. I’ve got a studio here in my house so it’s real easy to go in and do it.
Amps: Chela was incredibly tight-lipped about the live aspect of WHITE EMPRESS. How about you, can you give me anything?
Paul: Mmmm, no (both of us laughing)!! I wanna do stuff where it will actually make the audience part of it. With what I’ve got in mind the venue and everyone in it will be a part of the show.
Paul: (Laughing) I’ve still got loads to do! I’m storyboarding a video at the moment which we’ll be shooting soon.
Amps: as far as merch goes, will you have t-shirts with the visualization of the WHITE EMPRESS herself on them? Because that would look awesome.
Paul: Yeah we will. I’m doing everything a particular way so that it builds up right, you know? Believe me there’s a method to the madness. I’m putting everything I’ve learned from the industry into this. Everything has to be done right. I want this band to evolve slowly and make sure all the nuts and bolts are in all the right places, not just throw it against the wall and see what sticks.
Amps: When will you do some writing for the next CRADLE album? And what else do you have going on?
Paul: We’re gonna sit down and talk about that real soon. It’s getting to be that time. I’ve also got another project, an easy listening project called OCEANS OF VELVET with DJ Unwind here in Minneapolis. We’ve had tracks on some TV shows like Sleepy Hollow. It’s very cinematic in nature. Super-laid back tunes. And I’m working on an all-instrumental record as well.
Amps: It there anything you DON’T do? Do you sleep?
Paul: (Laughing) not very much! I’m used to it.
Amps: You’re like Chela because she’s always got a lot of irons in the fire, too.
Paul: Yeah, she’s an awesome bass player, too. We were at rehearsal recently and I thought, “Fuckin’ hell! That’s more like it!” when she was playing. Everyone in this band is great, it’s effortless and super-tight.
Amps: What would you like to say to the people, the subjects of WHITE EMPRESS?
Paul: Oh what can I say? WHITE EMPRESS is just fucking amazing. It’s got all the right elements of every type of music I’ve ever listened to all in one band. That’s the reason why I wanted it to go this way. I wanted to take the best parts and do it right. You’re not gonna be disappointed I can guarantee that. It rocks hard, it’s super-groovy, and it’s tough as fuck. If you haven’t already, go on the website, download the EP and let us know what you think.
As you can see, like Chela Rhea Harper before him, Paul Allender is pretty tight-lipped about much of the crafting and goings-on in WHITE EMPRESS, a band he has poured himself mind, body, and soul into. I have to hand it to him, he knew how to answer questions without answering TOO much, so all we’re left with is even more anticipation and excitement.
You can download the WHITE EMPRESS EP HERE.