Cradle of Filth’s Dan Firth: “With such busy music, you need to really pick your spot... There’s a lot to be said for being really deliberate with your basslines”

Dan Firth
(Image credit: James Sharrock)

Your new Schecter Hellraiser signature bass guitar is a beauty, Dan. 

“Yes, I’m a huge fan of it – both the way it looks and the way it plays. Schecter have been producing the Hellraiser model for a while, and I’ve been using them since I joined Cradle back in 2012. 

“It’s a five-string, because I’ve only ever used a five in this band. I guess the aesthetics are where I made the most changes to the stock model. They had a finish called the Dragon Burst, which was yellow to green, with black at the edges, so I thought that replacing the yellow with lime green would look cool. It has block inlays for a bit of class, and I switched out the pickups.”

Which pickups did you go for? 

“Fishman Fluence pickups, which I’d been using anyway for a couple years before I got the artist bass. I’ve always loved them – they’ve got a lot of tonal versatility because they have three presets. 

“They’ve got the Classic Mode, Modern mode, and Funk mode. I find myself gravitating to Modern mode – I adjust the brightness and the top and it seems to fit my style of playing really well.”  

What did you do before you joined Cradle? 

“I was in a band called Man Must Die, a local Glaswegian band. I got the Cradle gig when they were looking for a bassist. There’s loads of cool bass parts in this band.

“I think with a band that is heavy as this one, it really pays to have lots of dynamics wherever you can, so we quite often have drop-downs and little sections where it’s just drums, bass, and keys, for example. Those moments are a really a good opportunity to do something a bit more melodic with the bass.” 

How have you evolved as a bass player in the nine years you’ve been with Cradle?

“I’m better at writing bass parts now. I know how to better serve the song. I had a similar sort of attitude when I started, but I would try and throw in some flashy sorts of licks that I eventually learned didn’t really shine in the mix. 

“With such busy music, you need to really pick your spot if you’re going to do anything outside the norm. I think there’s a lot to be said for being really deliberate with your basslines. If you’re just noodling, I think it detracts from the song’s quality – so play with conviction, or don’t play at all.”   

A new Cradle album, Existence Is Futile, is on the way. Tell us about the bass parts. 

“There’s a lot more deliberation with the bass this time. I was trying to make sure that the bass is playing a supporting role and serving the music, but I also branched out a little bit into more interesting things that will catch your ear. Not at the cost of the songs, though. 

“When I record the bass parts, the drums and guitars are already in place, which makes it a really nice palette to work with. I suppose it’s slightly limiting in a way, but I don’t really mind that. My old English teacher used to say to me that sometimes it’s your cage that sets you free, and I think that can be true when writing music.”   

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Bass Player Staff

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