On June 6, 2006 (6/6/06), the date for which many Satan-obsessed bands clamored to release a token gesture to their dark lord, the members of Seattle metallic goth-punk quintet Aiden were too busy touring to think about returning to the studio.
Their second album, Nightmare Anatomy, had been out for eight months and was selling briskly (it's now nearing 100,000 copies sold), and Aiden were about to embark on their first Warped Tour. Then, during a rare moment of downtime, frontman William "wiL" Francis glanced at a calendar and discovered that this year, Halloween would fall on a Tuesday, the day albums are released in the U.S.
"I was like, 'F---, man, we've got to put out an EP or a DVD on that day,' " the guyliner-streaked singer said Sunday before a sold-out hometown show. "We've got to do it to say thanks to all the fans that have made this such a great year for us." Hence Rain in Hell, a double-disc that should hold over bloodthirsty fans until next summer, when Aiden are planning to release their third studio album.
The bandmembers knew that in order to make deadline, they would have to work quickly, and since they were on the road with no real time off, they were forced to write in their tour bus. "We couldn't just go into the studio and work out the parts the way you're supposed to do it," wiL said. "We knew we had just seven days to record, so we said, 'OK, let's sit here in the back lounge [of the bus] and work out all the parts acoustically, and hopefully when we come home and play it on electric guitars with drums, it'll sound right.' "
For the EP, Aiden wrote four new songs: A haunting piano-based number ("A Candlelight Intro"), two up-tempo guitar rockers ("The Suffering" and "We Sleep Forever") and an acoustic heartbreaker ("Silent Eyes"). Then they worked out covers of Billy Idol's "White Wedding" and the Misfits' "Die Die My Darling" and recorded the tracks at Seattle's Robert Lang Recording Studios with engineers Steve Carter, Justin Armstrong and John Ziemski.
The DVD portion of Rain in Hell features a five-song set recorded at Chicago's House of Blues, the three videos from Nightmare Anatomy and four live-performance clips. And the album title came not as a reference to Slayer's infamous Reign in Blood but as a middle-finger response to skeptics and doubters.
"When I was trying to start a band, someone said to me, 'It's going to rain in hell before you ever have a career in music,' " wiL said. "Well, we've been on tour for 18 months straight and we've had two records out, so I think we've kind of proven ourselves."
When Aiden formed in 2003, wiL named the band after the heroine's son in the movie "The Ring" ("Dude, that kid's just spooky," he said of the character whose name is actually spelled Aidan). While he continues to dress up like a character in a slasher flick, he remains more inspired by real-life traumas than celluloid nightmares. "The Suffering" was written about the pain and frustration of being an outcast, and "We Sleep Forever" was inspired by the letters of an emotionally numb female fan who cuts herself just to feel something.
"Having gone through that myself, the thing I can tell people like her is, 'You're at the right place at the right time in your life, and one day you're going to wake up and things are going to be different,' " wiL said. "In the meantime, if you can feel some sort of connection with us or find something in our music that helps you fit in or makes you feel better, then we're doing something worthwhile. And that's way more important than having gold records."