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Eluveitie - A Lesson in Celtic History

Discussion in 'Metal Interviews' started by genocide roach, Mar 11, 2008.

  1. genocide roach

    genocide roach DOOOOOOOOOOM

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    [imgleft]http://www.russell.ultimatemetal.com/Interview/eluveitie.jpg[/imgleft]
    by Ryan Starr

    For those of you who have been living under a rock, there is a tour featuring the best the folk metal scene has to offer: Pagan Fest. Since this is the first tour of its kind coming the US, we at Ultimate Metal figured it would be good to talk with the bands on the tour and get their thoughts on the subject. The first in this series is Eluveitie, an up and coming band from Switzerland who blends Celtic music and melodic death metal. In this interview we discuss the tour, their new album Slania, and I get schooled on European history. So grab a horn of your favorite brew and watch me get owned by Chrigel, front man of Eluveitie.

    Thanks for taking the time to do this. I imagine you are busy promoting Slania and getting ready for the Pagan Fest tour.

    First things first, how does a Swiss band end up using Celtic music?

    Well, since Switzerland is a Celtic country, a country with Celtic roots, it seems quite natural to me, that a Swiss band also uses Celtic music. Our little country is also called “Helvetia” (which is, for example still written on our stamps. Or also if you visit a Swiss website, you might notice the extension “.ch” which stands for “Confederation of Helvetia”). That name hearkens back on the Celtic tribe that once inherited this land: The Helvetians. In fact the Helvetians were one of the largest and most influence Celtic tribes of Gallia (what the Celtic regions on the European continent were called like).

    So, we just focus on ancient Celtic culture, musically as well as lyrically.

    One of your trademarks is the use of various folk instruments, which is popular in the genre. But I’ve never seen a hurdy gurdy used before. How did it become part of the band and how does it fit into your Celtic theme?

    Since the very beginning, when I founded the band, it was totally clear that there should be a Hurdy Gurdy in our line up. Just because it’s a very common instrument in traditional Celtic music; especially in the musical traditions of today’s France and Helvetia.

    Isn’t its origin on the mainland?

    Yes, it definitely is. Judging from what you say, it seems like you’d expect Celtic culture on “the isles” exclusively? It’s true; today most of the cultural Celtic “export goods” comes from the isles, especially from Ireland. It’s mainly in the most western parts of Europe (Brittany in France, Galicia in Spain and the UK countries), where the Celtic culture “survived” until today or better said: Flew into today’s cultures. Mainly because the Roman Empire didn’t expand that much into those areas. But in fact wide parts of western Europe (western Austria, Helvetia, Southern Germany, France, northern Spain and parts of Belgium and Holland. “Belgium” also still wears the name of the Celtic tribe that inherited the land: The Belgae) were Celtic land and are affected by Celtic culture still today. Actually the “heart” of Celtic culture was on the mainland, in today’s Switzerland, western Austria and central France. That’s for example why the heyday of Celtic culture is named after a village in today’s Switzerland: The so-called “La Tène period”.

    Your newest album, Slania has already been released in Europe, and will be coming out this month for the US. How has the reaction been so far?

    Totally amazing, to be honest! We’re definitely more than happy about how or fans received Slania. In Germany and in Switzerland is in the official album charts since the release, we received ardent reviews from the press and the fans seem to really like the album. So we’re happy and content.

    On the documentary for Slania, you mentioned cutting some songs. Will these songs make an appearance on another full length or EP?

    No. It’s not that we had to cut away some complete songs; all that was written for Slania you can find on the album! But we had to leave some single instrumental tracks (you know, sound tracks, recorded lines) completely out of certain parts and songs. Simply because those parts/songs would have been “overloaded” otherwise. These are things which you perceive during the production and the mixing of an album. For example: In the chorus of ‘Primordial Breath’ there was originally also an additional fiddle line, playing staccati. It was a really cool line, but during the mixing we decided to leave it out to keep the song as clear and pithy as it is now.

    I have seen the video for ‘Inis Mona’ in quite a few places with primarily American audiences. Is your American fan base growing?

    I hope so, haha! No, seriously: I don’t exactly know why, but since our previous album Spirit was released, we receive tons of reactions from the USA. Which is absolutely great, of course.

    You are one of the bands on the Pagan Fest tour. What are your thoughts on such a big tour for the emerging folk metal genre?

    In Europe it’s just a cool tour with a cool package, but nothing extremely extraordinary. But I think, that’s a bit different in the USA. I’ve been told (by another magazine), that this would be the first US-tour with an exclusive Pagan/Folk metal package. It’s hard to say what impact the tour will have on this emerging genre.

    But I can just speak for ourselves: Since we get really many reactions from the USA, we are definitely thrilled and looking forward, to finally also play live shows for our American fans!

    It seems like there has been a bit of member swapping between Eluveitie and Týr. Is there a history between the two bands?

    No, actually not. We played some shows together during the last two years, but there’s not kind of a “history” between the bands.

    It’s maybe kind of a blessing in disguise, haha. For Týr's drummer Kári unfortunately isn’t able to join the tour, due to an injury. At the same time our guitarist Simé can’t join us on the US tour, due to diverse organizational reasons. So, during this tour, our drummer Merlin will also play with Týr, while Týr's guitarist Terji steps in for Simé and plays with us.

    Hahaha, I’m really curious what the guys will look like after two months of playing two gigs per day, haha! Joking, it will be fine!

    Why couldn’t Siméon come on the tour?

    It’s really a bummer he can’t make it. It’s because of time bottleneck in his company that he’s only able to play the first half (the European part) of this tour.

    This next one is a fan question. The drummer of my band mentioned that Merlin uses a “tom blast beat” technique. He was wondering how he uses it during songs and what other techniques he uses.

    Ahm, no Merlin doesn’t do anything with the toms while he plays blast beats. The technique uses (generally) is the so-called “Moeller method”. The method combines a variety of techniques with the goal of improving hand speed, power, and control while offering the flexibility to add accented notes at will.

    Lastly, what does the future hold for Eluveitie? Perhaps another US tour?

    Yes, for sure we face another US tour squarely. But most probably not in this year anymore. After we’ll be back home from the Paganfest tour, we’ll start playing diverse summer festivals all over Europe. At the same time we’ll start to prepare the production of our new album, which we plan to record in late autumn. And in early winter we’ll tour Europe again.

    Thanks again for doing this. I can’t wait to see how you pull off your huge orchestrations live.

    I thank you for the interview! And also thanks to all readers for their interest in our work! We raise our horns to you!

    Official Eluveitie Website
    Official Nuclear Blast Website
    Ultimate Metal review of Slania
     
  2. Matt

    Matt Active Member

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  3. TheTechnogoat

    TheTechnogoat Protean

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    awesome, can't wait for the rest of these!
     
  4. Alteredmindeath

    Alteredmindeath Pathfinder Chronicler

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    cool stuff, im going to buy Slania eventually. that sucks they had to take some fiddle parts out of the songs.
     
  5. PurpleCrayonWriter

    PurpleCrayonWriter Just a Kid at Heart

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    For another perspective on the music of Eluveitie (pronounced "el-way-tea," by the way), see my lengthy interview with bassist Rafi Kirder.

    Cheers,

    Bill
     
  6. Salamointi

    Salamointi New Metal Member

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    Do you get these interviews on their website ?
     
  7. genocide roach

    genocide roach DOOOOOOOOOOM

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    no, we contact them through their label and ask our own questions
    ~gR~
     

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