EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ELUVEITIE MASTERMIND CHRIGEL GLANZMANN
Anyone who went to the U.S. incarnation of this year’s pagan/folk metal festival Paganfest will tell you that it was positively one of the best, most fun concerts of the year so far (see also: live footage!). And anyone not smoking crack (and perhaps a few that do) will tell you that Eluveitie was one of the most exciting bands on the bill (no disrespect to Turisas, Ensiferum and Tyr who were also awesome. Well actually, Tyr was kind of a sleeper.) Eluveitie’s recent Nuclear Blast release Slania also happens to be one of my favorite records of the year, so when I was offered the opportunity to email a bunch of questions to Eluveitie mastermind Chrigel Glanzmann (vocals, mandola, acoustic guitar, tin and low whistles, uilleann pipes, gaita) I jumped at the chance. Chrigel shared his thoughts about the burgeoning pagan/folk metal movement, the obscurity of (and place in metal of) the hurdygurdy, the recent departure of Sevan and Rafi from the band, and the new (all acoustic!) album that is in the works. Read the interview after the jump.
Vince Neilstein: First of all, Slania is an awesome album. Have you been satisfied with the feedback you’ve been getting about it?
Chrigel: Thank you, that’s nice to hear! And yes, we’re absolutely happy with the reactions about Slania so far. I think the scene received it very well and our fans love the album!
What was your experience like touring the US for Paganfest? Was it your first time in the States?
It was an awesome experience. For all the bands on this tour package (Ensiferum, Turisas, Tyr & us) it was the first time in the states. Of course we knew about our American fanbase, but in the end: No one of us really knew what exactly to expect. But it turned out to be an awesome tour. People were really enthusiastic about folk metal and the bands on the Paganfest tour! Of course we were partly struggling a bit with the American laws about alcohol though, haha. :) But we survived. :)
Well, actually it is like you just said: We’re mainly influenced by the styles themselves and not especially by certain bands. The “ingredients” for Eluveitie are authentically played traditional Celtic folkmusic on one side and quite modern-styled melodic death metal in the Gothenburg vain on the other side. Yet, in the end the concrete influences are also different from bandmember to bandmember. Every one of us has his/her own “musical background”. I think that’s not least what makes the special sound of Eluveitie.
Folk and metal seem to be at odds with each other. What made you think to combine the two?
Haha, I don’t know. I heard quite a lot of people saying that folk and metal seem to be at odds. Well, to me personally it doesn’t seem so at all. To me, both almost “belong” together. When I write the music for Eluveitie, everything develops very naturally.
How do you approach writing songs?
As mentioned above, our music develops quite naturally. Mostly I write all the music for the band. In the beginning of a song, there often is just an idea of an “emotion,” a feeling which the song should express.
When I finished the rough writing and arrangement of a song, I hand it over to the whole band and everybody starts to work out and refine the lines for his/her own instrument(s). So, you can actually say that an Eluveitie song is mainly written by one person, but arranged and elaborated by the whole band.
How often do you get asked what a hurdygurdy is?
Hahaha, quite often actually. ;) Well, but it was more one or two years ago. Today more people seem to know this instrument.
Yes, I observe the same. On one hand it’s just a very natural thing that new styles of music rise and get popular, I think. On the other hand I think that in today’s societies (especially here in western Europe) there’s a general increase of interest and fascination for old European cultures. Not only among young people or metalheads. After disappointing centuries of a Christianity under a Roman church and after exploring diverse philosophies from all the world (Buddhism was, for example, pretty popular over here during the last 30 years), people begin to search their “own roots” today. And I think this is also a reason why folk metal, which is often strongly rooted in the traditions and/or mythology of local ancient cultures, enjoys a wider popularity today.
Why did Sevan and Rafi leave the band?
It’s just a thing that developed during the years. I mean, circumstances change, personal focuses, tastes, etc change. Rafi and Sevan have their own band(s) besides Eluveitie (both play in Red Shamrock, an Irish folk band and Sevan also sings in a Swiss power metal band called Crowmen). The expenditure of time became pretty big with two (and for Sevan three) bands. Besides the fact that both of them have regular jobs. So, they one day came to a point where they had to decide. And they decided to re-arrange their personal priorities and leave Eluveitie.
Any luck in finding replacements?
Yes! We received many applications and right now we’re short-listing and we have two favorites. But nothing is definitely settled so far and so I can’t reveal too much now. But we will announce our new band members in the near future!
What do you guys do when you aren’t touring? Are you in other bands?
As mentioned, Rafi and Sevan are/were. Besides this, Merlin plays drums in a local Death/Doom Metal band, called Morrigu. Great band, by the way! Besides this, some of us have their own studio projects. Like Ivos melodic black metal project Forest Of Fog. In my opinion one of the greatest and most amazing black metal acts ever! I’m really a huge fan of Forest Of Fog. :) But as mentioned, except Morrigu all our other “bands” are mere studio projects, because we really invest a lot of time in Eluveitie. It’s [time] pretty tight to have a real band (with rehearsals, live concerts, ect.) besides Eluveitie.
What’s next for Eluveitie?
At the moment we’re intensely preparing the production of our upcoming album called Evocation I. It will be a very special release, for it will be a mainly acoustic album! We plan to record that album in December this year. Besides this we’re playing a lot of summer festivals at the moment and there’s also quite some touring planned for autumn – in Europe as well as in the USA.