Cruachan interview (08/2004)
-As a start, could you describe your music in a few sentences to those people who haven't discovered you yet?
Cruachan play what's described as Folk-Metal, although people have categorized us as founding a whole new sub-genre called Celtic-Metal mainly because we have an authentic Irish sound. We've just always categorized ourselves as a Pagan Metal band. We try not to focus on keyboards for our folk sound like so many other Folk Metal and especially Viking-Metal bands do. We try to use authentic and real instruments in our songs which is much harder than just using straight keyboard as the tuning can sometimes be difficult to get. All in all, Cruachan are a band that combines metal with folk music using real traditional instruments.
-How long did the recording of your last album "Pagan" take?
It took about four weeks to record and mix. A few good songs had to be dropped as we ran out of time and they were very complex. We really needed more time even for the songs we did record as we wanted to layer guitars etc. but the label started to complain about us going to go over budget etc. We want to go abroad to record as it's so expensive here, it would actually be cheaper for us to go and record somewhere in Europe.
- Are you satisfied with the result?
Not as satisfied as I'd like to be. We've never recorded in the studio that we used and never used this sound engineer so we didn't know what to expect. Unfortunately the sound engineer wasn't pushing the band as it can get quite monotonous and very, very boring and all enthusiasm can become drained when recording. Also the production isn't the greatest...some people like it as it reminds them of our early days but others don't like it too much, then others again don't notice anything wrong with the production. We know where we can improve and we are also looking to book a good studio and professional engineer who has worked with metal bands before, possibly a studio in Germany. It's rare that a sound engineer works with a metal band in Ireland as most stuff being recorded here is pop or singer/songwriter stuff. So, we need someone who has worked with all sorts of metal bands to bring our sound up a notch.
- Although you have toured some Europeans countries, still, most of your concerts have been held in Ireland. Is that because Irish people find it easier to perceive your music or any other reason?
Quite the opposite actually. Europeans, especially Eastern Europeans find our music more accessible than the Irish do. You see, Irish people have grown up with this music and so it's nothing for the majority of them. The reason we play Ireland more is because we live here and it's easier to organise a gig or get to be asked to play a festival or whatever. It costs a bit of money to get the full band over to Europe so that's the main reason we don't play there too often. It's up to promoters to get in touch with the band or a booking agency to get us on the bill of a festival or something.
-Which countries will you visit in near feature?
We have the Bloodstock Festival in Derby in England in September with the likes of Children of Bodom and Edenbridge etc.and we're playing a Pagan Metal Festival in Germany near Frankfurt with Suidakra and Hoel Telwan. A short mini-tour is being talked about at the moment that will most likely take inj the Benelux area. We plan on doing a more extensive tour in 2005 taking in Germany, eastern Europe and Greece but that has all to be planned.
- Your music is a mixture of Metal and folk music, but sometimes I have this feeling that the folkish part of your songs gets so strong it's doubtful whether that song can still be considered Metal.
The same can also be said of Therion and a host of other bands. We like to experiment and play metal with folk or sometimes just pure folk. We try to mix the two but sometimes the folk parts stand better alone. 'The Middle Kingdom' was a very experimental album and to a lesser degree 'Folk-Lore' but I think 'Pagan' is truer to our original sound than our last two i.e. more Metal. I think this is the way we will continue and maybe tone down on the pure folk aspects.
-My favorite band from Ireland is Mourning Beloveth, but I'm actually not very familiar with the Irish metal scene. Which bands do you recommend?
I actually know Darren, the vocalist of Mourning Beloveth...nice person.
Well, I'm sure you've heard of Primordial? If you haven't then I'd recommend them, they play dark atmospheric black metal...not overlaced with keyboards but they have a real dark feeling to them. Another up and coming band would be Sol Axis who've just released their demo...good black metal with a few trash type lines. If you're into brutal death metal (which I'm not) you could try out Abaddon Incarnate. There's also Waylander (folk metal). And others I've not heard yet called Scald and Riffmeister General.
-Which bands and artists are your main inspirations ?
The main inspiration would have to be an Irish band from the 1970's called The Horslips. They were possibly the first band to mix traditional music with rock and I've been listening to them since I was a child. Another source of inspiration to combine the two forms of music I like most, Folk and Metal, would have to be Skyclad.
- Is there any particular band youre fans of or any good new record that you have bought lately?
Lots and lots! I listen to anything from classical to metal, from mediaeval to rock. Bands I'm listening to at the moment are Summoning, the new Falkenbach album...can't get enough of that. I also bought one of Moonsorrow's albums there a few days ago and I'm getting into it, a few songs are really good. I always have Dead Can Dance on the stereo too and a myriad of Folk bands and traditional bands.
-Do you have dayjobs, or Cruachan takes all of your time?
We all have day jobs (we need money for beer!!). We make very little money from the band when it is spread out equally between members so we need jobs to survive. We also don't let the band take over our lives, we have to live too! The band is our second job really...it would be a dream to do the band full time but we'd have to sell a lot more albums than we do now.
-Maybe you've been asked this many times, but. where does the band name comes from?
Cruachan is an ancient site where the Kings and Queens of Connaught lived in the West of Ireland. Near there is a cave called the cave of Cruachan, in which beings from the Otherworld would issue forth on the feast Samhain and it was said to be the entrance to the Celtic Otherworld. When Christianity came to Ireland, they said that it was the entrance to Hell. It's from this that we get our name. It's also a name of a mountain in Scotland and a breed of cow too??
- I didnt know about the breed of cow *laughs*, however, you are also famous because of your costumes during your live shows which is historically accurate Celtic. Are those clothes especially designed for you or you can find them in any store?
You can get the materials in stores but we have to make them ourselves. I was in a re-enactment group years ago so I have most of my stuff from that. We try to wear them whenever we can but outside Ireland it can be hard to manage everything on flights etc. Swords and axes etc. Can get confiscated and hauling armour through an airport isn't the best thing in the world, but we try to bring what we can or we beg, borrow or steal items from people we know from the countries we visit.
-Your lyrics are mostly about Irish/Celtic history or mythology and similar subjects. What makes you so interested in this?
We actually learn about this from a very early age. I remember I was only 7 or 8 when I first heard the stories about Cuchullainn and the Red branch warriors in school and I was fascinated. It brought me to a magical age in Ireland that I never knew existed. My interest is still strong and has branched out to the histories and Mythologies of other countries too. I've always (and still do) wanted to be an archaeologist but things happened that didn't allow me to....such is life.
-What about religion. Do you believe in God?
I don't believe in God in a Christian or Islamic sense. I believe there is an afterlife and that you can be re-born if you desire. Something similar to what the Celts believed. I don't believe there's a single manifestation or power, but we all are our own Gods.
-One thing that really impressed me about you was that you refused to work with Century Media after you realized how much they will affect your sound. Any comment on that?
At that time we were told that they could change some things if they wanted to and we said that it's our music and artistic freedom and they aren't going to take that freedom away. They've been in touch and there's new people there so I really don't like bad mouthing them as they are doing a fine job with the bands they have. We weren't after big success so it wasn't a big deal to refuse to sign with them. We write our music for ourselves and release it in the hope that it can be liked by others. If success was what we were after then we obviously would've signed with Century Media and let them do what they wanted to us. We aren't like that.
-Any last word for your fans?
Thanks for the interview. You can check out whatever's happening with the band on our website at www.cruachan.cjb.net . We'll hopefully be doing a gig near you sooner or later so lend your support and come along to the :
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