All Hail The Elvenking!
Interview with guitarist - Aydan
Interviewed by EvilG
Every now and then a new band comes along and awakens you. A band
that puts a unique twist on a familiar sound. In this case it's folk
elements mixed with power metal along with the varied vocals styles from
clean to near black metal. Presenting a challenging listen, Elvenking
also seem to be having a bit of a hard time getting there name out
despite rave reviews the world over. Hopefully it's just a matter of
time before people catch on!!!
start with something simple...tell me about the band's name - where it
comes from and what it means.
We came out with this name a long time ago, when only Jarpen and
myself were in the band. It comes from J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of
the Rings" (the most metal book in the world) … In my opinion it
reflects well the spirit of the band and it lets me think about old
How about some background info on you...what part of Italy are
you from and what is your background in metal in terms of how you got
into metal and maybe some info on the bands and path that led you to
being a part of Elvenking?!?!!
Well, we live in the north east of Italy, not far from the borders
with Austria and Yugoslavia. The band is formed in October 1997, by an
initiative of mine and Jarpen's , old friends who share the same passion
for metal music and folkloristic traditions. We had a lot of line-up
problems at the beginning, looking for the right people, so we had a lot
of time wasted searching for them! Then in March 1998 the singer
Damnagoras joined the band and the following September it was the time
for drummer Zender. The bass player was found after the release of our
first and only demo-cd TO OAK WOODS BESTOWED and his name is Gorlan. The
actual line up is really solid, we have a lot of things in common and we
are close friends. We have that feeling that I think a band must have!
After the release of "To oak…" we sent it to a few labels,
and after 3 days we received the first phone-calls …We have chosen AFM
Records (label of Edguy, Avantasia, Steel Attack,…) simply because
they seemed really interested in our music! We have chosen to be well
followed by a not-so-big label, instead of being the last band of more
famous record companies.
The music of Elvenking is refreshingly unique. What bands
influenced you from both the metal side and the folk side of things?
As you said, our goal is trying to find an own way of playing. Our
influences come from all the metal scene and obviously from a lot of
folk music and dances from all over the world. For what about the metal
part, from power to thrash or death metal, we listen to it all! To name
you a few bands Skyclad, Blind Guardian, In Flames, Soilwork, Helloween,
Mercyful Fate/King Diamond, Annihilator, Cradle of Filth, Dark
Tranquillity,… 'Bout the folk side, a part from Skyclad again, a lot
of traditional music and chants, but also some "modern"
artists like The Pogues or the great Loreena McKennith.
Regarding the "folk" side of the band...does your
interest in "folk" only reach as far as the music or do you
delve deeper into history, customs, etc...if so to what extent and how
does your interest impact your daily life?
Our interest in folk doesn't stop at the music style itself, but we
love the traditions, history and culture. We're so fascinated by some
kind of culture and we like to study and learn more about them. We also
try always to learn more from the traditional chants, to get the right
way to make our music.
What current metal bands do people compare you with (Rhapsody
or Blind Guardian?) and what ones do you think are accurate?
Yes, this two bands are the one more credited, but the great thing is
that everyone has underlined the fact that Elvenking sounds like no one
else. We're honoured about being compared to this two great bands , but
we think to have created an individual sound…I don't want to use the
word "original", because I believe that nowadays nothing can
be considered original in music, but at least we're trying not to sound
as a copy of this band or that other…And the great thing is that
everyone underlined this fact and this is the most important thing for
us. If I had to add another important influence for Elvenking's way of
playing (maybe the most important) I say Skyclad!
Elvenking's lyrics make for an interesting read...tell me what
types of things influence your writing (books, movies, life, etc...)
I could be banal but almost everything could inspire our
songwriting...a state of mind, the reading of a book, the viewing of a
film, a walk in the woods....really almost everything! We often use
imaginary images to depict our ideas and thoughts. Of course our fans
can read between the lines, but sometime we like to go straight to the
point even using fantasy themes...or just sometimes we love to use
fantasy themes to entertain and to make the listener, read a good story.
your new (and might I saw totally fucking godly) album HEATHENREEL what
is a "Heathenreel" and why did you pick it for the album
Ehi, thank you for your flattering words!!! "Heathenreel"
is a play on words with the words "Heathenry" and
"reel" that is a kind of Scottish folk dance. It may
represents very well the content of the album, and it has something
mysterious in it.
I love the cover art for the album. Can you describe what it
represents and perhaps a bit about the development process for the
The cover art has been created by the wizard Travis Smith. I think it
gives the listener a great link with "Heathenreel"'s music. It
is magic and relaxing but also obscure and mysterious and that's what we
asked Travis. He usually does very complex works but we asked him to be
as simple and direct as possible. The figure-spirit in the middle is
correlated with word "Reel" of the title. The link between the
spirit dancing and the obscure face in the sky could be a good way of
thinking about its meaning.
of the songs from your DEMO (TO OAK WOODS BESTOWED) are on your album.
Firstly, why did you include them and secondly were they totally
re-recorded for the album?
Well, simply because they were good enough to be included in the
full-length. Some of the songs of the demo were left out, even if
they're still good songs in my opinion! So "White Willow, "Oakenshield"
as well as the intro has been re-recorded for "Heathenreel".
We decided to give them a completely new sound, with a better production
and they're also recorded in brand new versions, different from the ones
on "To Oak Woods Bestowed". I think that the new versions give
the songs a new life.
The new album was recorded in Italy but the mixing and
mastering was done in Sweden. Can you tell me why you chose to record
with Luigi Stefanini and then go to Sweden to mix with the guru Fredrik
Fredrik is simply our favorite producer so far. I personally think
that he's the greatest of all and his ability in giving his works that
fantastic warm and acoustic sound fit perfectly with what we were
thinking of. Unfortunately our budget was quite low and we couldn't work
totally with him on the album, so we decided to record the album in
Italy with Luigi Stefanini (who took care of the production of "To
Oak Woods Bestowed") and then mix the album with Fredrik in Sweden.
This has allowed us to remain in the budget and to have (in part) the
particular Fredman's sound we were looking for. For the next album we
would like to work completely at Fredman studios, from the beginning,
but I don't know yet if this will be possible.
A number of guest musicians are credited in the CDs liner
notes. Can you tell me how you hooked up with them? Did you just happen
to know some flute and fiddle players or what?
Yes, they're all great friends! It's a great fortune for us and we
all know them very well, and the guys who played the violins and the
flutes on the album play in a prog band together with our bass player
Gorlan. The band is called Sherpa and I played with them for some years,
too. The singer Laura DeLuca, who played the Spring character on "Seasonspeech",
for example, comes from another death metal band of friends called
Tystnaden, simply an amazing band!
What did these non-metal musician type of people think of
Elvenking and the way you were blending in their instruments/vocals
within a metal meets folk sound?
As I told you they are involved in metal/rock music, so they simply
like our music. Also the soprano singer Pauline Tacey loves our music,
and this makes everything easier.
As you know, I am ecstatic about the new album...I am not
blowing smoke when I say you are the best new band of 2001 (considering
this is your first full length album). Have all the response from the
fans/media been positive? I can't imagine people not appreciating your
The response from both people and media are simply amazing, even if
there have been some negative reactions…to be sincere the only one
'till now is German magazine Rock Hard, but we know that "Heathenreel"
is not a simple album and it needs a couple of listens to be
If I understand things correctly, the band is now a signed to
AFM records. Did they sign the band for just this album, or is this a
Actually we have signed for 2 albums, with an option for other 2. At
the moment we are working on the new album which will be hopefully
released around September 2002. After it I don't know what will happen!
Have AFM been advertising and promoting the band as much as you
would of liked? I kind of get the impression they only promote Edguy? If
it wasn't for my contact with you, I would not of heard the band because
AFM has never sent an album or e-mailed a thing about Elvenking to
me...and that is a total shame!!!
Well, I think you have told everything…I didn't know the fact.
If you don't mind me asking...how has the new album been
Oh God!!! I would like to know it, perhaps even more than you!!! Ah
ah ah! Unfortunately I don't have an idea, probably it's kind of early
What country do you sell the most albums in and are you most
popular in Italy?
About sales, I really don't know yet. For sure we're receiving great
comments from all over the world, from Europe to South America, from US
to Japan or Korea.
How much does Elvenking play live? What locations and have you
been to and have you been trying to get on a tour?
Not as much as we would like to do, but now that the album is out, we
will see if the situation is going to change…There are some good
possibilities for some summer festivals and stuff but nothing is
confirmed yet. As I told you, unfortunately no tours for us by now…
It's too bad your label didn't add you to the Edguy tour in
Europe!!! (Or would you like that kind of a tour package?)
I think that you'd have to ask that directly to them and to the tour
promoters. Maybe the other bands are simply better than us. Not having
the chance to play live would be really difficult for us to spread our
Have you been invited to play shows with any of the
"bigger" Italian metal bands like Rhapsody or Labyrinth?
And...have you played any shows in Italy with some of the lesser known
bands like Thy Majestie (another band I love from Italy!).
No, not Rhapsody nor Labyrinth… It would be great if they could use
the fact of being great and famous bands to help other good and unknown
Italian bands, giving them chances to tour together…Hey, Evil, this
would be simply great!!!! …
We live really far from Thy Majestie (opposite sides of Italy) so
until now nothing has been done together, but for the future hope there
will be some possibilities.
I know we spoke of lyrics earlier in the interview but if you
don't mind giving us some specifics on the lyrics I'd love to know more
about the songs on HEATHENREEL. If you have the time to perhaps give a
few lines on EVERY song that would be totally AWESOME! I'm
basically interesting in synopsis information on what the song is about,
it's meaning and what inspired it....yes I'm quite inquisitive when it
comes to a band who's lyrics I like!! :-)
1. TO OAK WOODS BESTOWED
No lyrics on this one, sorry. It's the intro that introduces the
listener to the world of Elvenking!
2. PAGAN PURITY
Probably the most representative song for what the lyrics are about.
It's about the communion between Man and Nature, seen as a superior
entity. If someone owns "To oak woods bestowed" maybe they
have noted that there are some verses in the back-card of the cd with
the words of Pagan's chorus. When we had in mind the vocal line of the
song we found out that it will fit perfectly with that words, that were
originally written for a sung version of "To oak woods
bestowed" never recorded.
3. THE DWELLER OF RHYMES
A folk character who observes human life from above and sees the
tragedies and happiness of Man. "Knowledge alone could make him
4. THE REGALITY DANCE
This is a particular text, about those kind of persons who find
themselves better than all the others. Often the reality is so far from
this! This kind of argumentation is narrated in a very ironic form, with
a lot of sarcasm. For the fact that it is a particular and different
lyric we're quite proud of it.
5. WHITE WILLOW
Like "Oakenshield" a fantasy-like story that hide deeper
senses. Using stories or fairytales is a good way to express committed
concepts. In the case of "White willow" we are talking about
thinking with your own mind and having your very own ideas in every
single aspect of your life, without being influenced by anything. A very
Really deep lyrics for this one. I prefer not to talk explicitly of this
one…everyone could find the own meaning out of "Skywards".
As part of "To oak…" the song has also older lyrics, more
involved with fantasy themes. Nevertheless contains also some deeper
meanings. The story of the magic shield (obviously "stolen"
from Tolkien's "The Hobbit" - only in the name) is the pretext
to see in the "inner deep" of human within.
8. HOBS AN' FEATHERS
It is a story inspired by Irish and folkloristic legends. You know,
those short legends and stories like the one of the leprechaun or
similar. This song is about this little "leprechaun-like"
creatures that roam in the forests in search for gold, but instead of
gold, they find, down in the ghosts' tombs, only a chest full of
feathers. As you see it is just a funny story, with no particular
9. CONJURING OF THE 14Th
I wrote this song inspired from the movie "Sleepy Hollow",
even if the main riffs are quite old. It is basically a horror story,
with all the foggy and wet atmospheres of the mentioned film. It talks
about a small village hidden in the brushwood whose inhabitants are
really strange people. When the people of the near city don't see any of
those villagers in town for too much days, a companion is sent to see
what has happened. They find only 13 empty houses. But no one of those
sent to the village will return to town as before and one by one all
die, apparently of natural causes. Apparently…You'll understand what
is really happened reading carefully the lyrics.
10. A DREADFUL STRAIN
The lyrics of this one are based on some existing Irish legends, talking
about strange strains living through the brushwood, and of important
figures of the folklore like Jack-in-the-green.
This song is as complex in the lyrics as in the music! It is an ideal
speech between the four seasons and you can hear Winter, Spring, Summer
and Fall (each one represented by a different singer) pronounce their
sentences, one towards the other. It is an anthem to the mightiness and
grandeur of Nature.
Tell me about the "construction" of the song "Seasonspeech"
- I love the mingling of the vocalists there. Was that a time consuming
task and did it turn out as you had envisioned?
The genesis of "Seasonspeech" has been so long! We had a
song called "The honours" that didn't come out as we wanted
and we were working on it for a lot of time, but it still didn't
convince us 100%. So we started from the beginning with new ideas and
"Seasonspeech" came out, naturally. We had a vocal line in
mind and I started thinking about the lyrics and I had the idea of that
wave between four different voices. I worked on it for some time and
then I presented it to the other guys. They were a bit surprised in the
beginning but the thing worked out well. Right from the start I had in
mind Laura DeLuca for the Spring character… I phoned her to explain
the idea and she was really happy about it.
The Japanese version of HEATHENREEL has the cover song
"PENNY DREADFUL" by Skyclad. Why did you choose that
particular song? Do you plan to eventually put an MP3 of that song
online so people outside of Japan can hear your version?
Yep, we recorded a version of Skyclad's "Penny Dreadful"
for Japanese or South American versions but we got some problems with
these licensees and I fear that the song won't be published by now! This
is a pity because in my opinion our version came out good. And this is
the reason why we don't make it downloadable from our website yet: we
think that it's too good to not be published and maybe we could use it
in some other way in the near future, for sure! Not everything wasn't
worth the effort, because at Wacken festival in Germany we have met
Skyclad's ex-singer Martin Walkyier and we have first gave him a copy of
"Heathenreel". He immediately called us back telling that he
loved the cd, and obviously we have sent him our version of "Penny
Dreadful" and he was totally surprised about it. In short, Martin
will appear on our next album as a guest singer in a couple of songs and
he will write some of his fantastic lyrics for some of our new
compositions. And we are also planning together a great surprise for all
Skyclad's fans! Wait and see…
What is your opinion of playing/recording cover songs in
Elvenking? Are there any other songs you guys have covered or plan to?
We use to play a lot of covers during live shows especially when we
have to play for more than 2 hours! Obviously we don't have 2 hours of
our music to play and so we used to add some cover versions of metal
classics (also not metal). For what about recordings, there is a plan to
do a cover of Kate Bush's "The red shoes" together with Martin
Walkyier, but I still don't know if this will ever happen.
Has any thought gone into Elvenking's next album or has any
writing taken place yet? IF so - any idea of when it may be available?
Yeah, for sure!!! Actually we are really involved in the songwriting
process for the next album. We have a bunch of good songs ready but we
are writing and destroying tons of ideas so I cannot tell you nothing
sure about the direction of the new album. The only thing sure is that
it will be 100% Elvenking! I can tell you that our second full-length is
planned for September 2002, but as you know these dates are made to not
Do all the members of Elvenking ONLY play in Elvenking or do
any of you play in any outside projects?
Well, some of us plays in other bands or have some personal projects,
but we are all involved 100% in Elvenking and everything else passes in
the background. Basically we play in other bands just for fun, to help
some friends in completing line-ups or…simply for money!!! (playing
covers in the clubs yields more than Elvenking at the moment!)
Are you all yet able to make you "living" form the
NOOOOOO! Absolutely! We play only for fun and we spend on the band so
much more than what we receive back! Ah ah ah!
What are your goals or hopes for the band?
Living from the band alone!!!! Ah ah ah ! Yeah, the very big Metal
Utopia: living with music. :-) Being serious, the best thing for now
would be to have good sales with "Heathenreel" and play some
gigs. Then, time will show...we are not in any hurry!!! We are still
Did you expect the band to get as far as you have or did you
know you had something special right from the beginning?
We didn't expected all this, believe me! We've been lucky and we're
happy of having the possibility to record our songs seeing them released
worldwide! All that future has in store for us will be simply something
more. From the beginning we knew to be kind of different from other
bands but we didn't know if this would have been a good thing, ah ah ah!
If there are any other news items about yourself or the band
that you'd like to let me know about please do so!!!!!
Well, as I told you before, the new Elvenking album is planned for
Autumn 2002, so remember the date! We are also planning together with
Martin Walkyier a great project for all the Skyclad's fan out there who
are dejected about the split with Martin. Probably the first act of this
project will be at UK metal festival Bloodstock, but maybe I'm telling
you too much…
Thanks for your time!!!!!!
Thank you so much to you and to Metal-Rules.com for all the support!
We really need it!!!!
Other Elvenking Material In Metal-Rules.com
You can order
HEATHENREEL here. Be sure to check out the band's fine website
Oak Woods Bestowed (2000, demo)
Featured Artist (Metal-Rules.com)
©2001 Metal Rules!!