@ O2 Academy Islington
9th November 2012
Merlin Sutter – Drums
Chrigel Glanzmann – Vocals,
Mandola & Mandolin, Tin & Low Whistles, Bagpipes, Bodhràn
Anna Murphy – Hurdygurdy, Vocals, Flute
Meri Tadic – Fiddle, Vocals
Ivo Henzi – Guitars
Simeon Koch – Guitars
Patrick Kistler – Tin & Low Whistles, Bagpipe
Kay Brem – Bass
Interview Photos by Michelle Murphy
Chrigel Glanzmann starts by having to excuse himself as he has to take a phone call….two and a half minutes of hurried Swiss later, and the calamity is revealed: “We just had a bagpipe emergency! I think Patrick [Kistler's] bagpipe just broke, and he’s trying to fix something up between both his and my bagpipes, to make it work. I say Gaffer tape is the answer to everything…” Winding up on Eluveitie’s tour bus, being offered an interview beer and discussing casualties of the coolest aerophone? Yes please.
The eight-piece sensation has been pioneering a ‘new wave of folk metal’ since 2002.
Celebrating their tenth year, Eluveitie’s commemorative release, ‘The Early Years’, is already tipped for success, as they prepare to join forces with Wintersun to attack North American shores in the coming weeks. We caught up with Chrigel and Anna Murphy on the London thread of their support to Sabaton tonight!
Your North American tour with Children of Bodom at the beginning of the year was greatly talked about. How did you enjoy working alongside them?
Chrigel Glanzmann (CG): I almost forgot about that! [Laughs] There’s actually another one coming up in two weeks, so I kind of forgot about the last one. Yeah, it was good. Relaxed; very relaxed, actually. Long, though. But it was cool; it took us to some very unusual places. I mean, it was the first time we’d played in Jamaica, for example.
Anna Murphy (AM): We played in Jamaica…? [Laughs]
CG: [To Anna] Yup – on the cruise. We actually went on land!
AM: Well, for me, that was just on a boat, that wasn’t strictly ‘playing in Jamaica’…
CG: It was also the first time we’d played in Las Vegas. That was pretty sick, I’d say.
Congratulations on the release of ‘The Early Years’ as well. What parts of your evolved musicianship over the years do you feel have benefited the re-recording of your early material, and do you feel in particular, Anna, that you’ve brought anything new to it as a recent member?
AM: I think we’re much better all-round musicians; I can’t really compare because I wasn’t in the band when the early stuff was recorded, obviously. I completely destroyed it! [Laughs] I added my elements, and now it sounds like shit! But no, the production is better; that’s probably the biggest thing.
CG: Yeah, for sure. And of course, the playing. I mean, we’re a band that tours a lot; on average, we play around 200 shows a year, or something like that. That’s a hell of a lot of practice. And if you’re doing that for ten fucking years, then you can hear it, for sure. I think on the re-recording, you can hear how the songs should sound if you played them properly!
In light of Simeon’s departure in September, how has touring been with Rafael so far? From an emotional perspective, was it easy to immediately start working with someone new?
AM: I think it was, yeah.
CG: Yeah, totally. He’s just the perfect catch for us, because he fits into our group so well. It’s great; at least, so far, it’s great.
You’re due on a second North American tour with Wintersun shortly. It’s renowned that Eluveitie don’t listen to folk metal, despite reshaping the genre. In that case, how do you go about picking your touring partners, and do you like to tour with acts of close genre-styles?
CG: Well, it’s not always us who chooses the bands…
You must have some say in it, though?
CG: Oh yeah. To be honest though, we don’t really care about something as trivial as genres! [Laughs]
AM: I usually find out who we’re touring with when I see the flyers! I mean, there’s probably some email stuff going on before that, but I never really worry too much about it.
CG: For the couple of tours on which we actually had a choice, we always made sure it was a really diverse bill. There was once 3 Inches of Blood, for example… When was that? Like, three years ago, or something?
AM: And System Divide… No, not three years ago… Maybe last year?
CG: It wasn’t last year, was it? Anyway, it doesn’t matter; let’s just say ‘in the past’. And it was an incredibly mixed package, actually. I don’t know if many of our fans like 3 Inches of Blood, or have even heard of them.
AM: Oh, and there was Holy Grail, too!
CG: Yep, classic heavy metal. Then, as Anna said, there was System Divide, who are really modern, female-fronted, death-metalcore kind of thing. It was completely varied, and that’s what we like.
Helvetios is, of course, widely regarded as your most successful album to date. Can fans expect any further great ‘epics’ like it in future, or is its conceptual theme a one-off for the work of Eluveitie?
CG: Well to be honest, on this tour we just started working on a concept for a follow-up. But it will be something completely different; probably a concept-epic-type-thingy again, but in a completely different way.
You’re also known for doing extensive research into your historical themes. What is it about the Celts and Gauls that appeals to you so much, beyond the nationality? A principle in their lifestyles or philosophies that you admire, or something else?
CG: I think you would get pretty much eight different answers if you put that question to every one of us. For me personally – yeah, it means a lot. But then again, there’s actually not that much you can say about the Celtic lifestyle, because on a scientific level, we just don’t know very much at all. Where I’m concerned, it’s basically just a geographical thing; it revolves around the ancient culture of my country, and the country we all come from. But that’s just for me; as I said, you’d extract something very different from each member of the band, because it hits diverse points of meaning for us all.
AM: I’m just interested mainly in the stuff he tells me [nods to Chrigel], because I’m often there when he writes the lyrics. Obviously, I know the lyrics, so I know some of the history. I’m intrigued by the whole thing, but that’s it; I just think history is a great topic, and I love learning about it.
I’ve been admiring your Celtic artwork, such as the 3-point triskele used on the cover of Helvetios, and also your tattoos. Are there any particular symbols that you feel personally affiliated to, or that hold a deeper meaning for you?
AM: Not really for me, I have to confess. Well, maybe some writings in Gaulish that are to do with our songs, although no symbols specifically. But I think for some of the other guys, certainly…
CG: [To Anna] You have some of those writings on your skin. For me… [Points to tattoo on his left wrist] I just think this is cool, and pretty important. It means ‘I am a free man, from a free country.’
AM: It concerns ‘stuff that was carried down’…
CG: Bequeathing, perhaps? Well, according to ancient historians, these here were the last words of one of the Helvetic chieftains, before he died. So I think it’s a cool thing to think, and also a good way to live.
Are you spiritual people, at all? Not to suggest you’re hippies; just while we’re on the subject…
CG: Funnily enough, we all hate bloody hippies, to be honest! [Laughs] No, we REALLY don’t like hippies! The ‘great unwashed'; don’t get me started on that topic, seriously…
Your videos are as epic as your songs. If you had a hypothetical budget, would you make a movie of Helvetios?
AM: Actually, we were talking about that during a listening session, in which we were both checking the album out again together. We were a but drunk, though…! [Laughs] But it would be awesome!
CG: Well one time, we had this idea to shoot a video for every single song on the album, so that we would make a kind of movie when we put all the individual videos together…
AM: Yeah, exactly!
CG: But yeah, maybe one day we will be rich, and able to do that kind of thing. Maybe we could dig up some priceless Gaulish artefacts and then we’ll have the money behind us…
AM: We could always give that a try one day after some rum!
Chrigel, you’re due to give a talk at Zurich University about the Gaulish Wars on November 22nd. How did that come about?
CG: It was during the first two or three weeks of this tour, actually. I totally forgot about it! I just got an email from a manager, who told me he’d been contacted by one of the professors at the uni. They’re actually holding a lecture series on the Gaulish wars during November and December, and there’s just this one event for which the professor asked our manager if we could do something together.
AM: I actually want to go! [Laughs]
Apart from the North American tour, are there any plans for 2013 you could hint about for us? Any movements on that elusive acoustic album we’re all whispering about?
CG: Well, we started at least thinking about Evocation II, but then again, we’re still on tour. We started the world tour cycle for Helvetios in the middle of January, I think, and it will still keep us on the road until the end of next summer. So we won’t be doing much before that, except planning to shoot and release our live DVD, early next year. It’s going to be busy, but we can’t fucking wait…
Many Thanks for your time today!
Now it’s time to hit the bar and let excitement get the better of me for tonight’s show and let’s just hope those bagpipes hold up…