Interview with Chrigel Glanzmann
November 3, 2017 – Islington Assembly Hall, London, UK
Interview by Torbjørn ‘Toby’ Jørstad
Photography by Graham Hilling
We sat down with ELUVEITIE frontman Chrigel Glanzmann prior to the band’s sold out show at the Islington Assembly Hall in London in November. Read on to find out about the fresh single “Rebirth”, changes in band’s dynamic following recent line-up changes, the concept for the band’s next album and more!
How are you doing today?
Do you want an honest answer?
Fucked up. We had the border crossing with the ferry last night, and so I’m pretty tired and a little hungover. But otherwise good.
How has the tour been for you so far?
Amazing. It’s going really, really good. I think the package is cool, and it’s actually one of our most successful tours so far so we can’t complain.
Anything specific moments or memories that come to mind?
Well, it had a rather rough start with half of the band being really sick. Four of us, including me had pneumonia, so we were all on antibiotics, but it’s good now.
Your new album Evocation II – Pantheon is out. What went into choosing songs from the new album to play live?
There’s not that much specific reason behind it really. When coming up with the setlist for this tour, we knew that we definitely wanted to play metal, but still include some songs from the new album. I think we just took those who have been the most fun so far. At Summer Breeze Open Air this year we actually played two shows; one was an acoustic intimate show where we played almost the full album. They also seem to be nice live-songs for the audiences.
“Your Gaulish War” from your debut album has been absent from setlists for a few years now. What made you bring that song back live?
We love it. That’s basically it. As you said, we haven’t played it in forever, so we thought it’s about time to play again.
As you mentioned, you did an intimate release concert at Summer Breeze in Germany in front of a limited number of fans. What was that experience like in contrast to playing the festivals main stage a little later?
Actually, it doesn’t really make that much of a difference to us. We’ve played some pretty small stages and some huge ones, but it doesn’t really make a difference. We love music, music is our lives. We do it with passion, and playing a show is playing a show, no matter how big it is.
Both “Succellos” and “Tarvos” from Origins and Slania now have sequels. Can you briefly explain the link between the originals and sequels of these two songs?
There’s actually a link in almost every track on the album. The fact that “Succellos” and “Tarvos” have sequels now is because it’s an album about the Celtic pantheon. You can’t really have an album about the Celtic pantheon without having “Succellos” on it for instance. But there are actually some links indeed. Each song on Evocation II is dedicated to one Celtic divinity. All the gods and goddesses represented on the album have in some way a connection to topics from older Eluveitie song. Like “Inis Mona” and “Ogmios” for instance. “Inis Mona” is not about Ogmios [Celtic deity of eloquence], it’s about the Isle of Mona and the druid college that was there. But for that druid college, Ogmios was crucial, and that’s the link there. For all the gods on Evocation II, there’s links to older songs, and during the creation of the album, we spontaneously decided to take these links and also express them musically. So on each track, there’s something you will have heard from a previous song. On some tracks it’s really obvious, like “Ogmios” which is almost like an acoustic version of “Inis Mona”, and in other songs it’s just a tiny little detail.
You’ve released a couple of music videos from Evocation II – Pantheon, are there plans of doing more?
Not so far. We already released a single for the next album, along with a video for that one. For now we are focusing on finishing this touring cycle, which will last until March next year I think. After that, we will fully focus on the upcoming album.
Almost out of the blue, you released your new metal single “Rebirth” last week. What’s the reasoning behind releasing something new so quickly after Evocation II?
Because we didn’t want to wait [laughs]. It’s actually true, it’s been so long since we released our last metal album so we were just really ready for it. It was actually a spontaneous idea. I think we were just in a festival and started talking about it and thought, “why not, let’s release it now”.
So does that mean you’re already working on the upcoming album now?
Yes. We don’t have any other songs down, but we’re basically working on blueprints. I have the concept ready, and at the moment I am going deeper into the diverse topics for the particular songs. That’s always the first thing I do before writing an album. Before the actual song writing starts I want to have a blueprint, a picture of the whole album before my inner eye. I have always written like that, and I think it’s probably because of our lyrics. I could never write a song without knowing what it would be about. When I write a song, I want the music to express the feelings that the lyrics are transporting.
On the cover art for the single we see Slania from the Slania album. How is she linked to the song?
That was also a spontaneous idea. I can’t even tell you, I don’t know. I was out at a bar with Jonas [Wolf, guitarist] getting shitfaced at 4 in the morning, and we just talked about what the artwork could be. I guess we each glass the ideas became crazier [laughs], but at some point, the idea of bringing Slania back came up. It was actually Jonas’ idea to have the clouded background and the skull underneath the surface.
So we just started combining ideas, and I was actually in the studio, working on the artwork until we got something everyone was happy with. That’s what came out. Slania isn’t really connected to the song, apart from the ‘rebirth’ thing. I mean the song is about the mythological image of the cauldron of rebirth. There is always stories of coming back to life, and so bringing Slania back to life kind of ties in to that.
Is the fact that the song is about rebirth in any way linked to Eluveitie’s rebirth as a band, with the new line-up and all?
No, not at all. As I said it’s about the cauldron of rebirth, and the concept of the next album is to have a rather philosophical approach to Celtic mythology somehow. We take images out of Celtic mythology and try to contemplate those from the viewpoints of our everyday lives, because that’s what they were for 2-3000 years ago. We just believe that these images haven’t lost any of their significance and meaning. This first song was on the image on the cauldron of rebirth.
What’s the biggest downside of sharing a tour bus with eight band mates, all younger than you?
Honestly, I’ve never seen any downside to that. I don’t really feel any age difference either, maybe that’s not a good sign [laughs].
What new elements have been brought to the band with the recent line-up changes?
I would say mostly the personal connections. The atmosphere within the band is completely different. The last couple of years have definitely not been easy. There were different goals and it just didn’t work all together. We even had these kind of groups within the band, obviously the ones who left, and some, like me felt kind of alone in the band. It wasn’t good. I also don’t want to badmouth anyone, not like that. It’s just so different.
For instance, before we were literally only working partners. We saw each other on stage and that was it. Now, for instance we do stuff together in our free time all the time. Fabienne [Erni, vocalist] comes and visits Nicole (Ansperger, violinist) and myself, we live together, and she has basically become an aunt to the kids. She takes them to playgrounds and is like a part of the family already, so it’s completely different. I think this really influenced the music as well, not style-wise, but when we were recording Evocation II – I think we’ve never worked so closely and intensely on an album. There used to be just one person in the studio, this time around, the whole band was there almost every time we were recording, just to support and help or cook or whatever.
It was a very dedicated and creative atmosphere, every day from morning till night, members of the band were sitting together in the studio, just going over details or jamming or whatever. The album actually grew really organically, everybody was involved, and three tracks off the album were actually written in the studio. Just the approach of creating new music has changed, and I’m really curious to see how this will affect our next metal album.
Do you have any rituals or something you always do before going on stage?
No, not really. Of course, everybody warms up, some more, some less. Alan [Ackermann], our drummer, is crazy; he basically starts warming up as soon as he wakes up. That dude gets up early in the morning, drinks his orange juice or whatever and starts practicing. He basically rushes through soundcheck to get back to practicing until the show [laughs]. That’s basically it, we fist bump right before going on stage, and sometimes we’ll take a shot.
What steps do you take to ensure your voice stays healthy on tour?
I smoke a lot [laughs]. Actually, the most important thing for every singer is to take care of their voice technically. Basically that means to sing right, not sing in a way that fucks your vocal cords. Part of this is of course warming up, not yelling around or whisper a lot. I have nothing else, I don’t drink any potions or anything.
What is the biggest positive and the biggest negative of being in Eluveitie?
I can only speak for myself. The most positive for me is that it’s Eluveitie – it’s music I love and that I want to do, and having the chance to actually do that is one of the greatest things in life I would say. The most negative thing to me is that I don’t really have a life besides Eluveitie. I work every single day for the band, depends what’s going on, sometimes up to 18 hours a day. There’s never days off, hardly ever holidays, so that’s that.
Anything you would like to add in the end?
Thank you very much for the interview. Thanks to all the readers for their interest in Eluveitie and their support.
Thank you very much for your time and good luck with the show!