“Every album and every show has been just one little step.”
When you think of Switzerland, your mind probably takes you the alps, chocolates, watches, banks and neutrality… but if you are into heavy metal, then you know that Switzerland is also the birthplace of Eluveitie, a “Pagan” metal band that has been rising star in the European metal scene for 10 years, headlining tours, festivals and massive shows all around the continent.
In this occasion Metal Blast met with Chrigel, the founder and main songwriter of Eluveitie, right before their show in Amsterdam opening for Sabaton, took the time to give us the following exclusive interview (video at the bottom of the page).
MB: Does Helvetios, as the band’s most successful album to date, represent a new stage in the development of the band?
Chrigel: Not really, to be honest. I mean, it’s true, it is, by far, our most successful album so far… maybe if you look at the band from the outside, then sometimes it seems like “OK, now they had a breakthrough”, or something like that, but if you look at things from the viewpoint of the band itself, then you don’t perceive it that way.
We started 10 years ago and just took it step by step; we’ve been working to move forward as a band and to grow as a band. Every album and every show has been just one little step.
MB: Since we talk about how well it was received by the critics; how much attention do you pay to how the albums are reviewed?
C: Well, maybe I have to give you two answers.
On the one hand, if I can find the time then I read some of them (it is not possible to read everything), and it’s always interesting to see what people think of it, so in that sense I do care about reviews, criticisms or whatever.
On the other hand, however, for us, although it’s nice to know… we don’t care too much about what anyone says, because we just want to play our music, we want to play it the way we like it and we don’t care about what anybody says, be it a magazine, a record company, a manager or whatever. Personally, I believe that the day that you start adjusting your creativity or your art to the opinions of other people, then that’s the day you should stop doing it.
MB: Regarding this, in an interview Anna Murphy mentioned that you knew from the beginning that “Rose for Epona” was going to be your first video clip for the album. Although I love the song, what made you decide this? Was it a more commercial type of song?
C: Well, it was our decision. Before the album was released there were three songs we showed to everybody, and which kind of showed the whole spectrum of the album. The very first song that was released, even though it was only a lyric video, was “Meet the Enemy”, which is one of the harshest songs, and then the second one was “Rose for Epona”, with a video clip; then, shortly before the release, there was a video for the song “Havoc”, in which we tried something new.
So, we just wanted to choose three songs that showed the whole spectrum of the album. That’s why we used those.
MB: Despite adopting a more serious and melodic approach to the music than “party bands” like Korpiklaani or Alestorm, you are usually grouped with these bands within “Pagan” or “Folk” metal. Do you find this to be a blessing or a curse for the band?
C: We don’t care too much, to be honest. We don’t look at ourselves as a “folk metal” band or whatever; we just don’t care about what our music is called.
We don’t actually group with that kind of bands, usually it’s concert promoters that just put that kind of bands together, but it doesn’t matter to us; I mean, tonight we are playing with Sabaton, which is something completely different, but we don’t really care.
We don’t like that kind of party/folk metal thingie; personally, I hate it. I just don’t like happy music; in my opinion music is something earnest. It’s a matter of taste of course, but I personally like it when it’s earnest.
Once again, it really doesn’t matter to us. We personally know many of that kind of “pagan”, or whatever it is, metal bands; we are good friends with Korpiklaani, I like the people a lot… but musically it’s just not my thing. It doesn’t matter though, you can still play together with them; why would you care about that?
MB: In an interview we did with Heri Joensen, the lead singer of Týr, he mentioned that perhaps the reason why this type of music is picking up is because people fear that maybe their customs, history and heritage are being lost. Do you think that this is one of the reasons why Eluveitie is picking up so much here in Europe?
C: I wouldn’t know… yes and no, maybe. You mention central Europe, but it’s pretty much the same in Latin and North America, it’s no different. I think that it rather has to do with a development in society, because I think that in the last 10 or 20 years you can actually observe a growing interest for ancient cultures, but not only within music or among young people, but in all of society.
In Europe, as you said, there is a growing interest for your own local cultural roots, so perhaps it has something to do with that, but I don’t know after all.
MB: Has this passion for history permeated the rest of the members of the band?
C: Well, I think that you’d get 8 different answers if you asked any of our members. We all do have a certain affinity for history and culture within the band, it means a lot to all of us, but it’s not in the same level, some more and some less.
MB: Do you think that things like EluTV, the lyric videos released by the labels, etc., in an era of massive file-sharing, are necessary now in order to stay close to the fans and offer something different?
C: Yeah… If you ask that question like that, then yes. You could also do newsletters (we do have one, obviously) but we prefer to do things like EluTV because it is more personal.
Anywhere that Eluveitie appears on the internet, be it in a forum, a website or anything, it’s all run by some members of the band. We think that it’s important to be as close as possible to the fans, because we really appreciate them and their support, since it’s them who make us who we are, it’s them who give us the opportunity to do what we love, and we appreciate that.
MB: What lead to the decission to re-release Vên with the new line-up, together with your early material?
C: Well, it’s two things. First, since both releases have been sold out for years (sometimes it was impossible to get them) we were thinking about re-releasing them anyway; also, earlier in the year our record company asked us why we didn’t just do it, since they wanted to do it, make a double CD with them. We thought that it would be boring! I mean, we thought that it was a good idea to re-release them, but we didn’t want to just re-release them, we wanted to do something with it.
The second reason was that this year is our 10th anniversary, so we were thinking about doing something special anyway, so we had this last-minute idea of completely re-record Vên and at least re-master Spirit. We thought that it would be cool, because we still play some of the songs from Vênlive, on a regular basis, and during the last 10 years those songs kind of developed with us, just like we developed as musicians during the last 10 years. So, we thought that it would be cool and interesting to record them again and see what they sound like today.
MB: When it comes to recordings, what everyone wants to know is if there are any chances of another acoustic album and when.
C: I can’t exactly tell you when, because it is not fixed yet, but I can tell you that we have started working on Evocation Part II. Right now we’re still touring a lot, and we’ll be on the road until almost next summer but, after that, in Autumn 2013, we’d like to do take touring break for a couple of months, to intensively work on new music, and the acoustic songs will definitely be a part of that.
MB: So, for now, a lot of touring and, eventually a new acoustic release?
MB: Will the next album be “Evocation Part II”
C: I cannot say that right now, because it’s not fixed. I started working on new metal songs and I also started working on Evocation Part II. I don’t know which one will be first; during the touring break next year we will intensively work on both and, maybe, even finish both… but that’s more than what I know right now.
It’s a work in progress!
MB: Any final messages for your fans?
C: Thank you for the interview obviously and thanks to those watching (or reading) for their interest in Eluveitie.