On the prospect of one of the biggest folk metal bands coming to Athens for a concert, you know we could not resist the temptation to sneak on the backstage of Fuzz Club and have an awesome chat with the mastermind of ELUVEITIE, Chrigel Glanzmann!
Laid back and with beer in hand, he was willing to answer my bombardment of questions about “Origins”, Celtic mythology, working with members of the mighty CORONER, new members, possible plans for the second part of “Evocation” and… but why am I boring you with the prologue when you can read all these and so much more on the huge interview below? Dig in people!
P.S. A big thank to Sofia Theodorou of S&D Photography for being the cameraman; no wait, camerawoman; the amazing person behind the camera anyways! Enjoy the interview.
So, let’s talk a bit about “Origins”! The reception has once again been huge, you’ve been making top of the charts. Did you expect that?
No! To be honest, we usually have no expectations at all when we release an album, because there’s actually not much of a point in it. You just don’t know. It can always happen that everybody likes it and thinks it’s great and exactly the opposite can also happen. So we just do an album the way we like it and release it and see what happens. But yeah, it turned out to be our most successful album so far and it really went beyond anything that could happen as possible. Of course we were extremely happy and thankful about that but no, we did not expect it!
You also won the Swiss music award for Best Live Act National. Did you expect this as well?
No, haha! To be honest, it doesn’t mean that much. I mean of course it’s an honor, it’s the highest cultural prize in Switzerland, of course anyway that’s huge. But then again, gaining awards and prizes is not the reason that you play music. You do it because you love playing music. Each one of us has like this bloody thing at home (Most likely he means a small statue/individual prize) and it doesn’t mean anything after all. But at the same time, we were still pretty happy about it because it was the first time in Swiss music history that this award went to a metal band. That was actually quite cool and that’s also what we stated officially, “we did not win it for us, we won it for metal” to show everybody we’re there too and that’s why it was cool.
That’s exactly the point that surprised me, that it went to a metal band. This is starting to happen a lot in Central or Northern Europe, while down here I think it will take some time to happen… In “Origins” I think it is the first time that you co operated with so, so many musicians. How hard was it to organize everything? I mean with the choirs and the children’s choir…
I don’t remember exactly, I think the time we spent in the studio only recording was3 months, which is quite a lot for a metal production actually. It was just a lot of work but it went great. It was awesome with the children’s choir; I felt like a kindergarten teacher, it was very cute!
I think it was also co produced by Tommy Vetterli of the legendary CORONER. How did that go?
Awesome as usual! We started working with him I think in 2010, when we recorded “Everything Remains As It Never Was” and since then it wasn’t even a question to us. We release an album? “Yeah, we do it with him”. Over the years we became close friends and we kind of merged into some kind of family almost. I mean they do so many things for us –the CORONER guys- and the other way around. You know, Merlin, the drummer (Of ELUVEITIE) sometimes works as a drum tech for CORONER or played live, or I did the artwork for an old CORONER album, stuff like that, just helping each other out wherever we can. It’s awesome to work with him. It’s also good because we function very well together in the studio. We know him, we know how he works and the other way around and that is always a very good thing I guess.
I also think it had an impact on the sound, because “Origins” sounds a bit like 90’s melodic death and it’s more compact than your usual clean cut melodic sound.
Yeah, I mean that’s something we love about Tommy’s studio. It’s actually equipment-wise one of the best studios worldwide! He has a very, very old mixing desk – I don’t remember it’s name-, it’s basically one of the best you can get and there is only seven of them on the planet, but he owns one. The compressor I’m using for example is the legendary compressor that was used on the first LED ZEPPELIN album. It’s like old, analog, vintage stuff and that’s what we like because it makes it very natural. That’s actually one of the main things that convinced us on the first place, when we started working together.
And I think It does justice to the outcome, the sound is amazing.
It’s cool that you think that, thank you!
So, I’d like it if you could give us some information about the abstract artwork of “Origins”. I think it was your idea?
A: Yeah, I usually do our artworks. When I finished the concept for the album it was pretty clear to all of us that we wanted on the one hand something very simple and raw –something like “Helvetios”- but we also wanted something that symbolizes the lyrical content of the album. It became difficult at that point because the album is dealing with etiological tales from ancient Gallia, in sort Celtic mythology and there was no symbol. If it had been an album about Catholic religion you could have placed a fucking crucifix on the cover. But since there is no equivalent to that… In those stories, the origin myths of the Gauls or the Celts, there is one character that is showing up over and over again and that’s the god Sucellos. He plays a pretty important role and this symbol was kind of a halo of his. There have been many Sucellos statuses found in archaeological excavations all over Central and Western Europe, but a particular one that was found in today’s France had this sun shaped halo, with the sun’s rays actually being hammers. That’s where the idea came from, because in many of those stories it comes down to him (Sucellos).
So is he “The Nameless” one?
Yeah, in our album. You know, there are not many things you can say that can be proven in Celtic Mythology, especially when it comes to the spiritual aspect of it. And, especially, on the whole “Nameless” thing there are many scientific theses on it, but the most substantiated one suggests that “The Nameless One” actually was Sucellos. But it can’t be proven.
That was some very rich information! Lyric-wise now, it’s been six albums since you’ve started. How do you maintain the freshness of the themes since you constantly deal with mythology and gods? How do you do that twist to keep it all fresh?
Well, thank you! It’s nice to think I do. To me it’s basically a personal passion. I’m studying old topics since so many years now and the thing that can really drive you crazy about it is that the more you know the more questions you have. You will never get to an end or a conclusion or something, you study and study and study and all you get is actually more questions, so there is always more topics coming up.
And because many documents were destroyed.
Yeah, basically everything.
That is exactly what I like about your myths. I think you are a fanatic about the historic context being true, meaning that it can be proven. You don’t just use a myth, you also use real facts. And I think on your last album you had the help of an expert?
Yeah, a lot of them actually. I’ve been doing that since day one, working with different scientists. Originally it came to the use of the Gaulish language and over the years as the lyrical concepts became more complex I also worked with scientists if it comes to the contents themselves. But you know, this co operation thing, you do it for years and then you become friends. Today it’s almost like a network of scientists! Usually I work with 3 universities – one in Vienna, Austria, one in Switzerland and one in Cambridge, UK- and yeah, this feels like some freaky professors there, complete nerds on those topics themselves like I am! They enjoy a lot working on those things and they also enjoy what we are doing and it is like I have a friendship network, which is cool!
It is indeed! I wanted to ask about the tour poster. At the bottom it had 8 coins or sigils with a different mark in them. What did they represent?
You’re actually the first ever to notice that! That was a spontaneous idea we once had, that each member of the band was to pick an animal for him or her, like a totem animal. And then we made those small logos/symbols and you can see the animal. Actually, we hired an artist to make them, who specializes in Celtic arts and he drew those animals the way they were drawn back then on coins, and around it says this Gaulish term which basically means “I am a free man or woman from a free tribe”. We said it had to be an animal that was known by Celts or it played a role in Celtic mythology or something like that.
That’s what caught my eye. I wouldn’t have noticed it but the far left coin has a wild boar, which I think was the favorite animal of the druids. That’s an amazing story behind something so small. So, how do you manage to maintain the balance in a group consisting of 8 people?
In the sense of working together or being on the road together, playing show together, I guess it doesn’t make such difference how many members you are. If you’re functioning well together and working together on a professional level, keeping your personal issues on the background and focusing on the thing you’re doing together, those are things that you have to learn anyway, no matter if you’re three members or fifteen. So, I don’t think it has so much of an impact in there. Songwriting-wise it’s a bit different, it’s basically me who writes the music and once the song is finished I hand it over to the whole band and every musician works out and refines his or her parts. And this is functioning pretty well.
You have Nicole (Ansperger) as a new member, how’s that been working out?
Amazing, to be honest. Getting Nicole to our band was like winning the lottery. It sounds stupid but it’s true. We did not know her and it was basically an accident. She got to know a friend of ours and it was exactly at the time we were looking for a new violin player and she is such an incredible musician. She is actually the most incredible violin player I’ve ever known personally. She started playing violin as a little girl and she’s been a professional musician years before ELUVEITIE got founded, she’s played with really big acts before. To me it was a big honor that she joined the band, once we heard her playing we were like “Fucking shit, this is incredible!” So actually it’s been amazing.
That is very nice. So, it’s been 7 years now working with Nuclear Blast?
How has that helped you, being in a major label since almost your beginnings?
Well it had been 5 years until we got signed to them. It’s really hard to say. I mean, for sure they do a good job and it’s good to have a strong label on your back. But it’s definitely not like you sign on a label and then it does (explosion sound). After all it’s the musician who has to work. If you signed the biggest label on the planet and then don’t do much, don’t progress, it doesn’t help you. The work remains yours. But yeah, Nuclear Blast has been a fantastic label and it’s weird, you usually hear that reputation for being a huge company, mainstreamy and blah blah blah and it’s nothing like that actually. When we got to know these guys we were pretty much amazed because all of them are idealists, they are all hard metalheads and work there because they love metal and it’s also kind of like this warm family. We know everybody there and with most people we became good, personal friends, also something I would not have expected from Nuclear Blast, which is really cool actually.
And the last question, my favorite ELUVEITIE album is “Evocation I: The Arcane Dominion” because it’s like what Ulver did back in the day (Kveldssanger) and I wanted to know if you have any possible plans for a second edition
Yeah, I do (laughs)!
That’s very nice to hear.
Yeah, at the moment it’s too early to say something about it but we are actually talking and planning right now, at the moment. I just had the last discussion with our manager like two days ago. So it’s, you know, work in progress.
That is extremely good news! To wrap this up, what do you think is in store for ELUVEITIE in the future?
I wouldn’t know! Can you read the future?
No, I can’t!
Okay, because if you could I would have some questions for you! I don’t know. We keep doing what we’re doing and we’ll see what happens.