On the lead up to the release of Eluveitie’s upcoming Origins, I had the chance to pick the mind of the band’s mastermind Chringel Glanzmann. Having reviewed Origins (here), I’ll tell you I feel privileged to hear the upcoming record and promote before its release. Here’s what the mastermind behind Origins had to say:
1. ‘Origin’ showcases a rather important theme in looking back. How does this affect a band constantly moving forward? Is it important to know where and how something came to be in order to creatively capture the present?
Chrigel: In a way, probably. What is today, became what it is because of what it was yesterday. But after all that’s not even that much what “Origins“ is about. I mean, as much as I personally think that it is a valuable thing to gaze into the past and to learn from history, “Origins“ simply deals with ancient Celtic mythology, with ancient origin myths. Basically because it is a fascinating topic!
3. A small amount of research highlights the fact that the artwork for ‘Origins’ is of your own design, taking inspiration directly from Sucellos, and a statue found in France. How does this help portray the album’s themes, is there a direct connection between the artwork and the album. Would you like to explain the significance of the image?
Chrigel: Yeah, of course! We wanted something pretty simple, almost abstract for the artwork – something that expresses the mythical and mythological character of the album. Something that symbolizes its lyrical content. As mentioned above, the album is dealing with Celtic origin mythology, with aetiological tales from ancient Gaul. If you’re dealing with these ancient stories, you’ll come across one mysterious character of the Celtic pantheon over and over again: This arcane, other-worldly deity which the Celts believed to be descendants of. And so, this Celtic god also plays an important role in many songs on “Origins“. His name remains a mystery today though, unfortunately. Which Celtic god actually stands behind this divine, nameless “primal father“ of the Celts is a huge question in science, of course. There are diverse scientifical theses on this question. One of the most substantiated ones suggests that no one else but the Gaulish god Sucellos is “The Nameless One“.
All over the Celtic areas of Europe Sucellos statue’s have been found during archaelogical excavations. In one of them (found in today’s France, as you mentioned) he is depicted with kind of a sun-shaped “halo“ (while the “sun-rays“ actually are hammers or mallets, just as the one Sucellos is usually seen holding in his left hand). And this “halo“ is what you can see on the front cover of our upcoming album. It’s a symbol for Sucellos and with that (assuming that the Lates scientific thesis is correct and Sucellos indeed is “The Nameless“) a symbol for the origin of Celts.
3. It’s been over ten years from the band’s inception. What lessons have been most important to you through ELUVEITIE’S existence? How have they shaped you as a performing group?
Chrigel: They definitely shaped us, yes. Also as a performing group. I mean, if you have played nearly a thousand shows together, you perform differently, than if it’s just a hundred. On stage we became a well attuned team, going like a Swiss watch. But it’s pretty hard to actually name one or few concrete “lessons“ learned, to be honest. It’s probably things like “never give up“, “never lose sight of your goals“, “always stand your ground and keep your chin up“ (well, besides: “constantly practice your ass off and become better in everything you do“ :))
5. This is a common question for me, but it’s always engaging to see (or hear) if bands and artists follow music throughout the year, finding any highlights or interesting releases that would normally be overlooked. What are your top albums for 2014?
Chrigel: I do listen to music of course and now and then I also check new bands and/or releases. A band I recently discovered (and came to like a lot) an act actually comes from Australia: Be’lakor. Awesome music!
But to be honest, generally I’m more of an “old-school guy“ and still today I usually just listen to my old favorites. You know, stuff like good old “Clandestine“ by Endombed, “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk“ by Emperor and so on. Besides lots of traditional Celtic folk music (things like The Bothy Band, Dervish, Boys Of The Lough and so on).
But the last six of months I didn’t find much time to listen to music, nor to check out new releases – due to being fully stretched with and totally focused on the production of “Origins“. Two 2014 releases I’m really curious about though are Endombed’s “Back To The Front“ and the new At The Gates album!
5. Having heard ‘Origins’ in full (this is my top played 2014 album), it’s easy to tell that the studio work was tight, natural and essentially flawless. Were there any issues recording the album, parts that didn’t make the final cut or unreleased material still waiting to surface?
Chrigel: Wow, thanks! Not really, to be honest. Well, one thing we couldn’t realise (due to the lack of time) was the cooperation with the awesome Galician Gaita (bagpipe) player Cristina Pato. There are a number of guest musicians on the album and originally we wanted Cristina to be one of them (we already agreed on a cooperation). But in the end it wasn’t possible to realise that, we didn’t have enough time. But forbearance is not an ac-quittance, as the saying goes! We plan to work with Cristina on another album sometime! But besides that everything on the album was done as planned. But yeah, you’re right – it was tight. We were in studio quite a long time (more than 2 months). But this wasn’t much time nonetheless, for there’s so much going on on „Origins“. We involved so many different sounds, instruments, etc. We worked together with an orchestra, with a choir, with a children’s choir, with diverse guest musicians, actors (voice over artists) and so on. It really was a huge project. Sleep was probably one the most precious (but mostly lacking) goods the last few months, haha. But it was all worth it – it was an exhausting, but wonderful production!
7. How do you go about recording an album, is it a smattering of ideas marked on a sheet of paper, a demo recording to work the kinks out or does the band work as a complete collaboration? With such a diverse range of instruments, tones and techniques does it ever feel like too much of a combination?
Chrigel: No, it never feels like too much. When I’m writing songs, it always feels very natural to me. It’s an “organic“ process and everything is pretty intuition. The full songs “take shape“ in my head already with all the instruments involved. Once a song is complete, we record a pre-production demo, yes. But actually just as kind of a memo (instead of using sheet notes). When we enter the studio, every musician knows exactly what to play.
7. Storytelling is such an integral part of ELUVEITIE’s music, not just on ‘Origins’ but throughout past releases there’s always been an emphasis on theme. What keeps these ideas fresh, even with the seemingly endless touring?
Chrigel: It’s just a personal passion. Celtic culture and history is just something that means a lot to me personally.
9. By now you guys have seen a few countries and traveled a few continents. What has been a memorable experience on the road for you? Is there a moment that tops them all?
Chrigel: Honestly, there’s so much we’ve seen and experienced on the road, it’s virtually impossible to pick one single experience. We love playing live and we love touring. Playing music means life to us and so we literally enjoy every single show we play, no matter where on the world it takes place.
But well, two show’s we’ll probably never forget are one we once played in India and another one in China. In India we had the wildest crowd we’ve ever seen – they got so incredibly rollicking that the concert had to be halted for half an hour for security reasons (I should mention, it was quite a large crowd; more than 20’000. So it actually got dangerous for the people). We were interrupted in the middle of playing “Inis Mona“ by armed military men, who came running on stage to drag us from the stage and bring us to some building behind the stage (“for security reasons“, as we’ve been told). Haha, was quite “adventurous“ and also slightly scary. But impressive and exciting at the same time. That maybe was our most memorable show ever! In China we once got arrested right after a show in Shang Hai, as we went backstage after playing an encore and walked right into the ‘open arms’ of the police. 😉 Apparently they thought that something with our visa papers was not correct. Well, in the end all was good, but still we spent almost a full night at the police station, got interrogated separately, etc. That’s not exactly what you’d expect after playing a show, haha. Was adventurous, partly a little scary, but also unforgettable too.
9. What’s next for you guys?
Chrigel: Well, touring! “Origins“ is about the be released. And a few weeks after the release the “Origins“ world tour cycle will start. It’s still being planned (fixedly confirmed are only the next 4 months, covering the first North American and the first European leg of the tour), but this world tour will most likely take around 2, 5 years again.
So yeah, that’s what we’ll be doing for approximately the next 30 months – being on the road with “Origins“ and touring around the world twice.
11. ‘Origins’ is filled with bombastic, catchy tracks. Which are your personal favourites and why?
Chrigel: Hard or even impossible to say. Maybe “The Nameless“, “Inception“ and “The Silver Sister“ are my personal favorites. But after all I love all of them. I mean, if you’re writing songs, they kinda become something like your “babies“ so-to-speak. And it’s the same as with your own kids – you wouldn’t go and pick one as your favorite, but you just care about all of them.
As you can see Chringel’s opinions are well-thought, developed. It’s not everyday I get to interview the big names of the industry. Make sure you pick up the album when it drops, you can pre-order it here: