Chicago USA’s folk metal troop Eikthyrnir have released their sophomore release entitled “Through The Magic Mirror Gate” and it is now available on their Bandcamp page (eikthyrnir.bandcamp.com) With a nod to progressive rock of the 70’s to today’s current crop of power, black and folk metal, there is hardly a genre that doesn’t get touched on an Eikthyrnir album. Lead vocalists and accordionist Nathan Beird and the rest of the crew answered some questions for me while out on their US tour……
Congratulations on your epic new album “Through The Magic Mirror Gate”…with the release date of May 22nd. Have you been getting any feedback on the album yet?
‘We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from a wide variety of our fans. Our live performances of the new songs from the album have helped us get a bearing from what people think. So far, many people have commented after our performances, telling us how happy and relieved they are to hear something different. Fans have compared us to bands like Yes, Wintersun, Blackmore’s Night, Finntroll, Jethro Tull, and even Slayer. The fact that so many amazing bands from several music genres were mentioned gives us a great barometer of how the new album has turned out.’
More band members involveld in the writing process…
How did the writing/recording process differ from your first album (“Under The Old Oak Tree”)?
‘We involved more band members in the writing and recording process. Everyone did a great job of putting in countless hours of writing, rehearsing, and recording this time around, and we think that the results are much stronger. “Under the Old Oak Tree” was a great start for us, and we learned quite a bit in the process of writing and recording that album. But having more time to thoroughly compose and record the songs from this album has yielded a more consistent product. We also had access to better recording spaces and equipment to help us try and get the sound we wanted on “Through the Magic Mirror Gate.”
Are you of the belief that you are a “folk metal” band? Or is that just the “easiest” self-tag or is there one that is better in your opinion?
‘The two terms that are often thrown around are “Progressive” and “Folk”. Calling us a folk metal band is certainly accurate, as is calling us a progressive metal band. I also believe that we cross over between “rock” and “metal” frequently and seamlessly, so that line often becomes blurred as well. Our influences come from all over the place, and one can hear anything from Bathory to the Flower Kings on any given song. As far as labels go, anything with “progressive”, “folk”, “power”, “metal”, and “rock” could be used to describe us.’
Nothing is too extreme for us…
How does the writing process work for Eikthyrnir? With so many influences in your sound, are there any ideas that are too extreme for you to try to work with?
‘The writing process is generally pretty individualized with our members. There are, however, certain tracks that are well-collaborated. “Beyond Fantasia” for example employed the creative compositional skills of most of the band’s members. As far as ideas go, nothing is too extreme for us to try and work with.’
You have many songs in your catalog that are 10+ minutes in length. How do you tackle the songwriting on tracks like that? Are they fundamentally simpler ideas that grow to much larger ones while working on them?
‘It is very specific for each track. Sometimes a simple idea can be extrapolated and taken in as many directions as possible. Other times, such as on “Wind Age Wolf Age”, we had a lot of text that needed a lot of music behind it. With it based on Eddic Prose, we knew it was going to be epic and grand in all aspects. We try to explore and see where ideas will take us, but we try to avoid sticking to one specific method for writing. A ten minute length is more or less irrelevant in the writing process. Our songs are simply as long as we feel they should be.’
There is such a huge ‘70’s progressive rock influence amongst other styles in your sound…if you had to pick 3 bands/albums that most influence the Eikthyrnir sound what would they be?
‘We aren’t too sure how we should answer this question. We’re influenced by so many different styles besides 70’s progressive rock that our influences often get thrown together into an odd mix, which is what a lot of our music is. Specifically from the 70’s, it is easy to hear a lot of Kansas, Uriah Heep, and Yes. But a great deal our influences extend past the 70s to include bands such as The Flower Kings, Opeth, Between the Buried and Me, Wintersun, and Moonsorrow. It is basically impossible for us to pick three albums or artists.’
The internet has really helped Eikthyrnir’s sound
What pros and cons have you experienced with regards to the internet (specifically downloading of your music as well as social media)?
‘The majority of our merchandise sales have actually come from playing live shows. The internet has certainly helped with many sales, but we also manage everything ourselves, including social media and merchandise shipping, and it can often be very time-consuming. The internet has really helped Eikthyrnir’s sound reach all areas of the world. Stats from our website reveal that we have a wide base of listeners in many countries all over the world, such as the Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, and Turkey. Without the internet, our band would have to rely entirely on live performances and word of mouth, which would likely take a much longer time for Eikthyrnir to grow and gain popularity and notoriety.’
How is the folk metal scene in the Chicago area (if there is one)? Who are some of the other acts you play with live or know of?
‘With Chicago being as big as it is, it is a bit disappointing that there is not really a folk metal scene. There is one other band that we played with at Piratefest with Alestorm and The Dread Crew of Oddwood, and they are called The Lords of the Drunken Pirate Crew. That was the only show that we played with a local folk metal act. We are playing with a few others on our summer tour, but overall there isn’t much from Chicago. Overall, it is kind of nice playing a unique style of music in the Chicago metal scene. We have played with anything from death metal to black metal to space rock, and we never once feel out of place. But it would be nice if more folk metal bands existed in the area so that the scene can grow.’
Speaking of live I see that you are embarking on a spring/summer tour and have started a Kickstarter campaign for it….could you tell us a little bit about it?
‘We figured Kickstarter would be a great tool in helping us fund our first ever tour. Our band has only been around for a year, and we are already hitting the road to cover a great deal of the United States this summer. The Kickstarter campaign has also given us a long list of names of many people who have supported and contributed to the band’s travels this summer. These are the people who are making this tour happen, as it is difficult for college-aged students to finance a tour that will last nearly two months. The support we have received has been unprecedented and we are sincerely grateful for all of our fans, friends, and family who have shown their support.’
Not able to take summer jobs
With the tour this summer, how were you all able to get the time off necessary to do the tour? I would imagine there may have been some difficulties?
‘We certainly had to sacrifice work and income in order to make this tour possible. We began planning the tour several months ago, so we were able to give plenty of notice. But since we all attend the same college in Chicago, we all got done with classes for the summer at the same time. It was difficult for many of us to not be able to take summer jobs, but touring the country with Eikthyrnir is something we were all willing to do.’
Any new music that you all are listening to right now? Favorite albums from the last year?
‘Many of our band’s members listen to a wide variety of albums that have recently been released. Steven Wilson’s “Hand.Cannot.Erase”, Ghost Bath’s “Moonlover”, Opeth’s “Pale Communion”, and Panopticon’s “Roads to the North” have all been played through our speakers at some point or another.’
‘We believe “Through the Magic Mirror Gate” is an album that anyone can like. You can pick it up through our Website or Bandcamp site. It has been a pleasure getting our sound out to as many people as possible, and we look forward to future albums as well. Skål!’