Eluveitie, Straight from the Gaullish heart

By: Nick

The last years, Eluveitie is doing well. A new album and a headlinerposition on Paganfest result in Eluveitie settling more and more between the great bands in the Folk-metalscene. Folk-metal.nl talked to Chrigel about the new album, the extensive touring and the dress-up parties which are common within the scene. You can read the full conversation below.

At First, congratulations with your new album, how is it received?
Actually pretty good. We thought it should be good, but of course you never know. Also, when we played the new songs live they were received very well. The album even charted top 5 in Switzerland, which is really good for a metal-band.
Could you tell us in short about the concept of Helvetios?
It is our first concept-album, and it narrates the story of the Gaulish wars, which lasted about 10 years, 2000 years ago. The war was, obviously, between the Gallia, and the Roman empire, and tells the story of the Roman empire invading Gallia.
We not only tried to express the story in the lyrics, but also musically. All the songs are linked together, and we tried to make the album almost like a movie-soundtrack, or a soundtrack to this particular story.

Is there a particular reason why you’ve chosen this album at this moment to write a concept album?
No, not really. It just came up. Gaulish history in general is our main thing anyway. And one day the idea came up to devote a whole album to the Gaulish war. And since we decided to go for that, it was quite obvious to go for a concept album.
You said you wanted to link all the songs. However, there is one song, ‘scorched earth’, that sounded different than the rest of the album. Has this a particular reason?
Yes and no. Since it’s a concept album there is a lot of dynamics; there are very soft songs, there are very hard song. The songs really flow into each other. If you look at Scorched Earth, lyrically it’s a farewell song. The story at this point, the tribe left their homelands. Musically, we’ve used a traditional way of singing, like it’s been done in Bretton folk-music. Those songs usually express feelings of love and farewell.

What kind of historical sources do you use?
Like always, we’ve been working with historians since day one. This time we did this even more, since there aren’t that many sources. The problem with the Gaulish wars is, is that it’s really well documented, but only by the Romans, the winners. Obviously, stories told by the winner are different than if they’re told from the other side. We tried to tell the story from ‘the other side’. Therefore, a lot is hypothetical, but we tried to keep it scientifically well-founded. It was a lot of questioning and reading between the lines. For that, we worked close with the scientists from the university in Vienna, which helped us since the making of spirit.

A few of your songs are in Gaulish, how do learn those songs? And how do you learn the pronunciation?
If it comes to the written language, Gaulish is pretty well documented, so there isn’t the problem. However, since this language died out in the early middle-ages, we don’t know much about the pronunciation. It’s not that we don’t know anything, there are a few Celtic languages that survived like Gaelic, and Britton, so we can compare with these languages.
With the pronunciation, we’re working closely with the scientists to get it as close as possible. It would be wrong to claim that our way of pronouncing it is the right one, because it’s impossible to say that. However, I think that, if you had a time machine and we would bring the ‘helvetios’-album to the Celts, they would understand it.
And these texts, do you write them yourself, or are these old manuscripts which survived from the early ages?
Both, actually. On the acoustic album we used original texts and inscriptions, but on the recent album, most of the Gaullish texts are written by us or by the scientists.
Anna has a much bigger role on this album, was that on purpose?
Not really. when I’m writing the songs, I’m always implementing the instruments the way it’s best for the song. After I choose what the song needs to express, I choose the instruments that can be used for that. For example, the song ‘Alesia’, it was obvious that Anna should have a part in that, same for ‘Rose for Epona’.

You mentioned the acoustic album, which is called ‘Evocation part 1’, can we expect a ‘part 2’, and when can we expect that?
Sure, but I’ve no idea when, we haven’t thought about it yet. We will do it, and we’re looking forward to it, but we want to take our time. It can be next year, it can be in 10 years..
Do you write all the music and songs for Eluveitie?
Mostly, but it slightly changes over the time. Up until the last album, I basically wrote every note. But since the last 2 or 3 years, I started working more and more together with Ivo, one of the guitar players. A lot of guitar parts came from him.

In a recent interview, you stated that you never listen to folk-metal, is that so, and why is that?
Yes, because I just don’t like it. I do like some bands, like Thyrfing, Winder, and Moonsorrow as well. But I just don’t like the typical happy folk-metal. For example, Korpiklaani, they’re great friends of us, but I can’t listen to their music.
Is that also the reason why you’ve shifted to a different image? For example, the band-pictures with the leather jackets, the sunglasses, etc.?
No, not really. It was a natural development, and we don’t think about those things. We always came up naturally. Back in the day, during the first 2 albums, we looked a little bit more like the typical folk-metalband, but even then it were my every-day clothes. We never dressed up. To us, it’s about the music, and we don’t want to pretend something we are not. To me, wearing ancient clothes doesn’t make you more ‘Celtic’.
What do you think of bands that do dress up?
I really don’t care. It’s their thing, if they want to do it, and if they like it, sure, why not? However, I would never do that.

In the last years you’ve grown from support act to headliner, what do you think of that?
What do I think of that? There are many aspects about it. There are things I like about it, and things I don’t like about it. It’s nice, because you can play a longer set, but the disadvantages are that when you finish your show, the party is already over, and you need to hurry because the bus is leaving. That’s the bad side of playing as the last band, but that’s just the way it is.
And of course, from the beginning when I formed the band, it was clear that we need to work a lot, and work hard. We tried to get as far as possible, step by step and moving forward all the time. And Of course, we wanted to get here, but we still want to get further.

Are there still things you want to achieve?
There are always things we want to achieve. Then again, I can’t name you a concrete thing. We are a band which always want to go forward. Somewhere along the road, new goals will come up.
You organized your own festival lately, what was it like?
It was cool. We had this idea for quite some time, but now we finally had the opportunity to do it. The idea is to do a festival with befriended bands.
Will it be a recurring thing?
We’ll see what future brings. We’ll do it again this year, and that’s the plan, to do it every year. There will be different bands every year, for example, this year we will have Finntroll and Arkona playing, together with some other bands. For this edition, we will switch to a bigger venue.

What do you prefer? Small club shows, or the big tours like Paganfest?
Both can be nice, but personally I prefer bigger stages. This is because the equipment is much better and more reliable at such venues. Especially when playing club shows, the equipment is not as good as it should be, and the crew isn’t as capable as it should be. Furthermore, an advantage of bigger venues is that we have a lot more space on stage.
You just had a tour in America, and immediately after that you started the Paganfest tour. Does all this touring never become boring to you?
No, never. It never affected the fun of playing. Playing music never becomes a routine, as soon as I have my instruments in my hand, it’s never boring.
You are recording the show in Tilburg, releasing it as a live CD, was there a reason for that?
No, Concertlive came to us with the idea to do a live-recording of one of our shows. We immediately said yes. Our only condition for that was not to record the first show. After that, Concertlive decided to record the show in Tilburg.

Is there still something you want to say to the fans?
Of course, I want to say thank you. thanks for the interview and thanks for showing interest in Eluveitie.