Percival Schuttenbach may not have a recordlabel, but they released a very very nice album Svantevit recently. About time to give them our compliments on this masterpiece and have a nice chat with Polish folk-metallers.
Mikolaj: ‘Thank you very much :) This album cost a lot of our work and we’re really proud of it.’
We at Folk-metal.nl think it’s a shame a lot people don’t know about Percival Schuttenbach, so can you tell us a bit about the band.
‘We started in 1999 and we’re probably the first folk-metal band that appeared in Poland. Plenty of shows, many albums and demo-CDs
and a lot of various projects. During those years our music has been changing but always contained two elements – folk and metal.
We like to experiment and we’re still searching for the best mix of these two genres. Very characteristic for us is the sound of cello and the fact that girls always had a lot to say in this band :)
Percival Schuttenbach doesn’t work with a schedule how to write songs. Every member puts as much he likes in the song, this differs with every song. In the end their total music concept is created by everyone, and Percival Schuttenbach is the author of every song.
Besides the nice authentic instruments, another typical element of their music is the angry voice of Joanna, although she’s a really nice person, she has a lot of anger inside. This makes she has a very special angry voice, giving their music an unique sound.
But another nice thing about this band is they have more than one face, as Percival they play folk, it can’t be easy to combine the two bands. And Mikolaj confirms that. ‘Different instruments, different songs, different costumes – it needs a lot of effort. Additionally, we have not two, but three various projects. The third one is “Percival – Polish patriotic songs of II world war”. And we are members of two another Polish pagan projects – “Slavonic Myth of Creation” and Perunwit, so as you see we’re not bored :) It’s a lot of work but we love what we do and we’re not gonna stop doing this.’
And they see these as separate bands connected only by musicians that play in these projects and general idea. The rest is completely different: music, instruments, atmosphere during the show… The most difficult for the members is when they play gigs with two various projects the same evening. ‘You need a lot of energy for that.’ The interesting thing is that every project has its own fans – there are people who love Percival but hate Percival Schuttenbach and vice versa.
As said before it costs a lot of energy to play two projects the same evening, so they try not to mix it up. But some organizers of various events like to program several of these bands, because they have two or three bands and pay travel costs only once :). ‘The better option for us – and for our audience – is when we can play one concert – or even two or more – but with one project during one day or evening.’
It makes you wonder if these bands are equally important? Mikolaj learns us the most important is Percival Schuttenbach for sure. ‘This is our base, our mother ship :) The other bands are just something that happened on the way but of course we also put a lot of our hearts into it. And the popularity of medieval Percival project really surprised us. This project taught us a lot.’
The bands have mainly the same members, in Percival there are three girls: Kristina, Joanna and Katarina, plus Mikolaj. In Percival Schuttenbach there is an additional member – ‘our crazy drummer Andrzej.’ And sometimes they play Percival concerts without Joanna who lives far away from the rest of the band and can’t arrive on every gig.
Unfortunately we don’t see this bands in Western Europe a lot, but they have a lot of gigs, mostly in Poland, because they’re concentrated on promoting Percival Schuttenbach’s “Svantevit” and Percival’s “Slava” but they think really seriously about playing in other European countries in Spring and Summer. And they hope to play also in Holland because they never had the opportunity to play there.
The concept of Svantevit
This fabulous new album ‘Svantevit’ is a conceptalbum. In short it’s the story of two twins – a boy and a girl – and their father from a West Slavic tribe – Rani. The greatest temple of Rani was Arkona on Rugia island (German territory today). Arkona was destroyed as well as the language and culture of Rani. The album take us to the earlier times when Rani still fight with Christians who want them to abandon their old faith. The girl is kidnapped by a cruel German knight, who – in secret – is the member of a satanic sect and admirer of young, children bodies. Throughout the whole story the father and the brother of the girl want to find her. Unfortunately they fail. The father dies in a fight but the boy meets old, Slavic gods who tell him that his sister is alive
and that he must fight to preserve Slavic religion. In this point the story ends and we don’t know if he finally finds her.
We have heard a lot of concept-albums at Folk-metal.nl, but I can’t recall any album, in which the songs are connected in the way Percival Schuttenbach did this. There are kinds of small interludes between the songs, in which the previous of coming song is coming back in a different way. How did this came up? ‘The way we connected the songs results from the fact that we tell the story about early medieval times and that we wanted to connect the past and the present. Strong, modern sounds with delicate sounds of old instruments. The title song – “Svantevit” tells about Slavic fights with enemies in the past but also about present struggle for preserving knowledge of who we – Slavic people – were in the past, what are our roots. Also the moments between main songs were a great opportunity to show the softer side of folk, to create an atmosphere of old times and to merge the album into one piece.’
At this album there are a lot of guest-musicians, something which is new on this scale in their albums. And this wasn’t a thing which was planned, it came up spontaneously. After they met Arkona at one of their concerts in Poland, they thought it’d be nice if Masha could sing in one of their songs. ‘She agreed – to our surprise – so we thought maybe we can invite our other friends. And that’s how it happened.’
And they have a special bond with these guest-musicians. ‘They’re all people we know and with whom we played and drank together. They’re great people and great musicians. The result of our cooperation is great and we’re proud of it. We want to thank all of them for their work and commitment.’
‘The only limitation is imagination’
You wonder with 3 full lenghts and an EP, but still releasing album at an independent way, why this is. It can’t be they haven’t received any offers from labels after these albums. But Mikolaj tells us they didn’t get any reasonable offer from any label. Folk metal is not particularly popular in Poland and they’re not very typical band – he thinks maybe that’s why. Also the music industry in Poland is in very bad condition. So this is why they release albums with their own label. This time they found a distributor
for “Svantevit” – it’s a polish company Fonografika. Last year Russian Sound Age released their album “Reakcja poganska” in Russia.
In the music of Percival Schuttenbach there is plenty of space for instruments like cello, accordion, flutes, mandolin. And they blend this easily with metal. ‘It comes really natural for us. We love such mixes. Maybe because we know that borders between
musical genres are not very rigid. Play Vivaldi on the electric guitar and you have metal. Play Slayer on some folk instruments (as we do) and it’ll sound like folk music. If you don’t have artificial limitations inside you it’s not a problem for you to mix everything with everything. The only limitation is imagination.’
Like many other band Percival Schuttenbach experiences it’s difficult to get to Western Europe, but they hope they’re able to change that. ‘We started with historical project – we played as Percival in Norway and Germany this year. We played also in Belgium, France and Isle of Man in previous years. As Percival Schuttenbach we played in Czech Republic, Lithuania and Belorussia. We know our band have fans all over the world – we even have our fan-club in Brazil. We’ll try to give more shows abroad, we promise :)’
Do you have anything else to say to our readers?
‘Greetings from Poland! Please listen to our music and watch our videos.
Hope we can meet on live shows soon!’