It has been a long time, since we heard from the guys of Conorach, how will they be? At the Wolfstijd festival I spoke to them about their new album, Dutch folk-metal and a lot more.
‘You’re right, you haven’t heard from us for a long time, but we were very busy with the preparations for our new record.’
After the 2-track EP is took two years. After two years we were hoping for a full length. But it turned out, we had not enough material for a full album. ‘When you’re releasing an album, you want to do this properly and deliver a nicely filled record, not one with only fife of six tracks. The EP was to show, we’re still there. Besides this Sadiki, the new guitar player, joined the band at the same time. It takes time to fully grow into the band. Conorach is more complete than ever, nowadays. ‘Sadiki has a great influence on the band. During the time we lacked a guitar player, the writing process took more time. You often face problems like: ‘We already did this’. Sadiki influence is very refreshing, full of new ideas influences. We notice it’s triggering the other band members. We are very enthusiast about things we’ve written so far en it must force ourselves not to play this all at once.
Six members with all different ideas can slow down the writing process. ‘The writing process is going slower in our band compared to other bands. We really try to write songs with all six of us. Six different influences and six different opinions can be quite tough sometimes. There are no fights but is slows down things. But we think in the end the result is better.
Do the members have different backgrounds or not? ‘No, so this is also difficult. We all come from different corners. There some bands we all like, but we like different music. Power metal, folk-metal, black metal, we get things from everywhere. Besides this we also want to make music that travels beyond existing borders and feels new to ourselves.’
Conorach has an quite unique sound in my opinion. They coat folk-metal with power metal, but the vocals don’t sound if Jacco was kicked in his balls. Jacco (laughing): ‘I’d like to keep it this way.’ I don’t have this range by nature. Of course you can train this, but we don’t want to. There are already a lot of band with high vocals.’
How will the new album sound? Will this be a different style then we know from ‘Tales from the Tavern’?
‘Yes, it will be much more mature. Of course it has been quite a while ago and we have all grown as musicians. We have listened to the old album en thought sometimes: maybe we should use different compositions a make a better use of all instruments. Make sure they don’t interfere with each other. Sure, when you look at things afterwards you always see thing that could have been done better. But an album is the best you can make of things at that specific moment.
What can we expect from the lyrics on the new album?
‘The lyrics go in kind of directions, but the red line is they are all about travelling. You can think of historical travels, but also travelling inside you own thoughts.’
Well, well about travelling. At ’42 days’ I thought the song was about a trip to the North Pole, it resembled the story about Nova Zembla a little bit. Untill the song reached Cape of Good Hope. Damn I was on the wrong side of the World.
‘You’re not that wrong. It a true story about the VO.C (Jacco and Daniel) We write the lyrics together and we get inspiration from these kind of stories. But we think it’s too easy to adopt the story as a whole, so we give it a twist. We like people to guess what the real story is. We like to cover things up a little but also like it to be interpretable in more than one way, you can give it a twist of your own in this way.’
Can we learn something from the stories?
No we’re not moralistic. The songs written by Jacco are often about people. He tries to give the stories an extra layer. But on the other hand, the songs are never just a stream of words. One song from the upcoming album will consist multiple layers. The first layer is about an Anglo-Saxon king who battles against Vikings. But underneath is a story about someone taking out a task which he has not chosen himself. We often try to make this kind of combinations.’
Can we expect guest musicians on the new album? ‘We will not give this away. What we will tell you is we’re thinking about is regularly. But we keep it a secret who they are. This also concerns other things. If you do this, it has to be good and should fit in our music. You don’t let somebody sing some stuff that later on appears not to fit into the music. For us it is another challenge an extra member. It takes time to write songs with six people and doing this with seven ever more. Het would be great if it all worked out.’
When can we expect the album?
We’ll go to the studio in February to get a pre-production, depending on the outcome of that we’ll pick a date. One thing’s for sure, it will be this year.’
It has to because the world shall end in 2012.
‘By all means no, Metal never dies. We’ll go on. We think it will be shortly after summer. We’ll fill the meantime with concerts.’
Sadiki came new into a band that is quite known in the Netherlands. How does that feel? ‘I’ll have to adept to that in the beginning. I’d played in smaller bands with friends but Conorach is my first big band.
Folk-metal is growing in popularity for a while now. What do you think of this development? Do you think the growth of the number of bands has a positive effect on the music? A great advantage of folk-metal comparing to other kinds of metal is the kind of melody and harmony in the music. The music is meant to be more than a wall of noise, that’s why they stick to your head. Also the lyrics are often really about something. In a lot of styles is just is about how tough and aggressive you can be. Folk-metal gives a choice. You can choose to flatten the lyrics to a minimum, but you can also give a tremendous depth to them. We have to add a little note to this. We get to see more and more cliché. Bands start to copy one another and by this the originality disappears. Sometimes the format, guitar, keyboard, violin and Celtic influences and see, there is another folk-metalband.
‘When you look further, you should also try it with Hungarian rhythms and compositions. That’s where we step in. Unusual schedules and oriental scales. Make sure we don’t go in the Celtic way but the oriental approach.
What does Conorach think of the Dutch folk-metal? Does our little country has something useful to work with? Dancing on wooden shoes? Poldermetal? I learn from Daniel dancing on wooden Shoes is originally a German invention and the bagpipe was a big influence on our historical music. ‘Our disadvantage is, in the Netherlands we like to collect a lot, and keep it in some dusty museum. When you look across the borders in Scandinavia, Austria en Germany they’re wearing old costumes with pride. In our country you only see this in Urk.’
‘But on the other hand our country is very folk-metal. For hundreds of years now, we’re are on a crossroad between Great Britain, Scandinavia and Germany. You find this in our kitchen, architecture and a lot of other things. We’ve have always been some kind of mixture and that’s also what folk-metal is, a mixture of influences. And our country quality is combining things.
As stated above Conorach is an bands that dwells on the boundaries between Power and Folk-metal. How do they feel about this themselves?
‘We have often discussed the fact if we are folk-metal. People have an image of folk-metal and the same goes for power metal. We don’t have the specific instruments and neither do we have the humpa beat which goes aside with folk-metal in the opinion of a lot of people. But we aren’t power metal either. We don’t have high vocals nor do we go on stage with a Harley.’
‘Still you want to say in one word: This is us. When people talk about a record or gig, they just want to put a stamp on it. Some think of us as pure heave metal, others folk-metal. If all these people have a different opinion, what should we think of it?
Well, it’s not bad when you don’t fit in, but from the organiser point of view it can be difficult. When they put together a powermetal evening, we’re not on the shortlist, because they think we’re a folk-metalband. The same goes when it’s the other way round.
‘But today on Wolfstijd we are powermetal, and that suits us!’
‘Besides this, the Dutch definition of folk-metal is narrower than in other countries.’
‘It’s nice every country has his own style and definition, but it doesn’t make things easier for us.’
Are international ambitions working out for you?
Someone shouts: Belgium. ‘We would like to play in Germany, but it’s different to get there. Germany has a lot of bands of its own and concerts are organised by organisers and not by the local venues. That’s totally different from the situation in the Netherlands and this also makes it difficult to play there. In Great Britain they use a system where it’s possible to subscribe for a venue, but you have to guarantee, you bring at least 100 fans with you. They want to make sure they have some income from the concert, while they don’t get any subsidy. As foreign band it’s almost impossible to get in this way, because you can’t import all your fans. Only when your big it’s possible in this system.’
Maybe you should jump on a tour like ‘Heidenfest’. ‘Yes, that would be fine, but we’re not folk-metal enough. There’s a wide range of folk-metal bands, for instance Ensiferum, Turisas and Finntroll are quite different. But when you put us between these bands, we don’t really fit in.’
What are the wishes for 2012?
‘Performing in Belgium and Germany for sure. We’re lucky to have a ‘friend-band’ in Belgium, Angeli di Pietra. We have a lot of contact with those guys and we exchange every now and then, so who knows, maybe there’s a possibility there.’
Besides this, it works out to present yourself with some other bands as a whole package. This eases it up a little for organisers. The venues are in a difficult position also, because they don’t get any money form the government and people don’t go to concerts as much as they used to do. People are more often downloading a concert of they’re watching Youtube.’
I hear this a lot from bands. Downloading becomes a problem.
‘We don’t have difficulties with the downloading, we try to use it. The CD will not last forever and there will only be a small amount of people buying CD’s. There are also a bunch of real music fans buying vinyl.’
‘But it’s also nice to see, your music is being downloaded through torrent in Russia. It’s a pity there are people earning money from your records behind your back and there is nothing you can do about it. We noticed our songs being downloaded in Sweden and Greece through Pirate Bay. You can get agitated by this, but je can also enjoy the fact, that a small Dutch band has been downloaded in Sweden.’
I’ve become a lot wiser today. Thanks for the nice interview! Is there something you like to say to the fans?
‘Keep listening and thanks for coming. We specially want to thank the growing group of diehard of fans we often at many gigs.’
We like to see a lot of familiar aces and a lot of new ones!
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