Without Care, Without Fear, Without Chains
NY’s Goblin Hovel are equally prolific and enigmatic. With the release of their new album “Revered Revenant Of Irreverence” I would like to think a lot more people will find out about them. Mixing acoustic music with metal attitude and swampy goodness, they will appeal to a wide variety of listening tastes. I caught up with the head Goblin himself to answer questions regarding the new album, the writing and recording process and a few other items…. check it out…..
Revered Revenant Of Irreverence
Congrats on your amazing new album “Revered Revenant Of Irreverence”, what has the feedback been regarding it so far?
“Thanks a ton, mate! It’s been great so far! Mostly 9/10’s and similar, and while it hasn’t broken into the mainstream like “Roots That Broke The Stone” did back in 2014, I’d say it’s been the best received out of all our albums. Not to mention we are all exceedingly proud of it.”
You have officially been in existence since approximately 2010 and have numerous releases (15 or so)…. how are you able to produce so much material?
“Inspiration strikes with the ferocity and speed of a lightning storm, my friend. I release so much because I write a new song almost every day. In terms of studio time, there’s no logistical secret to it: I just know people who are willing to work at the same odd hours I am. I try to keep the whole process “within the family” so to speak. Both Tom Gerwitz and Chris Sirgey who are our go-to guys for recording have performed with Hovel before, so they know the sound and the intent behind it. They don’t have to work too hard at understanding us! The process is really swift because of this. Plus, it’s easy getting everyone to show up when I’m he only one playing everything on the record. That changed this time around though . . .”
Stylistically, what genre of music do you feel most describes the Goblin Hovel sound?
“The whole point of Goblin Hovel is to defy genres. There are so many we are classified under, but since a fair number of metalheads like us I’ve taken to calling it “metal-folk.” To be clear: “metal” describes the kind of folk music it is. Thus folk music for people who listen to metal.”
It seems there has been a “revolving door” system with regards to band members….. was this a conscious decision to have different members or just happenstance?
“It was only ever supposed to be one consistent member: Myself. The people who I write with and the musicians that accompany me are the ones that have a style and a sound I like. If they don’t mesh with the style or if I can’t find a place for them on a song, then I just don’t play that song with them. Some lineups last longer than others, of course. Also, this was always meant to be a band that we all played in to have fun together. Everyone in Hovel has a main band or a side project so only those who are genuinely having fun with it stay in for extended periods of time.”
What is the overall writing and recording process like? Do you start the ball rolling with basic music and lyrical ideas and others add on or does everyone contribute?
“Writing, as I said before, happens on a daily basis for me. Everything inspires, and almost every song that is released was written in one sitting exactly as you hear it. The one drawback is, I’m a luddite. I have no real way to record demos and listen back. So I have to keep all the parts playing in my head at the same time. That makes it difficult for me while recording because I have to try and NOT play my cello parts on guitar in the middle of the first guitar track, etc. It gets confusing, all blending together in my head like that.”
Did you try to achieve anything different with “Revered….” compared to past releases?
“The biggest difference is I actually have a relatively consistent lineup on this record, with everyone contributing their own parts, making the aforementioned composition issue much less annoying! This is really most apparent in Britt (drums) and Jason (electric bass) because they are on every song, and their setup and their styles are something that has not appeared on ANY acoustic Hovel record before this. Also, I usually write a folk song and try to make it heavy. This time I wrote metal songs and transposed them to acoustic instruments.”
You have done both electric and acoustic tracks throughout your discography… what determines whether you do one or the other?
“The old answer was: we played as an acoustic band because Allegheny College in Meadville PA (where we began) wouldn’t let us practice metal songs (defined as “with drum kits, loud amps, and those awful screeches you call singing”) on campus unless we owned a house (which we were too poor to do). So we played with what was available and portable to us. That’s why for our first show we chose to play in a forest there. Why not? We didn’t need to plug into anything!
The new answer is: Whatever seems the most fun to us at the time!”
What bands or albums are the biggest influences in what Goblin Hovel does?
“Musically I take a lot of inspiration from Sting, Opeth, Asmegin, and lots of folk music from all over the world. From Poland to Korea to India to South Africa and back, all styles are welcome! Lyrically, though, bands like The Tea Party, Behemoth, My Dying Bride, and Nile really exemplify what I see in poetry/lyrics and what I want to say. My whole concept is being able to see the modern world through the lens of history and lore. To learn, to become wiser, to become stronger, and to have fun doing so.”
How important is playing live for you? What are some of the pros and cons?
“I was just talking to a new friend about this! Hovel’s purpose, as I said to her, is to grow stronger, grow wiser, and have fun doing it. I feel performing live helps everyone has fun and feel involved in something greater than themselves, both band and audience. I also love getting to meet the people I play to and learn about them and their lives. It’s a great personal experience! Problem is, our weird lineup and choice of instruments causes LOTS of hiccups with sound checks and mic setup. That and the long hours of travel are really the only cons.”
Upstate NY seems to have a pretty strong metal scene, who are some of the bands you have come to know up there that are on folk/pagan/Viking end of things?
“Basically, I’m pretty well connected there because I’ve worked with almost every member of the Upstate NY folk metal scene. Tyranitar, Arcaenium, Ferus Din, Orcsmear, and Elfspell to name a few!”
What expectations do you have in making a living thru releasing your music? Is it hard to do with the “music business” not what it used to be?
“Honestly, I don’t expect to make anything off this band. It’s for fun and educational purposes only. Perhaps that’s the reason my members keep rotating out? Hahaha! But in all seriousness, Bandcamp sales make me my monthly food money when we aren’t touring, and when we are then it pays for gas and some of the accommodations. And that’s just from donations! All of our stuff is usually free, so the fact that some people like us enough to donate brings joy to my cold green heliotrope heart!
You release your music primarily thru Bandcamp, was this the best option for you and what has been your experience by doing it this way?
“It is the best way for me, simply because I am so f***ing poor that I can’t afford to have discs printed out. It doesn’t hurt that the web market can reach ALL over the globe, and I’ve met some awesome people that way (see Alexios Ciancio, our current third vocalist from Rimini, Italy)! I have had nothing but positive results from bandcamp, and it gives me much more freedom than an ordinary label or booking agent would. For now, that’s just what we need. In the future? Who knows.
You have a slot at the upcoming Pocono Folk Metal Fest in October, any other live dates on the horizon?
“Indeed, we have one show booked for November 4th in Pittsfield MA with our friends in Ophelia’s Looking Glass and a very possible show in NYC with Tengger Cavalry in December!”
Favorite music releases you would like to share??
“For this year, there haven’t been many that I’m aware of. But I’m currently spinning Eikthyrnir’s ‘Under the Old Oak Tree’ closely alongside Behemoth’s ‘The Apostasy’.”
“Be without care.
Be without fear.
Be without chains.
Grazh’nubh*, my friends!”
*means both “thank you” and “goodbye” in goblin. Literally translates to “I am aware of my debt.”