With their new album knocking on the door, we thought is was about time to have a little talk with Nich Ireland from Battlesoul. So, if you want lo learn more about Battlesoul and their new album, here we go…
Congrats on your new album “Sunward And Starward”…… have you gotten any feedback about it yet?
“Yes, the reviews have started coming in already and so far the album is getting a VERY positive response. I wouldn’t mind seeing a review from someone who didn’t like the album just because it can give a different insight into what we did. I’m sure that will come with time.”
It has been 5 years since your last release (2013’s “Tir Na Nog”)….what has been happening with Battlesoul since then? Did it take this long for the album to come together?
“This album took the longest of any musical endeavor any of us have been a part of. We finished writing/demoing the album by mid-2015 but self-producing the album caused some delays. We had various technical issues (something very uncommon for us) and pushed ourselves hard to make this album the best it could be. For example we tracked drums three times to get the sound just right and we were even tracking additional vocals and lead guitars in the fall of 2017, well over a year after we thought the album had been completely tracked. I think the trials definitely made for a stronger album and it is very rewarding to finally see it released.”
Willing to Travel
How did the title of the album come about and what does it represent as a meaning or how it describes the album as a whole?
“Well the title and lyrics are the brain child of Jon Doyle so I’ll have to give my interpretation based on our barstool discussions. Roughly stated the lyrics are about Christianity coming to pagan Europe and one man’s decision to gather his loved ones and followers to journey into the unknown and attempt to find a place where they can practice their beliefs. I interpret the title as referring to the lengths in which this man is willing to travel as well as not knowing exactly what to do or where to go when faced with an unstoppable change.”
“We just let it slip in naturally. Even without traditional instruments I still think we would be using Celtic sounding melodies, it’s just kind of a part of us now.”
What did you want to do either similarly or different than your previous releases? Is it important to retain your core style/sound while trying new things?
“As a band we always strive to push ourselves and make sure that we do not get stuck in a rut of repeating the same album or song. Our core style is something that we will always carry with us and I do feel that you can tell we are roughly the same band that recorded the “Battlesoul” EP or “Lay down thy burdens” but we have definitely grown and expanded.”
How did the song writing and recording process work for “Sunward…..”? Does one member give the rest of the band direction as far as the music and lyrics go or does everyone have input?
“Well as I mentioned all the lyrics are written by Jon Doyle but we definitely all have input in the songwriting. Usually the skeleton of a song belongs to a particular member. I would say that Thomas wrote the majority of this album but there were songs that were more strongly written by Jon or Andrew. Having multiple song writers has always been one of our strengths and blending our styles has been a big part of battlesoul’s sound.
Stylistically, you cross into many genres…. is there an easy description you could give yourself as far as a tag?
In your image and songs, you have cultivated a Celtic vibe…..is it important to still retain some of that in what you continue to do?
“The Celtic vibe is something that we’ve focused less and less on maintaining and just kind of let happen. In our early days we were a bit more concerned with how to make things sound Celtic but on “Sunward” we didn’t really try. We just let it slip in naturally. Even without traditional instruments I still think we would be using Celtic sounding melodies, it’s just kind of a part of us now.”
What bands are the biggest influence to Battlesoul? How about things outside of music such as books, movies, TV. Etc….?
“Well as for bands that could be a never ending list. I would have to say that Blind Guardian, Manowar, Emperor, and early In Flames are pretty important to us but the list could go on forever. As for things outside of music there is a fairly obvious influence of the poetic eddas on the new album, we even have a quote from the poem “Sonnatorrek” by Egil Skallagrimsson on “The loss of sons”. Again if I do some barstool interpreting of Jon’s lyrics I often find loose homages to the novels of Steven Erikson.”
There are tons of killer bands in Ontario…….how is the overall metal scene there?
“There is a ton of talent coming out of Ontario these days and lots of bands doing pretty unique things. The unfortunate part is over the past few years a lot of the venues in mid-sized cities have closed down and it seems like there are fewer determined smaller promoters pushing local shows and growing metal scenes in their home towns. Luckily the bigger shows are still being well attended and a lot of tours are stopping in more than just Toronto when they come through the province.”
How do you feel about the live performing of music? Do you have any sort of plans to tour to support the album?
“Some of the best moments of my life have been on stage with the guys. There is something really special when a band is firing on all cylinders and the crowd is loving it. I can say if nothing else we have always had one of the most fun live shows a band could have while still doing the music some justice. Unfortunately we have reached a point where some members live over 1900KM away from each other so we will likely not be playing live to promote this album. Never say never but there would have to be a very serious offer for us to make the logistics work at this point.”
How did you guys come to be on CDN records and how do you feel your relationship is with the label? What do they offer as far as supporting Battlesoul?
“Craig from CDN reached out to us while we were recording Lay down thy burdens. We have always had a great and fairly laid back relationship with him. He has done an outstanding job of promoting us and making sure that our albums are available in stores and online around the globe. It’s been fun when bands we know have toured Europe and have found copies of our albums in local record stores there, all that is thanks to Craig and CDN.”
Is downloading music something that you concern yourselves with?
“We have never felt a negative effect from downloading. To be honest I don’t think we would have ever had the global reach that we do without it. Personally I’m enjoying the change to the music landscape and honestly don’t miss buying CDs. Streaming services have made it so much easier to get a hold of music and find bands and I personally could never afford to buy all the music I consume. There are also many more ways for people to support the bands they love so I feel like things are changing for the better. I’m sure that if we had at one time seen a serious income from selling albums and saw it taken away we would likely feel different.”
Favorite music from 2017? Albums most looking forward to in 2018?
“I would have to say “Dream Alive” by Excalion as it is the most refreshing power metal album I have heard in a few years and “With doom we come” by Summoning, it’s nothing new for them but is outstanding in its scope and storytelling. 2018 is a blank slate for me and I’m excited to see what comes next for metal.”
“Thanks so much for the interview! You guys are doing a great job of keeping the spirit of folk metal alive. It is exciting to see “Sunward and Starward” finally see the light of day and I can’t wait to see how people react.”