Human Souls and Underworld Gods
Celtibeerian have been in existence for 7 years, stylishly blending heavy metal with their own brand of folk music. They were one of the first bands I’ve discovered I’d been introduced to folk metal. They have been consistently good at sating my hunger for fiddle-and-whistle-accompanied metal, getting better and better with age like a fine wine (more on that later). They have released their fourth studio effort Deiwos in December, 2017, and it was damn good. If you frequent this site you’ve probably already found that out yourself but if you haven’t, I vehemently urge you to check it out. In the meantime, enjoy this interview we did with their vocalist/bassist Gustavo where he told us about the band’s origins, the creation process of Deiwos, their love for wine, and more.
Would you tell us about the band’s origins? How did you come up with the idea of forming a folk metal band? How did Celtibeerian come to be?
“After the summer of 2010 Julián and me (Gus) were playing in our other band (Mala Fortuna) and decided to play something different as a new project. At first, we composed the first melodies and we decided that this project should talk about drink and history, our two passions. Then we told the idea to Vity (we knew each other from before) and found Patri and David.
The result of this project was our first album “Tirikantam”… and nobody expected the repercussion that it had. With the traditional instruments and our influences from Metal we found a sound that of course we can call “Folk Metal”. People liked our album and when we realised we were playing and having fun.”
“…the key word is “chthonic”, that is something that is inside, both the earth both the human soul, in order to describe the spirit of nature within, the unconscious earthly impulses of the Self, that is one’s material depths, but not necessarily with negative connotations…”
You have released Deiwos, your fourth studio album late last year. Although it’s been a while, I’d like to know your thoughts and how you feel about this milestone.
“We made a really huge effort in many ways, in order to produce this album and we are proud of the results. I think that with this album we found our personal sound, we worked a lot on the composition, the sound and of course in the lyrics. We wanted the best for that so we recorded it in a professional studio (The Metal Factory) and once again we worked with Mikka Jussila (Finnvox) for the master and with Jan Yrlund (Darkgrove) for the artwork.
We just wanted to give our best and do it for the people that follow us, so we hope to open new and bigger doors with this album. Until then, we keep working hard!”
What is Deiwos? What stories do the songs tell?
“Deiwos is an album that shows us the duality between the human soul and the underworld gods.
As those gods rule the whole world from the underworld, life grows from this place and keeps the souls; the human soul works the same.
Here the key word is “chthonic”, that is something that is inside, both the earth both the human soul, in order to describe the spirit of nature within, the unconscious earthly impulses of the Self, that is one’s material depths, but not necessarily with negative connotations. So when you listen to our songs, we’re not only singing about gods and history, you need to go further and read between the lines.
We tell a lot of different stories in our songs, always connected with an aspect of the human soul, for example in “The Wolf I Am” we’re not only talking about the life of the child who grew up with the wolves, we also talk about the feeling of freedom, living out of the society, in the wild. “Fear my Beard” is a funny tune about the beard but it also can be linked with the hedonist aspect of our inner soul. “Puellae Gaditanae” talks about an ancient kind of dancers; they were shocking and good-looking girls, so in the song you can also feel another inner instinct: the lust. “Devotio” is not only a war song…. anger, rage or commitment are another feelings that we can get from that song, … we can do the same with all the songs… but explaining every detail could make this interview a little bit boring hehe.”
Let’s talk about composition. Do you have a certain method for writing songs or do ideas evolve into songs naturally? And who writes what?
“Yes, the songs are developed naturally. The “Celtibeerian method” is easy hehe. First Julián and Dagda make a lot of riffs and songs, then I think about the whole thematic of the album and together we chose the songs that fit better for the album. We arrange our parts depending on the instrument and I write the lyrics and most of the vocal lines according to the main idea.”
Creating new folk stuff
Do you use existing tunes and melodies from the olden days or do you write all of the folk parts yourselves?
“Most of the tunes are written by us, we don’t like to “copy” or repeat folk melodies, so most of them are original, we enjoy a lot creating new folk stuff, even though we always like to include some traditional stuff played in our way, but because we like to bring some ancient tunes and culture to the present and show it to the world. In that case (“Deiwos” album), these songs are “Gallaecia II” and “Txoría Txori”.”
In my opinion, Deiwos is your strongest and most refined album to date. Was there anything you have done differently this time?
“Of course, as I told before we did all our best, and this time we wanted a real improvement in our sound, so we recorded in one of the best metal studios. About the general composition, we had been working on it during a long time, choosing each detail carefully. Another important thing that we did this time is that now we tuned our instruments in drop D, looking for a more powerful base of metal. I must tell that on the top of that, we dealt with a new big issue: this time we did basically everything from the distance due to our job/studies situation. It implies much more effort than before… but no guts, no glory!”
Wine versus Beer, Mead, Vodka and Tequila
Drinking/party songs are something we’ve come to expect from folk metal bands. There’s a sub-genre called beer folk. And bands sing about beer, mead, vodka, tequila, and even jägermeister whereas wine is a largely unsung drink by bands. But not by you, you’ve written a song to it (Praise to the Vineyards). Does wine have a special place in your hearts and stomachs? What can you tell us about Celtiberian wines?
“Hahaha Hellyeah! Wine is our beloved beverage, you must know that we originally come from La Mancha region, where the main product is the wine (and really good wines, in our opinion, the best! haha). Our towns are surrounded by large vineyards and we grew up seeing that, and most of us even worked on it (we paid our first instruments with the money from the harvest haha). So we can say that in part we’re here because of wine!… Wine has given us our best moments! We love it! haha
We also talk about beer… hahaha But if you want to live the real Celtibeerian experience… play our album, take a bottle of La Mancha wine and enjoy it!”
Your music and lyrics are obviously influenced by the culture and history of your homeland. But I want to know if you draw inspiration from other sources. What else has influence on your creative output?
“The influence clearly comes from our history and traditions… it’s what we want to show to the people, mainly the people who don’t know about that, because there are many interesting things that must be shown.
About the music composition… of course we have too many different influences. Each member has its own preferences…so we take a bit from Heavy Metal, a bit from traditional Folk, a bit from Rock, a bit from Country, ….”
Fuels of passion
What fuels your passion for this music and this band? What makes you keep going?
“The satisfaction of playing in live gigs and all that surrounds this world fuels my passion. The uncountable hours on the road, the adventures with the band, the sound of my bass playing fuckin’ loud on the stage and the most important thing… feeling the support of the people at each concert giving all and having a really good time together… it’s the drug we need to keep going.”
Folk metal has become quite a popular genre in the past decade. What is the scene like in Spain?
“The Folk Metal scene here in Spain is good in my opinion, but, as you told, the Folk Metal “boom!” was in the last decade, here it started a little bit later and it isn’t the better place if you play underground music…. here even Heavy Metal is considered underground, so.. you can imagine! haha Anyways here we are to stand, we are lucky in that way, because we play the genre that we like and people like it! :) And the good thing is that we’re not only here, there are more bands like Ocelon, Last Days of Eden or Northland… all together are going to carry the Folk Metal torch in our country! Haha”
What are some of your favourite bands/artists? Who do you think your fans should be aware of?
“Motörhead, Judas Priest, Mastodon, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Grave Digger, Queen, Carlos Núñez, Mötley Crüe, Bob Marley, Steel Panther, Amy Winehouse, White Buffalo… As you can see we’ve got a lot of different favourite bands…hahaha taking a little bit of each is the key to do something original!
In my case I’ll recommend to be aware of Kadavar and two spanish bands that I like a lot: Quaoar and Los Zigarros.”
You’ve got lined up a number of shows for spring/summer. What other touring plans do you have?
“Yes! We’re going to be touring basically from the spring/summer to Christmas!… After that maybe we’ll rest a couple of months while we prepare the second part of “Deiwos Tour”… to come back stronger than ever playing in bigger festivals and new countries.”
Thank you very much for this interview. Is there anything you’d like to add?
“Thank you so much for this interview! I had a great time doing it! For all the people who wants to know more about us, stay tuned on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube… we’ve got fresh news to share with you, and don’t forget to take a look to our official website, we’ve just open our new store with new official merch!
Cheers and lots of beer!”