Greetings over there. I am very pleased to interview you for the second time. Not only I highly admire your band, but I also think you are a great human being. I also would like to thank you for answering these questions. First, I’d like to ask you to introduce yourself to our readers.
Nice to talk to you again brother. I am Keith – guitarist, vocalist and weird instrumentalist of Cruachan.
The band has stated on Facebook that the new album will contain blast-beats and that this is a rebirth of Cruachan. I can’t wait to hear it! Could you elaborate a bit about this? What can we expect from the new album?
The rebirth of Cruachan started with Blood on the Black Robe. Before that we had grown slightly stagnant just the same as the Folk Metal scene itself. The Morrigan’s Call was a great album and up to that point I believe our best. Tuatha na Gael will always be a cult classic, I can still barely remember recording it as a teenager but now as a grown man I respect what we done back in 1994. We broke new ground and new territory and helped create Folk Metal as we know it today. Then I guess we got confused. I am still very very proud of all our albums even with their myriad of problems and issues that we have always been plagued with, but its true to say we did not really know what we were or what we wanted to be. Things started to come more focused with The Morrigans Call, we were back to proper extreme metal. When Karen decided to leave, we took that as an opportunity to really do what we wanted – get back to the Black Metal roots and that is exactly what we done. We always refer to Blood on the Black Robe as our “statement of intent” and we still do, the best is truly yet to come. The new album features a whole new Cruachan, we seriously have never had this calibre of musicianship in our history. Kieran, Eric and Mauro bring so much to the new Cruachan stuff that our fans will literally shit their pants when they hear it. Mauro is an amazing drummer and one of the best in the Irish scene, Kieran comes in on second guitar, the first time we’ve ever had a full time second guitarist and this makes a huge difference both in writing and live performance. Eric is lovely too.
Lyrically speaking will this album be dark and epic like Blood on the Black Robe? Please tell us a bit about the lyrical aspect of the album, without spoiling it, of course. I believe there will be a JRR Tolkien based song as well.
Yes, still very dark, more so. We do not like the stupid happy aspect that has become so prevalent in Folk Metal. Folk music is not about that and I really get pissed off seeing all these stupid happy bands. Yes, Cruachan have had some stupid happy songs too, the odd one here and there is totally ok. Maybe living in Ireland where Folk music never died out, you actually get a chance to understand the music, I don’t know. Anyway, back to the lyrics. I have gone back to some Irish mythology based lyrics on this one which I am really happy about – totally back to the roots. We also have a song about the early days of Brian Boru, again so many people rave about the Vikings these days, we are the inverse of all that! Also some anti-church songs and a song about Beren and Luthien by JRR Tolkien.
After the release of Blood on the Black Robe and now with the recordings of Cruachan’s new album, I think we can safely talk about the work that Candlelight Records has done for you so far. How satisfied are you with it? Do you feel that the label has helped with the “popularity” of the band?
To be honest they did not do much other than release the cd, there was some small promotion but mainly was more or less fully done by us. This is not a criticism of Candlelight in any way as that is how most Record Labels work. They gave us great support with Blood on the Black Robe, they believed in the music and we respect that completely but fully believe any success that has come in the most recent years is fully down to the hard work of the band and myself as manager.
Connected to the previous question, Cruachan has toured and will be touring a lot. I believe way more than in the past. To what do you credit this? Do you believe that people (and promoters) have finally realized the importance and the quality of Cruachan? Also, please, share with us some of your touring plans.
In reality, when you consider our history and significance within the scene, even now you would still say we do not tour as often as we should. It is great that we have more tours coming up but I really do think that should be the norm. In part we have ourselves to blame, we are a band full of professionals, academics and budding tv stars (3 members appearing in Vikings tv show) so it is difficult to always find time away from our careers. We have families as well. But – we are working hard to fit more and more shows and tours around our busy schedules and in some cases, as in the past, will have stand in musicians if needed. Except for me – I am far too important hahaha.
Regarding why the interest has increased this year, it must be down to the success of the last album combined with the rich and significant history that we have. So, when the new one comes out – expect twice as much touring!!
You have been playing for over twenty years. We all know that metal bands have to face lots of hardships during its existence. Having that in mind, what is the driving force that keeps motivating you to play?
So true, we have faced so many hardships and obstacles in our history, I’ve gone over them many times before. The driving force that keeps us going is the sheer enjoyment of what we do. I love playing music and I love writing music, some of the best moments in the band are at the writing stage when small ideas take shape in a rehearsal room. It can be a very exciting and exhilarating time. Then there is playing live, that is probably the main thing that keeps us going. It is such an honour to get on stage and play to people that respect and love your music. There literally is no other feeling like it. I always think that is why movie stars, like Johnny Depp for example, also play in little small time, not really that good, bands! With all their fame and money – you still cannot “buy” the feeling of being on stage, playing music for people that love it.
And now about your connection to your nation’s past. How important does it feel for Cruachan to be in touch with your roots? And how do you feel over organized religion, especially Christianity?
Cruachan’s connection with our roots is a critical part of the band. It has always been our main concept and our main ethos. We are a very proud and nationalistic band, we love our country and its history and feel proud telling the stories from our past for people all over the world to read about.
I personally think organized religion is a sick and vile thing, possibly the worst creation of the human race. Christianity is huge money making ancient corporation, the basis of which is a guy who claimed to be son of god 2000 years ago, and people accept that blindly. Weird.
Keith, how excited are you that Morgan Freeman is joining the cast of Star Wars along with Max von Sydow and the guy that elbow touched your “fucking side” on the bus? Seriously though, are you expecting a good movie or, in my humble opinion, an abortion like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in which Indiana was raped?
Haha, stop reading my inane facebook posts. I hated that guy on the bus…and as you noted, I had to tell everyone on facebook about it. I do that haha. Anyway – yes, YES, I am expecting the new Star Wars to be amazing. I am a total Star Wars nerd, even have a large collection of original action figures. I hated the new trilogy, some bits were ok but overall it was a piling heap of balls. With the new one, the original cast, JJ Abrams at the helm, and Disney overseeing everything, yep, this will be amazing. Its funny to see Disney as a positive thing but you got to look at what they’ve been getting into in recent years. They will not allow failure!
As you can see, I want to ask you now some questions just for the fun. Keith, why do they call it “easy listening” music when it’s so hard to listen to? Did you see that black metal sheep in Norway? Do you think some black metal musician did something wrong? And what are the social obligations related to running into a one-night stand in, say, a grocery store?
I guess its easy listening because its so quiet and dull, you barely notice it. I did see that sheep but would like to see it in real life because it looks totally fake. Running into a one night stand? As in the social awkwardness of it? Hmmmm…… just say hi, and throw wool at their face!
Back to the tour subject, could share with us some of your best as well as some of your worst memories that you had playing live/touring?
Where to begin?? Some amazing memories would be when we were guests of the Irish embassy in Russia a few years back. We attended the fancy party they had at the embassy then were the main event in the Moscow St. Patricks day celebration, all really surreal. South America was also a great experience for us, it was our first time there so was very exciting. We also had a weird experience in Russia on the night train from St Petersburg to Moscow. We were making a lot of noise due to copious amounts of alcohol intake! To the point that the train was stopped and the police were called to tell us to stop. They came into our cabin with AK-47 rifles pointed at us. A quick bribe sorted them out. Meanwhile the engine part of the train was stolen by bandits, leaving all the carriages behind. Even when I tell the story today I find it hard to believe, luckily…..i captured it all on camera. One of the worst touring experiences was very recent at the Carpathian alliance festival in Ukraine. We had a bust to take us into Poland to get to Krakow airport. About a 12 hour drive. The driver could not speak English. The windows would not open except the window at the driver and it was over 40 degrees outside. We were hallucinating and passing out in the bus and the asshole driver kept shutting his window. Oh the horror of that journey. When we finally got back to Dublin we went straight on stage again for a benefit gig for a friend.
And the usual question of what do you personally enjoy doing when not working or playing music. Are you the party till die guy or do you prefer relaxing at home, watching a movie or drinking something?
I would like to be a party til I die guy but can’t afford it haha. I love movies, all kinds and love to just chill at home with a really good movie or tv show. I’m also a big time video game nerd and big into collecting video games, especially retro stuff, the sega dreamcast is still my favourite console. At the weekends I like to get out, either to the local pub for a few quiet pints of Guinness or into the rock.metal bars in Dublin city and let the hair down. I also like to kill people whenever I get the chance.
Alas we reach the end of this interview. One more time I want to thank you for this opportunity. I also would like to wish you and the band all the best. Do you have any last words for our listeners?
I have no last words, well except these words I guess, ok I do have last words – please buy cd’s or vinyl if you like the band you are listening to, that is all!May 1, 2014