An Interview with Celtachor…
Hello over there. I’d like to thank you very much for taking your time to answer this interview. Well, Celtachor has just released, for the press, the new album named “Nuada of the Silver Arm”. As you know, I’ve already reviewed it and was impressed with the work. Please, tell us a bit about the album, how was the recording and composition process as well as how has been the reaction from the ones that had the pleasure to listen to it?
Anais: Hi there, thanks for the interview and the review! We are very excited to hear what people think of our new album, I think we really dramatically evolved (and I hope improved) since the last album. The writing process changed, as we are now a solid complete band (our second guitarist Fionn joined us when we were already writing the first album). Daithi and Fionn learnt to write together, Fionn brought the bigger part of the riffs on this new album, and we heavily kept Daithi’s influence on each track. We also recorded this new album in a real studio with a real sound engineer this time around, and by doing this, even if we killed ourselves money-wise, it was incredibly worth it. We also all improved individually as musicians, I am really proud of the guys, really proud to be part of this band. People are only starting to hear it now, it’s scary and exciting, it has been hugely positive so far.
David: To be honest we haven’t let anybody else hear any part of it. We kept it to ourselves and listened until we where all in agreement that this is the work we wanted to put out. You maybe the first person outside the band and label to actually hear it which is kinda scary.
Fionn: It was much more professionally this time, though in saying that I’m sure we can improve on this in the future! Usually we have the subject matter (concept) to work from before we get the music, we look at the lyrics too, though personally for me, the general ‘theme’ of what we’re trying to achieve is more helpful than looking directly at lyrics. So far the reviews are positive, I look forward to seeing the general reaction when it’s released!
In a way connected to the previous question; Celtachor has been inspired by Irish Mythology. Tell us about your personal favorite sagas and, for those that haven’t checked your work yet, which of them you have used as a base, as a background to your story-telling?
Steve: There are so many to choose from, but for me one of my favorite stories is of Finn Of The Fianna from his early training as a child to become the warrior he became leading the Fianna. A true epic in every sense of the word! For anyone who is interested in Irish mythology I would advise them to look in books like The Tain, Gods and Fighting Men by Lady Gregory : They are a great starting point to the sagas and mythologies.
Anais: It’s hard to choose, personally my favourite stories are the Children of Lir, and Cùchulainn. I would love to cover those some day.
Fionn: I would love to do a concept regarding one of the aspects of the Irish Triple Godess, known as the Crow or The Morrigan, great potential there for dark atmospheres! We’ve touched on certain deities like Lugh, the Daghda (Father-God), Balor, and I think we’re going to look at Mannanan Mc Lir in the future.
We all know that Ireland resumes to a leprechaun, a shamrock and the St. Patrick’s Day… no, I’m just kidding, I know how this “simple image” of Ireland upsets you and I agree that it should. I’m the kind of person that enjoys talking about the band’s nation cultures and since we’re already talking about it, enlighten us more about it. I know there are several aspects and it would be a huge answer, or even an essay, but the main aspects that interest you and the band and you believe most non Irish people aren’t aware of them. It can be about historical facts, legends, nature, whatever you’d like to talk about.
Steve: The very reason Celtachor came into being was to promote and showcase Irish Mythology to those who may have never looked into our roots before. We wanted to create this music and atmosphere that would do our retelling of the stories justice without gimmicks and falseness. Just a honest interpretation of our love of the stories and sagas. The sooner our country realizes that we have something worth celebrating than the gimmick crap that gets force fed yearly (St Patricks Day etc) There is more to being Irish than getting hammered drunk day in,day out.
Anais: I left France 7 years ago already to come live here in Ireland. There is something unusual about this place, there is a feel about it. The land is green and beautiful, the sky is grey, it’s cold, it’s dark, it’s amazing. Each area have their legends, their castles, their old family stories, their music, and obviously there is the huge Irish Mythology. And the people are so different! The people of Ireland have been poor for a very long time, they have been hit by sickness, famine and war so many times. They keep something from it, they enjoy very simple pleasure, simple food, they are kind to each other, family is extremely important to them, a lot more than where I am from.
Fionn: One word: Commercialism! That’s all it is. There are so many great stories written down from our past that are left practically unheard, especially in this modern, digital age and the death of storytelling or keeping of ancient traditions. We see the band as a way to re-tell these stories in a new way, to a new audience and hopefully keep them somehow relevant in modern society.
Back to the music. Ireland is the home of some great Celtic Metal bands such as Primordial, Cruachan and Mael Mórdha. What I find interesting is that you can sense a connection of your music to some their music, but you don’t simply sound like them or are a clone, you have your own sound. I’ve checked your previous works after the review I mentioned and concluded that the band has improved a lot. How do you guys work when you decide to release an album? How do you manage to do that, I mean, to be creative, Celtic, and differ yourself from the other bands? And what should a band do to stand out from all of the others?
David: We are friends with the other bands, its kind of a small knit community, We respect each others work. The guys have been around a lot longer than us and any advice they give is greatly received. In regards to individuality in our sound, cloning them would actually be harder than you think, for example if you listen to the rhythm’s in Primordial’s “As Rome Burns”, the dominating feelings that comes from Mael Mordha’s “The Struggle Eternal”,that stuff is not easy to do, there is a feeling and energy they create that you just can not copy. I guess as well we each have our own imagining of Irishness about us which influences how we write and create.
Anais: Thank you! I think our creative process makes the difference. Stephen decides what the concept of the next album will be, among the tales of Irish Mythology, then we separate the concept in tracks. From that point Fionn and Daithi start writing, and they will aim to create the right emotion for each part of the tale: if it’s a battle, it will be faster and angry, if it’s a death it will be as sad as we can make it etc. It probably helps that we have a lot of different influences inside the band too, Daithi and Oli prefers catchy groovy riffs, whereas Fionn, Stephen and I are more into dark and ambient sound. It’s all about making the music for the music, not to try to guess what people will buy.
Fionn: I think there is a certain “Stoic-ness” to being Irish than doesn’t exist in many of our European counterparts, and for better or worse, it does manifest itself in our music, and the general aesthetic of ‘Irish bands’. I don’t think I could point at any one element and say “This is what makes us sound Irish”, but there definitely is something there. You’ve mentioned Primordial in the question, perfect example; “There is a darkness here, you cannot imagine, you cannot fathom”. Personally, I don’t even think about “trying” to be different or original, I think that comes from writing from the heart.
Steve: To put it simply there would have been no point to copy anyone else out there, it was either do our own music and style or don’t bother. I would say we are more Irish, Gaelic than anything predominantly Celtic although there is a connection there in our name. I am glad people can hear a difference between ourselves and the aforementioned, we are good friends with many of the bands here. I am the new singer of Mael Mordha so it is good to have another project to work with as well.
Related to the previous question, one problem for many bands… I’ve read an interview, I really can’t remember with which musician, unfortunately, in which was stated that everything, meaning full-length albums, is in a click away. All that matters now, concerning music, are the first thirty seconds impression and that many people don’t give themselves enough time to discover music. What’s your view on this? Do you believe that people are a bit “lazy” to actually get to know and enjoy new and good music?
David: It doesn’t work like that for us. Ok I can write a catchy hook and try sell a hole albums worth from that but it would be boring as hell to play it live every night for the rest of my life. I like to think that all our music can stand alone and yet together at the same time. Each track is its self a story on its own yet when its together with the rest of the album or in a setlist it works together.
Anais: If it is the case it is very sad. We cannot do anything about it, we are not going to change our music to fit “lazy listeners” tastes. I hope it’s not like that though!
Fionn: I think it’s true, there’s absolutely 0 mystery or excitement about finding a new band anymore. It’s all on youtube or some other streaming website, I think there is a Brian Eno quote about every modern artist being essentially a “compilation” artist; If someone doesn’t enjoy your music within the first 30 seconds they change, and change, and change until they find something suitable. I remember walking into a CD shop and choosing an album based on the cover alone, not knowing who they were and just taking it home, putting it on and absorbing the atmosphere. It just doesn’t seem to work that way now-a-days.
Steve: Lazyness is here to stay sadly, for me Cds were always my favorite purchase.When bands put time into their booklet and their package they actually cared about what they put out. It was great, a handful still do of course,but this digital age has done more harm than good from what I have seen. I can’t see it getting better either, when music by and large is seen as disposable by some younger metal/music fans.
Still about music and influences and about your music itself. What drives you to compose music, the music that you create? Is there a stronger force that influences you and your music? How did you get into the musical style that you play and what drove you to listen to extreme music?
David: Im considered the old rocker of the group and thats cool, I grew up with two older brothers playing Metallica, Megadeth, Accept, Dio and Ozzy during the 80’s so when it came to myself learning to play music thats how I learned, from what I knew and what I heard. There is no dough it influenced my playing but also band like Immortal, Mastodon, Gojira, SYL have brushed off on my playing style. For what we where creating for Celtachor did go through a long process of trial and error, Stephen and myself at first wrote an demo and listened back to its recordings and picked out what we though really worked and started over again . I think “In The Halls…” for myself let me focus on the raw aspect of the music, “Nine Waves From The Shore” brought more constructive writing and epicness to the song and now with “Nuada Of The Silver Arm” I can hear an atmosphere which is clearly our own influence.
Anais: as for any kind of art, we make music to create emotions, to scream out something. Extreme music as you call it, has something stronger than other types of music, in some cases. It’s not enough by itself though, we need to listen to all kind of music. I think the more you listen and write music, the more you get sensible to it, and the more you need it.
Fionn: I don’t think I can point at any one thing to say “This is why I write music”, I just do, and it’s not really about what bands I listen to, I just feel a need inside to express something, and it’s been that way since I really started to gain an overall consciousness since the age of 12 or 13. As for extreme Metal music, I was (and still am) attracted to the honesty that resides there, it’s becoming increasingly hard to find these days.
Steve: Music keeps me sane and I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t perform or play music to some degree, it is a total obsession but it is one of the greatest gifts a person can give themselves and to others. I have made my best friends through music and it has never let me down.
How important are the cover-arts as well as the booklets for the band? And how do you choose the cover-arts for each album? Is it hard to “get” an image that completely integrates with what your work represents? There’s a very interesting explanation for Nuada of the Silver Arm’s cover art. Could you share with us? Well, if you haven’t already on the previous questions! Hehe.
Anais: I did the last album’s cover and the new one’s, I usually come up with a composition for it and share it with the guys, they usually are happy with it, and I get painting. I love to do this for my band! The new album’s cover features Nuada in the centre, at this stage of the story, he was the Tuatha’s King, and lost his kingship when his arm was cut off during the first battle of Magh Tuireadh, as the Tuatha’s tradition and law demands that the king as to have a perfect health and body. The kingship went to Bres who is a tyrant to his people. Nuada gets a silver arm made for him by his druid Cecht, he is now watching his silver arm in the Fires of Teamhair. The flames features the faces of the three goddesses of Ireland, Fódla, Banba and Ériu, and are too bright and hot for the rest of his people at the back, but he stands strong before it.
Fionn: I think it’s extremely important! Anais did a fantastic job on the cover art and booklet of NOSA, it’s going to be great to finally see a booklet printed (we didn’t get to do that last time because we couldn’t afford it). For me it’s almost a part of the music itself.
Nine Waves from the Shore was an independent release. Now, with Nuada of the Silver Arm, you have the support of a label, Trollzorn Records. Please, let us know how satisfied you are so far with their work as well as state which were the positive aspects of being signed to a label and the negative ones, if there’s any in Celtachor’s case.
David: I see a lot of the bands on the label, they work hard for their music and the Label supports them 110%. We spent a lot of time in conversation with Trollzorn and I think they can see that just like them we have a passion for what we are doing. This is the first time we have had this kind of support, before hand it was just the band promoting and at the head of it Stephen who really did an amazing job beating people over the head to get them to listen to us ha ha.
Anais: Being signed to a label is a first to all of us, we are going to discover what it truly means very soon, as we are just after releasing this album. So far being with them already got us an amazing gig in Germany at Dark Troll Fest. We can see already a bit how powerful this is, we see our album on pre sale on a lot of websites all over the world. We know we will get promotion in magazines and that kind of things, but we are at the beginning of it. It’s very exciting. Also seeing our band on the same label than Menhir, Obscurity and Cruachan… it’s a big deal for us!
Fionn: It’s fantastic that we have support regarding printing, advertising and distribution. We worked hard on all this before, but with the label behind us, it just makes it that little bit easier. The guys are absolute heros and extremely friendly and supportive, it’s great for us to be involved with a label and all the other bands signed.
This is one usual/ standard question, but I think that it’s always needed to be asked for a better promotion of the band. What are the future plans for Celtachor? Any tours or festivals? What are the main goals that you have with the band, now that you’ve been signed to a label?
Anais: We would love to tour and gig, we are asking for it everywhere, the difficulty is financial. Being on an island, it’s very expensive for us to pay our way to almost anywhere, and we are broke, especially after paying for our recording/mixing/mastering of our album. We will give it all we have though, I hope our new album will bring us there! We are also starting to write the next album, we have to many new ideas to keep waiting any longer.
David: Im currently looking after bookings for the band and we have a few dates coming up soon, Supporting Skyforger in Dublin May 1st and the next day we are in the Netherlands to support Heidevolk at there album launch. I would really like for us to get out and play a lot of gigs this year so if promoters are interested in us they should feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
I have some Seinfeld moments that I saved for questions, just to lighten up the interview. Among my favorite ones is this: Seinfeld, Kramer, George and Elaine decided to bet on whom of them could go the longest without masturbating. The winner, or how they say, “the person that would be able to control the ‘urges’”, would be called “Master of Your Domain” and get US$ 350. If the same happened with Celtachor, who do you think would be the “master of your domain” and why?
David: Ha ha ha Great i’ve walked in to this one. I gave up smoking recently so my will power is channeled in to maintaining that at the moment so yeah I play guitar to keep my hands busy….. ill let you figure out the rest ha ha ha
Anais: Oh my Saytan that’s some question! None would get a penny, we’ve no money left to bet on anything dude! Let’s say Daithi would be the winner, he is getting old you know…
Fionn: I’ve already lost… ;P
I always ask the musicians I interview their personal life, but, nothing intrusive, of course. It’s just that I believe that many fans would like to know a bit more about the artists they admire. I just wanted you to, please, share with us some of your main passions outside music, be it about cinema, literature, travelling, studies, some of your hobbies, if you have any, your favorite activities when not playing music.
David: I’m kind of a history buff, things like that interest me. I was recently in Prague for a weekend of beer and slobbering over Czech history ha ha.
Anais: I’m lucky, my other passion is my job, I’m a professional artist, I work for films and big agencies.
Fionn: I love reading, Tolkien, George R. Martin and Robert Jordan to name a few. I’m also in my final year of college studying music and Sound Engineering/Design, it would be fantastic to get a job in this area when I’m finished, if you know anyone, give me a plug!
Steve: Mainly music and art and more music hehe, painting,traveling. I read a hell of a lot from Fantasy to History/Mythology/Folklore about three books a week. I am also totally obsessed with Coffee/Tea.
And so we reach the end of this interview. I hope you have enjoyed it as well as the readers. I also would like to wish you and the band all the best in your plans. Do you have any words for our readers?
David: Thank you for your time and thank you for listening to our new album. To any people reading this and that may never of heard us i’d ask them to give our music a listen. If they like it let us know if they dont, they dont.
Anais: Thank you for this, I hope the readers will enjoy the new album… We worked hard for it, please give it more than 30 seconds of your time 🙂
Fionn: Thank you for taking the time to check us out, I’m looking forward for people to hear our new album, I think it people will really enjoy it! 😉
Steve: Thanks to everyone who has supported us so far! Really appreciated! Cheers for the interview Marcus!
March 24, 2015