Allow me to start this interview by thanking you for giving me the opportunity to ask you some questions for this website. I deeply appreciate this. Please, introduce yourself to our readers.
Hi my name is Reni, I play guitar and keyboards for “Cnoc An Tursa” I’m 1 of the founding members of the band.
I’d like to congratulate you on the release of The Giants of Auld, which, in my modest opinion, is one of the best albums of 2013. Were you expecting it to be so praised by the critics and the fans?
We always had a fairly decent fan base at home so we knew we were doing something right. We didn’t foresee our signing to Candlelight, this signing brought us a wave of exposure overseas so it’s great to see our own and Candlelights efforts pay off with such great press and reviews. I’m really pleased all the hard work paid off and the fans enjoy the album much as we do playing it.
The band was formed in 2006, you released an Untitled demo in 2008 and then the début full-length album The Giants of Auld in 2013, with songs recorded in different years. Could you briefly or not so briefly, depending on your mood, tell us a bit about how the band was formed as well as why did you take this amount of time to release the demo and then the début? Well worth await, I should add.
The band was originally formed by Alan Buchan & I, it was a recording project to begin with, the 1st song I wrote was actually Hail Land of my Fathers which goes right back to 2006! A live line-up was put together around a year or so after.
In a nut shell “The Giants of Auld” is a collection of songs written between 2006-2008, we didn’t have much success on the label front until Chris Naughton of Winterfylleth put in a good name for us to the chaps over at Candlelight records. It’s also worth noting that the album was recorded around 4-5 time’s in the space of 2 years in its entirety at various studios with different producers. We were unhappy with the results and it took a while to get things right, suffice it to say a lot of lessons were learned and it’s not the kind of mistakes we will make in the future.
For the following days to come, what are your main plans concerning Cnoc An Tursa? Are you already working on some new songs, planning a new album, touring?
We have about 4 songs written and pre recorded for the next album, the album will likely go under the title “The ‘Forty-Five” it’s a concept album based on The Jacobite rising of 1745, which was the attempt by Charles Edward Stuart to regain the British throne for the exiled House of Stuart, and recreate an absolute monarchy in the Kingdom of Great Britain. Touring for 2014 is on the back burner at the moment while we write and record the 2nd album.
Back to the band’s sound. Your music is catchy, but yet dark and melancholic. The atmosphere is amazing. It’s so hard for us, the listeners, to find new bands that are innovative and memorable. I strongly believe that this applies completely to Cnoc An Tursa. How hard was for you to create these songs and, in your opinion, what does a band have to do to stand out among so many others?
It wasn’t difficult, writing music is a very natural process for me, I’ve been playing guitar for around 15 years now and it’s really all down to the influences and techniques I have picked up from other bands and guitarists throughout the years. I’m self-taught which is believe is crucial for any musician who wants to develop their own unique style/blend for writing songs.
For any musician/band to stand out they must write from the heart, there are so many band wagon jumpers, bands who are writing songs all based around the same formula as one another, in my opinion the new metal scene was a classic example of this, I tend not to follow the metal scene these day’s and only follow a selected number of bands.
In addition to the previous question, do you feel any sort of pressure to create a follow-up to a very successful and praised album?
There was pressure to begin with but now we have made a dent on the 2nd album I can honestly say the songs areon another level compared to the 1st album, the musician ship and song writing are more focused/stronger, we have developed new ideas for writing and the music is more fluent than before.
Both musically and lyrically, tell us what influences the band when it comes to creating your art.
The 1st album musically was inspired by Diabolical Masquerade & early Ancient“The Cainian Chronicle era”I Don’t think the listener would necessarily tag us in with the above it was always important right from the beginning to maintain our own stamp on our sound . The lyrics on “The Giants of Auld” are old Scottish poems from such renowned poets like Rabbie Burns and Sir Walter Scott, we felt it was a fresh direction which emphasized the songs emotionally and strongly rooted them to Scottish history.
I’ve read an interview with the band in which it was stated that you were not really interested in the traditional Scottish folk music. Has this changed over the years? The intro song of The Giants of Auld is a Jacobite song, do you intend to still use this sort of influence in future releases?
We are more interested with the historical side of Scotland than the musical side. The intro “The piper o Dundee” was a last minute thing, something that wasn’t necessarily intended, sort of an off the bat idea that worked at the time. I don’t personally take any direct influence from old Scottish music. That being said I’m intending to completely cover an old Jacobite song for the next album, I haven’t looked into this as of yet but it’s an idea I believe will fit in nicely in the 2nd album, it being a Jacobite concept album n all!
It’s a wide-known fact that Scotland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, filled with breathtaking landscapes and history. Please, describe to us a bit about the region you live as well as some historical and or mythical events surrounding it.
I’m very patriotic; I believe Scotland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I actually spend most of my spare time site seeing or visiting historical landscapes, castles, monuments. My latest venture took me to the stunning Rosslyn Chapel which with its current status is being branded one of the most mysterious places in Scotland, this is the very chapel used in the movie the Da Vinci Code. I’m a Falkirk bairn born and bred, the outro track “Blàr na h-Eaglaise” is actually a homage to the battle of Falkirk which was one of the major battles in the First War of Scottish Independence. Led by King Edward I of England, the English army defeated the Scots, led by William Wallace.
Edinburgh, sometimes referred to as “The Haunted Capital” has always fascinated me and is home to some world known locations & legends such as Mary King’s Close, Sawney Bean, The tourist terrorising Mackenzie poltergeist, Greyfriars bobby. We are actually intending to cover most of these legends on our 3rd album.
How do you feel about the work done by Candlelight Records so far? Are you satisfied with it? I’ve been interviewing many bands that are self-releasing their albums and some of them even prefer not to be on a label. What do you think about this? In your opinion, what are the main advantages and disadvantages to be on a label roster?
The guys @ Candlelight are great and really got us some good press and coverage. We have fans all over the world now whereas before we were really just known in the underground UK metal scene.
Without Candlelight backing us we would have been unable to reach so many listeners, it’s also worth mentioning Candlelight’s fantastic roster of bands like Winterfylleth, Wodensthrone & Falloch.
I can’t think of any disadvantages, I’ve heard all the horror stories of major labels fuckin bands over or controlling the bands creative direction and screwing them over financially but that’s not something we need worry about.
As a Scottish person you might enjoy whisky. I’m not aware of that, but I don’t think this can be considered a stereotype or anything like that. We are talking about a national treasure and a historic product. If you do so, as I’m a lover of it, please, state your favorite “brands” and regions.
Good question, I love whisky! My favourites are Speyside whiskies like Aberlour, Macallan, Glenlivet, Balvenie and Glen Moray. I also like Highland Park from Orkney but to be honest to you can’t go wrong with a malt as they are all good
And we come to the end of this conversation. One more time I’d like to thank you very much for taking your time to talk about your band. I wish you the best in the future. Do you have any last words for our readers?
Thanks Markus, I can confirm we will be aiming for a release around 2015 with a few European festival dates in the pipe lines to follow. Fans can follow us on https://www.facebook.com/cnocantursa
ReniMay 14, 2014