Interview by Miriam C.
For the second time we give space to one of the last metal sensation of these years : Eluveitie. We asked to the singers and instruments players Chringel Glanzmann & Anna Murphy some news about their recent new album “Helvetios” and his concept behind. Enjoy!
Hi Chrigel and Anna, how are you?? I hope all allright!!! And thanks for reply at our questions!
Anna: Hey there! Fine, thank you. And that’s no problem, thank you for the interview.
Ok, let’s get delve into the brand new album “Helvetios”. How was the genesis of this album, when you have started to compose it?
Chrigel: The idea of doing a concept album about the so-called gaulish wars we had quite a while ago. Somewhen in summer 2010 I started working on the concept for the album. I started composing the single songs somewhen in winter 2010, but most of the songs actually emerged in spring/summer 2011 though. I worked closely together with our guitar player Ivo. He’s an amazing composer of awesome riffs.
First of all what’s means the word “Helvetios” and is related to the lyrics inside the album?
Chrigel: “Helvetios” is basically the name of the celtic tribe that inherited the area of todays Switzerland: The Helvetians. The album tells the story of the gaulish wars – from the Helvetians perspective.
How’s recording an album with a great legend like Tommy Vetterli? Is like a mentor, a friend or a little despotic (XD I’m joking now hahaha) ?
Anna : If somebody would have told me 7 years ago that I’d be talking to Tommy Vetterli on the phone on a regular basis I would have freaked out, haha. I’ve always been a huge Coroner fan so I was thrilled and a little nervous at first to record an album with him. We were quite overwhelmed by his perfectionism, the guy has insanely good ears and you can imagine that that can create quite a problem for him when dealing with tons of folk instruments that simply aren’t perfectly in tune all the time. But soon enough we could work together really well and we got to know him as one of the nicest and funniest guys we’ve ever met. We’re still good friends and spent some fun times on the 70’000 tons of metal cruise together. And more importantly, “Helvetios” is our best sounding album, I’m sure we will be faithful to Tommy for a while!
I really liked the historical in-depth explanation that you have published on Facebook and get me to assumethat “Helvetios” is a concept because I’ve seen quite a connection between the 2 lyrics. Who were the Helvetians and firstly when you have decided to focus on these topic? Also are a lot of historical infos that you have provided, where did you got it? You should have an encyclopaedia at home!
Anna: “Helvetios” tells the harrowing chronic of the Gaulish war. But it’s not just a chronological account of this terrible war, the album tells the story from the viewpoint of the Helvetians, a Celtic tribe. This wasn’t a very simple task, since history is mostly written by those who triumphed in war which in this case was the Roman empire, Gaius Julius Caesar to be exact. Most of what we know about the Gaulish war nowadays stems from Caesar’s transcripts and that these do not convey the full truth is pretty obvious and also confirmed by historians. His scripture “De Bello Gallico” is political propaganda for his benefit to a great extent in which home and family defending Gauls become “belligerent barbarians” and sheer genocide over Gaulish tribes become “glorious battles” that were fought by Roman legions “heroically to protect the Roman people.” So you can see it’s not an easy undertaking to portray the Gaulish war as Helvetians (Gauls) would have. We still tried and cooperated with scientists to question historiography and let historical and archeological findings influence us in writing the album. But we also just let simple emotions and feelings speak by imagining what it really must have been like back then.
I’m getting so really curious about the various goddess and god workshipped by the Helvetians. Excluding Epona, who totally hit me, are you able to give us more cultural insights about this population?
Chrigel: First of all we have to face the fact that we don’t know too much about the Celts religions today. All we can base on are historical literature on one hand (which is partly very vague) and archeological evidence on the other hand. The existence of diverse gods (such as Epona) is documented by the latter. All across Gaul there were small Epona temples found. Regarding this goddess there’s also one note in historical literature, stating that there were usually fresh cut roses or rose petals offered to Epona in those little temples (that’s also where the song title comes from, btw).
According to Facebook – “Helvetios is a concept album about the gaulish war (58-50 B.C.), the story of the war being told in a chronological timeline.” – can you, somehow, explain the chronological timeline referring to the songs titles’?
Chrigel: To be honest, I seriously think that this would break the mold of an interview – it would be a bit too much (unless you’re planning to publish an 8 page Eluveitie feature, haha ;)). But yeah, the story of the gaulish war is actually well documented and publicly accessible. So, just check a good scientifical book on the gaulish wars. If you’re familiar the story of the gaulish wars, the song titles will make a lot of sense. 😉
Talking instead about the cover album is really simple, white and black a badge. What’s stands for? Who representing? And why opt for so simply cover? (You know, that badge remembers me a lot the Aurum from the 1984’s “The Neverending Story” film, never watched it?)
Chrigel: Haha, yeah I’ve seen the movie, when I was a kid. Well, the album cover just shows a traditional helvetic ornament, which has been found through archeological excavations (it was chased in a golden fibula). So, it basically represents the celtic tribe of the Helvetians. The black, simple cover forms kind of a “book cover”, you know. The inside of the (btw quite extended) booklet pretty much elaborated. The idea behind the album artwork was to create something like a volume of art photography. You know, to create pictures as they would have occurred if a gifted art photographer – such as Andre Kertesz or Henri Cartier-Bresson – would have been there, 2000 years ago, and documented the events of the gaulish wars photographically.
Now for Anna only, which are the vocal part that you have enjoyed recording the most on the latest Eluveitie album? Also, not so time ago, you have joined Nucleus Torn, how happened and how you’ll manage it?
Anna: That’s a difficult question, I enjoyed everything of course. But in a different way, maybe. “A Rose for Epona” is probably the most difficult (and high as f***) thing I’ve ever undertaken, so my singing was taken one step further just by recording this song I’d say. “The Siege” is something completely new which was a lot of fun, but made me lose my voice completely for two days, haha. I guess I still enjoyed “Alesia” the most though, because I probably improvised more than half of my parts in the studio and Chrigel and I were still working on arrangements right before recording them… I really like doing things spontaneously. Yeah, Fredy asked me quite a long time ago if I’d like to do some guest vocals on his new album. We noticed that we work together very well and have similar tastes, so it came naturally that I joined as an official member. We’re going to compose new stuff together very soon and I’m looking forward to it! I’ll manage somehow, of course Eluveitie is Nr. 1, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be creative with other projects, I just don’t have all the time in the world.
Chrigel, running down the list of the line-up and the instrument played I notice that you’re playing the gaita too. I’ve never heard of it, can you explain its peculiarities?
Chrigel: Hmmm, check: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galician_gaita 😉 The gaita is just a bagpipe. We’re using diverse kinds of bagpipes in our music and among others also the galician gaita. It’s a rather simple bagpipe. But really love it’s sound and also the way it can be played (it allows much more “emotional” expression than a scottish bagpipe for example).
The band started as a merely studio project, Chrigel, when have you “understood” that Eluveitie was evolving into a proper live metal band?
Chrigel: To be honest – the only reason I formed Eluveitie as a mere studio project at first, was because I couldn’t find dedicated fix members for a band back then. You know, back then the combination of folkmusic and metal was not common at all, there was no folk metal scene or something like that. It was new, unknown and most people considered it a pretty weird, crazy and pointless idea. But yeah, actually it has always been my wish and idea of have Eluveitie as a proper live band – which was possible later then, fortunately. 🙂
In your opinion(s) where lies the differences between “Everything Remains as It Never Was” and “Helvetios”? What is the step towards a musical evolution that you have accomplished on this last album?
Anna: I don’t know Chrigel’s opinion on this one, but I would never think about differences between albums. We just write music, do what we feel sounds good and if it sounds different from the last album, well so what? We don’t care or think about these things. At least I don’t, haha. I mean, our music has always been very diverse, though still creating a solid entity. That’s what Eluveitie is.
Will be a an “Evocation II” in the near future?
Chrigel: There will be “Evocation II” for sure. But I can’t say if it will come in near future or not (well, regarding the fact that we’re just about to release a full studio album and thus we just started a world tour that will keep us on the road for at least 12 months, it’s actually not very likely that “Evocation II” will happen in NEAR future ;)).
Anna, can you talk more about ThruByRed and Fräkmündt I must presume that are some other bands beside Eluveitie and Nucleus Torn. And by the way congratulations for being so diverse in your tastes, for being so really young (me and you we have tha same age hahaha) you rock.
Anna: Hey cool that you checked out my other projects, thanks! Well, Fräkmündt is my other band. It’s Swiss traditional folk music, but still has a rather dark, atmospheric and sometimes even modern touch to it. We’re all really good friends and do exactly what our music sounds like, we hike in the mountains for hours or days and then go get wasted somewhere and talk for hours from philosophical debates to complete and utter nonsense. I play the hurdy-gurdy, flute and acoustic bass, do some vocals and composing. ThruByRed started shortly after I joined Fräkmündt. Christoph Ziegler (who is also in Fräkmündt and apart from that the man behind Vinterriket, Atomtrakt, Nebelkorona etc.) and I really hit it off when we got to know each other and pretty much immediately decided to start an electronic project together. The plan was for it to just sound completely weird and have all sorts of musical elements and confusing lyrics in it. I think we managed pretty well, ThruByRed was born!
Well, guys I think we’re at the end do you have any last consideration about your next projects?
Anna: We’re touring our asses off this year to promote “Helvetios”, that’s project Nr. 1! Then, I guess we’ll see what’s next.
Chrigel: Yeah… couldn’t add anything to that. 🙂
Just greet as you want your fans and our readers. Thanks so really much for everything! Hugs, Miriam x
Anna: Cheers to our fans and readers! You guys rock! And thank you Miriam for the cool interview and your interest!
Chrigel: Yep! Thanks! And see you on the road! Cheers
Photos by Manuel Vargas