"Päde and myself (Chrigel) talk about writing and recording some new Brana Keterna songs now and then. That would be fun!"
Eluveitie, one of Switzerland's most successful metal exports have this year released their sixth album 'Origins' to sensational appraise, as well as reaching #1 in the Swiss album and the U.S. Heatseekers Albums charts.
GMA therefore felt it was about time we sat down and spoke to Chrigel Glanzmann, frontman and founder of the Swiss Celtic / Melodic Death metal band. We spoke about the album, the Swiss Metal scene, how metal is become more and more appreciated, Chrigel's past bands Branâ Keternâ and Môr Cylch, and how a little help from outside the metal world goes a very long way.
By Rhys Stevenson
Hi Chrigel, as Eluveitie's sixth album 'Origins' was released 1st August 2014, could you give a brief background behind each one of the songs?
The conceptional topic of the album is Celtic mythology, aetiological tales to be more precise - the origin myths of the Gauls.
Regarding the album cover which depicts the club-shaped halo of Sucellos, what made you decide in choosing this particular god and does it relate to the album title?
Yes it does. Well, as mentioned above, “Origins” deals in-depth with Celtic mythology and spirituality. From the moment the basic idea for the album was born, it was clear to us that we wanted a very simple, maybe a little abstract and mystical album artwork. We wanted something emblematic, something that represents and expresses the lyrical content of the album symbolically. Yet it wasn't very easy to find something like that. I mean, if “Origins” was a concept album about the Catholic religion, for instance, when we could have pictured a crucifix on the cover, haha. Would have been easy. But in Celtic culture? There no such symbol which kinda stands for “Celtic mythology” or so.
I searched intensely and worked together with the University of Zurich (where I'm friends with a professor who's specialised on Celtic culture and arts). In the end it all came back to the Celtic god Sucellos. The album's dealing with aetiological tales from ancient Gaul, and in those mythological subjects Sucellos appears over and over again (even though often only in scientific theses, since divine names were not written down by the Celts – it all remains pretty mysterious). Several Sucellos statues have been found in archaeological excavations. In one of them Sucellos is depicted with kind of a “halo” - some kind of a sun-shaped half-wheel, which consists of several mallets (such as the one he usually hold in his hand).
You had Alexander Morton guest as narrator for "Origins" and "Eternity", how did this come about and what was it like working with him?
It's always amazing to work with him. Love that dude! I got to know him during the production of our last album "Helvetios" (where he also did some narrations). I was looking for a suitable narrator who is able to transport and express the right atmosphere and emotion. One day I accidentally came across the movie "Valhalla Rising" where Alexander plays the role of a shaman. The moment I heard him talking in that movie, I knew that I've found the voice I've been looking for!
'Origins' reached #1 on the Swiss Album and US heatseekers album charts, as well as reaching the top ten on the German album and UK Independent Albums Breaker charts. What was your reaction to this and do you feel metal music is steadily gaining more mainstream appreciation?
Of course we're super happy and thankful for that! I think every style of music experiences has its ups and downs if it comes to popularity. Metal music is doing quite well at the moment, I think. At least there are less mutual reservations from the "mainstream audience" than 20 years ago. ;)
Could you give us a brief history of your adjacent bands Branâ Keternâ and Môr Cylch (if both are still active)?
Both bands are not active anymore. I've been playing metal music for quite a while now. My first Death Metal band (called Sacer) was formed by myself in 1991. But I also played traditional Celtic Folk Music for many years. Môr Cylch was a traditional Irish music band I formed around 2000 or so.
Actually it was originally a kind of an attempt to form a band like Eluveitie, but it ended up becoming a purely acoustic, traditional folk band, haha.
Brana Keterna was also a folk band I formed about half a year before I formed Eluveitie. Three Eluveitie members also played in that band (Linda Suter, ex-Eluveitie; Meri Tadic, ex-Eluveitie and Päde Kistler). It was just some kind of a fun project. You know, to just play music without any (stylistic) limitations. It partly sounded pretty crazy, haha. The band never officially broke up, but it has not been for years now. But maybe we'll do something with Brana again one day. Päde and myself talk about writing and recording some new Brana songs now and then. Would be fun!
Because Eluveitie's lyrics are generally in English and sometimes Gaulish, how do you go about constructing the lyrics? From the planning to the recording stage.
Well, Eluveitie's lyrics are basically in English. Some of our songs I write are in Gaulish (probably 1 or 2 songs per album). But the use of the Gaulish language is rather a form of "artistic work" to me. It's more about giving the narration of history some more "flesh and blood". If it comes to the Gaulish language I always work together with diverse scientists - regarding the translations / reconstructions to the pronunciations.
Check out Eluveitie's new music video "King" which is taken from their latest album "Origins" below.
When not working or with Eluveitie, what do you do to pass the time? Sports? Traveling?
Honestly, there virtually is no time when I'm not working for Eluveitie. Eluveite is a 150% job! If I do have some spare time (which literally only happens every couple of months), I like to cook (haute cuisine) for instance. :) Most of us do sports / work out, but that's mostly an on-tour-activity and it's basically about staying fit and in shape. I mean, you're not getting younger, haha!
Focusing on the Swiss Metal scene as a whole, how well-appreciated is the music there? Are there any new bands fans should check out?
Eluveitie is well appreciated in the Swiss Metal scene! Of course there's this kind of "super true" underground part of the scene (usually kinda black metal-ish), which hates us for being internationally successful. But I think that's just a normal phenomenon you can observe in every country's metal scene. ;) And yes, there's a lot of really amazing metal bands in Switzerland! I'd name Blutmond, for instance (a very original avant garde black metal band including a Saxaphonist)! Anna sometimes does guest vocals for this band. They're definitely worth checking out!
As Eluveitie cover Celtic / Helvetian history and folklore, do you personally feel Eluveitie's music could be a good education tool for students studying Celtic Studies per se?
Haha, I don't know. Honestly, I think our albums can be an introduction to the subject and they partly also contain interesting stuff for people conversant and experienced with Celtic history. But if you really want to deal intensely with this matter, then go to university or at least an academic library! ;) But speaking of that, a year ago I was invited by the University of Zurich to lecture during a lecture series on the Gallic wars. It was pretty cool! :)
What plans does Eluveitie have for the rest of 2014 and into 2015?
Well, last month the "Origins World Tour" just kicked off with 30 shows in North America. October till Christmas we'll be touring Europe (including the UK). After that we'll have a break for a few weeks and then the touring will go on (South America, Eastern and Northern Europe and Russia, Asia, Australia and South Africa). The Origins World Tour will presumably keep us on the road for the next two years.
Personally speaking do you feel that Folk Metal, in specific Celtic Metal, is not greatly represented as it could be?
To be really honest - I don't know. We just do our thing, we play the music we want to play and we never really cared about if it's called Folk Metal or whatever. We hardly ever look at what's going on around us. In that sense we don't have much of a clue about the whole Folk Metal genre, honestly.
Finally are there any hello's and thank you's you wish to send out to fans, friends, etc?
Well, for me it simply remains to say "thank you!" for this interview and thanks a lot to all the readers for their interest in Eluveitie! See you on the road! We'll play in: