– Hello, thanks for dedicating us part of your time. How are you guys feeling being near to release your new album? Are you satisfied with the obtained result?
Buenos dias Tania. It’s a pleasure to be doing interviews again. It’s a relief to get the album finished and to finally get a release date. Yes, we’re satisfied. We feel we’ve achieved a better overall sound this time around which can only help the songs to shine through.
– The new album is «Kindred Spirits»; what are your expectations and what can your fans expect to hear on it?
We don’t really know what to expect, what will be will be, but it would be satisfying if Kindred Spirits pleases our fans and makes us some new ones. Hopefully the reviews are positive. It’s impossible for us to be objective as we’re too close to the music on a personal level. The songs on this album are shorter than those on Honour Amongst Chaos, the production is better and overall the sound is heavier than previously, yet retains the key elements that Waylander have become known for. I would be surprised if any of our fans are disappointed with our efforts.
– All your albums have been really well received both by the fans and press; does this make you work under more pressure or is just extra motivation?
We never create songs or albums for the press, we have to remain true to the Waylander vision, anything else would be living a lie, something which will never happen. We don’t feel any outside pressure, all the pressure is created by ourselves, it can be a positive thing and we just try to be the best we can be.
– To start getting deeper into this new effort, first of all I would like you to tell us what’s the concept behind this new offering?
Kindred Spirits is not a concept album yet common threads run through it. In a way this offering is dedicated to those who appreciate and understand our vision, to those who have stood by us when we had to navigate some troubled waters, those who are Kindred of Spirit.
– It surprised me this new record is your most aggressive opus so far. Is this how you envisioned this record since the beginning? While on the writing process, did you have a clear idea of the sound you wanted to get with your new effort?
From the beginning the word aggression was used. To us, aggression and atmosphere are the core elements and if melded carefully can create some great dynamics. The Pagan Metal scene has become so diluted and limp wrested over the years and this is something we want no part of. For every glorious summer’s day there is a violent storm, for every triumph there is tragedy, this is the way of the world and we try to reflect this in our music. At various times parts of songs were dropped or reconstructed due to a lack of atmosphere or aggression, the biggest fear we had was descending into mediocrity.
– This being said, “Kindred Spirits” seems to be more influenced by extreme Metal but still keeping Celtic elements. Was this a consciously chosen direction? Will you keep exploring this about further on future releases?
To be honest this is what we have always been working towards. The members who have been around for a long time understand this but it had to be pointed out to the newer members. It’s a balancing act, too much of one element can change the vibe of a song significantly and it is always a challenge to get the mixture just right. As for future releases, well, we haven’t made any conscious decisions on the direction just yet but I’d like to think that we will take the elements from all our albums which we feel have worked best and improve and expand upon them and maybe add something new into the mix in order to challenge ourselves
– Talking about the Folk elements, Ireland’s folklore is a really important part of all your creations I’d dare say but, how important is it actually? Is everything, from artwork to lyrics, as important as the music itself?
Well, I am the lyricist and have been from day one, so obviously I am going to say that the lyrics are important! The fact remains though that the image of the band has been fashioned by me and will always be, so the lyrics and artwork are vital to Waylander. The lyrics and the music must compliment each other on an aural level and the artwork must add the visual aspect to complete the circle. Without the three elements there would be no Waylander. We have been doing this for a very long time so it’s safe to say that it isn’t a phase. I am a practicing Pagan who has a passion for the lore and magic of my land, so it’s more than a passing interest. For example on the song Twin Fires of Beltine, I use a part of a Ritual I have used for many years to celebrate the coming of the summer and the rise of the Sun God.
– In fact I have always had the feeling all the aforementioned is really though-out on all your records, even the artwork, something that many bands seem to have forgotten about in these though years for the music industry. Do you have absolute control and freedom over the whole package of your albums?
There are far too many bands in the Pagan scene who are trend followers, they are easy to identify and as you have kindly pointed out, we are not one of them. Passion can be heard in those who truly understand and believe in what they’re doing. If we didn’t have complete artistic freedom there would be absolutely no point in doing what we do. Like I alluded to previously, complete honesty and integrity are as important as the air we breathe.
– And how did you work on the artwork for “Kindred Spirits?
It is interesting how the artwork is conceived. I have zero talent for drawing but in the past I have sent the artist a plan, using my magic stickman type drawings, haha, as well as a written explanation and luckily it has worked out for the best so far. This time around I decided to put an ad on face book asking for interested artists to contact me as many of my friends have talent in this field. Stephen Ritchie Richardson grasped the concept fairly quickly so I guided him along until his sketch tallied with my vision, then gave him free rein to complete the job. Ritchie has a degree in art but hasn’t drawn in years so it was great to get him motivated to put his talents to a good cause. He used to play guitar in a Death Metal band with my cousin who supported us at many gigs in the mid 90’s so it’s beautifully ironic.
– All this being said, how could you describe your new opus in just 3 words?
Pure Pagan Passion
– Once more you recorded the album at the Stone Circle studio; how did everything go? Why is this the best choice for the band?
We had planned to go to a well known studio in Wales this time but some problems arose meaning we had to cancel so we fell back on what we knew best. It is Dave’s studio so it took a lot of pressure off us as we weren’t on the clock nearly as much and could go home and sleep in our own bed every night. We were worried about getting a better drum and guitar sound and Dave achieved that so we’re more than pleased with his efforts. In an ideal world we would have liked to use another studio as we felt we needed an outside ear to guide us but as it turned out this wasn’t an issue. Dave was much more open minded this time around and the results speak for themselves
– “Kindred Spirits” is your first album with Tor Dennison; why did you think he was the best replacement for Hugh? And what do you think has Tor brought new to WAYLANDER?
Losing Hugh was disappointing as he is a great guitar player but when we lost him we simply continued writing the album. It wasn’t until we were confirmed for the Black trolls over Europe tour that we were forced to look hard for a replacement. Tor is an old fiend who used to play in a band with Michael back when Waylander began but had spent some years living in England and studying in America. He then moved back to my home town, so I asked him if he’d be able to commit and thankfully he agreed. The album was short just one song when we returned from tour but Tor added some parts to the few bits we had and Erdath came together Tor understands atmosphere and has been playing guitar in folk sessions recently so he will have a lot to add to our sound..
– You are considered pioneers into Folk/Celtic Metal; how do you feel about it? Since you started this scene has grown and evolved a lot; could you say has this been for the better?
Like any new scene or sub-genre there are leaders and followers, those who are true to their initial ethos and those who are dazzled by the bright lights and change their sound to elevate their profile. It’s nothing new, We have seen it in the Black metal scene when it became fashionable and the Pagan Metal scene is no different. I am certainly not a dedicated follower of the scene but I’ve heard enough to realise that there are a lot of very average bands around. To be honest we don’t care what others do, we simply stay true to ourselves and worry about ourselves first and foremost.
– Something I’m curious about is that you released your debut album with Century Media. How’s like for a new band (back when that album came out) to release the first album with one of the most important and biggest record labels in Metal?
I don’t want to be sued so I will give the diplomatic answer haha. At the time we had several very interested labels interested in signing us but when Century Media came along it was decided that we would regret it if we didn’t take the opportunity. It was not a unanimous decision within the band but we signed regardless. If I had the decision to make again I would opt for one of the more underground labels but you live and learn. We were promised many things which never materialised and it eventually led to strife within the Waylander ranks. The positives were that we were able to record in Germany with a reputable producer like Andy Classen and the fact that Century Media’s distribution was better than most other labels. It certainly helped to put our name on the Metal map.
– Finally, what the near-future plans are for WAYLANDER?
We want to get back out on the road playing live again, this is important to us. We feel that we can win a lot of new fans with our live performances but unfortunately in these uncertain financial times it’s not as easy as it once was to get shows booked.
2013 is Waylander’s 20th anniversary so I’m slowly compiling some ideas to coincide with that.
– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
Muchos gracias for the interview. I would urge people who wish to hear Pagan Metal played with passion and pride to get their hands on Kindred Spirits and come see us in the live environment where the songs take on a life of their own. I would also urge promoters to get in touch and book us some shows.
The Ancient Flame burns eternal.