– Hello, thanks for taking the time. What’s the band currently up to?
Hey there – no problem at all. Right now we are getting ready and prepared for our mini tour of Latin America, we have never played there so we are really looking forward to it. We have also started writing for the next album, way ahead of schedule and so far things are sounding very interesting.
– First off, I hope you don’t mind to start making some history of CRUACHAN.
Well, we started when we were just kids really back in 1992. I was a big Tolkien fan and decided to start a band singing about Middle Earth / Lord of the Rings etc. We were called Minas Tirith. I then started adding folk music into the metal music we were doing and adopted a more black metal approach. After only a few months the lyrical theme changed to suit the folk music we were using so we changed the name to Cruachan. We recorded a demo and were signed to Nazguls Eyrie Productions in 1994 and released our debut in early 1995. The debut was really original – nothing like this had ever been done so we attracted attention from big labels like Century Media – unfortunately due to bad management etc nothing ever happened and we broke up for about 1 year getting back together in 1998 to record our 2nd album – The Middle Kingdom – with Hammerheart Records.
– Why the name “Cruachan»?
We took that name because it suited perfectly what we were doing. It is a Celtic name which means the entrance to Tír na nÓg, but also – When Christianity arrived in Ireland they told the native people here that it as the entrance to hell – a fitting name for a Celtic black metal band.
– And what are the band’s main musical influences?
We take our influences from everything and nothing I guess. At the beginning there was noting really out there that could influence us, we had Skyclad’s first album which dabbled with a few folky bits – but nothing much. An Irish band called Horslips were a huge influence to be honest. They were a 70’s rock band that mixed Irish folk music – really original and way ahead of their time.
– Your latest «Blood on the Black Robe» was released just a few months ago; how has been its feedback? Both from the fans and press.
It has been really great, we were very worried that a lot of the reviews would say our change was bad and we should have replaced Karen and continued with a full female vocals. Obviously there were some reviews like that but mostly reviewers are really appreciating what we have done and our reasons behind doing it!
– And what does «Blood on the Black Robe» mean? I also mean how is it connected with the main concept behind this record.
Well, there are a few songs on this album that are anti-christian in their theme and Blood on the Black Robe is probably the more explanatory, has more of a story in it so we used that songs title to represent the entire album. It refers to the Black robe that early priests would have worn and the blood is from the huge stab wound in the priests face haha.
– Anyway, I would like you to share some light on the lyrical content in this effort and what do inspire your lyrics.
As mentioned above we have a lot of anti-christian songs on this album. I am 100% fine with Christian people, a lot of my friends are catholic but I do have a problem with blind faith, saying you are a catholic because that is all you have ever known etc. I think its important for people to understand their religion and their beliefs if they are to be taken seriously. People need to know about the atrocities carried out by the Christian church. We also have the songs you would expect from Cruachan about Irish history / mythology.
– Your lyrics, as your sound, has always been quite influenced by Celtic/Irish folklore so; how important is your land for CRUACHAN?
Very important, that is the basis for our music, image, lyrics – everything. Although I do feel I have the freedom to break away from that aswell and always have one or two songs on an album that are a little different, like the JRR Tolkien stuff we do.
– Have been 5 years since your previous «The Morrigan’s Call» and this new CD; what were you up to during that time?
There was mainly a lot of personal real life things happening with a lot of us in the band which made Cruachan suffer. But – these things are all sorted now so we can dedicate more time and effort to the band and we will never again allow such a long time between albums!!
– I could say this «Blood on the Black Robe» is quite different from your previous pieces; has this had something to do with those years between each album or did everything just flow naturally? Is this a natural progression for you?
It is 100% natural, you can here the more extreme feeling coming back into our sound on The Morrigans call, when Karen decided to leave the band it actually suited us because I could then continue as main vocalist in the old school extreme style, such as on Tuatha Na Gael.
– Due to this I would like to know how was the song writing process this time.
For Blood on the Black there was more involvement from the rest of the band, usually the song writing process was down to me and me alone but now it is much better. I still write most of the riffs and melodies but there is also contributions from the others. When we are putting things together it is the whole band that gets together and decides, democratically, what works and what does not. I always write the lyrics after the music is finalised.
– After Karen left the band; have you thought about having another female singer?
No, As soon as she told me her plans I made a decision there and then that I would go back to being main vocalist and we would use guest
vocalists for live and future albums.
– You have signed with Candlelight Records; how did you hook up with them? How positive is for you as a band working with such a well-known label?
I have known Paula who runs Candlelight USA for a long time so when we recorded some demo tracks of our new stuff she was the first person I contacted. She liked what she heard, sent it to Ed the owner in the UK and we were signed pretty much right away. It is great to work with them, we have had so many nightmares over the years with labels but so far things are going great. AFM were also great but we left them for a few different reasons.
– Is difficult transport your music to a live stage?
It can be for many reasons, we don’t play live very often as we all have jobs and families so we will never reach the stage of always having our own equipment and crew etc etc We are totally dependent on the promoters to arrange everything. We also use a lot of instrumentation on our albums that we simply cannot recreate live as we do not have enough people to do this but we always give a good lively show. If you want to hear cd quality versions live, you will not – just go listen to the cd!!!
– You have been around for almost 2 decades; what have been the best and worst moments for CRUACHAN so far?
Some of the worst moments – recording Pagan, the quality being so bad then the recorded label refusing to pay the studio because it turned out so bad, then the studio threatening to take me to court – that was a bloody nightmare. Then it happened all over again with The Morrigans Call, we recorded the album then our record label went bankrupt and could not pay – again I was threatened with court, luckily AFM records stepped in to save the day!! Some of the best moments- Ah, too many haha. Meeting our fans is always the best part of any live show, its great to paly live but to actually see people appreciate what you do is a real high for me.
– And finally, what are your near-future plans?
Start writing a new album immediately and continue to tour where no Irish metal band has ever toured before!!!
– That’s all, thanks again. Now feel free to add some final words.
Dishwasher, hamster, lungs, spoon.