HI! HOW ARE YOU? WHERE ARE YOU? I’m fine, I am currently sitting at my desk in work in Dublin, it is very hot today! ”PAGAN” IS OUT AND VERY IMPRESSIVE. ARE YOU CONTENT WITH EVERYTHING? HOW ARE YOUR FEELINGS NOW AFTER WORK IS DONE? I am really satisfied, we all feel that this is our best work to date but we were also worried that the bad production would mean people would not give the songs a chance but that is not happening. A lot of reviews are mentioning the production, saying that it should be better but they are also saying that it is a great album and that is what matters. Sure enough I have also seen some very bad reviews, mainly from people who just cant understand what folk metal is all about, I respect there opinion but if they dont understand the music they shouldnt really be reviewing a folk metal band. Oh well! FIRST OF ALL MAYBE A DULL QUESTION: WHAT DOES THE BAND NAME MEAN? Cruachan is actually a number of things…It’s an ancient royal site whose ruler was Queen Maeve who went to war against the mighty hero CuChullainn. There is also a cave there called the cave of Cruachan where at Samhain it is said to be a gateway to the Otherworld but when Christianity arrived in Ireland the Christians demonized it and claimed that it was the entrance to Hell. It is from this that we get the name Cruachan. COULD YOU TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT THE PRODUCTION PROCESS? I MUST ADMIT I AM A LITTLE BIT DISAPPOINTED WITH THE SOUND, THERE IS NOT TOO MUCH PRESSURE IN IT. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT IT? We share your opinion, we are not happy with the sound quality either, there are a number of factors that caused the bad sound, we worked in a cheap studio and we used an unprofessional producer. We hold our hands up and say that we made a mistake with the production that we will not repeat on the next album but we still feel that the songs on the album rise above the production and hold their own. HOW WAS COLLABORATION LIKE WITH COVER DESIGNER JOHN HOWE? I THINK YOU MUST BE HONOURED TO WORK WITH A LORD OF THE RINGS ARTIST. We had been in touch with John Howe for a while and we thought it would be a really cool thing if we could get him to do the cover. Luckily he was interested as he had always wanted to do a cd cover. We are delighted with the result, he has done an excellent job on the cover, I feel really proud when I see the cd in the shops. THE TRACKLIST ISN’T CORRECT – SO DID YOU WANT TO CREATE A COLLECTOR’S ITEM? Haha, we are not too happy at what happened with the tracklisting. We sent off all the instructions and there was still a mistake made. These things happen I guess. Hopefully the label will get it sorted soon with the future pressings, I can assure you they were the first to hear about the mistake. WHICH LYRICAL CONCEPT STANDS BEHIND “PAGAN “? The lyrical concept on this album is still the same concept that we have always had. We write about Irish history, myth and legend. It is true to say that over the course of our 4 albums we have not stuck to this concept rigidly and we see that as a good thing. We will always have a song or two about completely different topics, for example we have always kept our Tolkien influence in some songs like “The Fall of Gondolin” “Sauron” and “Ungoliant”. YOU GOT A SONG ABOUT MICHAEL COLLINS, WHO WAS SOME KIND OF A REBEL LEADER IN THE BEGINNING OF THE 19TH CENTURY. HE IS A REAL LEGEND IN YOUR HOME COUNTRY, RIGHT? WHAT DOES HIS LIFE MEAN FOR YOU PERSONALLY TODAY? He is a hero to me, if it was not for Michael Irealnd would not have gained independence from England. He was made a scape goat by his fellow party leaders, they knew as much as Michael what could be achieve and Michael done his best. The North of Ireland is the one area that Michael had no control over, everyone knew back in the 1920′s that the English would never give that land up so easily. DO YOU KNOW THE NEIL JORDAN MOVIE ABOUT MICHAEL COLLINS AND IF YES, DO YOU LIKE IT? Yes, I thought it was a very good movie, a few innaccuracies but it still portrayed what happened in our country at that time. COULD YOU TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT THE OTHER SONGS, WHICH HISTORICAL THEMES ARE COVERED? a.. “Michael Collins” – A song about an Irish hero who helped our country regain its independence. The music is very typical Cruachan, heavy and rocking!! b.. “Pagan” – A scathing look at the catholic church, musically it sounds very black metal with a mellow foilk part thrown in for good measure. c.. “The Gael” – This song is a continuation of the track from folklore called “death of a gael”, it starts verl mellow with very soothing vocals from Karen, then the violin plays on its own for a while then the metal guitars join in. d.. “Ard ri na hEireann” – The story of Brian Boru, the viking slayer. This is a very rocking track! e.. “March to Cluain Tairbh” – A very medieval sounding instrumental. f.. “Viking Slayer” – A fairly heavy sounding song about a battle were vikings are torn to shreds. g.. “1014 A.D.” – An instrumental. h.. “Some Say the Devil Is Dead” – On every album we do an Irish ballad and this is Pagan’s one. It is a lively folk tune. i.. “1000 Years” – This song is about the last 1000 years of Irelands history. The music is upbeat and fast. j.. “Lament for the Wild Geese” – An Uilleann pipe slow air. k.. “Erinsong” – A very old Cruachan song. It sounds dreamy and distant. The lyrics deal with invoking the land of Ireland. l.. “Summoning of the Sidhe” – A very ethnic sounding instrumental. m.. “The Fall of Gondolin” – A very old song re-done for Pagan. It is about a story from JRR Tolkiens “The Silmarillion”. YOU SOUND HAS BECOME MORE AGGRESSIVE AGAIN WITH SOME BLACK METAL PARTS. WAS THIS YOUR INTENTION FROM THE BEGINNING? IS THIS SOMEHOW A REFLECTION OF YOUR PERSONAL SITUATION? It is not intentional, it is just what we are. We never intentionally plan to have a certain style in certain songs, we just do what we want. Also, we have always had harder more extreme songs, even on The Middle Kingdom we had aggressive black metal parts but due to problems in recording etc. we had to drop these songs and use the parts on later albums. WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM OUR HISTORY? AND WOULD YOU PREFER LIVING IN THE PAST IF THIS WAS POSSIBLE? We can learn a lot, there has been many mistakes made by mankind that we should learn from but unfortunately we do not. I would not like to live in the past, when we think of the past we imagine a romantic vision of warriors and battles but I know a lot about the medieval past and it was a horrible time to live, everyone was afraid, disease was rampant and if you lived to 30 you were exceptionally lucky. HOW IMPORTANT IS THE INTERNET FOR A CELTIC PAGAN METAL BAND? Very important, well for me anyway. I can keep in touch with so many people so easily. Cruachan are going nearly 12 years and I can remember the days before the internet took off so I know what I am talking about. YOU DID WORK WITH SHANE MACGOWAN ON YOUR LAST EFFORT. DO YOU STILL HAVE CONTACT? IS HE ALL RIGHT (CONSIDERING HIS ALCOHOL PROBLEMS IN THE PAST)? It was great to work with Shane as I am a great fan of his work. It was definitly a learning experience for us as he is one of the greatest song writers to come out of Ireland. He seems to be fine at the moment but as always his alcohol drinking is a bit intense to say the least. At the moment there are no plans to work with him in the future. IRISH MUSICIANS SEEM TO SOUND SOMEHOW RAW AND UNPOLISHED WITH TRUE LOVE FOR THEIR PEOPLE, NATURE AND COUNTRY. IS THERE AN EXPLANATION FOR IT? We do love our country and we are a very proud nation, I think this could stem from the history that the country has had, over the last 100 years there has benn constant invasion and occupation and in the end we won through and got our country back, we will always be a proud nation. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT BRITISH POLITICS? DO THE IRISH SUPPORT BLAIRS IRAQ STRATEGY? I cant answer for everyone and generally the nation and government are happy with Blair, as for Iraq I dont know, that is individual opinion, for me personally Saddam was a poor leader who treated his people badly but having said that I do not know enough about the situation to say wether or not Britain and the US should have done what they done. DO YOU KNOW THE POPULAR GERMAN FOLK/ MEDIEVAL METAL GENRE? IN EXTREMO, SUBWAY TO SALLY AND SO ON? I do, I have always heard of these bands and read reviews of Cruachan and seen those bands mentioned. The only one that I have really listened to was In Extremo and I must admit that I was not really into it, I did not like the vocals, they sounded like the guy singing was not taking it too seriously, he sounded like a singer from the Eurovision song contest or something. YOU WILL BE PLAYING AT PAGAN METAL FESTVAL IN GIESSEN LATER THIS YEAR, YOUR VERY FIRST APPEARENCE IN GERMANY. WHAT CAN WE EXPECT? WHAT DO YOU EXPECT OF MY HOME COUNTRY? I don’t know but needless to say we are looking forward to it. We know that we have a lot of fans in Germany so we are expecting a good turn out. We will try to give the best show possible and will play song from all four albums. HOW IS LIVE SITUATION IN IRELAND IN GENERAL? ARE THERE MANY FESTIVALS, FOREIGN METAL BANDS ON TOUR? OR DO YOU PREFER PLAYING IN PUBS ON A MORE INTIMATE LEVEL? It seems to be getting better, we have just had our forst ever “proper” Irish metal festival called “Day of Darkness”, the headline acts were Dismember and Ancient Rites. Lately we have had big bands coming over regularly aswell so it is getting better and better, mainly due to the work being done by “Emerald Promotions”. YOU HAVE BEEN ON TOUR WITH THYRFING AND PRIMORDIAL. I SUPPOSE IT HAS BEEN AN INTERESTING EXPERIENCE. ANY FUNNY TOUR STORIES, ANY CATATROPHES? We have some great memories of the Thyrfing tour, Thyrfing and Cruachan got along really well. The funniest thing that happened was while we were on our way back to our hotel, we pulled our tour buses into a petrol station and went in to cause chaos. A petrol station full of Celts and Vikings (some of us still had kilts on) was a funny thing to see. We crawled through the shop on our backs, bought blue flashy lights and drove around as the police….you had to be there to see how funny it was. The worst thing on the trip was a sandwich that Patrick and me devised involving sweets, chocolate and eggs….I nearly got sick! THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR SHARING YOUR TIME AND GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR STRONG EFFORT. Thank You!