Saturday, October 27, 2012

Elvenking: The Interview

It isn't often you have a chance to sit down with a member, or members, of a legendary band. But tonight, we unveil our latest interview. Bassist Jakob sat down to answer all of our burning questions about the band, and the evolution from "Red Silent Tides" to "Era." There aren't enough thanks to be given for this opportunity.

First and foremost, we want to thank you for taking time out to sit down and answer some questions for us. It is an honor for us, in every way.

Hello guys, this is Jakob from Elvenking, thanks to you for the space you gave us and for
your interest in interviewing the band!

It seemed as though "Red Silent Tides," at release, had divided a lot of your fan base. Some loved the  evolution of the Elvenking sound, and some, like myself, were worried that it was a step in a dangerous direction. Looking back, is there anything you regret in the making of that album, or anything you think fans like myself just didn't understand?

Every member of the band is influenced by a wide range of music genres, from heavy metal to folk, hard rock, pop or classical music: therefore we always loved to experiment with our sound and we will never, ever, do the same album twice. I understand and I respect that some fans could have felt confused, but that already happened when the band introduced more extreme stuff in The Scythe album, or when they heard a totally acoustic work like Two Tragedy Poets. And if anybody thinks that Red Silent Tides was a “commercial” move, I can assure you that our music is way less “trendy” that most of the true-folk-death-viking stuff you hear nowadays.

When it came time to write the next album, did you already have an idea of where it would go? What were some of the major differences in the writing process from "Red Silent Tides" to "Era"?

We had a lot of interesting material, but we did not really plan to do a certain kind of album. Actually, during the songwriting and rehearsal process, it seemed like we were putting in this new effort all the music genres and experimentations that distinguished Elvenking in the past years. At the end, it sounded like a “back to the roots” album, where we reintroduced a lot of folk and acoustic elements, but also fast heavy metal uptempos and catchy refrains. Most of the songs and lyrics have been brought in the rehearsal room by Aydan and Damna, but also Lethien and Rafahel contributed with their stuff, while Symohn and me (the new entries!) had the difficult task to build up solid and technical rhythm sections.

There seemed to be a huge focus on heavier drum patterns throughout the album. Symohn really did some impressive work. Was there a decision made to go in the heavier direction, or did the songs just go that way on their own?

Symohn is one of the best Italian drummers, period. His drumming is astonishingly technical and his style extremely flexible from one song to another. I never played with a drummer like him and it is a daily challenge to follow his patterns with the bass! Clearly, in the fastest songs he had the chance to show his skills with no restrictions...and the songs went from “heavy” to “extreme”. Have a listen to “The Loser” or “Walking Dead”, for example.

Tell us a little about the instrumental track, "Ophale." It has so much beauty attached to it. Is there a deeper meaning to the music itself?

“Ophale” is arranged around an acoustic guitar composition brought by Rafahel; then, FolkStone multi-instrumentalist Maurizio Cardullo added flutes and whistles and that was the result. The idea was to have a restful and relaxing track to close the standard version of the album, opposed to the previous “Chronicle of a frozen Era”, which is instead one of the most technical and complicated songs Elvenking has ever written.

You have been referred to as the "godfathers of folk and power metal." But even more than that, you were a huge catalyst in the growing Italian metal scene. How have things changed for metal in Italy from the time your career got started, through now?

When Elvenking started writing their first material back in the late 90s, no one in Italy played that kind of music. Elvenking was then one of the very first Italian metal bands to gain international recognition and the scene has evolved a lot since. Now, even if we love our local fanbase and we would love to play much more in our country, there is too much offer and definetly less demand, the audience is getting lazier and lazier (fifteen years ago we travelled hundreds of KMs to see our favourite band play live – now that happens very seldom), and there are dozens of metal bands with a fiddler, haha!

How is your fan base growing or shrinking across the US, as opposed to throughout get noticed in America, or is Europe just a better metal continent?

I always felt like Europeans think that “to succeed you have to go to the US” and Americans think exactly the opposite! They are just two totally different areas and markets and only the best bands do great in both. Elvenking started having a very good response in the US since the ProgPower USA show back in 2008, and we are always thinking of our American fans. We are planning a radio promotion there and we really hope to cross the ocean for a tour as soon as possible!

Where do you think metal will be 10 years from now. Do you think it is still a growing genre, or has it reached its peak?

Hard to say. Heavy metal has always been a very successful music genre, surviving temporary trends and the opposition of most mass media, so I am sure there will be still a lot of metal to hear in the years to come! But I think that heavy metal, while sticking to its roots, has to evolve and introduce new elements and influences because we cannot play the same riff forever and ever.

How do you feel about downloading, and how do you think it has affected your sales and careers as musicians? And on the flip side of that, did you ever expect to become as successful as you have been in the music arena?

Yes, we also have to see how the internet/file sharing/social network thing evolves, because while it is a great promotion tool, it kills sales and reduces the number of professional bands. Success? Haha, what kind of success are we talking about? We are full of debts! Some of us are professional musicians, but others have day jobs. We are a medium-sized band, that means having a really tough schedule with big things to do like tours, festivals, interviews etc...but you don’t live out of it, and you have to manage a double-life!

Thank you again for giving us this opportunity, and congratulations on the success of "Era." It is well deserved.

Thanks to you guys! With the new album we are really starting a new ERA of the band and we
are looking at the future with optimism and enthusiasm. We look forward to meet you all on
the road!

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