It’s always nice speaking to a musician from a band you like. But when the guy knows how to get around with words, it becomes a real pleasure. This is how we managed to avoid boring topics, such as studio techniques and tour bus brands. Because Patrick Kistler (Eluveitie / flutes, bagpipes) is a fascinating character. But you can find that out for yourselves.
Romania is not a new place to you anymore. Do you have any recalling from your previous show, or was it just another town, another concert?
Well the last show has taken place quite a while ago. Since then we have probably played around 400 shows all over the globe. And of course everyone from Eluveitie can remember some of the shows, some more some less, depends on what we experienced.
I read you are about to play in China this May. What are your expectations, taken into account the fact that people are not really enjoying freedom over there?
Hm, that is indeed an interesting topic, due to the fact that we already had to send our setlist for those shows to the Chinese censorship authorities. Actually we do not expect anything so far, because it’s always different from your expectations anyway. One fact that may cause some problems for us is that lots of our lyrics are based on the will to stay free and independent. Let’s see, but I don’t think China is as strict nowadays as it was in the past.
You’re speaking about yourselves as part of the new wave of folk metal. What are the ancestors of this genre, the “classics”? Did they influence you in any way, or is Eluveitie a new found mix between two musical stiles you love, namely metal and traditional music?
Haha, this term “The new Wave of Folk Metal” is created by us and so far it just means that there weren’t that many bands before us who fused traditional Celtic Folk Music with Melodic Death Metal. So far the “classics” are not around I would say. Of course we are influenced by many bands but not specifically from the Metal genre, rather speaking from lots of different music styles.
Did you really learn Gaulish, or is someone translating the lyrics for you? How is this language, musically speaking? Does it have a musical resonance?
Some of us, mainly Chrigel have been into the Gaulish language for a while. So partly we wrote the lyrics ourselves but mainly we got help for translation from the University of Vienna and University of Zurich expressionwise.
Do you read a lot of folk literature?
That also depends of the person within the Band. Myself, I luckily live in a region with a very rich base of folk-tales, so yes I know pretty much all of them. Chrigel is very much more into scientific books about the Celtic tribes and all the history around. One of Anna’s side projects is all about tales of the regions she lives in and it’s also kind of modern interpreted traditional Swiss folk music.
How do you pick a topic for a new album? Does it have anything you do with your own views of the world, expressed through the language of myth?
The topic finding process is mostly based on discussions within the band and mainly defined by Chrigel. Of course lots of lyrics have parallels to nowadays world situation. But as we always did say, it’s not politically influenced by any sense, rather just our view on history. And as my history teacher always said: If you know the history you can get the dependencies on nowadays global economical and political situations.
Do you think there are certain values, principles of Celtic mythology and Swiss folk tales that apply to the way you see life today?
That’s another interesting topic. I would say a society’s point of view in general is mostly based on what this society experienced in the past. So how we as Swiss people see life today is definitely also influenced by the mythology and tales. Because tales are mostly based on stories and rules how a society should work together. In the moral behind the tales we can get a lot about the people’s way of thinking back then and also they of course are still influencing the nowadays society. Problem here is through the modern possibilities like internet and also globalisation in general, a lot of those tales are unfortunately not common knowledge anymore.
In songs such as “(Do)minion” lyrics almost sound personal. Is it just fiction, or somehow connected to things you believe in?
This song is one of my all-time favourite songs of Eluveitie. The title of this track has a double meaning, Minion and Dominion.
It’s about the Chieftain of the tribe of the Aedui, Diviciacos and his brother Dumnorix. Diviciacos supported Caesar, meanwhile his brother wanted to fight against the Roman Empire. So this story is not fiction at all, but as in many other lyrics the topic is still actual nowadays and has a relevance also for nowadays situation.
Many folk-metal bands are defined as “pagan”. Does this term apply to Eluveitie as well? If yes, in what respect?
This is a question we have been asked frequently in the past. Eluveitie as a Band is definitely not a “pagan” Band. We do sing about the part of history where our ancestors still were not christianised and so far “pagans”. We also sing about those aspects as long as they are based on scientific proven facts as much as possible. I would rather call Eluveitie as “scientific-based history telling” band, which includes pagan aspects as well.
None of us is somehow actually involved into a neo-pagan thing, nor Wiccan or similar, that’s why we do not see us as a pagan band. Long story, short meaning: the term “pagan” doesn’t really fit to Eluveitie.
On “Helvetios” you speak of the Gaulish war(s)? The Roman perspective is known to us from Caesar’s work, “De bello gallico”. Is the “Helvetic” view of things known to you from things you read, or is it just how you imagine those men must have thought and felt?
As I already mentioned before it’s based on modern scientific, and history science facts and of course also interpreted with our imagination. But it was always very important for us to stay as close to the reality as possible.
The Epilogue of “Helvetios” speaks of the power of song. How would you define the power of music nowadays? What can music bring to modern man?
Music was always an important part of culture, as it still is. As example – traditional tunes which survived throughout centuries and the change of musical taste with time . Of course they probably don’t sound the same as they did exactly, but the basic melody and idea of a tune is still the same. Melodies can tell us stories without any lyrics and they cause the imagination of everyone to work. In my own opinion that’s why folk music in general still touches everyone at least in our sub-consciousness.
Tell us a little more about the idea of releasing a compilation with old material, “The Early Years”.
It was somehow a present to ourselves. We released the first MCD called “Ven” and the following full length album “Spirit” to our 10th year celebration of Eluveitie. Both the albums were sold-out and not available anymore for quite a while already so instead of putting them exactly the same again on the market, we decided to re-record “Ven” and remaster “Spirit” and release them as “The yearly Years”. I must admit the songs of “Ven” sound so much better now then they did, because back then Eluveitie was a self-financed studio project with a very limited budget to record songs. The old “Ven” sounded more like a garage record, haha.