|As a band you guys have never released the same album twice; this is definitely true of "Red Silent Tides," which takes a little bit of influence from most of your other albums here and there, but essentially is a very unique and fresh record for Elvenking. What inspired your change in direction away from "The Scythe," which had a darker, extreme metal influence?|
Yes, this is one of the main goals of this band. Trying to release something that every time may sound fresh to our ears, without copying anything from outside and trying not to copy from ourselves, still remaining faithful to EK sound. If you listen through our whole discography you see how "Wyrd" was different from "Heathenreel", "The winter wake" was different from "Wyrd", and so on, till today. And we do this because we need it for ourselves, as musicians, songwriters, producers, etc. Maybe it is not the cleverest thing to do for a band, but we are not able to sit down around a table telling "Ok fans are asking for this, let's do it", "Critics aim for another album similar to that one, let's write songs in that vein..." and so on. We really cannot do this.
And the fact is that it is 1000 times more difficult writing a great 3 minutes song that works like hell instead of a 8 minutes opus with 10 tempo changes, you know. Those are the easiest songs to write.
About "Red Silent Tides", yes, it's different from "The scythe". That was an album closely linked to his concept and to the themes of the lyrics. Now we had much more freedom, and I think also that our acoustic album "Two tragedy poets" has been a great influence. I think you can see some of our older sounds as well in "Red Silent Tides", close to new directions. It' more melodic and more emotional. It's an album full of poetry and feelings,
Some have drawn comparisons with 80's metal (and music and general) when listening to "Red Silent Tides." Would you say these comparisons are accurate?
Yes, I think so. Unfortunately we are all growing old. Ah, and the music from the 80s is the one we have grown up with. Most of my favorite albums belong to the end of the 80s and especially first 90s, and I see a lot of influences from there. In those years, the bands were really trying to do something new and different. Just listen to albums like Annihilator's "Set the World on Fire", Overkill's "I Hear Black" without naming Metallica's "Black" album or Megadeth's "Countdown". There was a lot of freshness. And then all the hard rock bands that probably the kids do not even ever heard about. I think there is a lot in Red Silent Tides of those years.
Are you also influenced by whatever music you're listening to heavily during the writing and recording process? I remember reading a few years ago that Damna was frequently spinning bands like Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, and In Flames during production of "The Scythe."
Ah, he probably listens to completely different stuff now. By the way, talking personally, I never had any problems in listening to Cradle of Filth, and immediately after a White Lion album, and been this way since I was a kid. In the band, we all listen to everything from pop to extreme black metal, from folk acoustic music to death metal. I think we have a really wide musical culture, if I can say so, and I don't think that a particular period is related to some listening. In "The Scythe", we simply wanted to explore our more extreme side, since we have always been fans of In Flames, Dark Tranquility, and similar bands since we were young, and we thought that in that particular album, with that particular lyrical concept we should express our music in that direction.
Do the lyrical themes of "Red Silent Tides" in any way mark a continuation or aftermath of "The Scythe," an album themed around death?
No continuation at all. After a complex lyrical concept, this time has been really important and relaxing having complete freedom in writing out of different and more personal themes. This time the lyrics are not linked one to the other and are about different and various arguments. I would say they are really personal and full of emotions and passion.
On your earlier albums, particularly the first two, the "folk" aspect of folk metal played a huge role in your lyric writing; on your latest albums we have seen a partial departure from this. I get the impression that Elvenking is writing lyrics about the same ideas and emotions as they always have been, but using different imagery to talk about this sort of stuff. How would you weigh in on the band's lyrical progression?
Sometime it is really a pleasure doing interviews, especially when you see that the journalist really understands the band and can go deep into the arguments. And you are absolutely right. I think that our lyrics are still the same as our first album. The emotions to express are exactly the same. We are just expressing them in different ways, but we do not want to repeat ourselves musically, so why should we do it lyrically? We always try new ways to do it. The most important goal in Elvenking is trying to transmit to the listeners our deepest emotions and passions, through music and through lyrics, and that's what we were doing 10 year ago and we're still doing nowadays. We express ourselves through different imageries, always trying to use fantasy and romanticism as we like. As we have always done.
What influenced your decision to select "The Cabal" as the track you'd film a video for and release before the album?
It is the most accessible track probably. It's always difficult to choose a song for a video, especially in the metal world. You need to choose a fast and heavy songs to show that you are "real" and strong, or something that maybe also people not exactly in your specific genre could maybe appreciate. And since we're old enough to not take care of being true, we decided to go for something pretty accessible. And the most important thing is that it's a great song and this is more than enough!
And now your latest video, for "Your Heroes are Dead," is a cartoon, and a pretty entertaining video. Animated metal videos often get mixed receptions - what led to this decision and how has it resonated with your fans?
So, after "The cabal" we can show how heavy and strong we are haha. Kidding. After two power ballads we definitely wanted to have a video showing our heaviest side and "Your heroes are dead" is the perfect choice. And for the video we wanted something different. I think it came out pretty funny.
For the past few years, your violinist Elyghen has been away working in Ireland, temporarily replaced by Lethien. Is there a timeframe for Elyghen's return, or has Lethien become your new permanent violin player?
We definitely consider Lethien as our official and permanent member. He's doing a killer job on the violin! At first our intention was to wait for Elyghen. Unfortunately, he was always "Yes, 6 months and I'm home", "Alright other 6 months and this time it's true". It simply couldn't work.
In the past, Damna, and Aydan have written the majority of EK's music. Did any of the newcomers, like Rafahel, contribute to the songwriting process for "Red Silent Tides?"
Yes, Rafahel co-wrote the song "What's left of me" with me and Damna, and was just a matter of time for another of his songs to be included on the album. He's a great guitar player and has a lot of good ideas and I'm sure you will see a lot of more credits from him in the next album. We are already working on some of his ideas.
Which song on the new album is personally the most meaningful to you, and why?
All the songs I wrote for this album are really personal and describe big parts of myself. I think that "Dawnmelting" is a good example.
Your appearance at the ProgPower IX festival in Atlanta back in 2008 was your only US appearance thus far. It was an amazing experience for your American fans, including myself, to finally be able to see Elvenking live. Can we hope for a return to the US at any point?
I don't want to tell anything, but there are good possibilities. :)
I've read in past interviews several band members mentioning how their songwriting abilities have improved greatly since the "Heathenreel" days. How would you respond to someone who picks that album as their favorite from Elvenking?
Yes it happens. Then we play songs from that album live and it seems like nobody likes it or knows it hahaha. That's really strange. I am really sick of those kids telling "Ehi Heathenreel it's only real EK album" and so on. First of all I love that album! I totally love it man! It's pure magic to my ears. But on the other side I see it very complex and very fragmentary. And the songs are not born to be played live. They just don't work, with few exceptions. And the fact is that it is 1000 times more difficult writing a great 3 minutes song that works like hell instead of a 8 minutes opus with 10 tempo changes, you know. Those are the easiest songs to write. You play on the surprises, on the changes etc. Instead writing a great melody that make a song work perfectly without anything else is the most difficult thing in music. Writing a good "Divided heart" is so hard man!
What is the strangest question you've ever been asked in an interview?
This one?? :) Ah, oh my God I don't remember but for sure I have been asked some strange things for sure! Like "Do you have a girlfriend? Because otherwise..."
Are there any traditional instruments that you have not had a chance to use on one of your albums, yet would like to?
Well, a lot! There are a lot of possibilities out there. Like the idea of using a whole orchestra for example. But we will see. We'll try to experiment as much as possible, directly from the next album.
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, and if you'd like to add anything in closing, please do!
Thanks to you for this great interview. Was a pleasure! And I hope that the people who still believe that dreams are there to be lived can give a spin to "Red Silent Tides"