Cruachan are pioneers and creators of the so called folk metal. A whole genre and many bands owe them their existence and Cruachan are back with the second opus of their trilogy, “Blood For The Blood God”. Keith Fay is telling us more…

Congratulations for the new album. Can you give us some details about it?

Thank you, we recorded it over a few weeks during summer 2014, this was a very good summer in Ireland so was a bit of a pain in the ass to miss it being stuck in a recording studio, but we perservered and I think the end result is very well worth it. The studio is called Trackmix, a small studio run by Michael Richards who was our main studio engineer. The bag-pipes were recorded by our friend Alex in Ukraine, he recorded in Kiev then sent the files to us digitally, all very technical.

You started a trilogy with the previous ‘Blood On The Black Robe’. What is the concept on the ‘Blood For The Blood God’?
The trilogy has no real concept tying them together apart from the blood theme. We wanted to link the 3 new albums that will be released in what we call the rebirth of Cruachan. This started with Blood on the Black Robe, we see that album as a new beginning for the band so making the forthcoming releases part of a trilogy will keep this idea fresh, that we are almost a new band. We are not turning our back on our old stuff, we still love it and are proud of it but that was then, this is now!

There’s an obvious comeback to the roots in the sound of the album. You’re more ferocious on this one. Was it made designedly, or came out physically? What was on your mind for this album?
Our very first album “Tuatha Na Gael” was a no holds barred Black Metal meets Folk music. Nothing had been done like that before and it was a very exciting time for us. As a result we had offers for this and that, sign here, go there…we were very young and had no idea what was the right or wrong thing to do. Musically we lost our way a bit as managers made promises of world domination. The album released after “Tuatha Na Gael” was “The Middle Kingdom”, it was almost like a different band. I still think it is a great album but there was no more black or extreme metal on there. I took a back seat on the vocals, and we brought in Karen for the lead vocal duties. Over the years we slowly went back, bit by bit, to those more aggressive days of our first album. When Karen left in 2010 I decided to go back to full time vocal duties and bring the extremity back into Folk Metal. Folk Metal is becoming a parody of itself. In Ireland we live and breathe folk music, it is not about happy drinking songs, it is a music that defines sadness and melancholy. I hope we will now be the converse of the genre we created. That is why we went back to the roots, back to the extremity but also in a new direction too as there is more orchestral stuff on this new album than ever before and it works to augment the lyrics or the feelings we are trying to portray.

What is the lyrical concept of ‘Blood For The Blood God’?
There is no overall concept, like all our albums there is a mix of themes. On the new one we have songs about Irish mythology … as we have had on every single album. We also have our expected critical commentary on the Christian church and I am happy to say we have a song about Beren and Luthien from JRR Tolkiens „The Silmarillion“, Tolkien’s work has always been an inspiration for me. We didn’t do a Tolkien song on the last album, and a lot of people thought that was an intentional thing to do with the new focus of the band but that is not the case, I just never got around to writing one. Tolkien’s work has always been appreciated in the Black Metal world and he has many fans there. That and the fact that he was influenced by Celtic writings (as well as Saxon and Viking) makes any songs set in Middle Earth feel right at home with the Irish mythological songs that we write about. I guess he wouldn’t be quite so happy about our songs criticising Christianity and Catholicism as he himself was a devout Catholic. No one’s perfect eh?

How do you feel to be the pioneers, the godfathers of the so called folk metal. I think many, if not all todays folk bands owe you their existence. What was on your mind following this style back in the 90’s? Do you receive any acceptance (as influence or offering to the genre) from newer bands and how do you see this genre nowadays?
It is a great feeling to know that we created what has since become such a huge genre in the metal world. I make no apology when I say Cruachan were one of the first and may actually be the first REAL Folk Metal band, we were certainly the first to incorporate extreme metal into the mix. I was a young teenage kid when I came up with the idea. The idea itself was quite easy: Ι like metal, i like folk music, mix metal with folk music“, as easy as that haha. I guess I’m not joking, maybe it takes the mind of a young kid to think that idea would work and go with it. Well, I did go with it and the rest is history. I do regret not sticking with the extreme metal side of things. After Tuatha Na Gael we kind of lost our way a little and are only now beginning to pick up the pieces and get to the level we feel we should always have been at. I do get quite frustrated when I see the modern Folk Metal bands. I remember a young Chrigel from Eluivetie sending me an excited email to tell me about his new band and how influenced by Cruachan they are and that he hopes we will help support them, soon after they supported us in Switzerland, that was 8 years ago. Look at them now and look at us. Fuck!, but you can’t be bitter, you make your own way in life and carve your own path. It is our fault that we are not as big as a lot of the more famous Folk Metal bands. We have careers, children etc. Most of them do not. Regardless, we are now making up for lost time in a big way. We see ourselves as the saviours of Folk Metal. We are like the prophecised second coming of Jesus haha, coming back to lead his lost flock back on the correct path, to remove all the stupid drinking songs and make the bands take the genre seriously again. Oh, and fuck Jesus!

This year has been the busiest for you by touring a lot. How did it emerge and had so many offers for playing live? What are your plans about this for the new album?
It has been an amazing year for us, we were even offered a place on Paganfest USA but had to say no as we were recording the new album at the time. We don’t really know how it got so busy so quickly but there is a new energy and focus in the band. The last album obviously made a lot of people aware of us that previously were not. Regardless, we are really happy. Take Brutal Assault for example, playing more or less at the same time as Unleashed, one of my favourite bands. Amazing! …and we were on just before Sodom, another band I love. We want more of these festivals and here’s hoping with the new album, that is exactly what we will get. Offers have already started coming for 2015 so onwards and upwards!

Can you tell us with what will the trilogy close?
We don’t know, we have no set plan. An idea I was thinking about recently would be some kind of commemoration of the 1916 rising in Ireland. We declared ourselves a Republic and demanded freedom from England. This did not happen but sowed the seeds that eventually led to our independence. Padraig Pearce, one of the leaders of the Rising, called for a Blood sacrifice from the Irish people. That could make an interesting album. Although, that is just something in my head right now, that may never happen.

Why you can’t stay in a firm label. What problems did you face with them? What about your new one; how things evolve?
Haha, there are so many reasons why we have been this nomadic type of band. The music industry is in turmoil and everybody is trying to adapt and change their business models to suit the time. Record labels are all struggling to stay alive. It’s the same for bands too. Some Record labels we felt it was better to leave as they were not working out for Cruachan. At the end of the day you have to do what is right for yourself, that is why we keep moving on and trying to find the best possible home that we can. So far Trollzorn have been amazing. We went from being the smaller band on Candlelight Records, to the bigger band at Trollzorn and so far it has been the best choice we have made. They are very enthusiastic about us and it shows in their plans for our future, right down to the merchandise. We have never had a Record Label get behind us so much and produce so much Cruachan merchandise, it really is exciting.

What about neopaganism. Do you accept it that more and more people are getting closer to it, will it affect positive or negative this movement?
I don’t really care about it to be honest, I’m too old and cynical these days. I guess it is something for kids to get into. I was very into Paganism as a kid but the older I get the more Atheist I become. Neo-Paganism is a religion so somebody somewhere will profit from it, there is no doubt about that.

Is it real that Bram Stoker was inspired for Dracula from the Irish vampire Dearg Due?
No, there is no firm evidence that that is the case but it is very likely that he would have heard the stories of the Irish Vampire as a child. Maybe they did stick with him over the years when he got interested in European mythology and folklore. Who knows?

Your drummer Mauro was confirmed for season 3 of Vikings and season 5 of Game of Thrones. How did this emerge?
Hehe, I have no idea why he was chosen, it’s just work. Something to pay for food on his table.

What is your bond with the Greek metal scene today?
None, that really sucks. Well, two of my favourite bands for a long long time are Greek, Rotting Christ and Septic Flesh, but apart from that nothing. We have always received great support from Greece and it’s surprising that we have still not played there. To think of the countries we have actually played in, but not Greece. Somebody has to change that!

Why did you choose to re-record ‘Pagan’ track?
The whole Pagan album suffered from terrible production, the whole recording process was a nightmare. I remember when we delivered the masters to Hammerheart Records they more or less said “what the fuck is this? We’re not paying” … and they weren’t joking. There was a major back and forth between the studio and the label. Anyway, all the songs on there have terrible production. We play the song ‘Pagan’ a lot, it is a great live song so we just felt we would give it a bit of a spit and polish. John Ryan has some violin bits that he does live that are not on the original recording so they have been recorded as well. It wasn’t a major thing; a lot of journalists are asking did we do it to mark its 10 year anniversary to which I was answering, “is it 10 years old? Didn’t notice” haha.

Something for the end?
Thank you for taking the time to interview us. We have been in Metal Invader many times over the years and it is a great magazine. I hope you guys are here for another 10 years at least.. To our Greek fans – we salute you and we really hope to see you in 2015!