Sunday, May 11, 2003

Interview: Keith Fay of Cruachan

It was my privilege to have the opportunity to interview Keith Fay of the Irish Celtic-metal band Cruachan. Soon to enter the studio to record the follow-up to Folk-Lore, Keith was gracious enough to take time out to discuss the new album and recent changes in the band.

[HMM] I'd like to start off by talking a little bit about the new album. You're entering the studio at the end of March to begin recording. Has a title or release date been set yet?
[Keith] No and no! Sorry about the lack of info, but it is the truth. We have a few titles in our heads, we are going for a slight concept album although the concept is very broad. It explores the last 1000 years of Ireland's history, covering the two main invaders of the time, the Vikings and the English. It wont be provocative though, what has been done by the English is history now and as you know both countries relations are normal. Anyway, most English citizens are not entirely proud of their countries historical attempts at world domination.

What most excites you about the new album?
A lot excites me about it. It is the best work we have done to date....though all bands say that about their new stuff anyway. The songs are a complex mix of old style and new style. We have a couple of really aggressive fast parts, blast beats and stuff and we also have huge atmospheric'll see!!!

Keith Fay
Ed Gilbert has recently joined the band. What is his musical background?
He has been playing in rock bands for the last ten years, mainly covers bands doing Metallica, Slayer, etc. He is a huge Pink Floyd fan for his sins! We have been playing with him for over a year now when he was our guest musician so it was only natural that he joined the band in a full time role.

What prompted John O'Fathaigh's departure from Cruachan?
A lot of things. Mainly he could not commit 100% of the time required for Cruachan and would miss rehearsals etc. Touring was also a problem so it was best for him to leave. He is still involved with the band and will be involved with the new album on flute and tin whistle as well as artwork so he has not fully left the band.

Are you or any other members of the band involved in any side projects?
No, Cruachan is our only musical involvement. Most of us have full time jobs so it would be hard to commit time to another band.

The Middle Kingdom was a very drastic shift from the Black Metal of your debut Tuatha Na Gael. What was the catalyst for such a change?
I suppose the biggest factor was time. There is a 5 year gap between writing the songs for "tuatha" and the songs for "kingdom". During this time we listened to different music, developed new tastes etc. and this is all reflected in the music. It was not an intentional change, it just happened.

Folk-Lore expanded on the sound you displayed on The Middle Kingdom and included a guest appearance by Shane Mac Gowan of The Pogues. How did this relationship come about?
At the time of Folk-Lore we were managed by Peader Gaffney. He worked with Shane for many years as a roadie with "the pogues". He let Shane have a listen to The Middle Kingdom and he was impressed so naturally the next thing to do was lure him into the studio to work with us....which luckily he agreed to straight away!

On your web site you've hinted at another guest for your upcoming album. Any more clues as to their identity?
It won't be anyone famous! You'll see soon enough.

One of the aspects that make Cruachan truly unique is your stage production. Have there been any thoughts of capturing one of your performances for a video?
When we played Holland and Belgium last December there was actually talk of a live dvd being produced but it fell through at the last minute. It does mean though that it is definitely something that Hammerheart want to do so it will happen!

What is your take on today's metal scene in Ireland?
Very very healthy, the best I have seen it in years. Obviously it is the recent interest in nu-metal that is drawing the kids but if only a couple percent of those kids start listening to proper metal it will be good for the scene. As far as bands over here, that situation is also improving, there are now more signed Irish metal bands than I can ever remember in the past.

If there was one thing you think could improve the scene, what would it be?
One of our bands going to the next level in Ireland. Cruachan and Primordial are probably the biggest Irish bands but if we could become that little bit bigger, and draw more attention to Ireland it would help immensely.

Do you foresee any festival appearances or tours of the US?
I hope so but it is up to booking agents or our label to arrange them so.....

I'd like to thank you for your taking time out for an interview. I'm very much looking forward to the new album and wish you all the best during the recording process. Are there any last words for our readers?
Stay metal and keep the pagan faith!!!

Thanks again Keith!

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