Archive | Interviews | RockZoom Webzine (Germany) - December 2007

Primordial interview @ www.RockZOOM.de  

Article on “To the Nameless Dead”:
http://rockzoom.de/2007/11/26/gedanken-zu-primordials-to-the-nameless-dead/

Hi folks, cheers from Waterford in the “sunny south-east” and congratulations on the new album! I hope you are all well and feeling better than this shitty weather suggests!? (But as Irishmen you should be quite used to that…)

Hails. Im fine. thanks 

I find it pretty surprising that your recent album “To the Nameless Dead” got so many extraordinarily positive media response. I mean, of course it’s a great album, but you really haven’t changed that much, have you? How could you explain this recent success (highest praises from all of the “major magazines” and I’m sure the offers to play at the big festivals are numerous…) for Primordial?

I guess what goes around comes around. This album is far more commercially acceptable then any previous. The sound is the most important factor. The Gathering Wilderness sounds very rough compared to it. Perhaps every dog has it’s day as they say. 

In the liner notes you’ve said that “To the Nameless Dead” is something like “Cuchulainn’s last stand”. I can certainly understand that there’s a rebellious approach to that, but don’t let anyone understand this wrong, because this statement sounds like this could be Primordial’s last album!?!?

Who knows. When we made one album I couldn’t see us making 6, yet we have, I don’t know how long we will continue. The end doesn’t seem to be in sight but there is some air if finality about the album. Perhaps a new beginning I don’t know I don’t really think about things like that. 

Anyway, if I’m not mistaken it’s 20 years of Forsaken/Primordial now. Maybe especially the founding members could take a look back to the past decades for me!? To pass in review, what have been the greatest moments and the worst ones for the band so far?

It’s kind of misleading to say we exist for 20 years. Ciaran and Paul began learning their instruments together back at the end of 1987 when they were 12/13/14. I don’t think the band began to resemble what you see today until 1991. So in 08 it is 17 years which is still a long time, but we started young. There has of course been highs and lows but we have fought to conquer in the face of adversity since day one. Many highs thankfully, from releasing our debut demo/album to first shows in Europe, America, tours festivals.

Is there kind of a “high band aim” that you still wish to reach?

Not really, it’s gratifying we are growing now more then ever as opposed to most of the music industry. Selling more, more shows, festival offers. We have kept the standard of the music high through the years though that has been our highest aim.

I don’t want to chew on album facts and things around the recording process that already have mentioned elsewhere, be it in press releases or former interviews. I’m more interested in the content of the album, the matter of “nationhood” and especially in what that means related to your home country Ireland… After a few months living here in Ireland I can grasp much better what the Primordial lyrics talk about. What I see is the “western culture” at its purest: stereotypic boys in trainers and sports jerseys, girls in posh “inuit boots” and often too tight pants, school kids buying their so-called “breakfast” at the petrol station, they probably even don’t remember those dead Irish whose names should be known: Wolfe Tone, Daniel O’Connell, Michael Collins, Eamon de Valera? They probably don’t care about a motorway that should go through the Hill of Tara where the High Kings reigned the whole land (quite an ironical picture, isn’t it?) … Ireland, aware of a unique history and culture?

…Lucozade bottles in the streets (I hate that stuff without ever drinking it), people using their car as a shopping bag though they probably just live a hundred yards away… Ireland, the “green island”?!?

I don’t want to blame your country, not at all, most people are much friendlier here than the German for example, and in other countries it’s just the same: They’re becoming more and more the same, a creeping ‘alignment’ under the cloak of democracy… But somewhat 50 years ago a German folk called Heinrich Böll wrote the “Irish Journal” after his stay in Ireland, and if you compare these former times with the Irish society nowadays so much has rapidly changed. And it’s this speed of change (and in case of culture it surely turned for the worse) and the loss of the unique things that “we tourists” have always associated with Ireland that frighten me.

Well, this didn’t really turn out to be an interview question… so… add what you want, if you want to comment anything or just ignore it.

I just want to thank you; your music helped me a lot to see some things clearer and more critical, it’s my soundtrack to this country above all the traditional stuff.

Very long question to answer or try to answer. I see the government, business and the media attempting to create a society that consumes through fear. Politically and intellectually redundant. A Prozac nation wandering through life without questioning, subservient and mindless. The United States of Europe trying to rewrite history and detach people from their roots and sell their culture. People are more interested in mindless celebrity then the world around them. We are in a state of perpetual war for the world’s natural resources and it can only end one way. Polarising people and enflaming tensions and religious divides. Of course people are more interested in Big Brother then what’s going on in the Middle East…

At which age did you discover the “interest in your own country”? Was there kind of a crucial experience responsible for that or is it more a matter of how being raised?

I guess I became politically, historically and culturally aware when I was about 15. Through history classes in my secondary school and taking an active interest in the daily news from a young age and growing up in a house where people read books and it was encouraged. A lot of it has to do with how interested your parents and teachers are in your intellectual development.

If you were the Irish Prime Minister, what would be the first thing that you would change in this country?

Wow what a huge question that is. There are thousands and thousands of houses sitting empty in this country and we have more Irish homeless people on the streets then 3 major UK cities. It costs 109 000euro to keep a person in prison for one year and they all come generally from 4 postal address’s in the Dublin for example ?. So obviously a re-distribution of wealth and education to address crime and poverty is needed. Severing the corrupt lobbying ties that exist between every kind of business and the politicians…money for planning developments, landlords, vintners association etc. Prohibition is proven not to work so a total reform of the drug laws and 24 hour licensing to stagger opening hours and stop drunken violence on the street. Immigrants who miss their registration or involved in things like credit card fraud or organised crime to be immediately repatriated. More money into building schools and roads and a re-introduction of the matron system or something similar to the Health system, privatisation when it comes to dealing with people’s lives never works. Opposition to allowing America land at Shannon to perform extraordinary rendition. Rent caps depending on what area and what kind of housing you live in to stop landlords fucking everyone. So many things I’m not sure where to even get started…I’m not interested in left or right solutions just what makes most sense. We’ve been on the pigs back now for 15 years with the “Celtic Tiger” and what did we spend our money on ?…cocaine, SUV’s and over priced housing.

Some weeks ago I’ve seen a documentary at TG4 which was about Americans searching for their Irish roots. One of those Americans interviewed – he took his “search for Irishness” very serious – complained that most Irish are making fun of those Americans that are even “more Irish than the Irish”. What do you think about that? Do you maybe know such situations from own relatives living in the US?

I don’t have any relatives living in the US. If you know where your roots are and you attempt to discover them then more power to you it keeps the memory of your ancestory alive.

Actually, it’s a little bit hard to imagine, but have Primordial ever thought about using some of the “typical” Irish trad instruments like fiddles and whistles etc.?

There is a “fiddle” in the track The Gathering Wilderness and also whistle on a track from Imrama. We have used bodhran in the past as well. We just never wanted to use these things in an obviously Irish way.

Let’s focus a bit on the Irish metal scene: Is it a growing organism or more a dying species?

I think you will find its in a state of absolute rude health. Check www.metalireland.com for proof of that.

Next to you the metal heads outside of Ireland know Cruachan and maybe Mourning Beloveth as Irish metal bands of these days, and then that’s it. So which underrated Irish bands can you recommend? Any more Irish talents one should check out?

Again check the website above but also Graveyard Dirt, Darkest Era, For Ruin and The Dagda I would recommend.

I’d like to come back on some single tracks on “To the Nameless Dead”: “Failures Burden” for example, my personal second fave after “Empire Falls”: This song is about getting older… and even quicker getting older in dark and rainy winter days like these. Our moods are very much dependent on our surroundings, that’s pretty well shown in this song. So, what’s your personal recipe against the dark, wet and windy Irish winter days?

I don’t have one at all. I usually go through very bad mood swings during Winter. For 2 months of the year I imagine I have what other people would call SAD (Seasonally adjusted depression) except I don’t believe in any of that shit. Of course the bleak, grey weather affects your moods. This song is about getting older and not keeping promises basically. Every man is evil and every man a liar...

What’s the meaning behind the short piece “The Rising Tide”? Before I took a look at the track list I thought it’s just the intro music to “Traitor’s Gate”. But as it stands as a track for its own it must have some own significance!?

Not really. It’s just a small piece of music Ciaran made from the drone of an ancient battle horn and we pitched it differently with some tribal drumming. I wouldn’t read things into it that aren’t there.

I like the whole idea of “Heathen Tribes”, actually I’d shout "We are born from the same womb, and hewn from the same stone" at all those fuckers who relate Primordial with nazi stuff. To me it sounds like a band hymn, good stuff for live performances. But say, how much of a country do you really see when you’re on tour? Isn’t it “just” the view through the bus’s window, the faces on the Finnish, German or Greek fans that you see from the stage? Because when I recently had an interview with a Swedish singer he admitted that in all the touring stress there’s very little time to really “discover” a country…

Depends really. For example I’ve been in Budapest 2 or 3 times and seen nothing but I’ve seen loads of Greece or Portugal. If you arrive in a city and you aren’t in the industrial wasteland then it’s up to you to get out and see it. This song is our “Blood of the Kings” or “Blood Fire Death”. Plain and simple Metal track, I wouldn’t read something political into it either way. I thought the scene needed a proper heathen anthem not something about trolls or beer…

I’m very pleased to see that Primordial are already invited for so many festivals. Anyway, for a band own gigs must be more pleasant!? But for an own headliner tour it might be hard to draw enough people into the clubs… For example, just look at the situation Astral Doors had this year: They’ve made an excellent album, they were praised by all the “major mags” and in the end they had about 30 paying visitors each night on their own first headliner tour…

Festivals are indeed killing touring. Every city or town has a festival and the season starts as early as April or May and into September. Unless you are a real underground band that never plays big festivals and has dedicated underground fans, a huge band or you gather 6 bands together on a festival billing then expect less then 100 people a night for sure. Many bands with good press tour to 50 people a night. For now we will play all  the big festivals, raise the profile and reputation and hopefully the sales to 20 000 for example then tour….

If you could choose a band or two to go on with, who would that be?

Any band we are friends with, or can share some common goal. We’ve toured and played thankfully with loads of great bands over the years. Touring with someone like Iron Maiden or a huge band would be great to do just once I think.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview!

No problem.

I hope we’ll find some time to raise pint in Cork next weekend!?

Cheers.

Katrin

(querkropf@rockzoom.de)

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