INTERVIEW WITH Keith Fay! (italian
by Giancarlo Bolther
find enclosed the Cruachan-interview... hope you like it!
Thanx for the
support and stay in touch.
at your third album, would you do a balance of your career?
Fay) musical career started a long time ago. My first band was a grindcore
band called P.U.S., It was in 1990 and I was only 14 years old. I
left this band and joined a death metal band called Crypt, I was still
only 14 but the other members were in their early 20's, John Clohessy
was the bass player. At the time I was very influenced by Mick Harris
and Mille from Kreator, Black metal was very underground at the time
and the now popular screaming vocals were unheard of, I like to think
I was the first in Ireland to sing that way. Anyway, after a few demos
the band broke up in 1991. I then formed Minas Tirith, a Tolkien concept
band. At this time I was starting to listen to more folk music and
I picked up Skyclads first album. That album really had an impact
on me and I immediately came up with better plans. I was now a lot
more into black metal and decided I would combine irish folk and black
metal. I changed the name Minas Tirith to Cruachan and we recorded
our first demo, Celtica. This demo caused a bit of a stir and got
the german label NEP interested, they signed us in 1993 and we released
our first album "Tuatha na Gael" in 1994/1995. This album
became a huge success for the label but because they were so small
they could not do any promotion nor could they meet the demand for
sales so it became very hard to find after the initial sell out. We
began to look for another, bigger label and were offered a deal by
Century Media records, this seemed great at the time but we soon realised
it was not too good. The contract they offered us was insane, they
wanted to take all musical rights away from us and we coud not do
that so we turned them down. The band more or less broke up after
that because we felt we had no where to go, that all record labels
would be the same. Soon after breaking up we began to receive a lot
of fan mail from around the world telling us to get back together,
we were surprised at the amount we got. I also hated not being in
the band so we did not stay broken up for too long. We began to write
new material, I got everyone back that was interested (John C. and
John O' F.) and we signed to Hammerheart Records. Joe joined just
4 weeks before we recorded the middle kingdom and Karen was originally
just a guest vocalists but ended up joining.
Only three albums
in eight years, you aren't a prolific band, there are some reasons
I always say it is the quality that is important not the
quantity ha ha!! Seriously though, at the beginning it took the normal
amount of time to find our first record deal, we formed in 1991/92
but our first album was not out until 1995. This is were the delay
really happened, between "tuatha" and "kingdom"
but as I said above, there was a 1 year break up of the band in this
period. With the new album "folklore", the gap has only
been a year and a half, plus we had our single "Ride - On"
out in between. This is how we intend to carry on.
How important was for your sound the entry of Karen in the
Extremely important. Since the release of "tuatha"
we have always gad a female singer in the band. When we originally
went to record the middle kingdom, Karen was just a guest, I did not
think she was interested in being in a full time band. I knew all
our new stuff was intended for female singing but I was going to try
sing the parts in a normal voice, I sucked big time. I can sing aggressively
but not softly so I knew something had to be done, I asked Karen would
she sing the rest of the songs because I was really happy with the
singing that she had done for the tracks "the Fianna" and
"The Middle Kingdom". She said yes and joined the band soon
Can you tell us more about the songs and the making of the
new album and what does it mean the title of the new album for you?
I will tell you more about my favourite song, Bloody Sunday.
Most of the music for the song was written in late 1996 but the lyrics
were completely different and it went by a different name. It was
recorded for the 1997 promo although sounds very different to the
version on the album. The song was more or less forgotten about after
the band re-formed and it was only by chance that I heard it while
listening to an old rehearsal tape. When writing the lyrics to bloody
Sunday I knew that I needed a powerful folk part to make the song
work, I decided to use the music from the old version. The actual
recording process for folklore was brilliant, we had a really great
time. After we recorded the main parts of the songs, we would always
experiment with different instruments playing different parts to see
how they would sound. If we had accepted some of the additions and
experiments, the songs could have turned out totally different. The
title, Folk-Lore, is a very fitting title for Cruachans music. We
could have called any of our other albums folk-lore and it would have
fitted perfectly. The word "folk" means people and "lore"
is their history and that is essentially what Cruachan sing about,
the history of the people.
In your lirics i have felt the interest not only for fairies
tales but also for the actual problems of your country, would you
like to tell me more?
Although the main concept for Cruachan is celtic history,
I will always write a few songs about different themes, mainly for
my own reasons but also to give people something unexpected. On FolkLore
there is a song called Bloody Sunday, the lyrics tell of a horrific
event in very recent Irish history where British soldiers shot and
killed innocent, un-armed and peaceful protestors in Northern Ireland.
The actual background is explained in our lyric sheet but I felt that
in todays climate, with what has happened on September 11th, that
people should know that it is not terrorists from thousand of miles
away that commit horrible murders, it can also be the armed forces
of your closest neighbour. I hear on the news about the uncivilised
Talibaan, I wonder what the people of England think about their armu
killing innocent people in their name. Anyway, this atrocity was covered
up in the 1970's but is currently under investigation again and hopefully
the truth will be told to the world, will the British government apologise?
Will an apology be enough? We will see.
In the booklet of your albums you usually explain the songs,
what are you really saying to your audience, why do you need to explain
I remember on our first album Tuatha na Gael, I was reading
through the booklet and thinking that not many people would understand
the plot of some songs. For me it was ok because I knew the actual
story but this is not the case for many others. When it came time
to prepare the booklet for The Middle Kingdom I thought it would be
a good idea to explain the songs so that people would be in no doubt
as to what they are about. I do accept that a lot of bands write strange
obscure lyrics and often tell their fans to make their own interpretation
but this cannot happen with our lyrics, in most cases there is only
one way for the song to be interpreted.
There is a concept behind your albums?
Not really, the concept of Cruachan is to tell tales of celtic
and Irish history. We hope that we will inspire our fans to learn
about the history in their own country. In these modern, technological
times, people are more and more forgetting their culture and heritage
and it saddens me a lot.
Your covers have always had a great importance, would you
explain to us the new one, please?
The cover for FolkLore was again painted by my brother John,
who is our flute player. We wanted the cover to appear darker than
the middle kingdom, and reflect somewhat the feeling of tuatha na
gael, which is why John painted the elaborate celtic border around
the main painting. The painting itself shows a celtic druid performing
a Votive offering to the Gods. He would cast swords, shields etc.
into a lake as an offering.
The tradition of the Celtic rock has got a long history, the
oldest band i remember are Horslips, do you fit into this tradition
or you are something totally new?
I think we fit right into this tradition although there are
not many bands like us left. The Horslips have been a huge influence
on Cruachan, what they were doing in the 70's is the equivalent of
what we do now in the year 2002.
I believe that there are more connections between heavy metal
and folk music than people can find out, for example in my opinion
Iron Maiden use a lot folk melodies (in songs like Afraid to shoot
strangers), have you got the same impression?
Yes, I have said that many times in the past. Heavy metal
and folk music are both very primal musical forms and I see heavy
metal as an extension of folk music because the creators of modern
metal, bands like Iron Maiden, Saxon etc. were very influenced by
folk music and as you say it can be heard in the guitar riffs.
Have you ever thinked to do an acoustic album, possibly with
old artists like Chieftains?
If I knew The Chieftans would work with us I would be absolutely
honoured. If we became a big enough musical presence that our record
label could afford to allow us record an acoustic/un-plugged album
I would definitely take the opportunity. A lot of our songs would
work brilliantly as acoustic only, On FolkLore I wrote the song Bloody
Sunday with the acoustic version in the back of my mind.
Through your web site i've seen that there is an important
folk metal scene, can you tell me more about that world, are you in
touch with the other bands, there are some that you like?
The folk metal scene seems to be growing stronger day by
day. When we released tuatha na gael I remember we were very alone
except for the obvious bands such as Skyclad. When we came back with
the middle kingdom it was a bit of a shack, where did all these folk
metal bands come from. Hopefully the muical form will grow stronger
than ever. Some of the folk metal bands that I listen to would be
Skyclad (obviously), Goat of Mendes, Otyg etc.
There is a song that have surprised me a lot, it is "Unstabled",
is the most complex of yours: a medieval intro, black atmospheres,
reggae/rap refrain, folk passages, heavy metal structure. Can you
tell me more about this unusually song and why you haven't pursuit
this crossover in the new record?
Yeah, Unstabled got a lot of mixed reactions across the world,
some people loved the song.others really hated it. I can't see any
rap stuff in it, I hate rap but I do listen to a bit of Ska music
and thought it would be really weird to do a metal - folk - ska song...and
then write the words about horsys. I just done it as one off thing
and don't intend to do anymore ska stuff, but you never know!!!
played in a lot of celtic festivals, how was the audience response
to your new kink of celtic rock?
audiences really enjoy our music. We always get a mix of people at
our shows, heavy metal people and normal people, it can be very strange
does it mean for you Paganism and to be a pagan?
is a very personal religion and a lot of people have their own interpretation
of beliefs. I will not go into detail about my beliefs because I treat
them as very personal. As I grow older I realise that when you are
serious about a religion, you do not exploit your beliefs like so
many childish black metal bands who only sing about sat*n because
it is trendy, if they were true believers they would know different.
Anyway, I don 't want to get into that, each to their own etc.
in opposition to Christianity, which is very important in Ireland
for a lot of reasons and aslo for the national identity?
even today it is hard for a country to lose an identity it has had
from many years ago. Italians only eat pasta, Dutch people wear funny
wooden shoes..that is not true and Neither is Irelands immense Christianity.
Very few people go to church now in Ireland, which to be very honest,
I think is sad. Ok, I am not a Christian but I would prefer that people
believe in something rather than nothing and modern Christianity is
not as bad as it was hundreds of years ago, but I do believe that
most of Christianity's belief systems have been proven to be wrong,
creations of a simple people hundreds of years ago.
is a wonderful country, very poetic and magic, people is very particular
and friendly, when i was there i was very impressed and now, when
i see a film like The Field or In The Name Of Father I'm capturated
by his particular atmosphere and i felt into nostalghia, how important
for you is to be Irish men?
most people in the world we are very proud of our nationality, no
doubt if I was born Italian, being the nationalistic person that I
am, I would be the very same about Italy. Although the points you
have said about Ireland is exactly the same for Italy and you have
a better football team ha ha!!!!!
read that there were a lot of connections between nazis and celtic
culture and the celtic cross is used by the right youngs as a symbol.
Your celtic interest has something to do with this politic attitude?
We do not support this attitude at all, yes the nazis adopted very
famous symbols, the swastika was from the roman army many years ago
(as far as I know) and the celtic cross is a very famous symbol in
Ireland. The nazis distorted them for ever but Ireland still uses
the celtic cross, in catholic churches, grave stones etc. I think
the swastika will always remain destroyed however.
is possible that you will play in Italy in future?
so, obviously we cannot fund a tour ourselves, it would be up to Hammerheart
Records to fund any tours that we do although we have recently signed
with the metalmania booking agency so hopefully they can do something
to your italian fans?
romhait mo chara, which means hello my friends, thanks and respect
to all the people from the great Italian empire that have been in
contact over the years, a mighty celtic hail to you all from the Cruachan
ranks. Visit our website for more Cruachan news: www.cruachan.cjb.net
Cheers Giancarlo, keep
Reviews (in italian): Folk-Lore; Tuatha
Na Gael; Pagan;
The Morrigans' Call