понедельник, 16 декабря 2013 г.

Mael Mordha Interview

1.Hails! Present your band for the readers and tell about the history of it’s creation and formation.

Hails indeed! So, the history of Mael Mordha goes back to around 1998 when the band was founded by Roibeard. There were several lineup changes in the early years and for the first demo recordings but the current lineup (Roibeard – Vocals, Whistle and Keys,  Shane – Drums, Ger – Guitars, Dave – Bass) was in place to record the Cluain Tarbh demo in 2004. This led to our first dealings with a record label when we released the first album, also Cluain Tarbh, with Karmageddon Media in 2005. We gained a new guitar player (Anthony) shortly after and then we moved to Germany’s Grau Records for the second and third albums, Gealtacht Mael Mordha and Manannan, 2007 and 2010. Around 2011 we reverted back to one guitarist in the band and then went on to record the new album, Damned When Dead, which was released this year by Candlelight Records.

2.What name Mael Mordha means?

The name comes from an ancient Irish King. Mael Mordha was the King of Leinster which is one of the five ancient kingdoms of Ireland. He was involved in a long war with Brian Boru, the King of Munster and High King of Ireland, which ended in the famous Battle of Clontarf. Armies from both kingdoms fought in this battle, with Viking mercenaries also. It was an important battle in Ireland and throughout the Viking world as many important leaders were killed including Mael Mordha himself, Brian Boru, and the Viking kings of Dublin and the Isle of Man. We have written several songs about this battle and Mael Mordha himself, I think he is a good character to identify with for a doom metal band, his life was a struggle and he could never escape his doom in the end.

3.Why you chose such theme for creativity? Do you interested in your homeland heritage or maybe you really turned into the Celtic paganism? Can we think, that Primordial as a some kind of pioneers of such caused a some kind of influence on you? Are some other bands in your region that also devoted to religion and myth of homeland?

I guess we are all interested in our history and our native mythology. We would not be practicing members of a pagan religion but I think there is a spiritual connection to the land and to the ancient stories of its people, maybe something that is not satisfied in the modern, commercial world. I don’t feel that Primordial was such a big influence in the beginnings of Mael Mordha. I think the musical influence was taken from the atmospheric doom of My Dying Bride with the intention to evoke some of the Irish themes from history and myth. There has been an interest in this type of music for a long time in Ireland, you mentioned Primordial, also contemporaries would be Waylander, Cruachan and Belinus. For a while this style of metal lost some popularity but there is resurgence now with bands like Celtachor, Sodb and others who draw their inspiration from our heritage.

4.Your relation to christianity and some bullshit festivals like “st.patrick’s day” and all those clichés about Ireland and it’s people. And more deep question – your relation to christian invasion to Ireland and other Europe, destruction of native beliefs and spreading of it’s own god.

Unfortunately many of these clichés are true! In modern Ireland Saint Patrick’s Day, Christmas etc… have nothing to do with Christianity anymore and are purely commercial festivals with no deeper meaning. All of these festivals descend from ancient times when people celebrated but they also had spiritual meaning, connected to their lives and the seasons. These festivals then had a Christian imprint and meaning placed upon them, which we have now discarded, so we have no real reason in our lives for these festivals and celebrations except spending money and getting drunk, it’s very vulgar and has nothing of the soul left in it.

I think that once Christianity was chosen as the religion of Rome and its Empire, it was inevitable that it would become the religion of Europe, as those who sought power always tried to emulate the Roman way of life as much as possible. It is a good religion for powerful people as it takes the lesson from the old testament that a strong king must have a strong priest beside him, but also the new lesson that it is alright to suffer in life because you will get your reward in heaven. This belief justifies the oppression of people, because it teaches that god intended it so. I don’t know how it went in other European countries but I believe that in Ireland the people kept many of their traditions through the Christian adoption of the festivals and of their gods as Christian saints. It was not until much later that the church had the power to stamp out traditional festivals, music and dancing, which also came with the destruction of the native language.

5.What literature or artistic or some other sources you investigate for writing lyrics? Do you visit some sacred places in Ireland for take the influence? How many such places remained in Ireland and whole England and what your government do to keep cultural and religious monuments safe or they don’t give a fuck?

I do try to visit ancient sites in Ireland whenever I get the opportunity and both Roibeard and I read and discuss Irish history and the origins of the myths and the people, and I think that some of these discussions and ideas come through in the lyrics. There is a part of old Irish folklore called Dindsenchas, which means the knowledge of places, their names and the association they have with events and characters in stories and anywhere you travel in Ireland you can learn through the place-names the mythological associations of the places. This is a good way to escape for a moment from the modern reality. Our government has a shameful history in keeping important cultural monuments well preserved, many have been destroyed throughout the years or allowed to entirely decay. It is better in recent years, probably because they realize that tourists want to see these places and will spend some money.

6.Whether your albums are conceptual? Retell if it isn't difficult, the main motives and plots and sources, from where they were taken.

Our albums are not all conceptual, in that they don’t all tell a particular story within the album.

The first two albums, Cluain Tarbh and Gealtacht Mael Mordha, contain songs that were written newly for the albums and also some older songs from the earlier demos that were re-recorded so there is not a unified theme within the album. However across the albums there is a link between the title songs which tell of the war between Mael Mordha and Brian Boru and the final battle of Clontarf (which is Cluain Tarbh in the Irish language)

The third album, Manannan, is more conceptual and has a more spiritual than historical approach. It deals with the character of Mael Mordha after his death in battle and the god Manannan. The story sees Mael Mordha journey to the underworld realm of Manannan, in the form of a journey to the Otherworld which is a common theme in early Irish mythology, where he confronts the god and is rebuked for his failures as the king of his people. In ancient Ireland, the king was an important religious figure in the lives of his people, not just a powerful ruler. Manannan then reveals to Mael Mordha that he will be sent back again to Ireland to carry out his work.

The fourth album, Damned When Dead, tell the story of another king, Diarmuid MacMurrough. This album approaches more from a historical than mythological point of view as it recounts the history of the coming of the Anglo-Normans to Ireland in 1169. The title comes from a medieval version of the story where Diarmuid is referred to as “putrid when living, damned when dead” for his betrayal of the Irish people by inviting the foreign mercenaries who would conquer the land. The songs on the album look at these events from Diarmuid’s point of view, his motivations and his ultimate failure when he realizes he has not saved his kingdom or his family and his power will pass to the foreign lords. The character of Manannan reappears to remind us of the fate that will come to a king who fails in his duty to his people.

7.One of the central characters of your album is Manannan, the lord of sea from the Irish mythology. Why it’s pictured on your albums covers in a centaur-like form and why this mythological character is  so important personally for you?

Manannan is a character who has developed with the band over the years, through the lyrics and the artwork and is quite important to the whole concept at this stage. In Irish mythology he is a god of the sea, a powerful sorcerer and is connected with the otherworld and the lands of the dead. The bull symbol has been in our artwork since the first album Cluain Tarbh – which in Irish means the meadow of the bull. For the second album we worked with a Greek artist, Vasleios Zikos, who developed this concept to represent Manannan as the sea god in the form of a bull, destroying the Viking ships. I like this development as it is linked to the ancient Greek/Minoan association of Poseidon with the bull. Since then we have continued to work with the same artist and this figure of the bull has continued in the artwork. Manannan represents the pagan traditions and religion of the Irish people and he opposes the abandoning of these elements of our culture for power and greed. This can be related to the conversion to Christianity, to the death of the Gaelic culture and to the modern commercial and commodity driven life that is encouraged through the capitalist system in Europe and America.

8. Tell in brief about your personal vision of history of your homeland and the most significant historic figures from your point of view.

I feel that the way we perceive and understand our history has been the victim of politics for a long time. In school Irish history is taught as the narrative of struggle against the British but this is too simplistic. It ignores the complexity of the situation and the motivation of individuals, especially in the earlier periods. We also have many non-historical ideas about our people, which come from 19th Century nationalism and German romantic literature, so much of what was believed about Celtic people before we now know is simply untrue. It was politically important in the 19th Century to create a history for the Irish that was separate from the English, but a lot of this was fictional. Modern archaeology and history are slowly revealing more of the actual historical events.

I think one of the problems we have at the moment is an attachment to particular historic figures which is non-critical and almost mythological. For example, the leaders of the 1916 Rising are seen only as heroic figures, without a clear understanding of the context of violence in the society they lived in. It becomes problematic when you turn a political activist into a heroic figure because you take away the contextual surroundings of their actions. I think a hugely important figure in our cultural history is Edward Bunting, who in the 18th and 19th Centuries carried out very important work in writing down and preserving a great deal of the traditional music of Ireland, which would otherwise have been lost. Without men like him we would not be able to understand or appreciate anything that is left of our ancient culture.

9.Do you celebrate your natives festivals like Samhain or Beltane? Tell about celebration tradition from Ireland that I may don’t know but more in native, sacred way, not official surrogate.

I don’t celebrate any native festival in a religious way. I don’t believe that it is possible to accurately practice a pre-christian religion, anyone who says they do is following a modern invention. If someone wants to do this and this has a spiritual meaning for them, that’s fine, but it’s not for me. I am interested in the history of such practice and rituals. In Ireland, for example, we still have many local fairs in rural areas which take place on a particular Christian saint’s day but you can also find how these were also associated with a pagan festival before. It’s interesting to see how something like that can survive through the generations for hundreds of years.

10.Your relation to bands and musician using your native folklore traditions and theme but not from your country, like it was with Gravelnd “Celtic Winter” or “Drunemeton”, for example.

I think that’s great. I would not say that you have to belong to a culture to use their folklore for influence. A band like Slough Feg from the US can write some great songs about celtic myths, greek myths and science fiction! If you take these influences and write some good music that can also be evocative or atmospheric then that can only be a good thing.

11.Do you interested in native origin beliefs and traditions from other countries, parts of Europe or not just Europe? Can you name your own native beliefs and feel your as a part of whole polytheistic European traditions?

I am interested in history, that is the subject of most of my education, and I have come across a lot of folklore from different regions. I think in Europe, the most interesting aspect is how cultures can relate to one another and you can find examples of similar gods and heroes across several cultures. This can reveal the common origins of much of our culture and also shows how different groups treat these traditions. There is so much in our ancient culture, in the megalithic period, that was common across Europe and is now so mysterious and remote to us. In Irish folklore we have several stories that tell of how the Irish people came to this island, who they were descended from and where they came from. What is interesting is that modern research can show the elements of truth in these tales, so that we can see how they were used by the people to record and remember their own history.

12.Do you familiar with Slavonic culture and what do you think about it’s cultural heritage and it’s value? Do you familiar with any band from Slavonic scene, spreading it’s culture and using it’s folklore elements?

This is one European culture I am not so familiar with, I suppose because it does not interact so closely with ours historically. I have also not travelled much in Slavonic lands as compared to Western Europe. I would like to change this and learn a lot more. I am familiar with some bands, like Drudkh, Gods Tower, Arkona who draw their inspiration from their native lands and folklore. Drudkh I particularly like, it seems to me to be very genuine and heartfelt music from people who are passionate about their culture.

13.What do you think about modern multicultural standards mixing all cultures into the one melting copper? What do you think about some kinds or tools of struggle against it? I think so-called “metal society” and it’s pagan cell obviously not rather big platform for distribution of ideas of this sort. And a huge part this so-called “society” do nothing, but often profane such traditions and ideas.

I think there are very many confused concepts involved in this issue. I think people should carefully consider what they mean when they use words like ‘society’ ‘culture’ and ‘heritage’ and mix them together. The biggest threat to culture is from the media and entertainment industries in my mind, not any sort of social situation. Society is how we organize ourselves to be able to live together and it must accommodate a variety of cultural activity, there is no choice about this in the modern world. What I do not want to see is the cheapening of cultural traditions by commercial interests but this is so prevalent these days. I suppose you can try and educate people from a young age about their cultural heritage but it is impossible to compete with a global entertainment industry that dominates all other cultural activity.

14.And so, if we started to talk about metal, please tell about sources of your musical inspirations and influences from the very beginning. Tell about worth bands on the modern scene in your opinon.

In the beginning, this band took its influence from the 1990s English Doom/Death bands, My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, Anathema… who showed us how to put this raw emotion into such heavy music. But all the band members have their own particular influences as well and this has changed and developed our sound. For myself, maybe Bathory and Candlemass would be a big influence. I think a good comparison also is the band Solstice, who for me have achieved the same relationship between English folklore and heavy music that we would like to achieve for Irish themes.

Good bands at the moment? Currently I really like the Ruins of Beverast new album. Atlantean Kodex new album has some great stuff also. Bölzer are another excellent band, and a new to the scene Irish band, Malthusian, are well worth checking out.

15.You took part in Bathory tribute. Tell about influence of Quorthon and his creativity on yours.

Yeah, we were invited to contribute to a tribute to Bathory, which is an honour because Quorthon is such an important figure in the music we play. I think particularly with the Viking phase he showed how you can draw on the influence of heritage and culture and play with real passion, which I don’t feel is present in a lot of so-called folk metal bands. Bathory is never cheesy or contrived and the raw emotion is always there in the playing and the vocals.

16.Your singer mostly use the clean type of vocals. Don’t you want to add some harsh vocal styles like growling or screaming to make your music more extreme or clean vocals it’s just your main feature? Did he studied some vocals techniques before started to sing in the band or he just got the strong voice?

There is a mixture on all of our albums between the clean and harsher vocals, but yes, the clean singing is more prevalent. It all depends on what works for each song, so it isn’t decided from the beginning, but develops with the writing of each new song. Roibeard had some musical training when he was younger I believe, yes, in piano but also in singing.

17.Tell about your concert activities. Tell about your first gig, best gig and worst gig and bands that are best or worst to play in one fest. Describe the best gig how it would have to be in your imagination.

We don’t play as often as we would like to is the first thing. We aren’t so young anymore, with jobs and family commitments so it can be difficult to get things together for playing. My first Mael Mordha gig was in Cork in the south of Ireland, in 2002 I think. I had only one or two rehearsals and was nervous but the crowd in Cork is always good for us and this was a small and crowded venue so it went very well and since then I always enjoy when we play in that city. I’m not sure which gig has been the best, we’ve had some great ones over the years. This year alone I would pick Redemption Festival, Bloodstock Festival and our support with Primordial in Thessaloniki. I think maybe Redemption Festival is possibly my favourite for a long time because it was the first time we really showed people how we feel we have rejuvenated the band since going back to one guitarist and the energy we know we can bring to the performance.

The worst gig I remember was a long time ago in Derry, Northern Ireland. We were booked with an English band Pale Horse for a show. When we arrived there was no proper venue, it was a kids’ youth club with just some young kids, not even metalheads. The gig was kind of pointless but we got drunk, so it was ok in the end.

I don’t think we’ve had any bad festival experiences or played with problematic bands, mostly the opposite in fact, we get on pretty well with the bands we meet. I would like to play a festival some day with Solstice and I hope to play again with Skyforger, who we have played with in the past and it’s always been great.

18.Tell about your plans for the future of Mael Mordha and some final words for the House Of The Whipcord Zine!

We hope to keep traveling to new countries and bring our music to more people. We have some final shows this year in Ireland in Limerick and Cork. Next year we are planning some gigs in the UK and perhaps in Germany and Greece, where we have just been with Primordial and had a great response. I would love to follow Cruachan and play some shows in Eastern Europe and in Russia, I feel that if this could happen they would be good gigs and a good experience. Then towards the end of next year we must look to writing a new album but we already have some ideas and are looking forward to this. Thank you for the interview, for taking an interest in Mael Mordha and very thought provoking questions. All the best in 2014, hope to see you at a show some day!

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