Celtachor are currently getting ready to release their second album Nuada of the Silver Arm. We caught up with the band to find out a little more about it. See what happened below!
Can you introduce yourself and tell me a bit about the band?
Steve: I am Stephen, Vocalist/Whistle player for Irish Black/Folk metal band Celtachor.
Anais: Hi Soundscape, I am Anais, the drummer.
David: Hi I’m David and I play guitar in Celtachor.
Steve: The idea of the band was forged in the early months of 2007 with my friend David. After a demo that was limited to about 30 people we started to look into getting a lineup sorted. We wanted to re-tell the sagas of Irish Mythology in our own way, just a honest and passionate statement of intent,without the gimmicks that are normally associated with Folk / Celtic metal. It was only from 2010 that Celtachor was a live band and our first show was with Cruachan on August 27th in Dublin. Soon after we were joined by Anais, Fionn and Oliver.
You’re currently getting ready to release your second album Nuada of the Silver Arm – how did you approach it compared to your debut album Nine Waves from the Shore?
Steve: In terms of the concept it was very much a continuation to the story and saga lineage. In terms of song writing Fionn was at the forefront this time in terms of song ideas with some songs forged by Dave as well. The songs were written over the guts of two years there or about. I think also one thing that made such a difference was going to a proper studio with a great sound engineer (Ola Ersfjord) that really pushed the album to where it needed to be.
Anais: The band evolved a lot since the first album, I think we are all better musicians individually, and we learned how to write together the best possible way. We also decided to go for a proper studio this time, as opposed to Nine Waves that we self recorded and released, and we made an excellent choice with our sound engineer. There is quite a gap between the two albums.
David: The story telling aspect and themes of our music is concept driven but over the course of time since our last album Nine Waves From The Shore we really have gelled as musicians. We’re really listening to each other, what we are playing and how we played together. Utilizing our time in the studio was essential so we really needed to know our stuff. With so many ideas of the sounds we wanted to achieve having a engineer/producer like Ola (Ersfjord) was fantastic.
Can you describe your writing and recording process?
Steve: Generally it would start with myself thinking up a concept from the Irish Mythological Sagas. I would give everyone the saga idea and then it gets fleshed out in musical terms, creating a atmosphere and visual picture in the mind of the listener. We have a really good mix of styles and interests which keep things interesting, generally a mixing pot of ideals but we are all on the same wavelength when it comes to the focus and end result.
Anais: Fionn and Daithi have quite a unique way of working together that I didn’t see in many other bands. Daithi is a rocker, he loves thrash, chunky grooves, just like Oliver our bassist, and Fionn is more into dark and ambient music, like Steve and I. It took a moment to figure it out, but now we have two guitarists that build something better together. The rest, (bass, drums, vocals, whistles) is built up during rehearsal.
David: Just like Anais and Steve have said, it’s a mixing pot – it all goes in and gets mixed around. We use what works the best and what feels right.
Were there any tracks that were more of a challenge to get down?
Steve : For myself the vocals were a bigger challenge this time round, I was definitely pushed to get the very best and I am extremely happy how they came out at the end of the process. Everyone worked hard as ever to give the songs a huge feel, and at the same time atmospheric till the end.
Anais: Oh dear, yes there were two difficulties in the studio that we did not see coming, two riffs. But a bit of black eye here, a bit of a brainstorm here, and it all worked out at the end.
David: As Anais said earlier, I’m a bit of a rocker and it shows in my playing style, but when you are tracking you’ve really got to know what the other guy (Fionn) is playing and how they play it. It goes both ways because we have really different styles of playing. It needs to be 100% for the album and with that personal challenges arise. Each track on this album has its own measure of complexity that when you listen to it makes you think ‘ok now that sounds really great.’
Which track are you most proud of?
Steve: My favourite track from the new album is King Eochaid’s Fall. It just has the bite and aggression of the battle at the start and then finishes off a grand scale, but with that said all the songs on the album are really strong and some of our best work to date. I look forward to everyone hearing it!
Anais: Hard choice, I love them all… I think it’s Uaithne: The Dagda’s Harp for me… Or maybe The Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh.
David: It’s kind of hard to say as we have rehearsed them, rewritten them and re-rehearsed them for nearly 2 years. They have grown apart of our being as a band. They all do provoke emotion in our playing. If I was to pick one I’d say it would be the Harp (Uaithne: The Dagda’s Harp) from the first time we played it completely and the way we wanted it to be it just pumps with emotion and intent.
Any interesting stories to share from the recording studio?
Steve: Too much coffee ha, but in all seriousness it was a really enjoyable experience and I learned a hell of a lot from it. This was my first real experience in a proper studio with a sound engineer who pushed to get the best out of us all. I think when you get the taste of working in a good place with good gear, you can’t go back.
Anais: Don’t mess with the Swedish Buddah!
David: ….and then there was coffee…lots of coffee.
The artwork was created by your drummer Anais. What’s the story behind it?
Steve: The concept of this album deals with the life and death of the High King or Ard Ri
Nuada following him through the first and second battles of Magh Tuireadh till the point of his death by the Fomorian Leader Balor. The Cover depicts Nuada staring into the flames of the forge at his hall of Teamhair, looking down at his new Silver Arm (he lost his arm in the first battle of Magh Tuireadh) that was created by one of his men Dian Cecht. The people of his hall blinded by the light from the arm and flames, and within the flames the faces of Eriú, Fodla and Banba (three goddesses of Ireland ) overlooking the arms creation. Anais did a amazing job at bringing the concept to life 🙂
Anais: I wanted to show Nuada’s strength and superiority, as he stands directly next to the flames whereas the rest of his people cannot stand the heat and the light out of it.
Have you got much planned in the way of live shows?
Steve: At the moment we are playing with Skyforger on May 1st with Corr Mhona, and the following day we are in the Netherlands opening for our friends Heidevolk . That is it for the moment but we hope to do some more Irish/UK dates come the summer and hopefully more in Europe! If there are any promoters reading this interview who would be interested in having us, fire us a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
David: We’re scouting around for venues and promoters, maybe a few surprises in store but its all up in the air at the moment, again as steve said any promoters interested drop us a line.
What would you say has been the best show you’ve played?
Steve: For myself my favourite show so far has been a close call between Dark Troll Festival in Germany and Cernunnos Festival in France. Both were extremely enjoyable and I wish they happened more often! We were treated so well by the promoters of each fest and by our label Trollzorn. Such great guys.
Anais: Cernunnos in France was really amazing, what a crowd, what an organisation from Les Acteurs de l’Ombre! But also York with Heidevolk, I remember that gig because at that time we had just found a new confidence on stage, we were stronger as a band and as friends, we had practiced a lot… And as the crowd was really amazing again, we just really enjoyed this show!
David: Cernunnos was brilliant, the crowd was crazy. It was really intense and the venue was packed, so many people wanted to check us out. It really was an amazing feeling.
If you could play anywhere in the world on any lineup, what would you choose?
Steve: I would love to play in Russia! It’s somewhere I have always wanted to go to and bringing the music over there would be great! Who knows maybe someday, we can hope!
Anais: Tough one! I would love Russia too as some of my ancestors were Russians. But Australia, Japan, USA, all those far away countries! May it be with Nokturnal Mortum, Moonsorrow, Skyforger and Heidevolk!
David: I just want to play.
And aside from releasing the new album, what have you got planned for the rest of 2015?
Steve: Apart from plugging the new album and gigging as much as humanly possible, I will be busy with my other projects Mael Mordha and Laochra. But I would say it won’t be too long till we are writing for the follow up to this album 🙂
Anais: We are starting to write third album very soon I would say. Daithi and Fionn are already in the starting blocks. We will be working on a music video as soon as money permits it too.
David: I dont know yet, Nuada of the Silver Arm is really going to be my main focus and organizing concerts. Like all other bands we’re continuing to write new music but at this point in time i really just want to play this album loud and proud.
Steve: Thank you for the interview and your time Natalie!