Who doesn’t know Switzerland from the weird singing, its alps with majestic grasslands and steep mountain hikes. Only few think of Helvetia. And its just that why Eluveitie is known. Singing about heroic deeds, epic battles and the common life of the Helvetian people. All combined in epic and fierce folksongs. The coincidence is that they just released a new record labeled with the same name. Helvetia. Merlin, the bass player agreed to free a little time to answer our curious questions.
1. The new cd again contains a lot of folk metal madness. But since ‘everything remains as it never was’ the metal part is taking over a bit compared to the folk sounds. Is this a well thought choice?
Merlin: Not really, no. We didn’t feel there was less folk at all, however It is a very “metal” mix though!
2. The previous albums did not have a super clear thematic sounding title or story. With Helvetia it is very clear what the songs are about. Does this mean there is an intention to promote the Helvetian region, its history or the modern Switzerland? Was it a challenge creative wise?
Merlin: “Helvetios” is not necessarily about the Helvetian region, but a concept album about the Gaulish war around 78-50 b.c, when the Helvetian tribes, under pressure between the Germanic Suebes and the Romans under Cesar, attempted an exodus and were finally beaten in the bloody battle of Alesia. The most important historical source for those events is Cesar’s “De Bello Gallico”, as history is known to be written by the winners of wars. Due to Cesar’s eagerness to present himself in a good way, much of the authenticity of those writings can be questioned. So what we’re trying to do is to tell the story from the view of the Helvetians!
3. As a band you exist since 2003. Do you feel you have grown a lot as a musician? In which way did you got influenced by other bands? If there is any influence
Merlin: Absolutely. During the last few years, I think each of us has grown significantly as a musician, but also Eluveitie as a band has reached whole new levels.. Playing almost 200 shows for the last album alone probably didn’t hurt! As for influences, there’s too many to count, simple because we’re eight people with different taste. I for my part listen to almost all styles of music, so I’m influenced by great pop records just as much as by metal music.
4. A few years ago the question was posed about which bands you would choose on your own festival. Today we know the answer. Is the festival coming to the rest of Europe in the future?
Merlin: We don’t know about that. Right now we’re pretty sure there’ll be a second edition in Switzerland at the end of the year, but anything else is far from certain at this point.
5. Obviously since 2003 The genre of folk music and its sister music styles have boomed tremendously. What is your view on its evolution and its present state and future direction?
Merlin: Well, for a start we’re of course very happy to see what has become of the tiny scene we started out in, and we’re happy for all the bands that are enjoying different levels of success right now. But both when it comes to musical style and to development we have always seen Eluveitie as standing apart a little bit. We’ve went through our own development, and since we are not influenced by other folk metal bands directly I think it’ll stay that way. Our future direction is hard to predict, but there has been a clear development between each of our records, and I’m sure it’ll happen again next time.
6. Riding along Paganfest and of course your own touring brings you along lots of places in the large Europe. What do you think of the Belgian crowd? Which country is the crazies
Merlin: It’s hard to say where the craziest crowd is, especially since our touring expands to the U.S. and recently South America just as much, so there’s too many to think of. Probably there isn’t one anyway, as they’re all quite amazing! Belgium is awesome and stands out in its own way, as it is one of the few countries we have visited regularly since the very beginning. Also Graspop was one of the first large festivals we played, and the Hof Ter Loo (now Trix) in Antwerp we know almost as well as our own homes by now!
7. Your music tells about Helvetian and bretonish tales which obviously demands a lot of historic research. How do you come across such stories.
Merlin: Just as the songwriting, this is mainly done by Chrigel. His fascination with the material reaches back further than he can remember, and is a big part of why he founded Eluveitie in the first place. So he does a lot of research, reads dozens of books, and also works with historians and linguistics departmens at universities from time to time.
8. Your 2009 album Evocation I suggests one or several following chapters. Some sites also make suggestions in this direction. Is there a sequel planned in the future? Or is that a secret only the alps know?
Merlin: There will be a sequel for sure, but we can’t say when yet. Not because it’s a secret, but because right now we will focus fully on the upcoming Helvetios world tour, which is due to start in a few days in Brazil.
9. My questions have run dry. I would like to thank you for the interview. Are there any last words for your fans and our readers?
Thank you, and as for the last words: We are extremely excited to be back on the road soon, and we hope to see all of you there. While we won’t name a single “craziest crowd in the world”, Belgium is definitely one of them and it will be our honor to come back as soon as possible if you’ll have us yet again..