No band in the epic/folk metal realm works harder than Switzerland’s Eluveitie. While their folk brothers-in-arms Ensiferum, Tyr, and Suidakra tend to at least take a breather now and then, Eluveitie practically lives on the road, as evidenced by the round of the touring they’re presenting embarking on for last year’s well-received Helvetios. Judging by the band’s live prowess (lots of action, clap-alongs, good times), the road has simply refined the octet into a force well beyond their humble beginnings, dating back to 2006’s Spirit. (Funny, for there are eight mouths to feed and limited stage space…they really must like this road-dogging thing).
Blistering caught up with main Elu-dude Chrigel Glanzmann on the band’s bus prior to a near sold-out date this past December in Pittsburgh. After chit-chatting about the singer’s affinity for French bread (”I had to ‘like’ this place on Facebook – that’s how happy I was to find it”), we got down to business…
Blistering.com: Reportedly, a bunch of dates on this tour have already sold-out, which has to be a pretty cool thing for you guys. Were you surprised by this?
Chrigel Glanzmann: This is our seventh time over. Over the years, the whole music thing functions so cyclically. If you want to be around for a long time, that’s what you have to do – play shows. So yeah, it’s amazing to be honest. We thought it would be a good tour, but we didn’t expect it. We’re super-happy and thankful.
Blistering.com: You’ve been playing the new album Helvetios in its entirety on this tour, so how is it settling into the Eluveitie pantheon?
Glanzmann: Pantheon [laughs]. Good, so far. We released the album while we were touring for it, and yeah, obviously, those songs are good live songs. We didn’t know, but they’re fun to play and they’re very well-received. And business-wise – I’m not going to lie because that’s what it is after all – it’s by far our most successful album.
Blistering.com: You have to think in those terms. You have an 8-member band, and since you hooked up with Nuclear Blast for the release of Slania, you’ve been going at this non-stop.
Glanzmann: [pauses] I can say it’s been right, but it doesn’t have much to do with Nuclear Blast. In my taste, they’re one of the best record companies; really good guys, but it’s not like we signed to them and everything changed. It was different in the 80’s when record companies discovered you...you know the Swiss band Coroner?
Blistering.com: Of course I do. Tommy [Vettereli] did your record.
Glanzmann: Back then - he’s a good friend of mine and the stories he told me - they were paid salaries by the record company. It’s completely different today. They’re just around to distribute your album, basically.
Blistering.com: They’re not like a bank like they used to be.
Glanzmann: Exactly. It’s not like signing to Nuclear Blast changed us or anything. It’s been good…we can make a living from the music for a couple of years now. That doesn’t mean anything…some of us live below the poverty line. That’s true. We can make a living from it, so we’re happy.
Blistering.com: As for working with Tommy, what was that like? What did you pick up from him?
Glanzmann: I loved it. As I said, he’s a really good friend, I like him a lot. We’re so much on the same page when it comes to recording and we’ll continue to work with him. To be honest, the album isn’t that much processed. Tommy’s philosophy is that the recording is only as good as the band, and he spends an insane amount of time and money into the recording equipment and room. That’s what in the first place that convinced us to start working with him. At first, he recording some drums and guitars, and the guitars for example, the first three days not one single not was recorded. He’s a complete freak [laughs]. After he recorded a few things with the drums and guitars, we were like, “Damn, you don’t have to mix this! It sounds already mixed.” That’s what he does. When you hear the album, that’s what you get.
Blistering.com: Any good stories from Tommy about his time in Coroner?
Glanzmann: They broke up a long time ago and got back together recently. It’s cool…we’ve been friends with Tommy for a while, but we got to know each other as bands.
Blistering.com: It’s funny – you two couldn’t be more different-sounding.
Glanzmann: Yeah, yeah. It works so well. Merlin [Sutter] our drummer helped them out as drum-tech and I did guest vocals for his new band. Today, we’re just two buddy bands.
Blistering.com: What’s the update on the new acoustic album?
Glanzmann: We will do that for sure. I’ve started working on the concept for it on this tour. It will still take a while. It was just a spontaneous idea to do something else with it. On this tour, I started on the concept for the next metal album. Lyrical conception-wise, it became obvious to link it with together with the next Evocation album…make it another concept. We will probably do two albums linked together. That’s two albums and a lot work, but we’re still on the road and will still be on the road until next summer. That’s when we will be able to start working on the songs, so it won’t be before 2014.
Blistering.com: Has it crossed your mind to do a double-album? As in, one side heavy, the other acoustic?
Glanzmann: Yes, we’ve thought about it. It just hasn’t happened so far. What we wanted to do is a bonus CD, do the usual album, then have cover songs with the songs we like, but acoustic, folky covers. We actually did an acoustic version of Prodigy’s “Breathe.” It turned out pretty cool, but it was just for fun.
Blistering.com: What’s harder to do at this point: the acoustic stuff, or metal?
Glanzmann: They’re pretty much the same. Evocation I was a little different anyway because it just happened and happened in a very short period of time. We were on the road all the time, so when we finished the last tour for Slania, so we did all the songs in a month. There was a lot of improvisation. We just said it has to be acoustic…but not just traditional folk music.
Blistering.com: Being on the road so much, have you ever reached that point of burn out?
Glanzmann: Oh yeah. It’s not the same for all of us…but it’s also a matter of age. There’s quite a large age difference in the band, but I personally have came to that point in certain years. To be honest, usually being on the road is relaxing. I never sleep as much when I’m on the road.