Waylander was formed already in 1993 when folk metal was not a big issue. What made you decide back then to start a band like this? Or did this style of music became slowly more and more the trademark of the band?
We got together in 1993 with no real aim in mind, but within a year we realised that the overt folk influence could very well be our niche. It wasn't until late 1994 when I was preparing flyers for the release of our debut demo that I sat down and tried to give some sort of musical description of our sound at the time. I think I called it Celtic/Pagan Metal or something similar. We were one of the very first bands to use this description and as a result our demo sold well throughout the world through the medium of underground mail-orders. We definitely attracted an above average amount of curious people. Most of the band members in the early days were brought up with Irish traditional folk music and most listened to some folk type bands as well as a large dose of various genres of Metal. It wasn't until the release of the first demo that we actually realised we had stumbled across a completely natural style and pledged our allegiance to it from that day onward. At the time the only band we knew of who played a folk influenced metal style were Skyclad and we thought that we could play in a similar style, but being Irish we'd have the advantage of course. The Horslips were really the blueprint for the band, re-enforced by what Skyclad had achieved. Basically a folk influenced extreme Metal band with Pagan and folkloric lyrical narratives.
What main influences do you use for your music? Is it Clanned and Venom or are there also old books or perhaps movies that can explain the feeling of Waylander?
Clannad and Venom, I really don't know whether to laugh or cry but I can see where you are coming from. As alluded to in the previous answer, Horslips, Skyclad as well as Traditional music in general, were the folk influences while the Metal influences ranged from Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy to Kreator, Sabbath, Slayer etc. Aggression atmosphere and melody were, and still are, vital components. Other influences were and still are of great importance, those of the landscape and places of power on our island, the Legends and Folklore of Eireann and the general state of the land and planet we live on.
Why is the band name Waylander anyway? Isn't Highlander a better name?
Waylander came from a David Gemmell book and as most of us at the time were keen readers of epic fantasy novels, the whole warrior imagery was very much in evidence almost from day one. The notion of an Irish name didn't appeal to anyone so we decided on Waylander as we thought the name evoked images of being waylaid or indeed, of Highlander. Added to that the fact that it was a unique name sealed the deal really.
Can you tell us what typical Irish instruments you use in the music?
In the past we have used the tin-whistle and for several years had a full time tin whistle player. We've also used the Bodhran, which is a kind of war drum, which is beaten with a small stick. It's never been easy finding traditional musicians who also happen to be Metalheads and to this day we are struggling to replace Mairtin, our one time tin whistler. If the opportunity arises though we will use folk instruments again in the live environment. We will use traditional instruments on our recordings, albeit in a less noticeable way than in the past in all probability.
And what can you tell us about the lyrics? Are these just stories about old kings or is there a deeper meaning behind it?
I've pretty much avoided simply recounting the tales of old. This is deliberate as I think the old tales in their freshly translated format have so much to offer in terms of hidden meanings in every sense. I always endeavour to have a message or meaning behind every song and quite often in every part of a song. Some of my lyrics have been interpreted in a way that have stunned and angered me in the past, usually by white power idiots who hadn't the intelligence to understand such grammatical complexities as metaphor. References to important figure's from Ireland's past will be mentioned as well as places and landscapes. A modern perspective is often the view taken, contrasting the modern and the Ancient. Everything is taken from a modern Pagan's perspective.
Some parts of the lyrics are written and sung in Gaelic. It sounds cool, but what the hell does something like “An Ri, An Ri, Ri Na Sidhe” mean?
Ri na Sidh translates as King of the Fairies, which is an old Irish tune from many moons ago. There are quite a few words as Gaeilge throughout the lyrics and this will continue to be so. It is the language of our land and in certain scenarios simply must be used as the English translation would sound silly. In this particular song, I actually invented the lyrics as it has always been a tune without words in every version I have heard in the past. The song is about the Tuatha De Dannan, who were worshiped as Gods by most of the population until the coming of Christianity. They were and still are referred to as, the Shining ones, the beautiful people, the Fair Folk and later, under encouragement from the clergy, the Fairies. The poem is simply an ode to the Tuatha De Dannan.
Why did you decided to re-release the 1998 album 'Reawakening Pride Once Lost? Wasn't it better to record a new album?
It's a logical step to re-release the first album. Firstly, we got the rights back to do so, secondly, we received a huge amount of requests for the album when it was unavailable. Then we had a few labels interested in handling the re-release. Add to that the fact that we all want a vinyl in our hands and the re-release would generate some much needed publicity for a band who have been out of circulation for quite a while and all becomes clear. We are working away on the finishing touches of the new album, which we will record and release at some point in 2006. We plan trying out a few of these songs live at concerts in May and June and hopefully we will be recording the album immediately prior too or straight after these gigs.
The booklet from 'Reawakening Pride Once Lost' is filled with some Celtic drawings. Who made them? Are they old and what do they tell us?
Those drawings were created by Michael Keating and were all of his own creation. One drawing is a representation of a typical Irish warrior of pre-Christian times. The other drawing represents Carnun/Cerunnnos/Hern, the God of Nature, while another drawing represents the Celtic/Gaelic dragon and ancient symbolism, which are the components that bind us to our identity. The whole concept of the front cover, title and other drawings sum up the prevailing feeling throughout the album.
The band picture on the album shows us the band in some medieval clothes. How serious are you guys in these things? Do you think that in those days a lot of things were better compared to nowadays, although back then the people had no Internet and no underwear?
Playing the type of music we do almost demands a certain kind of image. Fortunately it is an image we are all entirely comfortable with, as we often partake of activities such as fencing and have an avid interest in all things Ancient that can still be kept alive in this day and age. We have never gone for an over the top stage persona, yet we wear woad/warpaint and have war banners and sometimes swords and Stag's skulls, which all help to enhance the atmosphere of the live performance. We will invest more in our stage show if and when money allows. In those days, not too many were doing what we were doing, so obviously the shock or novelty factor has worn off, so the quality of the music will have to stand up and be counted on it's own. This is something we are completely comfortable with.
What can you tell us more about the new album? What can we expect and when can we expect it?
At this moment in time, March 2006, we are putting the finishing touches to our new album. We are in negotiations with labels and as soon as we come to an arrangement we will enter the studio almost immediately. The album will contain nine songs and will be entitled, 'Honour Amongst Chaos'. We are determined to promote this album properly via the live environment and are pledged to do so with many concerts on mainland Europe currently in the planning stages. The Artwork will be done by Kris Verwimp, so the quality is pretty much assured.
And will there be a tour to promote the album in Europe? Any gigs planned?
We definitely plan to play a few tours as well as many short stop stays in as many countries throughout the world as is financially possible. We are confirmed for our first German gig for June 10th at the Pagan nights festival in Bavaria. There are a number of other gigs being considered in various geographical locations, so check our website for updates.
You are from Northern Ireland, and it seems that you are about the only metal band from this area. Why is that? Are there other bands that we should check out?
There are many Metal bands in Northern Ireland, it's just that many haven't had the opportunity to sell their wares outside of their own country. There are some quality bands though, check out Scald, Standupguy. Hexxed, Putrefy and Honeyforchrist for starters or visit www.metalireland.com to find out more
Okay guys, that's it for me. Please hurry up with the new album, and do you have some famous last words for us?
Many thanks for the promotional opportunity. Everyone visit www.clanwaylander.org, buy our merchandise and come check us out on tour in 2006. You won't be disappointed.