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Crystal Viper

Met het ijzersterke ‘Queen Of The Witches’ maakte het Poolse Crystal Viper een uitstekende comeback na vier jaar. De band is ondanks zeven uitstekende albums altijd een beetje in de undergroundsferen blijven hangen, en dat heeft vast te maken met het feit dat de band altijd haar eigen geluid trouw is gebleven en niet is meegewaaid met modegrillen. Nu is er de kans voor de band om hun muziek toch aan een wat breder publiek voor te stellen, want ze touren als special guest / co-headliner van power metal drakenkillers Bloodbound (ook daarmee een interview elders in deze editie). Toen de tour in Essen landde greep ik de kans om eens bij te kletsen met zangeres Marta Gabriel, in alle opzichten het boegbeeld van de band, en haar te bevragen over het nieuwste album en de hiatus van de band

Door: Jori | Archiveer onder heavy / power metal

How is your experience with this tour so far?
Oh it’s amazing, people were fantastic on each of the shows. We didn’t know what to expect because we have been absent with Crystal Viper for such a long time, almost four years since our previous album ‘Posession’. Now we are back with our new album and we play live again and people are fantastic, and some of the coming live shows are sold out, like this one in Hamburg, so looking forward! The company is also fantastic so we are all very happy about the tour.

You already mentioned the four year gap between ‘Posession’ and ‘Queen Of The Witches’. Usually it took you like one and a half or two year for a new album, now four. What were the reasons of this?
I had serious problems with my health, so I was not able to sing to perform live. I had to undergo a surgery, that was also followed by health issues. But now I’m here, and ready to rock again haha.

Good haha! So about the new album, who is this queen of the witches the title track and the album are about?
Well, the queen of the witches is a powerful woman who one day found out about her powers and that she could change the world. She can change people and she can do something that she always wanted to do. There is a message behind the lyrics in a way that you should really do what you want to do. Listen to your heart and if you feel there is something that you can change about your life to make it better, you should really do this. I think each of us can be such a queen of the witches.

There was one other song on the album that struck me, ‘Trapped Behind’. Something totally new that I never heard of Crystal Viper before. Why did you never create a song like this before?
We actually did. In the past we recorded ‘Banshee’, it was also a piano ballad, but we didn’t put this one as a regular song on the album. So you are right, we did it for the first time. It was not a song I planned to put on the album. It was the very first song I composed after the surgery. I was playing on my piano and trying my voice again for the first time. Maybe this is why it sounds so emotional, after I played it to our producer he said it would be a perfect song to put on the album. It was worth to do this for the first time, such a ballad on a heavy metal album. I was very happy because I love this one, it’s a very important song for me. As a musician and composer it’s a fantastic thing to have this kind of freedom when you compose songs. When I compose I don’t think like okay now I need to compose a power metal song or heavy metal song. I just compose and record what I have in my head at the moment. This song turned out to be good enough to be put on the album and to let other people hear it. That is the story of ‘Trapped Behind’.

Okay, that’s an interesting story. Do you have any favourites on the new album yourself as well?
Yes yes! Well I love all of them, but I really love to perform ‘I Fear No Evil’. This one is so great especially when Andy and me share the solo guitar. You will see it live tonight and you will understand what I mean haha!

I’m looking forward haha. So the cover this time is of Grim Reaper (See You In Hell). So why this choice?
Well, because Grim Reaper is fucking awesome man!

Well, fair enough!
Yeah, it’s a great band and this is one of the heavy metal classics and one of my favourite ones. We were performing the song before and now we have recorded the cover for an album. I was also able to record another Grim Reaper song to help Steve Grimmett from Grim Reaper to recover after what happened to him. (in Januari 2017, Steve suddenly had to have a part of his right leg amputated because of an aggressive infection – Jori) Grim Reaper is still very close to my heart and it will always be because, well I said it, it’s one of my favourite bands.

band image

So, any news on the Jack Starr front?
I’m not sure if they are planning to tour Europe anytime soon. As far as I know they are finishing a new album which will be released soon. I heard some of the new songs and they are fucking amazing haha. I would really love to play with them again if they are here in Europe, so if they want me again, I will join. They are fantastic guys and it’s a huge honour for me to play in such great company, they are such experienced musicians and I can learn a lot from them and I did when we were playing together. Only good memories from touring with them.

And how is business with your clothing line, Thunderball Clothing?
Oh we’re doing fine, thank you very much! You know, I am very happy, because at the beginning I did not expect Thunderball Clothing would turn into a company and my day-job. Besides Crystal Viper and Thunderball Clothing there is nothing else that I do in my life right now. Even if I would want to, I would not have the time. Thunderball Clothing is going fine, so far I made clothes for Vader, Samantha Fox and I did a stage vest for Alissa of Arch Enemy, and I dressed my band for this tour also haha. It’s doing really good and there’s some great news about that coming soon, but it’s too early to tell you about that, so stay tuned for news!

We well! So, you already mentioned a lot of things going on in your life right now, is it still manageable?
Yes, because I have a good manager you know haha, I would die without Bart. My second name is chaos haha. Sometimes it is difficult for me to have time for everything but as long as he can manage all music stuff and I can manage the other things, there is this perfect harmony and I am able to do everything at the same time. But Thunderball Clothing makes everything easier for me. When I had a normal day job in the past it was not that easy to focus on music, to get free days to go on tour or play live shows. Very often I just had to quit my job because I just want to play music. Now I don’t have to do this because now I have such freedom. I have my own company so I can manage all those things in a way that suits everyone. I can go on tour and everybody’s happy, including me. It’s a perfect combination.

You have been around for a couple of years now and you have released a stack of seven great albums. Any chance for a Crystal Viper headlining tour in the near future?
Well, time will tell, who knows, it would be fantastic!

Any other foreseeable plans after this tour?
We are planning to do some music stuff, but it’s too early to speak about that because it’s only plans right now so I cannot spoil them at the moment. Also we are booked for some summer festivals and there are some live shows for next year. So Crystal Viper is back and ready to strike again. Those four years were killing us you know. We still were in touch because we are friends, not only bandmates. We met up, we went for a beer and we partied together but we did not play and that was horrible. Especially when you are a musician and you cannot go onto stage and play live. But right now everything seems to be fine again!

Okay, that was all I had for you. Anything you would like to add yourself?
Yeah, for those you read the interview, support your favourite bands. Buy CDs, go to live shows, because without you, we bands don’t exist. You are the most important thing for us, we are a metal nation!

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