Tuesday, May 12

Interview with Saul M. of Waylander - Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland

I first heard Waylander's song Born to the Fight on some underground metal compilation tape I stumbled across. It was a demo' version--from the second demo' Dawning of a New Age, since there was a tin whistle playing along--to make an educated guess.
Since then, I've gotten ahold of both albums, and like both a lot, especially the first--which is the case with a lot of my favorite bands.
Unlike many so-called Folk Metal bands, not to name any...Cruachan...Waylander doesn't seem to 'over-do' it with the traditional instruments. The tin whistle is just another instrument, playing along always like the drums and guitars. I prefer this approach because Waylander relies on their metal roots to distinguish themselves, rather than throwing in two bagpipe players, a few bodhrans and a harp.
Whew...my QUESTION is (this is my only lame duck question, I promise): You are currently recording the third album. Will the new album be in the same vein as the older twain, with Ard Chieftan O'Hagan's gruff death metal vocals and down-to-Earth, yet certainly Celtic, style? Or have you hired Shane 'No-Tooth' McGowan to do backing vocals?

Firstly I wouldn’t say that Cruachan over do it with the trad instrument. That’s their style and do it very very well. Folk metal falls into so many sub-genres these days, and I see them as mainly a folk band with added metal elements. On the other hand I feel that we are the opposite. We keep the metal first and the trad second, mainly that our live shows are reliant on how well the local sound man can mix trad instruments. We’ve taken a new approach with the new album, the folk is as important as the metal. We took a lot of time with the folk instruments bringing them up to the level of the guitars and drums. So expect to hear Fiddle, Mandolin and Uilleann pipes aswell as the usual tinwhistle.
Eexpect every part of the album to be far more mature and epic than past works. From the drums to the guitars to the folk instruments, we took a very long time to make sure that they were as epic and folkishly technical as we could possibly play while staying “true” to our old school black/death/thrash roots and the Waylander sound.
The new album features 2 new members on guitars. Featuring myself and gazz, so a far higher level of guitar playing all round, especially with lead playing and solo swapping between guitars and traditional instruments.

For my edification, because I'm an ignorant POGUE, please tell me about life in Northern Ireland, specifically in your county of Armagh. Have the Troubles troubled you in Armagh? Is Armagh a predominantly Catholic area; does the populace prefer to stay with Great Britain or to rejoin Ireland-proper? What do you and the rest of the band think about this?

We all come from different parts of Northern Ireland, for example Ciaran is from Armagh and I am from Lisburn. Both areas are from both ends of the political spectram. The band is now 50/50 when it comes to being “protestant” or “catholic”, but it has never came up at any point or caused arguments within the band. As far as we see it we are metal heads and that’s a religion in itself in this country and fuck everything else. In the Irish metal scene “what religion are you?” will be the last question you will ever hear. We are a Pagan metal band so therefore we have strong pagan beliefs that contradict most forms of mainstream religion, so we don’t count ourselves as part of either side of the Northern Irish political battlefield.
We get asked political questions all the time and are assumed to be “anti British and pro IRA” which gets us pretty wound up as we don’t want to be connected to that part of Irish culture in any way.

This may be partly answered by your response to the last question (this is not a REALTIME interview, whomever is reading this), but how do 'normal' people in Armagh, or Northern Ireland in general, react to a band that demands a return of the proud Gaelic people's pagan past?

You’d be surprised, anywhere we play there’s always a crowd of drunken headcases jumping round the place. Irish traditional music seems to bring out that alcoholic in all of us haha
Irish traditional music was in this country before Christianity ever hit these shores. So no matter if you protestant, catholic or Jedi, you should be very proud of the beautiful instruments this Island calls its own.
There are some people who cant get past the political side of things in this country, who we see in the corner of our gigs with their arms folded. I’d like to thank them for that, as we then know who we should really be playing for, The people down the front with Pint in hand. We will never pretend we are something we are not to please a crowd in a certain religious area. We are a pagan metal band and that’s the way it is.

What have you to say about the so-called Celtic Twilight (or was it Celtic Revival?...) that William Butler Yeats spoke of, believed in and worked towards?

I probably should know more about it, but I don’t haha.
From what I know he was focused on the ancient Irish stories over anything political. As with our music, all our lyrics are about Celtic Mythology and ancient Irish history. Which we feel is the real Ireland.

How fares the Gaelic tongue in Northern Ireland? Is it similar to Ireland, where it is generally only spoken in secluded, rural areas?

Same applies here, though it is actually getting popular again. Also the use of “Ulster-Scots” is becoming more common. Which is a blend of Gaelic and northern Irish/Scottish slang. Ciaran our singer loves to use the Irish language within our music. For example, the poem in the middle of “King Of The Faries”
Wish I actually knew what he was saying hahaha. I could ask him, but you know how it is when there’s more important aspects of folk metal……like drinking

Everybody knows that alcohol takes precedence over all else in every Irishman's life, without exception (being sober and Irish means that you can stand up to piss). What experience have you (all of you, y'all as we say in southern States) with psychedelic drugs such as LSD and magic mushrooms? Do you think that Terrence McKenna's hypothesis makes sense: that psilocybin-containing mushrooms are the perennially sought-after "missing link," which bridges our language-using "superior" species to our hominid ancestors?

Mushrooms eh?? Haha
We make sure that we partake in most Pagan holidays, such as
Lughnasadh and Beltaine. Where mushroom tea and pagan rituals sort of go hand in hand. Personally I felt a great sense of spirituality with them…..until I got chased by a scarecrow…..so not always so fun.
A past member of Waylander (Jason Barriskill) now experiments in areas of Shamanism and has written several papers on how psychedelic drugs and certain images effect spirituality. I just wouldn’t leave my pint around him unattended, incase I’m his next preject haha.
I see the stereotypical “drunken Irish man” view still stands. I would protest that if we weren’t know for our drunken exploits.
There actually used to be monthly articles in metal mags about who Waylander had drunk under the table haha. Still undefeated I must say. The whole drinking reputation was part of the reason Century Media signed the band.
Recently we played a German festival called Pagan Nights and challenged all the bands to a Drinking World Cup. The main rivals were Vreid (formally Windir) representing Norway and Wolfchant raising the horn for Germany.
I can tell you that it was a close call, but after 5 days drinking and the tally was counted, we seemed to have drank more pints than all the other bands put together. A proud moment I assure you!

Tell me about some other worthy bands from Northern Ireland that I should check out.

I dunno where to start. Ireland as a whole has an unbelievably high standard of bands.
But staying within the North, my favourite bands would have to be Overoth, Sorrowfall, Condemned Nemesis, Aftermath…..the list goes on.
But if I had to mention just one band it would have to be Runecaster. Gazz (our other guitarist) plays bass for them and our producer on the new album is the front man. They serve up some of the best “fist in the air” folk anthems you’ll find anywhere. So I’d advise everyone to hunt them down.
Also I couldn’t go without mentioning my other band while im at it haha “Order Of Shadow” which also features Waylander’s other guitarist Gazz. Check it out if you like epic black/death metal. So look out for the OOS album later in the year. www.myspace.com/orderofshadow

What do you think about some of the better-known Irish bands like Cruachan, Primordial, Geasa, The Pogues and (of course) Thin Lizzy?

What can’t we say about Primordial?? We all love them!! It’s only the beginning for them now that they are getting so much exposure. If there’s anyone reading that hasn’t heard their last album “The Gathering Wilderness” you don’t know what your missing. Instant classic!
One over looked Irish band is Horselips, they started the whole celtic rock vibe for us and also covered “King Of The Faries” but I prefer ours haha
Clannad also inspire us to no end when it comes to atmosphere. If anyone hasn’t heard of them, they are the Irish version of Finland’s “Tenhi” they are made up of Enya’s brothers and sister.

Waylander has played at such metal festivals as Bloodstock and the Day of Darkness festival. What sort of reception does a band from Northern Ireland get at a big, international metal fest?

Day Of Darkness is just a great day out and piss up as we know about 98% of the people there. Unfortunately I joined the band 3 weeks after Bloodstock 03 but from articles I’ve read, it’ll be a while till people forget us seeing that each year they have a spot called “this years Waylandery style band” haha. We were also in the top 10 bands to play Bloodstock in Metalhammer magazine which was nice.
When it comes hospitality no festival compares to Pagan Nights in Germany. Apart form all the free alcohol that week, they brought us to a few birthday parties and piss up session, which I doubt they’ll forget haha.
We’ve got a good few International festivals lined up for this summer as well as several tours. We will also be hitting the U.S. with any luck, so if there’s any of you out in the states that’s up for a drinking contest bring it to the gig. We’ve beaten most of Europe and need new challenges haha.

This is really a follow-up to the last question: I think that Impaled Nazarene and Beherit once played the Day of Darkness festival together, unless I'm mistaken--have you met any of those maniacs, by chance? Specifically, what do you think of Beherit?

Neither of them have played Day Of Darkness before, so I can’t really say.
Haven’t heard Beherit as far as I know.

Do you or anyone you know have any idea of the whereabouts of Holocausto Vengeance of Beherit--last I heard, he was going by the name DJ Gamma?

I’m assuming he’s a know nutcase?? Don’t know anything about that sorry.


Thanks for the interview, remember to link the following.

Also mention that the new album “Honour Amongst Chaos” will be out in March.
thanks again

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