An Interview with Chrigel Glanzmann of Eluveitie

On October 8th, I got the great pleasure of entering the Rickshaw Theatre knowing that I would be given a spot on a couch backstage next to Chrigel Glanzmann of Eluveitie to talk about the Origins world tour and their new album of the same name. After I was led to the small room by their tour manager, I was faced with bass player Kay Brem who playfully told me that he hates interviews before leaving the room. Now, I was left alone with the intimidating legend that is Glanzmann, and I was ready to ask him a few questions.

How has the tour been going so far?

Basically, really good…although around a week ago or something, Nicole, our violin player, had to leave the tour and fly home for a couple of days because of some family emergency back him  which was really sort of unfortunate. But, she’s actually coming back tonight. She lands in, like, an hour or something.

Will she be here tonight or back on in Calgary?

We don’t know yet. It will be a surprise for everybody, including us. I mean, I talked to her this morning. I told her, “Jesus… you don’t have to come and play a show after a twelve hour flight. Going directly on stage, that’s not exactly what you wanna do.” But she said, “Of course, I’ll be there,” and blah blah blah. But, I don’t know if she’ll make it in time. So, probably she will hop on stage during the show somewhere… We don’t know if she will make it or not.

So what have you been doing without her? Did you have any violin backing tracks that you could use?

Well, we had some backing tracks for some songs, but, you know, we play a couple of new songs from Origins and there’s quite a lot of parts where the fiddle is pretty much in the spotlight and we just don’t how to pull that off. It’s retarded if the band’s on stage and you hear this huge fiddle solo that comes out of nowhere. So, we just tried to make it work. Anna and myself split some parts that Nicole was playing, and we just learned to play them on the hurdy-gurdy and the whistles.

And it worked well?

Yeah…it worked. Of course, it’s better with Nicole, but it worked.

What has been the best date of the tour so far?

Well it depends on what you look at. People-wise the first show has been the best so far, I think. It was quite a big show, but so far all of them have been good.

You guys are quite a few members in the band. I’m sure that over the years you’ve played in questionable venues. Has there ever been a time where you walked in, saw a stage and thought, “This just isn’t gonna happen?”

[laughs] Yeah, all the time in the beginning. I mean, even today, I mean tonight, it’s not exactly a big stage. It can get cuddly sometimes. Usually it’s not a problem anymore…luckily…but back in the day, ten years ago when we started out, we played all those really small club shows. I think the smallest we ever did was in Belgium. It was a tiny club. I think it was actually some kind of a bar, and we had to make three rows on stage so the band was actually playing in three rows. [laughs] It was funny. It started raining during the show in the club. It had been so fucking crowded, no one could move inside of the pub…it was so crowded and even outside the pub there was, like, a big number of people just standing out the door and trying to watch. It got so insanely hot. and just from the humidity, it started dripping down the from ceiling. It was, like, raining in that fucking pub. [laughs]

What are the biggest challenges in having such a big band?

Everything is just more expensive and takes longer. Say you wanna take a plane to Australia…a plane ticket from Europe isn’t exactly cheap. It makes a difference if you have to get a flight for fifteen people compared to, let’s say, five. Other than that, it doesn’t make much of a difference.

You guys have a brand new album, Origins, which is only a few months old. For that album, you actually recorded a same song in five different languages. How did that idea come around?

It was an idea that we had for a long time. We wanted to do something like that for a song on Helvetios, but back then it didn’t work out as we just didn’t have time to do that. So, during the production process of Origins the idea came up again and we just thought, “Come on, let’s do it!” But it was more just for fun. The regular album version is in English, and the just-for-fun idea was to record the song in the four Swiss languages, since we have four official languages in Switzerland.

So, who wrote the lyrics for the song in all the different languages? Was it just you, or a combination of all the members of the band?

No. I’m basically writing all the lyrics for the songs, but for those particular versions in all the different languages, we actually had been working together with people from particular regions that speak the languages. A song is kind of like a poem as well; if you wanna translate a poem in another language, the language you translate it to should be your mother tongue, and you should also be experienced in poetry writing or something because you cannot translate a poem literally. It wouldn’t make sense. Plus, even if you were able to rewrite the poem but not translate it literally, just the meaning, it would still need to be written in a way that is singable. So, that’s something you should be experienced in. That’s why we worked with singer-songwriters from the four regions of Switzerland to translate the lyrics.

Oh, okay. So it wasn’t a hard process, just a big collaboration with different people?

Yeah, I couldn’t have done it otherwise, at least not accurately.

You guys went on tour really quickly after the release of the new album. How have the crowds reacted to the new songs you play live?

Good. I mean, right now we still can see that the album is pretty new and there’s a lot of people  who don’t know all the songs yet, but it’s always like that in the beginning. We always pretty much start a world tour cycle directly after a release. In the first 3-4 months, it’s always like that. We got the impression that people like the songs. It’s been good so far.

What is your favourite song to play live from the new album?

To play live? I like all of them. Actually, I really like to play “Inception” and “The Silver Sister.”

If you could create your perfect tour, take any band you want and tour anywhere, who would you take and where would you go?

Honestly, I have to say I wouldn’t care, to be honest. On the one hand, I think we’re pretty easy going when it comes to being on the road with other bands and other people. It doesn’t really matter with what band we are on the road, it’s always been pretty good. We’re good friends with Children Of Bodom, and it’s always cool to tour with them because of personal reasons, but usually we get along with everybody so it doesn’t matter that much. And where? We’re just kind of music junkies, so if we can hold our instruments in our hands and play our songs, then life is good. This means life to us and it doesn’t matter where we do it as long as we can do it, we’re happy.

Do you have any last words for the people who will be reading this?

Well, to you, thank you for the interview. And thank you to the readers for the interest in our band.

Written and Compiled by Kai Robidas
Photo by Stephany Robidas

About Kai Robidas 45 Articles
Kai is a pint-sized writer based in Vancouver who enjoys things that start with the letter S such as sloths, snow, stories, and sesquipedalianism. She has a penchant for any music that involves unusual instruments and is partial to folk metal, classical, and pop-punk. Kai loves winter and history and can be found on any given day listening to her favourite bands at a borderline unhealthy volume and studying Finnish. She finds great amusement in saying the words hurdy-gurdy and vispilä.

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