Your new album “The Hallowing of Heirdom” has just been released, can you share with us the most difficult moment of its preparation?
I think it’s always been in the back of our minds that Winterfylleth could do an acoustic album and that it could make sense as part of our discography, but it probably wasn’t until about 2015 that we started talking about doing it seriously. I think, going into this album, we knew that we were stepping out of our comfort zones as writers and performers, so we really put the time and effort into it creating every aspect of this album.
Primarily to make sure that it stood up to our metal albums and was just as emotional, moving or passionate as anything we’d ever done before. But also, because we genuinely believed that we could make something great in this style.
In some ways, it feels like we’ve gone out on a limb here – as I’m sure this record has the potential to be divisive within our fan base.
But, it also feels like a natural step for us to take, given we’ve always put material like this on our albums before.
Even if it was never in an expansive way. Also, given that some of our favourite bands like Ulver, Drudkh and Empyrium have made great and credible albums in this sphere, it doesn’t feel like a wildly leftfield leap for a Black Metal band to take when coming up with an album.
How do you usually write the lyrics of your songs?
The lyrics to our songs are usually based around a story or a piece of poetry from our history, that is adapted to make it relevant for the socio-political struggles of today. Some are written more directly about those kinds of things, while others are written in a kind of ‘read between the lines’ type of way.
Some are just about old folk stories, riddles, rhymes and odes, as well as many others that are about nature and the sanctity of the natural world; and how we need to preserve it for the sake of our future.
What is the best verse you ever wrote?
I think there are two options for the self-appointed award of ‘best verse I’ve ever written’. The first is from a song of ours called ‘A Soul Unbound’, which appeared on our The Threnody of Triumph album in 2012, and it goes…
“The fire in me/Eager for exit/Feels for the lightening/And breathes me away/Down the wind”
Or I also think the title track from our new album The Hallowing Of Heirdom is a contender as well. Particularly the lyric that goes…
“So who are we now?/A horde of their ghosts?/Or oaks that were acorns/From the trees of their hopes”
The lyrics from A Soul Unbound address a deeply spiritual piece of Anglo Saxon history, about how the soul and the body are intrinsically connected.
The lyric references the moment at which the soul and the body come to separate from one another at the end of a life, and highlight how the body and soul wish to return to their elemental states at the end of a (hopefully) life fulfilled.
The Lyrics from The Hallowing Of Heirdom are a heartfelt homage to the people and ancestors who have come before us over the generations.
They speak to a time where family and history held more worth in our society and speak to how if a people were successful, they managed to continue their lineage to the next generation.
It also eludes to the fact that we are made of the same characteristics as those folk, in that if a trait is successful, it is passed on through Natural Selection to your children. So, we praise those who came before us for the sacrifices and successes they achieved to get us to the here and now.
What was the soundtrack to your childhood?
The soundtrack to my childhood was probably listening to my parents play classic rock albums by Queen, Free, Deep Purple and their ilk.
My family has always been a ‘rock music’ family and some of my formative years were spent enjoying those kinds of anthemic rock anthems. It’s probably why I still love albums like Stormbringer, Burn and Come Taste the Band by Deep Purple for example.
What was the first record you ever bought?
I’m not 100% sure to be honest with you. It was either something by the Jam (‘Sound Affects’, perhaps) or maybe something like Thriller or Bad by Michael Jackson. Not exactly the coolest start to one’s musical journey. But you’ve got to start somewhere, and it clearly led me to here, so I’m grateful for that.
What has your journey in the music industry been like up to now?
I think it’s been a journey of realising that opportunities won’t come to you out of thin air and that you have to create them for yourselves.
I think I quickly learnt that networking and business knowledge are key to getting anywhere in the music industry; which comes as a tough lesson to many naïve younger bands who think that just writing a great album will make them famous.
It’s so much more than that. We’ve built up a great team of people around us over the years. Like Darren & Dante at Spinefarm Records, or like Paul, Ben & Jen at United Talent Agency – without whom we’d not have realised our potential in as expansive a way as we have done in the last 10 years.
What inspired “The Shepherd”?
The Shepherd is based on a poem by Christopher Marlowe from 1593, which is one of the earliest examples of English Pastoral poetry.
It is often studied by English Literature students is quite a uniquely British type of verse, referencing views of pastoral idyll and a heartfelt love for the natural world. The words are used to create a private, flawless vision of rural life within the context of personal emotion and seem to profess romanticism for elements of the natural world. I think these kinds of sentiments echo our own feelings of romanticism for the natural world and instil a deeper feeling that it is a thing worth saving, rather than exploiting.
Do you remember the day you wrote “Latch To A Grave”?
I’m not sure I do to be honest with you.
When we are writing a song, we are not the kind of band that sticks with their first ideas for a song and leaves it in its rawest form.
We spent months working on each of the tracks on this album. Pouring over different versions of songs and honing them until they were just right.
So, it’s very hard to pinpoint exactly where a song truly ‘comes to be’ as part of that process. Needless to say, I think it is one of the darker, more brooding songs on the album and has a feeling all of its own when compared to the rest of the album.
Are you ever scared of revealing, aspects of your personal experience, to strangers through your music?
No, I wouldn’t say so. One of our more burning personal ideologies as a band has been to talk openly and honestly about issues and social context through our lyrics, and because of that, we wear our hearts on our sleeve to some extent.
So, for me, nothing is ever off the table in terms of our experiences.
We now seem to live in a world where discourse is so confined to echo chambers and social cliques, that it is more important than ever to bring ideas to a public forum through our music.
If sometimes that comes with certain trepidation then you have to deal with that, as the ends justify the means.
What inspired “Elder Mother”?
There are some in the village of Long Compton in England, who live near a mound known as Archdruids Barrow.
They maintain that if you can see their village, over said barrow, after taking seven long steps away from a particular elder tree, then you are rightfully the King of England.
The Elder Mother is fabled to haunt this tree and taunt men who would seek to conquer the land into doing her challenge.
There are some stone monoliths nearby that area, that are said to be a group of such men, who she turned into stone when they failed her wager.
The stones are known as “The King Stone and the Whispering Knights” and formulate The Rollright Stone Circle near the village of Long Compton in Oxfordshire. Also, as with any tree in ancient lore, if one wishes to cut down an Elder Tree, one must always ask permission. In the case of the Elder tree, after asking permission, one must wait until The Elder Mother grants consent by remaining silent.
What is the best show you ever played?
I think there have been lots of amazing shows over the years, but the one that meant the most to me personally was when we played the mainstage at Bloodstock Festival in the UK this past summer.
They were the first festival who ever booked the band to play, and it was nice to come full circle with them, from being a smaller young band, through to being a more established band on their bill.
A very proud day for us all.
What are your plans for 2018?
Our new album, The Hallowing of heirdom comes out on April 6th 2018, so following that we will be doing some launch shows for that with some great session players, in some unique locations through the UK.
After that we will be building towards some more metal shows in the summer and hopefully a more extensive acoustic tour in September/October 2018.
We hope to see you down the road somewhere.