Eluveitie recently brought their incredible live show to the UK for a short run of live dates with Lacuna Coil. Both bands are now currently touring mainland Europe, and we managed to grab a quick chat with Eluveitie vocalist and harpist Fabienne Erni before the show in Hannover, Germany.
Looking at the tour schedule gives you an idea of how important a market Germany actually is, we tend to only look at the UK and US markets, and often overlook Europe, Germany in particular.
For us it’s a very good market, in the UK we were supporting, and now we are headlining, so we’ve swapped with Lacuna Coil and we are headlining again. So yeah, for us it is a really strong market and it’s going well.
When you swap roles with Lacuna Coil, what are the main differences from a performance point of view?
The biggest difference is the length of set that you get, when we were supporting we only got 55 minutes and now we play 90-95 minutes. We also have a bigger production as headliner, we stocked up with some stuff and there’s some new elements to it. Also, when you are not headlining, you can sense that people are waiting for the headliner. But I enjoy both because when you play a bit earlier, then you can enjoy the evening! You can see the other bands etc. If we are headlining then I’m usually doing make-up, and getting ready when the other bands are on.
It’s quite a long tour, if I remember correctly, you started November 2nd in Italy and it runs right through to December 22nd in Hamburg. With that in mind, how much of a logistical nightmare is it touring as a nine-piece band?
(Laughs) Yes it is a very long tour, I’ve never been on such a long tour. Back in the day before I joined the band, they had tours this length all the time. It’s almost a little unusual these days to have long tours, but once we’re in the bus everyone is settled right! We are actually eighteen people so it’s very crowded, we just have to take care that it’s not too messy in there. It’s important that you take your time off, and maybe go for a walk, or go into a cafe and do some work there. It’s important to have your own time.
Even more important when there are so many of you in such a confined space.
Yes we are such a large travelling party, eighteen people, from different countries all over Europe, I mean the band is from three or four different countries, the crew are from different countries.
Your tour manager must be very stressed then?!
(Laughs) Now that we are all together it’s easier! We met up in Switzerland for load in, and now we’re all together, it’s maybe more relaxing, I’d have to ask him! It’s better than flying every day for example, no check-in every day. For us it’s more relaxing as well because we get to sleep much more, if we were flying then perhaps we might only get three hours sleep before having to leave, now we can sleep a lot, which is very important.
How much of a toll does such a long tour take on your voice, especially during Winter? I’d imagine that you have to be very careful?
Yes, I mean, I’m really a bit paranoid as it’s getting so cold and dark. I think it doesn’t help knowing that we will be touring for seven weeks because I know that I will have to take care and stay healthy. I sleep a lot, I don’t party or anything, I just go to bed, I wear a scarf all the time and keep warm. For singers we have to take extra care because it sucks when you have a cold, it sounds so nasally when you try to sing! Aaaaaaargh!! At the moment though it’s all good though!
And before the European tour launched, the band were in North America for a while. How well does Folk-Metal go down over there?
The tour was amazing! For some of us, it was our first time touring in America and it was soooo cool! It was a bit crazy, we went around the whole country and we had it all, 45 degrees in Texas, and by the end of the tour we were in the North so it was cold. We saw so many cities and the people were super-cool, the crowds were amazing and I really enjoyed the concerts there. Great energy. I’ve never really been to the US so it was great finally seeing it. It’s a crazy country but fascinating at the same time, and I think that I can speak for all of us and say that we had a really great time. It was only four weeks so that was perfect.
You would have possibly seen some similarities between Canada and Switzerland?
Yes, unfortunately it was mostly cities that we visited, but I’d love to go back on my own and go hiking, and see more of the countryside. The crowds in Canada were incredible and we really enjoyed it, hopefully we can tour there again.
It’s been a busy year for Eluveitie , studio album ‘Ategnatos’ was released in April, and this was followed up earlier this month with the release of the live album ‘Live at Masters Of Rock 2019’. You must have been desperate to get back on the road to play these songs live?
I really enjoy playing live, especially the new songs, it’s different when you are actually there when the songs are being born. It’s always very special, and I think that we have a set that is a good mixture of older songs, classics and now the newer ones. We are enjoying playing the new songs, and we are also very proud of the live album.
You’ve got famous Scottish TV actor Sandy Morton providing the narration at the beginning of the album!
I really love his voice! He has such a warm voice, it just fits so well with Eluveitie.
He also voices the character of Zoltan in the Witcher games, so perhaps that’s why fits so well with Eluveitie. Back to yourself, you of course play the harp, was the one that you play onstage custom made?
No, that’s just a general one, it’s smaller so it’s perfect for touring, I have a larger one at home, and used a larger one in the studio for ‘Ategnatos’ because it gave us a bigger range of sounds.
I caught the great Nils Lofgren in concert a few years back and he brought out a harp. He said that as it had strings, and he was a guitarist, then he thought it would be easy to master, but it was in fact the hardest instrument that he had learned.
They both have strings yeah, but I would say that it is closer to a piano, than a guitar. I play the piano, so for myself, I see everything in chords of the piano, and then I can combine it with the strings of the harp. Although it has strings and doesn’t look the same at all, I feel it has a lot of similarities with a piano.
Where did your interest in the harp come from?
I actually just started when I joined the band! The former singer (Anna Murphy) was playing the hurdy gurdy as well as singing, and Eluveitie had found Michalina (Michalina Malisz) who is an amazing hurdy gurdy player. They found me singing, so I wanted to choose an instrument that I could play when I wasn’t singing, and I chose the harp!
Wow! I honestly didn’t know that you had only been playing it a few years! I thought that you had been playing it for decades!
I’ve been singing for decades, maybe not even decades (laughs), I come more from a singing background, and the piano is my second instrument, and then it’s the harp. I dove into it a few years ago and really enjoy playing it, especially the bigger one. The recordings went great and I’m also happy with the slots that I got on the album. I think that it adds some magic to the album in certain parts.
During the recent gig in Glasgow, one of the stand-out moments was your vocal solo during ‘Artio’, how difficult is that to perform each night?
I don’t have any problems if I’m not sick, then it’s all good, I can sing for hours and it’s not a problem. Sometimes I might have ate too much so I might be a bit ohhhhhhhh! Then it’s a bit harder to sing it, otherwise I just do my vocal warm up before the show, then the adrenaline kicks in, plus it gives me an extra kick when I’m all alone onstage and everyone is watching me. I’m all alone in the beginning, just some background sounds, and I’m like…okay I have to give it my all now..
It was stunning to say the least.
Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it! It was actually an honour to sing it in Scotland! Dublin as well! It’s quite traditional singing, although I don’t sound Scottish or Irish! I’m from Switzerland so it sounds a bit different. I was a bit nervous to sing it in these countries!
Funnily enough, my next question was going to be…you must have loved Dublin?!
(Laughs) Yeah! We really loved it and it was so cool to see how much the crowd loved the traditional instruments, like the flute. People were just closing their eyes and listening to the flute, and the whistle, it was incredible to play in Ireland. All of the UK and Ireland shows were incredible, London was cool, and big!
Just before you dash off, how are things going with the crowd funding for the Unknown Forces/Illumishade album, the album that you are launching with Eluveitie guitarist Jonas Wolf?
Oh! It’s very exciting! So much new stuff going on! I’m super excited, it’s going really good. We have to put in a lot of effort so that people don’t forget about it, so many resources are needed to put out an album without a label, so it’s a lot of work and takes a lot of energy. It’s exciting for me because when I came into Eluveitie I was joining an established band, and now I’m taking a project from the very beginning. I’m very curious to see how people will react to it! It’s a lot of work with us also being on tour, but it’s worth it. It’s so cool that you’ve heard about it!
Some people might call it Facebook stalking but I call it “research”! What will the album sound like?
It’s going to be of course Metal, and some cheesiness, some Fabi cheesiness! Stay tuned for it’s launch on January 1st!
So the tour ends just before Christmas, the album with Jonas early in the new year, so what else does 2020 hold for you?
Soooooooo, there are some projects with Eluveitie planned, but I can’t say anything about these yet. But there are things planned for sure, and I really hope that they work out as they are great. Also more touring, and Chrigel (Chrigel Glanzmann) is already gathering ideas for a new album, like the concept etc, so there will be some songwriting as well, and maybe into the studio by the end of the year or early 2021?
Busy times for sure!
It’s not going to be boring!
Check out all the information on the forthcoming Illumishade album here.
Interview – Dave