Interview conducted August 17 2019
Interview published August 31 2019
Italian folk metallers Elvenking
put out their new record Reader Of The Runes - Divination on August 30th
and as the band recently made a quick stop at Sabaton Open Air, Metal
Covenant took the opportunity to talk with the band's singer Damna.
Tobbe: What will the fans get when they
buy your new record Reader Of The Runes - Divination?
Damna: Well, of course, if the fans already know
us they will find a 100 percent Elvenking album. We've been doing this
since 1997, but I think with The Pagan Manifesto album  we really
defined our identity and sound once and for all. So I think that the
fans will absolutely find another chapter in our history.
Describe what it takes musically and lyrically to make a concept album.
Damna: This is the first time we do something
like this. I mean, we have already done some theme-based albums. You
know, where there was a whole theme and every song was kind of relating
to that theme, but this time is the first time we make a concept album.
We fronted this thing for the first time and it was interesting because
we had to approach the songwriting in a different way of course.
Basically it's me and Aydan, the guitarist, who
are writing most of the songs. Usually we just, you know, sit down together
and listen to the ideas we have, and play the songs, and start to build
the songs. But this time we also had to take care of the lyrics and
depending on how the story would develop we had to of course take care
of that, and also, you know, kind of shape the music to the lyrics and
the mood of the story. So it was really interesting this time.
Tobbe: You have filmed two videos for this
new album so far. So tell me a little bit about them.
Damna: We wanted to do a video that was more
kind of like a playback outside. The Silverseal video, where you have,
you know, actors, and we're interpreting a little bit the mood of the
concept album. We're trying to summarize a little bit the mood and the
atmosphere of the album. So we wanted to do a more complex video like
that. And then have an easier video [Divination]. You know, with flames
and just playback. It's the first time we do two videos for an album.
Tobbe: You guys have also made a video series
leading up to this album. So tell me about those clips as well.
Damna: Yeah, we wanted to give the fans more
insight on the music and the lyrics on the album. And we want to update
our fans as much as we can, so we just made these videos. We talk more
about the concept and about the artwork. We're now releasing a track-by-track,
where we, you know, say a couple of words about the songs, so the fans
might know what they can expect from the album.
Social media's importance today can't be neglected or ignored, right?
Damna: It has been a little bit difficult for
us, because we come from a completely different era. You know, end of
the '90s. Nothing of this was there. We still have handwritten letters,
from our fans, that we used to receive back in the day when we released
our first demo [To Oak Woods Bestowed, 2000] and our first album [Heathenreel,
2001]. We still have those letters. And of course this is not happening
anymore and now social media is here.
So it has been a little bit difficult for us,
because we had to change our idea a little bit on how we approach the
fans and how we present our music. But nowadays we fully comprehend
that it is something that can help us. It help us to be more in contact
with our fans and also reach other people that wouldn't know about Elvenking
if not for these medias.
Tobbe: Divination is just the first album
in this concept story and what makes a band wanna go so deep that they
have to use 3 albums to complete the story?
Damna: Like I said, it's the first time we do
this, but we've always been very fascinated about the idea of having
something more around the music, you know. We really love and we've
always been fascinated by the classic albums in metal that had a concept
story. Like King Diamond and Savatage for example, that really were
successfully creating something, you know, beyond the music.
Of course there's the music, and you're a fan
of that, but you also have something more. You have a story, you have
a whole world around it, and this is something we really appreciated.
Yeah, we wanted to do something like this and finally we had the right
idea. But we wanted it to be really good and since the story is pretty
long and complicated we just wanted to give the right attention to every
detail of the story, so we split it into 3 parts.
It's the band's 10th album now and do you sometimes come to dead ends
and have to redo things from the beginning again?
Damna: Well, this is something that we had to
do a lot in the past. But I think that we have made some different choices
now perhaps. We made some albums where we were kind of exploring influences
of the sound, that were maybe not in line with what Elvenking stands
for. Yeah, we had to, you know, start from scratch a couple of times,
I would say. We never really had this kind of strong basis before, which
could help us being consistent and grow step by step.
Tobbe: Do you ever listen to the Elvenking
back catalogue? And if so, what kind of emotions does that bring to you
when you listen to it?
Damna: Well, it's always kind of watching back
to how we were, and to how I was, in that year and in that specific
time in our life. And that is always a great emotion. It's like going
through an old album of photos and see how we were, you know. And that
brings a lot of memories and things linked to those times.
You know, it's always a good thing to sometimes
listen to the back catalogue and listen to the things that, you know,
were good and the things where we did wrong. It's really important to
do that in order to stay focused and keep things going.
Filesharing started around the time of your first album and what did you
think about that at that point?
Damna: The point is that it was really bad for
a band like ours. We were kind of starting to get a big growth in sales,
but then this thing came up and like for any other band, also the big
ones, things really just dropped. That really was bad for us. We were
still a small band, but we were growing, but, you know, all of a sudden
everything dropped down. It was really, really hard to stay there and
being alive in that kind of market.
But fortunately right now it's growing again
and things are going good with digital services like Spotify or Apple
Music and that's something that is a really helpful for the band. But
at that time: yeah, it was a mess.
Tobbe: Do you think that you would have
been an even bigger band if you were from another country than Italy?
Damna: This is a question that's being asked
a lot of times. And probably yeah, because we were born in a time in
Italy where there were really not a lot of opportunities, not a lot
of venues and not a lot of structures that could support a heavy metal
band. At the moment it's still not like in Germany or Sweden for example,
but it's much better. But probably, yeah, our growth could have been
Tobbe: My last question: What's the status
of your other band, Hell In The Club, right now?
Damna: At the moment we are starting discussing
about doing a new album. We took a long break, mostly because of things
with Elvenking. But now, when this Elvenking album will be released,
I will have some kind of a free spot and I can concentrate a little
bit on new songs. But yeah, I think next year we will have a new album