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Celtic Legacy - A chat about influences and pirates
I was delighted to get an invitation to interview Irish Metallers Celtic Legacy as I just enjoyed listening and reviewing their third record Guardian of Eternity. I received the invitation to interview them at about midnight and sent out the questions at about 1 am. I was surprised when thirteen minutes later, I received an answer that the questions had been forwarded to the band. Even more surprising was when only 1 hour later (2 am) I already had received the interview back! Some smooth working there!

The interview was answered by guitarist/keyboardplayer Dave Morrissey.

Hello Celtic Legacy! How about an introduction to our readers who do not know you yet?

“For those who don’t know us, we’re essentially something of an Iron Maiden/Thin Lizzy hybrid with a bit of an Irish overtone thrown in, especially with the lyrics. We’re pretty much an old style metal band with twin leads, solos and soaring vocals. The band has been going for 10 years, we’ve had quite a bit of line-up instability over the years and we’ve never had a record deal. All three albums have been done using our own resources and money.

And if you like Guardian of Eternity then you should also check out our previous album, Resurrection. That’s the one that brought us to a lot of people’s attention.”

Could you tell us some of Celtic Legacy’s biggest influences and maybe how you incorporated those into you’re music?

“Well obviously Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy would be the main two influences. You can certainly hear both of these bands coming through in the music with the twin leads. With Ciaran [Ennis, Vocals] in the band now we can also give the vocals a bit of a Maiden touch, but Ciaran also has a great Geoff Tate tone to his voice and I think there will be more of those coming through in the future. I’m also a massive Deep Purple fan and I managed to sneak a Hammond organ onto the end of ‘For Evermore’. My style of playing is toward the Ritchie Blackmore end of the scale, I tend to play with a melodic style rather than go for pointless shredding which I think adds nothing to a song. There’s a bit of Sabbath in there too in places.”

To me, especially the Maiden influence was significant.

“Yeah, the Maiden influence is something that was there from the start. Both I and Slim [Dave Boylan, Bass/Vocals] are massive Maiden fans. You’ll hear Maiden in quite a lot of our stuff, but you’ll hear our other influences in there too. It’s the same with the previous albums; we don’t hide our influences at all. I’m hoping those influences will expand a bit from now on though as I’m sure the rest of the band will be contributing to the creative process next time out. Up to now it’s been I and Slim who have been writing all the material as we’ve been the only 2 who have been there continuously. We’re quietly confident that this line-up will stick around for at least one more album (touch wood).”

With Guardian of Eternity being the latest of three albums, do you think it’s your best one up to date and how do you compare it to the previous albums?

“Well whether it’s our best album or not is purely open to opinion. I’m not the kind of guy who will just say that I think ‘the current album we’re promoting is our best work’ like I’m supposed to ;-) I think it depends on the person listening to it. There is a lot of affection for our previous album among the fan base and that’s fine. But I think people are split on whether this is a better album or not. The hardcore seems to think it is, the more casual fans prefer the last one. I think it’s purely a matter of personal taste. I certainly think the music has matured a bit and Guardian is a kind of next step for us.”

When it comes to Irish influences, I thought that especially ‘The Sentinel’ and ‘Celtica’ stood out of it. Meaning they had more Irish melodies compared to the other songs. Those seemed to contain a little more plain heavy metal. Do you admit this and if yes, were those tracks put first expressly?

“Those 2 tracks were always going to open the album, yes. On all our albums we’ve opened with a short intro and then blasted into the opener. ‘Celtica’ was the first track written for the album and it was a natural way to begin. I think you’re correct in that there  aren’t as many Irish melodies after that but Legacy have always had more straight ahead metal tracks than actual Irish sounding music on all the albums. If you think of what Thin Lizzy did, they would have a majority of rock songs and every now and then they’d put one in with a more Irish flavor. Gary Moore did the same thing around the Wild Frontier era. That’s exactly what we do although we have a bit more an overall Irish feel, but it tends to confuse some people when they hear the band for the first time because we are continually labeled as a ‘Traditional/Folk Metal’ band and we’re nothing of the kind. A lot of the time we will just hint at an Irish tone in the music, maybe a melody in a solo or part of a riff.”

How do fans and people in general react to a Legacy live? I can imagine that hearing this music live gives it that little something more?

“I’ve found that the gig attendances in Ireland aren’t all that great. There is a large underground here but it’s more centered on the harder, more extreme metal. We tend to get overlooked sometimes. But those that do come along really appreciate the gigs. We’ve got a good reputation as a live band despite all the line-up changes and that’s encouraging.”

Unlike many other Irish bands, you haven’t got any thin whistles or other native instruments. Ever thought about incorporating them?

“Well, we have a bodhran in ‘The Sentinel’ and tin whistle in ‘Erinmor’ and ‘Guardian’ itself. On the previous albums we had a fiddle on a couple of tracks, our first line-up didn’t have a 2-guitar thing, but had a full time fiddle player in the ranks. I think in our case it's ok to have a bit of traditional instrumentation but not much. There are plenty of actual trad metal bands from Ireland that do that such as Cruachan, Mael Mordha and Waylander but the trad instruments are a big part of their overall sound. Ours is much more biased towards the twin guitars.”

You wrote an interesting article on your MySpace considering the pirating of music. You hit back at every possible reason people try to come up with for downloading your music illegally. Yet there is a very big group of people who do hold on to the ‘first listening, and then buying if good’. Also, twist and turn it as you wish, internet is without a doubt the best way to attract a broader public these days, don’t you think?

“You can look at this from two perspectives:

Firstly, from the band’s side of things, we had to scrape and scrounge money to record our album. The lion’s share of the money came from my own pocket and it’s left me on the breadline unless I can recoup the money from sales of the CD. Now after spending 3 years writing the album, 7 months last year recording it, contributing the artwork free of charge and then finally spending another 3000 euros on top of all that on promotion, I don’t take it too well when people think they can just steal the album, because that’s exactly what’s happening. We never figured we’d make much money from this CD but now it’s questionable that we will even make back the money that was put into it. That means that there is no more money to record a follow up album because I sure as hell will not record another one if people are just going to think it’s free of charge. So the more people download the album without paying for it the less chance there will be of another Celtic Legacy album, and if we don’t generate cash for another pressing of Guardian then the current 1000 copies we’ve pressed will be all that are done. 

The other side of the coin is that sure the internet is great for getting new bands exposure, but I fundamentally refute the argument that most people pay for an album after they’ve downloaded it. I’ve managed to get some download stats from around half the sites I’ve spotted and out of approx 1,500 downloads of the album (that I know about) not one single sale resulted! That will tell you all you need to know about how many people are actually willing to pay. I agree that the net is great for exposure and it’s what has enabled Celtic Legacy to continue over the past few years but until this pirating is finally controlled, then unsigned bands like us will die off, there is a huge downside to the net too. The fans don’t really see the amount of time, effort and money that goes into producing an album so in a way I can understand that they just want to hear the music, but when the amount of piracy I’ve come across gets out of control, it’s a kick in the teeth for the band after all the hard work. 

This whole thing about buying it if they like it is also a ridiculous argument. How many record shops do you know that will let people out of their shop without paying on the pretence that they will pay for it once they’ve heard it all the way through and only then if they like it? Could you walk out of a bookshop without paying for a book? I don’t think so. You can hear clips from the album on any number of sites now and that will give you an impression of what it contains. If you don’t like the music then that’s fine, you don’t have to buy it but if you DO like it then do the decent thing and support the band by buying the album…don’t steal it! This whole culture of illegal downloading is just a way to get a product for free, and I have no time for people who call themselves fans but have no intention of paying for what we have sweated blood and tears to produce. 

As you can tell, this is something that I feel very strongly about.” 

I thank you for this interview, wish you all the best with the album and hope to see you on stage some day!!! Maybe one last word to our readers?

“Thanks very much indeed for your interest in Celtic Legacy. And thanks also to everyone who have bought the album(s) and supported the band up to this point. Hopefully we’ll be able to hook up at some gigs in the near future. With some luck we’ll talk again when the follow up is recorded. I’d like to blatantly plug some of the band’s sites where you can hear some of the band’s music if I may ;-)”

Details Written on 2008-03-28
Writer @Peekay

Tags: #Celtic Legacy