Ah, pagan doom…..the sound of castles, burial mounds, clinking steel, felt kick-drum beaters, 70s vocal effects and lo-fi recording techniques that filter out all but the truest of ears. If you feel that a band fitting that description gives you hope for the future, as do we, then you should probably check New Hampshire’s ARCHDRUID, and their recent EP Demo that gives us something like the atmosphere of Chevalier, but at half the speed, and with maybe even twice the swords and sorcery, who knows? Anyway, Grimslath hears the tracks, carves a few runes, readies his messenger ravens, sends them across the Atlantic to whisper in some ears, and gets right in there and secures an interview for OMM.
INTERVIEW BY GRIMSLATH
Hello Archdruid! I read that you formed in 2014 but your first demo has only recently been released….
For many years, Archdruid was just an idea with a few rough, incomplete songs that were only me and Dylan. We play in a traditional metal/NWOBHM band called Reckless Force, but we both love 70’s style doom metal, and had the idea to form a band using that style singing about pagan myths and legends. It wasn’t until 2019 that we decided to revive the project and get my fiance, Emily, on vocals, who I met through medieval reenacting. Eventually, we would have Brandon and Chris in the band, and the rest is history.
How important are platforms such as bandcamp in getting your music out there these days? What is your opinion of other streaming services such as Spotify and the like?
I think those sorts of platforms are incredibly important. Fans want to support bands. Even if the music is free on Youtube, they will still buy releases on Bandcamp because it’s the right thing to do. We have been considering putting our work up on Spotify, though it is said that bands don’t get their fair share from that service.
Has the pandemic affected the band very much?
The pandemic definitely created obstacles for us. We took some time off, but with no end in sight for the pandemic, we decided that it was time to find a safe way to move forward. Instead of practicing in our usual band space, we rented a grange hall where we could more easily socially distance.
As soon as I heard you I thought I would love to see you and Smoulder do a show together….who are your biggest musical influences?
Yes, we love Smoulder, and they are supporters of us! We would love to play with them. We would also like to play with Solstice, Blood Ceremony, Atlantean Kodex, Crypt Sermon, and our friends in Legendry.
Where was the shoot done? Many snowballs thrown?
It was during our recording session. The cemetery is right behind the studio. We took a break to run into the storm and get a few quick shots. It was very cold!
Norse, Celtic, Germanic and Anglo-Saxon folk tales seem like a big source of inspiration for you. Is the tale of Wayland the Smith a favourite of yours? Any other tales in particular that you would like to put to song?
Those sorts of stories are spiritual to Dylan, Emily and I. We even run a Norse community called the Kindred of the Sacred Ash. It’s a passion that we needed to put to our music. The story of Wayland is a timeless legend. We also plan to write some songs about Welsh legends from The Mabinogion, as well as songs about Merlin and Arthur. We have a few Irish mythology songs up our sleeves, as well!
You covered the Damh the Bard song ‘Spirit of Albion’ and have really made it your own. Do you listen to much folk music? Why did you choose this song and was it at all difficult to find the balance between making a really heavy version and maintaining some of the spirit of the original? I think your version sounds a lot more sinister, as British folklore can be – its fantastic!
I listen to a few artists here and there. Damh the Bard, Spiral Dance, Faun, Loreena McKennitt, Blackmore’s Night, Fairport Convention, The Pogues. There are so many other great Damh songs we could have covered, but we felt like this one would really translate well to our style. I don’t think it was hard finding a balance. The song kind of creates itself just by playing the chords. Glad you like our version!
The final song on the demo, Black Riders, has a great bassy intro, a fantastic solo and I love the “Run Frodo” line. It really brings the feeling of the Nazgûl back to when they were just sinister riders in black hunting seemingly weak, defenceless Hobbits, which is when they were at their most terrifying in my opinion. Who came up with that line?
I came up with it! Many were skeptical about that lyric at first, thinking it would be perceived as being too cheesy, but it works! I think the riff saves it. I like your description!
How many times have you read Lord of the Rings? Are you fans of any of the screen adaptations (You’re allowed to ignore the low budget nineties Russian version…haha!)? What is it about Tolkien’s works that makes them such an endless source of inspiration for metal bands in particular?
Honestly, I have only read them once. Emily has read them more than me, perhaps 3 times.
We like the screen versions a lot. Emily even attended a pre-screening of the first movie in NYC and met a few of the actors. We also love the animated versions from the 70’s and 80’s. Tolkien’s work takes the classic concept of a hero’s journey and makes it relatable by telling it from the point of view of “every man” characters. It is a sword and sorcery story that is in the forefront of our modern imaginations.
Is there a full length in the near future? Do you have many other songs written?
There absolutely will be! We have a couple new songs we are working on, and some rough ideas as well. Hopefully we will have a full length out by 2022.
Just one last question to try to assuage the material desires of myself and others… Will you be producing any physical copies of your demo? How about other merch such as patches and shirts?
We have many requests for this, and that is definitely a goal for us. We have some patches and pins, they will be on Bandcamp soon. T-shirts and CD’s are next!
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions! Hope to hear a lot more from you in the future. Anything you would like to add?
We would like to thank everybody for the outpouring of interest and support! We love you all! Looking forward to the return of shows!