partner: Peter (vocals/guitars)
questions by: Twilightheart
time: March 28, 2008 (face to face)
This interview took place during the Ragnarök festival in Germany, after Skyforger's gig there on the first festival day. Twilightheart wants to thank the band for the great opportunity to get one of the few rare interview acceptances. Thanks also to Nicolai of the festival staff for letting us use an empty, noise-free room for the recording.
Twi > I think this was the second time you played at Ragnarök festival. Was last year’s gig better, also concerning the mood in the crowd?
Peter > The crowd was almost the same, but for me the show was not so good. The sound on stage was not the best. I think we can play two times better than we played today. But I think the crowd was anyway not bad.
Twi > You played only Metal songs today. Why did you not play some of your pure folk songs?
Peter > Because to play the folk songs is different. It is all about the sound. You never know how the sound on stage is at such festivals. It’s too hard to make a good sound, especially for the guy who plays all the folk instruments. If we play, we play only the folk songs, or we play only the Metal songs.
Twi > I just thought you would play some folk songs, because you are now re-releasing your album “Zobena Dziesma”, which is only folk. Why do you actually re-release it? Was there a special demand for this particular album?
Peter > Because the album was sold out a long time ago and we wanted that to be available again. We made 2 new songs for this one, and it will be released also on LP, as people here love LPs.
Twi > There are 2 new songs…
Peter > One song is a new song and the other is a remake.
Twi > But the new song is also a Latvian folk song?
Peter > Yeah, it’s a folk song.
Twi > Which record label is yours?
Peter > Folter records.
Twi > I hope you are also working on a totally new album.
Peter > Yeah. It is almost done. We are really ashamed about this, because we are playing around for more than 5 years without a new album. For me it’s almost unbelievable how it happens that people come on our show although we have the last album out around the millenium. For me it’s unbelievable how the people still do come.
Twi > And why did you not release anything in those years?
> We are working on the songs, and we want every song to be like the best song we have ever made. And we didn’t have so much time for it, because everybody is working or having problems in life, you know. So it goes to slow, because if we make a song, we try to make it the best we can.
Twi > So, you all have jobs and cannot live from your music yet? I thought you are one of the most famous bands inside of Latvia.
Peter > No no. In Latvia you can only live from your music if you play some “Schlager” ((=a German kind of cheesy music for avarage people)), or if you play at weddings or funerals or something like this. Then it’s okay. But for Rock Music it’s impossible. The money we get for our concerts is not so much, you cannot live from it.
Twi > Are you the most famous band from Latvia? Or are you just the only band that is known outside the country?
Peter > It’s hard to say because in Latvia no one plays the music like we play. And many are afraid to play this music, because they are afraid that it is going to be like a copy of our band. If we play in Latvia… it’s like, yeah… we are the most popular Metal band. But there is also the other side of the story, that people say we are posers.
Twi > How many people come to your gigs in your country?
Peter > Like 500 to 1000.
Twi > Are your Latvian fans as enthusiastic as the Germans?
Peter > Yeah, it’s almost the same. But there is one thing different in our country: there are so many people that are getting too drunk too fast.
Twi > If you look into the crowd, can you see single faces? Or is it all just a big mass?
Peter > It’s hard, because if you look, you always have this light in your face. So it’s hard to see there are one and another and another, because of the light. But if you look behind this light, of course you can see there are some faces. But I see that some bandmembers are like “Oh, I’ve seen this face”.
Twi > I heared you played in France for the very first time in December. Did the people in France know you?
Peter > Yeah. That was something really unbelievable. We were going to stage and people went like: “Yeahhhh, Peter!” and I was like “Oh, you know me.” And we are soon going to Spain and already I know that we have so many fans there and they are so crazy, writing us “We are waiting for you” and so.
Twi > You also played a festival in Russia. Isn’t it strange that you play in a country that caused Latvia so much trouble?
Peter > Yeah, I know what you mean, but that is already politics and as you maybe know, we don’t sing about that. This festival was actually very nice and open for European visitors. Russian fans were really dedicated. Maybe if we would go to Moscow, there could be different reception. But we have some invitations, so maybe one day.
Twi > Menhir played in Russia, too, last year.
Peter > Yeah, they played in Moscow.
Twi > They will also perform here tomorrow. Will you go and attend their gig?
Peter > No, we are going to play another gig tomorrow.
Twi > I was just wondering, because you once were on tour with Menhir.
Peter > Yes, they are our friends.
Twi > You recently produced your first video clip called “Kurshi”, your first video ever. Why did you suddenly do a video after so many years?
Peter > Somehow we don’t do any videos. And this video was some kind of … not a mistake, but there was a guy from Latvia, who made a film about the sea. And he asked us “Can you appear in this film?” and we said “Why not”. He said “You’ll stay on the shore with the guitars” and so we made this film, and we thought this is so cool, why not make a video from it?
Twi > Was he a professional?
Peter > Yeah, he was a professional. But it was nothing about money. It was just for friendship. It was like: “If you want, then come. If not – ok.”
Twi > Where is this place on the shore?
Peter > On Latvian northern coast, about 200 km from Riga.
Twi > Why do you actually all have beards? Is it a Latvian tradition or something?
Peter > No, but it’s …you can say… a Viking tradition or something. You know, like: all warriors have a beard. It’s a fashion of the band, I think.
Twi > I heared that one member of your band wants to leave or reduce the live appearance with the band. Is it true? Can you talk about it?
Peter > It’s not a secret. Kaspars has his own studio. He was always obsessed with making sounds on so, he is the guy who plays all the folk instruments. He decided to spend more time with the studio, because he payed so much money for the studio, and he wants something back. He is working so hard and he has no time for going around.
Twi > So, when is his last gig?
Peter > Tomorrow.
Twi > How do you find a replacement for the next confirmed gigs?
Peter > You know, we have played without him for many years before. We can play everything on the guitars and so on, that’s not a big problem. He is in the band not so much for the melodies, maybe more for the SHOW. Maybe we will take a replacement. If not, then we will continue to play all on the guitar.
Twi > You play at Party San Festival this summer. Did you know that they are mainly a festival for Black- and Death-Metal-Bands? They only have a few bands (Viking or Folk) each year for the variety. So maybe it will be harder than usual to convince the audience.
Peter > No, I don’t think there could be any problems musically. But they were always suspicious about our logo. We had many problems in Germany because of this, so we two years ago chose to change it. And I heard last year a guy was arrested because of our T-Shirt. We tried to get to this festival for years, and they always said: “No”. And this year somehow they said “Okay”. And I don’t even know why they say so easy “Okay”.
Twi > I heared that Rihards, your guitar player, can play 200 cover songs and plays many instruments?
Peter > He can play everything by his ears. And in his youth he went to musician school and he can play everything.
Twi > On your website I read that your favourite movies are such like Braveheart, Gladiator, Lord of the rings. These are all movies about friendship, honour and staying true to yourself and your beliefs. So, are these the most important values in your life, too?
Peter > True friendship nowadays is so hard to find, in my opinion. Most people are just about making money and so on. And I am not even sure if we have found this within our band, true friendship. It’s great and it’s okay, but it is not true. I don’t even know if I can ever find it. I have only one friend in my life. And they are not the band members. We are like friends, but sometimes we are angry on each other. It’s hard.
Twi > This one friend you have, what’s so special about this one?
Peter > You know, I think true friendship is like: I call you in the night, and I’m coming with my problems and you support me. And if I have a beer, and you don’t, then we share. We share everything. I think today it’s so hard to find people who share everything with another guy or whatever.
Twi > But don’t share your women!
Peter > Oh yeah, hahaha.
Twi > By the way… women! On your folk album there are a few female vocals. Who are those women?
Peter > One is my girlfriend, and the other is the drummer’s girlfriend.
Twi > Are they live on stage with you when you have a folk gig?
Peter > We had only one gig with the girls. Because we noticed: these girls want to be on stage. Some young people do everything to be popular, to be on a TV show or anything. And that’s not cool.
Twi > On your website you stated that you want to work against the mainstream. Do you mean mainstream music, or mainstream people?
Peter > Both. Everything. I always was against the mainstream. And when I go on the streets in my country and there are those guys with the clean clothes and the nice haircuts and they are like they are the good guys, and they look at me and see me like some kind of homeless or something. I am different for them.
Twi > And about Mainstream music. What’s wrong with that?
Peter > Everyone can do as they like. But in my opinion … like for instance with the Pagan Metal in the last few years, there are so many bands saying they are Pagan, but they don’t think that way. For me they are not Pagan, they just sing some folk and lalalalala. They can do as they like, but it’s not what I like.
Twi > But you like Shakira, as I heared.
Peter > Yeah, I like her. But she went a long way and people don’t know what she went through. They only know she shakes her hips. But she has so many Rock songs, almost Heavy Metal songs. So she’s almost Heavy Metal. (laughs)
Twi > What do you actually feel when you go on stage?
> Two feelings: every time I go and think “I’m afraid” and I think “I
better go back to the hotel”. But when you are on stage, you feel “There is
no way back”. And I think all the guys in the band think so, too. There is no
way back and you must be an actor. You must play and do something, be someone
and get the people hook on you, because the people want to see something.
So… there is no way back!
Peter after the interview:
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