In search of battles and victories Morgarten has been touring Europe since 2005. With their harsh yet melodic folk- and black metal Morgarten brings back the forgotten glory of the time of knights. After playing shows all over Switzerland, the release of their debut album “Risen to Fight” (2015) marked an important moment for Morgarten.The band received positive feedback from all over Europe and soon they marched upon international territories, supporting other warriors like the Wind Rose dwarfs, the dark people of Nightland and the hordes of Welicoruss. Besides several short European tours Morgarten appeared on international festivals, like Occultfest (NL), Brainstorm Festival (NL), Devils Rock For An Angel (BE), Mannried Open Air (CH), Winter Armageddon (DE) and Rise Of Trolls (BE). Also the band was asked as opening-act for Finntroll on their visit to Switzerland in 2018.
Morgarten now returns with their new album “Cry of the Lost”, which surely won’t leave fans of folk- and black metal disappointed! – In the interview below, the gentlemen talk about the current covid-19 situation, the new album “Cry of the Lost” and much more.
TMR: Hey guys this is The Metal Resource from Holland, how are things going there in Switzerland in these crazy & bizarre times ?
Hi! Crazy and bizarre is a good way to describe the situation. On one hand there is all the tragedy with people in the hospital, the people dying from Covid and on the other hand there are restrictions that don’t make much sense, people wanting to live and work normally again. It’s a difficult situation for everyone.
TMR: Will you introduce yourself and the band please !
Cédric, Bass and since the second album third singer.
Ilann, Guitar and second singer
Pierric, Singer and guitar
TMR: Tell us the brief history of Morgarten.
We formed the band in 2005 and the lineup has not changed since. At first, only Joel (drummer) knew how to play his instrument, so we started from nothing. Also we never did any covers. At first the compositions made no sense, but as Pierric and Ilann got better at composing, all the band got better at playing. It took 10 years of improving and playing concerts for us to release our first album “Risen To Fight”. It was really well-received, and it allowed us to tour in Europe. Now is time to hit harder with this new record!
TMR: Why the name Morgarten ? Is there a story behind it ?
It’s from the famous Battle of Morgarten in 1315, where the Swiss defeated the Austrian army. The Swiss were a bunch of peasants while the Austrian were considered the heaviest and most professional army in Erope at the time. Yet the Swiss won. It spoke to us because it shows that anybody can fight, you don’t have to be a professional or “special”. We started not knowing how to play our instruments, and now we toured Europe, played with FinnTroll, met a lot of wonderful people. It’s amazing.
TMR: Especially for (full-time) musicians, these are tough and difficult times. Without touring, concerts etc. How have you experienced the past year ?
Pierric: Yeah of course it was really hard on one hand that we couldn’t play any show, but on the other hand we worked so hard to record this album that the Covid released a bit the pressure as we had to postpone the release of the album. We were lucky that in Switzerland it was always allowed for 5 people to meet, so we could practice during this year
Ilann: I miss sharing our music live and the atmosphere of the concerts.
Cédric: Honestly, it was a blessing in disguise to allow us to finish recording the album and preparing the release. We could really focus on it. But I miss touring, playing concert and especially meeting people.
Maël: It’s hard to keep the motivation without any gigs, but we were able to invest the time intelligently
TMR: How did you get into metal? [everyone]
Pierric: I was listening to some “soft” metal when being a teenager, but I think Ilann was the first one to make me listen to black metal.
Ilann : Through friends.
Cédric: It’s Ilann’s fault, he made me listen to Metal, I loved it.
Maël: I never like metal, I only do it for personal glory, ha ha! Ilann is my older brother so I had to do like him, ha ha!!
Joel : In Holiday, Ilann put on some metal music and I became a Metalhead.
TMR: What is your musical background ? [everyone]
Pierric: I’ve played various brass instruments for 10 years and then started to play the guitar and to sing with the band. Rather quickly, I then started to learn tin whistle, bagpipes, medieval oboe
Ilann: I started playing guitar at the foundation of Morgarten. And around 2009 I started piano and bass.
Cédric: I played transverse flute since I was 6 years old, then I started playing Bass in 2005 when we started the Band.
Maël: I started playing the piano when we started the band
Joel: I played drums in Brass Band, Harmonies, Rock band, etc… But now only Morgarten remains.
TMR: Who writes the music/lyrics in Morgarten ? … how do you get in the mood for writing music? And which bands/situations have influenced you for writing music and lyrics ?
Pierric and Ilann are writing the music. On the new album, Pierric wrote the lyrics
Pierric: I think the feelings and the atmosphere is what is the most important for me. I need to be free from pressure to let my imagination travel. The hardest is when you have to find an idea quickly for a specific song with a specific atmosphere, this can block my creativity. I would say there is no specific band or situation that has influenced the writing, it’s more a mix of all what we like (music, nature, readings, values,…)
Ilann: For the music I always try to imagine a story with a specific context and atmosphere, I record whatever comes to mind until I find something that speaks to me.
TMR: Is there a highlight you will always remember, since the beginning of Morgarten ?
Pierric: There are so many! I think our first concert in the Netherlands was really a great experience for the band, we spent a great time together
Ilann: The band-vacations in Brittany. We went there multiple times, great memories.
Cédric: The release of “Risen To Fight” at the Elements of Rock in 2015. It was like playing for family and the response from the fans was amazing.
Maël: Friendship and vacations together along all these years
TMR: And the worst thing were ? (if there is one)
Pierric: We did a concert in Italy where the stage was so unstable that when Joël played the drums, it disconnected our computer through which all the instruments are mixed. We then lost all parameters on our project, and under stress, I saved the project before rebooting the computer… So nothing was working anymore…
Ilann: The concert where my guitar was stolen
Cédric: I think when Ilann got his guitar stolen just before a concert. It was hard.
Maël: During our first show in the Netherlands, my upper keyboard hit the lower one right on the “demo” button… So it launched a demo rhythm in the middle of a song, it was a major epic fail as it did it twice!
Joel: Like Cédric.
TMR: What are some of the things you like to do away from the band? [everyone]
Pierric: Windsurfing, bee keeping
Ilann: Sports in the nature, windsurfing, rock climbing, trail…
Cédric: I rise ants colonies in my apartment (I am serious). I love going for walks in the mountain or the forest (and find ant queens).
Maël: I do a lot of paragliding!! And kitesurfing as well
Joel: Spending time with my family
TMR: Speaking of recording, what can you tell us about your sophomore album “Cry of the Lost” [such as the recording process, the songs/lyrics]
It took us a lot of time to compose this album and to record it! In fact, some of the songs on this album were already written when we released the previous album in 2015. We wanted to do a concept album again, but we struggled to create a story that we really liked. Finally, we found a good starting point when driving back from a tour in Belgium, drinking belgian beer, haha. Then all the songs that were already written took their place into the story and most of the lyrics were written after the music. The writing process was really uneven, as it took several months to finish some songs such as “Dawning of the Reborn” or “Oath of Allegiance”, as we couldn’t find the perfect idea to continue the song. And for other songs, it took only one day to write all the instruments… I remember one day Ilann saying to me (Pierric) “Hey I don’t know what happened, but I just wrote one full song in one day!”. It was the song “Backed to a flayed Tree”. This kind of discouraged me, haha! But a few weeks later, I had an idea when playing on an evening. One day after, the song “Peaceful Soul of the Dying” was finished. It’s really great to see that every song has found its place in this album, even if some of them were written before the concept.
TMR: To Victory, the first single from the new album, sounds very good. What can you tell about recording the video for that song. You guys must have had a lot of fun shooting the clip?
Yes, that’s right!! It was really a great time and we got to know incredible people while shooting this clip! In the beginning we planned to shoot everything over one week-end in march 2020, but on the Saturday evening, Cedric announced that he wouldn’t be there on sunday as he was quarantined because of the Covid. The thing is that we had to shoot the scenes with the band and in the tavern on the sunday, that’s why we don’t see Cedric in the Tavern scenes, unfortunately. And the week after, the lock-down was decided by the government, so we had to wait until june to be able to shoot the scenes with the band. Mael, who played the role of the leader, was just incredible! There was also a lot of spontaneity, anybody in the band, the staff or the extras was giving ideas or propositions and this makes the clip great. For example the start of the fight with the wig was not planned in advance and it turned out to be the best idea we could have I think.
Video for ‘To Victory’
TMR: The album will be released June 18th via Inner Wound Recordings. How did you get signed by them ?
Through our booking agency, and friends: Desert Rose Agency. They got us in contact, and we signed with Inner Wound Recordings. We really don’t regret it, they are great to work with.
TMR: About the cover artwork. Do you think it is as important as your music? Does it visualize the lyrics of your songs or what’s the actual story behind its concept?
Yeah absolutely. The artworks are from David Benzal (cover) and Anaïs Mulgrew (illustrations in the booklet). We spent a lot of time making sure every little detail was exactly how we imagined it. Just like the first album, “Cry of the Lost” tells a story and each song is a key element of the story. The cover and the illustrations of the songs in the booklet are essentials to help you get into the story. The artwork of the cover represents the song “The last Breath”, when the hero of the story is caught in a snowstorm and is exhausted. He realises that his whole life may have been for nothing, as he will not be able to reach the goal of his quest if he falls today. We really wanted this cry of despair that he expresses when he realises that everything is in vain to come through in the artwork. A careful eye will see that the warrior is actually a member of the band 😉
TMR: What is your favorite Morgarten song to play live? [everyone]
Pierric: Peaceful soul of the dying
Ilann: Oath of Allegiance
Cédric: Path in the darkness
Maël: Peaceful soul of the dying
Joel: Peaceful soul of the dying
TMR: What is the most embarrassing music on your phone or in your collection and how do you justify it to others?
Cédric: “Barbie Girl” from Aqua. It was for a Bachelor party a few years ago, and I forgot to remove it…
Maël: Nothing embarrassing.
Joel: “A poil dans la forêt” from the band Naheulband, nostalgy of the stupid story from my childhood.
TMR: If you could pick a band to tour with, who would it be? And where would the tour go? [everyone]
Pierric: Ensiferum or Finntroll, in northern Europe
Ilann: Ensiferum in Germany, Sweden and Norway.
Cédric: Eluveitie, in the USA.
Maël: I don’t care which band, but in northern Europe! 🙂
TMR: What are the biggest obstacles for bands ?
The most common risk for bands is to split up. Our lineup has never changed and we are like brothers, so it doesn’t worry us, but it’s good to be attentive: If you want to go fast, move alone, if you want to go far, move together. Today the biggest risk is probably the Covid situation: Bands need objectives to continue and not being able to do concerts can kill your motivation.
TMR: As a band today, what do you think is the biggest challenge you face?
We are all married, most of us have children, so we have to find a good life balance. Also, we are about to release an album not knowing if we’ll really be able to make concerts, it’s a risky bet.
TMR: What are the plans for the near future ?
Well, it’s a hard time to make any plans for the near future… We hope to be able to book some good shows to promote “Cry of the Lost” as soon as restrictions are removed.
TMR: Thank you guys for your time and the interview. We wish Morgarten all the best… Is there anything you wanna say at last ? [any final statement ?]
Thank you very much the metal resource for your job! We hope that your readers will like our new album and that they will let themselves be transported by it!!
Our review for “Cry of the Lost” can be found here.
5/6 Nov – Brainstorm Festival, Apeldoorn, NL (Info)
Weblinks: Facebook / Website / Bandcamp
Lyric video ‘The Last Breath’
Video for ‘Tales of My Lands’