1. Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band since the recording and release of the new EP?
Guile (guitar): We’ve made the promotion of our new EP ‘Nadirs’ and we are focusing on our next LP which is already written and composed. We are rehearsing on it and for several scheduled shows.
2. Recently you have released a new EP, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording and also how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?
Guile: It is both different and similar in fact: ‘Nadirs’ is a full folk acoustic 5-tracks which differs with our usual musical style, much more raw and metal. But it’s still our way of composing, how Drenaï sounds in its metal style. The real difference is in its approach: this EP is a tale, with a narrator and we searched deeper in ethnic musical cultures worldwide, not only in Celtic music but also in Arabic, Native American, traditional Japanese and many more musical sources and inspirations. This way, ‘Nadirs’ sounds like a soundtrack for a story, told by Diego, with its ambiances like when you are watching a movie who would deal with the advent of Nosta from his youth to who he is to become later: the dark shaman Nosta Khan.
3. The material on the new recording is all acoustic but the band has used heavier guitars and growling vocals in the past, are there any plans on returning back to this direction?
Guile: Indeed yes: this whole EP has been made thanks to an opportunity we had to record an EP with friends from several folk (metal) bands in France and French speaking surrounding countries like Ithilien, La Horde, Les Compagnons du Gras Jambon… We called back other friends who already took part to our previous LP ‘Deathwalker’, in the choir for instance… Almost 30 people recorded this EP. Whether it is different from our habits, we call ‘Nadirs’ our “EP for the pleasure”, the one we had recording it and the one we try to display on our listeners who are used to Drenaï only sounding folk metal. But the forthcoming album stands at the crossroads of what we have formerly made; it will sound more folk and more metal in a way… “more epic” to sum up in two words J
4. The band name and lyrics come from the writings of David Gemmell, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in this author and also do you have any interest in other fantasy authors?
Diego (lead voice): I’ve been reading Fantasy and related since something like twenty years. While I started the hard way, with J.R.R.Tolkien, and various authors from Moorcock or Howard to Nicholls or Lovecraft, I literally fell into Gemmell’s work. His work is both simple to approach and read, but still, you can find in it some concepts, which seems directly taken from the author’s life and way of thinking. Thus, you may find in it many invariants: epic and hopeless defense of a fortress, the idea that no one is bounded by fate, that you must judge anyone by his deeds, not his origins, heroes with their doubts and weaknesses... It’s not only about fearless knights in their shiny armors, crashing the bad guys, whom just enjoy being evil: there is a meaning behind almost any character’s action or set of mind.
That’s why, in the band’s genesis, we were five fantasy readers, all keen on Gemmell’s. So, when it comes to set a folk metal formation, we almost choose his work naturally.
5. What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and also how would you describe your stage performance?
Guile: To me, there are several places where we played I will keep in my memories: our first gig in a fest, the Cernunnos Pagan Fest (for we didn’t expect to win the contest to play there), the one we made in Germany at the Hörnerfest, for it was both professional but also relaxed and friendly (and we shared the stage with Finntroll and Skyforger!), the one we made in Switzerland for personal reasons… XD Drenaï on stage is a show where we incarnate roles (sometimes one, sometimes two depending on the set we fixed in rehearsal) and try to make our gigs the more interactive as possible. The more the audience is responding, the better it is for us (and for them too J).
Diego: Guile summed it up pretty well: the Cernunnos Pagan Fest was an amazing experience, because even if we summoned our crowd to support us at the contest show, we’ve been actually quite surprised to win and play at the main event. It was great to see our friends and fans made it to Paris just to give us that chance. And Germany, well… We’re French lads, from a country where metal isn’t well seen and renowned. At Hörnerfest, we enjoyed the “Deutsche Qualität”, in a nice fest, where it’s like being with your family (a quite large one, though). When we are on stage (with space and time enough), we try to do our best to make a LIVE and LIVING show as much as we can. We are fully involved in the idea that we are there to incarnate the characters we talk about in our songs. I think we must be more than just a bunch of guys playing what was recorded on album, only looking to their instrument: I’m talking about coming and WATCHING a band, not only listening to it during a gig. The roles are now an important part of our live experience: we have enough songs to plan various shows, depending on the audience we expect to be there, the set time we’re given… And so, we can tell the crowd a rather different story every time. And to emphasize it, we generally choose to introduce the songs with short narrations to make the people understand that we are telling about nice books that should definitely be read (and bought!). So, that’s why we’ll be Druss or Bodasen or Nosta or Sieben the bard, and so on and so forth…
6. Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?
Guile: These days, Greg (guitar) is working on booking dates for Drenaï and we have several shows to come within the end of this year and the beginning of the next one (in Nantes for example). We are still waiting for answers that haven’t come yet from several fests to which we have applied and we are still applying to others in different countries… We are trying to book a tour this summer but it depends on the answers we have.
7. Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?
Guile: One day we will… be interesting or interested… (lol) The question is in debate for our next album: it will be really convenient to be signed by a label for a better distribution…
Diego: Obviously, working with a label would be great to reach more and more listeners.
8. On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of folk metal?
Guile: We did not receive many feedback but our followers’ number keeps growing worldwide which may indicate that ‘Nadirs’ pleases a growing amount of people. Even our usual listeners seem to have been surprised by this EP, expecting that “the next opus should be folk metal” and have been disconcerted in their way of receiving and listening to Drenaï or folk music in general: no distorted guitars, no drums, no growling voice, but folkloric instruments and a narrator... It’s not easy to change the habits of the listeners (ours too) but it’s the way we conceive music: changes and perpetual open-mindedness in order to give new and fresh ideas to our crowds and not repeat the things we already did before, and we hope they will think the same.
9. Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
Guile: I don’t really predicate the future of the band, we’ll see where all this leads us. One thing I’m sure: we won’t stay in one defined style and fall into its stereotypes but try to evolve each time we’ll release something: there are so many things left to do in music by trying new approaches, new sounds, new things, and even melt them with older ones… The only thing that will not change is the band’s thematic (or we’ll have to change our name in… I don’t know… “Drenaï of Fire and Wind” maybe… lol).
Diego: As we said, we’ll keep renewing our music and surprising our crowd, but I think, we’ll keep the things that make our identity: only live music when we’re on stage (no samples), epic orchestrations, and numerous and various choirs.
10. What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Guile: Each one in the band has several musical tastes, you can easily guess how hard it is to please everyone and both create a music that suits to our purpose. J Actually mine go to Metal in general but mostly to Symphonic Metal (Death, Black or only Symphonic). Obviously I don’t have only one band I can refer in Metal (I could quote Iron Maiden, Slayer, Megadeth, Mors Principium Est, No Return, etc.) but I also listen to world traditional music (Japan and Arabic World especially) and “classical” music like Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi, Wagner, Dvorak, Palestrina… My latest “coups de coeur” go to The Browning’s “Isolation”, Sepultura’s “Machine Messiah” and Ex Deo’s “The Immortal Wars”.
Diego: Usually, I’m really into epic scores composers, such as Two steps from Hell, or Twelve Titans Music, and movie scores (guess what kind of movies!). Since it allows me to picture epic scenes, battle speeches and stuff alike, I’m in. But when it comes to metal, it’s mostly folk metal. Not the “party/beer/women” ones (who said Alestorm? XD), but more in the lineage of Finntroll or Turisas. On a more inspirational side, I’m quite fan of Amon Amarth, even if their last album was a small disappointment. And lately, I’ve been listening Gorgon’s ‘Titanomachy’. It’s an epic death metal band from Paris (and nice guys) which shared with us a nice show in our hometown. You should definitely check it.
11. Does Paganism play any role in your music?
Guile: If the question is “does religion take a place in Drenaï?”, none of us believe in any god, we are atheists. Even though the study of religion and religion history (from paganism to monotheism for instance) can be a long and interesting subject, it has nothing to do with our music or lyrics.
Diego: … Even when the Nadirs, one of Gemmell’s numerous people praise the Gods of Stone and Water… oops, I said too much… see you on the next album ;) )
12. What are some of your non musical interests?
Guile: Movies and cinema, videogames (RPGs), comics & graphic novels (Rochette’s ‘Snowpiercer’, Willingham’s ‘Fables’… just finished Garth Ennis’ ‘Hellblazer’ and begun ‘Preacher’)… Each one of my hobbies is where there is a universe I can hear /imagine/ put music/soundscape on…
Diego: Mostly reading: novels, graphic novels, comics… provided it’s Fantasy or SF themed (I don’t like dramas that take place in the “real” world, or imply actuality. We’re living a dark and hard enough world; escaping it from time to time is a relief). And playing old vintage videogames (I stopped somewhere between Age of Kings and Baldur’s Gate II).
13. Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Diego: Support your local scene. Enjoy and attend their shows. Don’t save your money for one fest only; discover new stuff! They deserve it.
Guile: Stay epic and open minded! Enjoy listening to ‘Nadirs’ and share with your friends! Get well! See you (maybe) on a local stage!