ZT EXCLUSIVE: WINTERFYLLETH WRAP UP WARM FOR ZT WINTERFEST
British black metal history buffs Winterfylleth shall headline the Zero Tolerance Winterfest at Camden Purple Turtle on Dec 15th. Frontman Chris Naughton spoke to ZT about all things old, cold, Candlelit and British…
ZT: Hi Chris! You just played the Candlefest last weekend –I guess playing with bands like The Rotted and October File their fans maybe aren’t so familiar with your music. What kind of response did you have from that show?
CN: The response was great for that show. A lot of Winterfylleth fans showed up and we had a storming performance, so we were all pleased with the day. I think that while bands like The Rotted & October File are different stylistically to Winterfylleth, a lot of people who like our music would also like their music. I know I do, and I think that most people understood what the day was supposed to be about regardless of the different styles between the bands. It was about showcasing the best British bands on Candlelight Records and pulling together a strong line up to play across GB.
ZT: As for ZT’s Winterfest which you are headlining – for people who saw you last week in London is there anything different about this show that should make them come and see you again? What can we expect from your performance?
CN: I think the main difference is that we will be playing for longer and are going to be able to draw on more songs from both our albums in the set. Doing Candlefest was an amazing thing to do, but time limitations across a whole day event mean that you have to be more selective with what the set contains. Doing Winterfest will allow us the space to play for longer and play some material many people won’t have heard before.
ZT: You seem to have gained popularity since signing to Candlelight, on the whole do you feel signing to them was a good move and would you say it has opened up new opportunities?
CN: Completely! The guys at Candlelight are passionate fans of music and use everything at their disposal to do the best for all their bands. We have been fortunate that our album was so well received and has had such good coverage in the press. I think what Candlelight brings to the table is that they are musicians, who play in bands and who actually understand the scene in which they operate and the nuances therein. This makes them a solid ally to have behind you as an artist on their label.
ZT: It seems in one respect to be a good time for UK black metal as there are some great bands like yourselves, Wodensthrone, Falloch, Altar Of Plagues, Fen, etc. etc… would you regard yourselves as being part of a British “scene”, or do you prefer not to be lumped in with a load of other bands?
CN: I think that intrinsically we are all part of a British scene, whether you like that sort of terminology or not. I would be happy to be considered part of a BM movement that involves all of those bands as they not only our musical peers, but many of them are also our friends, and we have shared bills with them for many years now. I think that we all come together under a broad “British scene”, but there is so much variation and differing musical identity amongst the bands mentioned above that each band has something new to bring to music, regardless of being part of a wider British scene or not.
ZT: Your lyrics are inspired by British history and it was a love of this subject that really brought you together. History can seem really dull, given the way it is taught in schools it does a good job of switching people off history for life – perhaps bands like yourselves help to show just how interesting and also relevant history can be. Can you elaborate a little on what aspects of history really fascinate you, and where your interest began?
CN: I suppose our interests began at a young age, and were heightened when Simon and I met one another. There are so many interesting aspects of history that spring to mind, and I could sit here all day talking about them all, so I will choose some choice ones. If readers check out our first album ‘The Ghost of Heritage’, they will hear a story about a woodland not far from where we live. This woodland was home to a druid that is said to have inspired the legend of the great British Wizard Merlin. He is guardian of the cave system (that is part of the oldest mine system in England) that winds underneath the wooded slopes of Cheshire. It is said that he protects a sleeping army of medieval warriors that are in eternal slumber “awaiting the day when England is in peril”.
The Peak District area of England is not far from where we live and has all manner of legends and tales that go back into ancient history. It is a mountainous area of forests and high moorland. It is alleged to be a ‘window area’, being an area where the veil between this world and the next is a little thinner and is an area filled with ghost stories. One particular legend being that of great, vast blue lights that rise up from the valleys, and descend on the vast moorland, and then vanish as quick as they arrived. Possibly earth lights, natural gas or electricity escaping from the Earth? Whichever way you look at it, spiritually or otherwise, it’s a fantastic thing to experience.
ZT: Music with no meaning or message behind it can seem pointless, but I’d also say I get annoyed when bands use music as a platform for ideology where the music takes a total backseat. I’d say you strike just the right balance. Clearly the love of British history is important to you, would you say it is more/as important as the music itself?
CN: I think that music and message are equally important things. Although I don’t consider us to be a political band (despite how much we are pulled into political debate), I feel that political bands from whatever end of the spectrum have always struggled to get any kind of message across if they have weak music. Equally I feel that bands who have nothing to say have an equally weak impact and seem to be almost making music for the sake of it. The two things need to contribute one another and have some intrinsic link so the whole entity is combined, interesting and fluid enough to engage people with. Otherwise, it is rendered useless as a medium for putting across a message.
ZT: You come across as being very proud of your British heritage, which does seem to be a dirty phrase these days. What do you have to say on this matter, and do you sometimes feel that your intentions are misconstrued?
CN: I’ve spoken about this a lot in interviews and I think that on the whole people have now realised we are not extremists on some kind of soap box of hatred, but rather people who care about, and are interested in the stories and spiritual essence of where we are from.
I don’t think you can ever fully shake off past controversies, and there are certainly elements or individuals within the press that actively disregard what we have said post-controversies. To be honest these people are becoming fewer and far between but still choose instead to actively believe the worst about us and perpetuate that belief to others. I think this concerned us at first, but I now realise it is a drop in the pond and that most people are sensible and rational enough to find the truth and make up their own minds.
Conversely there were some high profile artists and press members who held a bad view of us that have engaged us personally and directly, who have come away feeling very differently about us. So I think that people would be unwise to believe the negativity about us, and if they are unsure then they should come and speak to us directly. I can assure you, we are welcoming, friendly people who would love to chat to you about our band. That is why we have never hidden away behind the scenes if any controversies have emerged. We have nothing to hide despite what certain individuals would have you believe. So we engage it head on.
ZT: The photography on The Mercian Sphere was done by Simon, in the Lake District so I remember reading. It shows how Britain has some beautiful scenery that a lot of people tend to forget about. Do you make much of an effort to visit British countryside/nature spots and does it have any inspiration in your music?
CN: Yes we make a big effort to get out and explore the British countryside. You can probably find us out and about whenever we have the chance, exploring, walking and finding interesting new places and stories.
There are a good few instances where the impact of a place and its story has influenced a song and/or a lyric. ‘Mam Tor (The Shivering Mountain)’ from our first album is about our visit to the historic village of Castleton in the peak district and the story about the Mountain, Mam Tor. It was also the inspiration for the albums cover image, Peveril Castle and Mam Tor in the distance. The legend of Merlin around Aldereley Edge in Cheshire also inspired the album and song name ‘The Ghost Of Heritage’ while the Derwent Valley between Manchester and Sheffield was the inspiration for the song ‘A Valley Thick With Oaks’ on our second album ‘The Mercian Sphere’. So I guess they have had a profound impact on our music and lyrics!
ZT: What else are you all up to at the moment – I read about a possible Atavist EP in 2011/12 which you & Simon are involved in, and I guess your work with Lone Vigil keeps you busy? Are you involved in any other bands/projects at the minute?
CN: We are involved in a few other things between the members of the band, but Winterfylleth remains our primary focus.
Simon and I have been involved in a few projects which include: –
· Atavist (with which we will do a new release when we get the opportunity)
· Ashes (Cold Black Metal, now on Candlelight)
· The Elder Tree (A folk band we have been doing that has a track coming out on Cold Spring Records Dark Britannica 4 compilation)
Separately I have been causing mirth with ‘Hammer of the Gods’ and working on the development of a number of acts with my label Lone Vigil. Keep your eyes peeled for ‘Cnoc An Tursa’ and ‘Desolate Winds’ albums in the coming months. Simon has been performing live with Dark Ambient masters ‘From The Bogs Of Aughiska’ (bringing his experience with visuals and film techniques to the fore in a live performance), while Nick has been playing some live shows with Birmingham doom masters, and personal favourites ‘Esoteric’. So we’ve kept busy, but have been very focused on Winterfylleth and are planning to record our 3rd album at the beginning of 2012.
ZT: Are you working on any new material, and can we expect a new release from you in 2012?
CN: Yes, we are due to record our 3rd album the last week of March/first week of April 2012. We will be working with our good friend Chris Fielding @ Foel Studios once again and you can expect a triumphant and virulent Winterfylleth album that draws on some of our best writing.
ZT: Any parting message for our readers?
CN: Come and support us and ZT at Winterfest, Dec 15th 2011!
TICKETS FOR THE ZT WINTERFEST ARE PRICED AT AN UBER-LOW PRICE OF JUST £7.50 AND CAN BE PURCHASED RIGHT HERE. FULL LINEUP DETAILS ARE AVAILABLE HERE.
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