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Zanimljivosti ZP Izdvojeno

Hrvoje Bubić | Intervju s Robert Garven

Robert Garven je bubnjar heavy metal sastava Cirith Ungol. Premda nisu dosegli slavu poput Iron Maidena ili Metallice, Cirith Ungol uživa veliku popularnost među obožavateljima heavy metal glazbe, a njihov album “King of the Dead” je najprodavaniji album njihove diskografske kuće Metal Blade Records, a Robert će nam kazati više u ovom intervju

For start, tell us about beginnings & influences, as I know , you played with future members of Cirtih Ungol in junior high school as Titanic. Since you took name from Lord of the Rings, the covers of your albums was made it by well know fantasy illustrator Michael Whelan. Please tell us about it and debut album Frost And Fire, did you get any legal problems for taking the name from Lord of the Rings and how did you get a nickname Master of Disaster

The band started when Greg, Jerry and I met in school at around age 13. We played for a while with another friend Pat Galligan, who went on to play in the punk band the “Angry Samoans”. After Pat left the band, Greg, Jerry and I wanted to pursue a heavier style of music and formed “Cirith Ungol”. Greg and I were in an advanced English language class and assigned to read the “Lord of the Rings”. It was the first of many “Sword and Sorcery” themed literature we all read. That is where we got the idea for our name. I think we may have chosen something easier to remember or pronounce if we could go back! Greg turned me on to my first exposure to heavy music like Mountain, and we knew that is what we wanted to play, something heavy! We played for many years and had another singer, Neil Beattie for a while before Tim joined the band. All this time we were perfecting our skills and writing material. From the beginning “Cirith Ungol” was focused on writing our own songs and over the years we only played a handful of covers. After Tim joined the band we really got serious and knew we had something to offer.

The reason to make our first album was to show that the band was capable of making a complete album package including; songwriting, production and execution. It was intended to be a high quality demo album to shop to the record companies. Before its release we had made cassette tapes and mailed them out with little or no response, so we were hoping a high quality offering would suit our purpose. Unfortunately we had no luck with the record companies, but a good friend, Brian Slagel, who would go on to found Metal Blade Records worked at a local record store and knew of a company in Los Angeles called Greenworld Distribution, who were importing and exporting lots of products and music. They liked “Frost & Fire” and after selling all the copies we made, they licensed the album and started producing the record and exporting it overseas. They liked the band and ended up over the years, under different names releasing “King of the Dead” (1984) under the company Enigma, and “Paradise Lost” (1991) under the name Restless Records. Unfortunately, like almost every other band, we were taken advantage of. It started off somewhat fair, but by “Paradise Lost” the contract we signed ended up signing away the rights to the album forever. This was very disappointing and was one of the reasons the band broke up.

Before “Frost & Fire” was released we contacted the owner of the rights to the “Lord of the Rings” for permission to use the name, which they granted. This was many years before the movies, but the “Lord of the Rings” was released as a cartoon in the US. During that time I was reading the book, “Stormbringer” by Michael Moorcock and we were searching for a good album cover, which led to us contacting Michael Whelan, which was the beginning of a lifelong relationship with this fantastic artist. Michael allowing us to use his Elric masterpieces on our albums has been one of the bright spots of our career, which has never dimmed! He even came out to see the band in Brooklyn, New York.

Next three albums, King of Dead, One Foot In Hell, Paradise Lost were released via heavy metal label Metal Blade and later you broke up in early 90’s. Tell us about your years in Metal Blade and what was reason for break up?

Actually the companies mentioned above were the first to release our albums with the exception of “One Foot in Hell” (1986), which was released on Metal Blade Records. Later after our first two album contracts expired, we licensed them to Metal Blade Records also. Unfortunately Warner’s Music Group bought and owns “Paradise Lost”, and refused to license the album to Metal Blade Records for the longest time, for reasons never explained. They were finally allowed to make a limited number of copies so this is our album, which will always be hard to get. After our break-up, Brian and Metal Blade Records kept some of our albums available, mostly in Europe. I think that this and coverage by some of the magazines in Europe, Rock Hard, Def Forever, Sweden Rocks, and Kerrang, kept the bands’ memory alive, even after our break-up. So when we were finally convinced to re-unite by Jarvis Leatherby of “Night Demon” and Oliver Weinsheimer of the “Keep it True Festival”, the band had to our surprise become a underground legend.

The breakup was a very sad time, we had lost some members and acquired new ones, some that did not fit well in the band. The break up occurred the day after a show at the Ventura Theater in 1991. Amazingly this was the venue we played our triumphant first reunion show in 2016! Back then there seemed no future for the band and after everyone left beside Tim and I, we could not see a way forward and decided put the band to sleep.

Since you are not world famous like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, Cirith Ungol has huge following in heavy metal underground. I read somewhere that the major reason for not being big is that you didn’t live in Los Angeles, is it that true? And could you tell us more about Frost And Fire festival and deceased guitar player Jerry Fogle.

We live in a beautiful city Ventura, California, which is about 100 mile north of Los Angeles. Back in the 1980’s the bands that were getting signed in S. California were the bands that played and hung out at all the clubs situated around the Sunset Strip area of Hollywood. This is where we saw and hung out with many bands before they were well known such as; Rush, Judas Priest, UFO, Y&T etc. Because we lived quite a bit away, it was hard for us to hang around there continuously, especially in the time of the “hair bands”…….For them it was more of a home game advantage. We tried to make up for this by issuing “Frost & Fire” and playing all the clubs such as the Starwood, Whisky a-go-go, Roxy, Country Club, Gazzaris, etc. Even though many people think this was the golden age of metal for those on the ground fighting to get noticed it was a constant struggle. We always seemed to be out of style, never fit in with the current trends but always tried to play the heaviest metal we could.

The story with Jerry is a sad story. He quit the band after “One Foot in Hell”. We asked a few guitarists to sit in with the band, so we could have two guitars to play double leads, and probably to help pay band rent, and carry equipment! Ha! Anyway, Jerry for some reason thought we were trying to replace him, and even though there is no truth to this, he left the band. I would visit him and try to convince him to come back, and at first he refused to even talk to us. He revealed that he thought leaving was a big mistake, but this was after we had broken up. He started drinking heavily and tragically drank himself to death. He was an unusually talented guitarist, who played with soul and feeling, which comes across on our albums. I think his greatest work was the solo on the song “Cirith Ungol” on “King of the Dead”. He plays two leads that intertwine with each other, and every time I hear or play that song tears come to my eyes because of the sheer emotion he expresses in his playing.

For the end, what are your future plans, I notice a animated movie with music of Cirtih Ungol and new single Witch’s Game and would be a show here in Split?

Metal Blade Records is going to release our live album coming out in 2019. They also just released a limited edition 12″ single you mentioned, “Witch’s Game” which is going to be featured in the upcoming animated movie “Planet of Doom”. There are clips on the Internet about the film, and we are very excited about it. Our song “Doomed Planet” will also be in the film, and a live version of this song is the B side of our 12″ single. We are working on new material and already booked for some shows next year. The band is only playing a few shows each year as several members of the band work full-time at other jobs, which limits our activity. Anyone that wants to see the band, try to get out to one of our shows, as we are on a roll, but not sure how long this will last?

It would be a dream to come to beautiful Croatia. Since we are playing so few concerts, we are mostly playing at festivals so we can play to as many as possible, but who knows where we might play but wherever we do we will bring a “A Churning Maelstrom of Metal Chaos Descending!”

Thank you for your questions, and a shout out to of your readers and Metal fans!

HRVATSKI PRIJEVOD

Za početak, recite nam o počecima & utjecajima, koliko znam, Vi ste svirali s budućim članovima Cirith Ungola u srednjoj školi kao Titanic. Pošto ste preuzeli ime iz Gospodara Prstenova, omoti vaših albuma je napravio poznati fantasy ilustrator Michael Whelan. Molim Vas recite nam o tome i debitantskom albumu Frost And Fire, da li ste imali pravnih problema zbog uzimanja imena iz “Gospodara Prstenova” i kako ste dobili nadimak Master of Disaster (Gospodar Katastrofe)?

Band je počeo kada su Greg (gitarist) , Jerry (gitarist) i ja upoznali u školi u dobi 13. godina. Svirali smo neko vrijeme s drugim prijateljem Patom Galliganom, koji je kasnije prešao svirati u pank bandu “Angry Samoans”. Nakon što je Pat napustio band, Greg, Jerry i ja smo htjeli težiti ka žešćem stilu pa smo formirali “Cirith Ungol”. Greg i ja smo bili na naprednom satu engleskog i bilo nam je dodjeljeno za pročitati “Gospodara Prstenova”. To je bila prva od mnogih “Sword and Sorcery” žanr (“mač i magija ” žanr, op. prev.) koju smo svi pročitali. Od tu smo dobili ideju za ime banda. Mislim da bi smo mogli uzeti neko lakše ime za zapamtiti ili izgovoriti kada bi smo se mogli vratiti unatrag. Greg me navukao na prvo otkriće žešće glazbe kao Moutain, i znali smo da želimo svirati nešto žešće. Svirali smo mnogo godina i imali smo drugog pjevača, Neila Beattiea neko vrijeme prije nego što se Tim (Baker, sadašnji vokal, op.prev.) pridružio bandu. Cijelo vrijeme smo usavršavali naše vještine i pisanje materijala. Od početka “Cirith Ungol” je bio fokusiran na pisanje svojih pjesama i tokom godina svirali smo šačicu obrada. Nakon što se Tim pridružio bandu, postali smo jako ozbiljni i znali smo da imamo nešto za ponuditi.

Razlog zašto da napravimo naš prvi album je da pokaže kako je band sposoban napraviti kompletno pakovanje albuma što uključuje: pisanje pjesama, produkcija i izvođenje. Bilo je namjereno da bude visoko kvalitetan demo koji če otkupiti diskografske kuće. Prije njegove objave, snimili smo kazete i poslali bi poštom njima s malo ili nikakvim odazivom, pa smo se nadali da visoko kvalitena ponuda će odgovarati našoj svrsi. Nažalost, nismo imali sreće, ali naš dobar prijatelj Brain Slagel, koji će kasnije osnovati Metal Blade Records (diskografska kuća, op.prev.), radio je u lokalnoj trgovini s pločama i poznavao je kompaniju pod imenom Greenworld Distribution, koja je uvozila I izvozila proizvode i glazbu. Svidio im se “Frost And Fire” te nakon što su prodali sve kopije koje smo napravili, lincensirali su album, započeli s produkcijom i izvozom u inostranstvo. Svidio im se band I tokom godina, pod drugim imenima izdani su “King of the Dead” (1984) pod imenom kompanije Enigma I “Paradise Lost” (1991) pod imenom Restless Records. Nažalost, kao svaki drugi band, bili smo iskorišteni. Počelo je otprilike pošteno, ali tokom “Paradise Lost”, ugovor koji smo potpisali je odbio prava na album zauvijek. To je bilo veoma razočaravajuće i bio je jedan od razloga zašto se bend raspao.

Prije “Frost And Fire” bio objavljen, kontaktirali smo vlasnika prava “Gospodara Prstenova” za dopuštenje korištenja imena, koje je bilo dopušteno. Ovo je bilo mnogo godina prije filmova, ali “Gospodar Prstenova” je bio objavljen kao crtić u SAD-u. Tijekom tog vremena čitao sam knjigu “Stormbringer” od Michaela Moorcocka i tada smo tražili dobar omot za album, što nas je dovelo da kontaktiramo Michaela Whelana, što je bio početak doživotnog odnosa s ovim fantastičnim umjetnikom. Michael nam je dopustio da koristimo njegove Elric ( glavni lik “Stormbringera” pisca Michaela Moorcocka, op.prev.) za naše albume što je bila jedna od svijetlih točaka naše karijere. Čak je došao vidjeti band u Brooklynu, u New Yorku.

Sljedeća tri albuma, King of Dead, One Foot in Hell, Paradise Lost su bili objavljeni preko heavy metal diskografske kuće Metal Blade te kasnije ste se raspali ranih 90’tih. Recite nam više o vašim godinama u Metal Bladeu i koji je bio razlog raspada?

Zapravo, kompanije koje su otprije spomenute su bile prve koje su objavile naše albume izuzev “One Foot in Hell” (1986.), koji je objavljen preko Metal Bladea. Kasnije kada su istekli ugovori za prva dva albuma, lincensirali smo ih preko također Metal Bladea. Nažalost, Warner’s Music Group je otkupio i posjedao “Paradise Lost” i odbio licencirati album za Metal Blade Records za jako dugo vremena, iz razloga koji nikada nisu bili objašnjeni. Konačno im je bilo dopušteno napraviti ograničen broj primjeraka pa je ovo naš album koji će biti najteže za pronaći. Nakon raspada, Brian i Metal Blade Records držali su naše albume dostupnim, uglavnom u Europi. Mislim da je to kao i naslovnice časopisa u Europi, Rock Hard, Def Forever, Sweden Rocks i Kerrang održali sjećanje na band živo, čak i nakon našeg raspada. Kada su nas napokon uvjerili da se okupimo, od Jarvisa Leatherby iz “Night Demona” i Oliver Weinsheimer iz “Keep the it True Festivala”, band je na naše iznenađenje postao underground legenda.

Raspad je bio žalostan, izgubili smo neke članove i stekli smo nove, od kojih se neki nisu uklopili dobro u band. Raspad se dogodio dan nakon nastupa u Ventura Theateru 1991. Nevjerojatno je to da smo na tom mjestu svirali naš trijumfalni reunion koncert. Tada se za band činilo da nema budućnosti, te da su otišli izuzev mene i Tima, nismo više vidjeli načina pa smo odlučili „uspavati“ band.

Pošto niste svijetski poznati kao Iron Maiden i Judas Priest, Cirith Ungol ima veliko sljedbeništvo u heavy metal undergroundu. Pročitao sam negdje da glavni razlog zašto niste poznati zbog toga što niste živjeli u Los Angelesu, da li je to istina? I možete nam reći više o Frost And Fire fehoćstivalu i pokojnom gitaristu Jerryu Fogleu?

Živjeli smo u predivnom gradu Venturu, Kaliforniji, koji je 100 milja (otprilike 170 km, op.prev.) sjeverno od Los Angelesa. Tada u 1980.’ima bandovi koji su prebilježeni u Južnoj Karolini su bili bandovi koji su svirali i visili u klubovima koji su se nalazili u Sunset Stripu, području Hollywooda. To bismo vidjeli i družili s bandovima prije nego što su postali poznati: Rush, Judas Priest, UFO, Y&T itd. Zato što smo živjeli poprilično daleko, bilo nam je teško visjeti tamo neprekidno, pogotovo za vrijeme „hair“ bandova. Za njih je to više bila prednost igranja u gostima. Pokušali smo to nadoknaditi izdavanjem „Frost And Fire“ i sviranjem u klubovima kao što su Starwood, Whisky A-Go-Go, Roxy, Country Club, Gazzaris, itd. Premda ljudi misle da je to zlatno vrijeme metala, za one koji su bili tu, bila je konstanta borba. Činilo se uvijek da smo van stila, nikada se nismo uklapali u trenutne trendove, ali oduvijek smo htjeli svirati što žešći metal koliko smo mogli.

Priča o Jerryu je tužna priča. Napustio je band poslje ”One Foot in Hell”. Zamolili smo nekoliko gitarista da se priključe bandu, kako bismo imali dvije gitare za duple vodeće, a i vjerojatno za plaćanje rente banda i nošenje opreme. Ha! Uglavnom, Jerry je iz nekog razloga mislio da ga želimo zamijeniti, iako to nije bila istina, napustio je band. Posjetio bih ga i pokušavao ga uvjeriti da se vrati, te isprva je odbio komunicirati s nama. Otkrio je da pomisao o napuštanju banda pogreška, no tada smo se već raspali. Počeo je jako piti te izopijao se do smrti. Bio je neuobičajno talentiran gitarist, koji je svirao s dušom i osjećajima, što se pojavilo na našim albumima. Mislim da su najveća dijela su solo na “Cirth Ungol” i “King of the Dead”. Svirao je dvije vodeće gitare koje bi se međusobno isprepletale, svaki put kad bih čuo ili svirao tu pjesmu suze bi mi počele teći iz očiju zbog čiste emocije koje je izražavao u svom sviranju.

Za kraj, koji su vam budući planovi, primjetio sam animirani film s glazbom Cirith Ungola, novi singl “Witch’s Game” te hoće li biti koncert u Splitu?

Metal Blade Records objavit će naš live album koji izlazi 2019. godine. Oni su upravo objavili limitiranu ediciju 12’ singla kojeg si spomenio, “Witch’s Game”, koji će se pojaviti u nadolazećem animiranom filmu “Planet of Doom”. Na internetu su isječci o filmu o filmu i jako smo uzbuđeni oko toga. Naša pjesma “Doomed Planet” će se pojaviti u filmu, i live verzija te pjesme je na B strani našeg 12’ singla. Radimo na novom materijalu i već smo se rezervirali za neke nastupe u sljedećoj godini. Band svira po nekoliko nastupa svake godine pošto neki članovi banda imaju stalne poslove što ograničava našu aktivnost. Svatko tko želi vidjeti band, pokušava doći na jedan od naših nastupa dok smo još tu, ali neznam koliko će još dugo trajati.

Bio bi san doći u predivnu Hrvatsku. Budući da sviramo tako malo koncerata, sviramo uglavnom na festivalima tako da sviramo kako bismo svirali što je više moguće, ali tko zna gdje bi mogli svirati, ali sve u svemu donijeti ćemo “A Churning Maelstrom of Metal Chaos Descending!” (Nevjerojatan vrtlog metalnog kaosa koji se spušta, op.prev.)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Student morskog ribarstva u Splitu, član umjetničke udruge Dadanti gdje obavljam funkciju voditelja glazbenog odjela i glumačke družine Banana Split. Bavim se poezijom, glumom, glazbom, novinarstvom i performansima...

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