Eldritch interview

I think it would be a sin to write a foreword for a band, that on its Eldritch official site
has a detailed biography and which many years ago Masters Of Metal domain presented so perfectally and beautifully that any new complementation is not necessary. The trendsetters of the Italian wave of 90s progressive metal and one of the cult names on progressive and metal and rock scene in general are now here. Only for Vision Rock Metal, the singer; a great, sincere and honest man! Ladies and gentlemen – mister Terence Holler!

“Nowadays is really impossible to live with metal music if you’re not one of the big big old names!! Believe me… I met so many artists that were famous in the past but now they all got a first job!!”

“In the 90’s I earned a lot of money so I could buy a mansion, with a big green park, swimming pool etc. etc…. Nowadays I can’t almost even pay the electricity bills!!!”

1. Tell me Terence, where did Eldritch get the inspiration for the innovative style that, in my opinion, is so far ahead of so much of the metal scene?

Ha ha, I don’t exactly know why!! We are simply doing what comes out naturally…. No table-talking or forcing from somebody…We take our inspiration from all the music we grew up with in the 80’s such as bands like Fates Warning, Queensryche, Metallica, Annihilator, Coroner, Slayer and others… putting in the kettle all our ideas to not sound like others… The result is what you hear……

2. What are your impressions when today you remember the bands early period from the demo phase? Do you feel proud that you were one of those that created a new sound that is used massively in today’s metal scene?

Yeah, I feel like a lucky man!! I’m proud of what we became, even if we never really had a huge success we are sure that EVERYBODY heard about Eldritch!! We are still growing worldwide with numbers of fans increasing…. Maybe we needed a bigger record company and a better promotion, but in the end I could say that I’m really proud and happy about our carreer…. Some bands that play progmetal sound all like clones of each others, musically and vocally.. We don’t!! We are just Eldritch, in good and in bad luck!!

3. Do you still sometimes perform stuff from “Reflection of Sadness” from 1991. and “Promo” demos from 1993. or did you put those songs in the histories treasury?

Wow!! No, we don’t play them no more… but we still play Incurably Ill in a new powerful version and the people love it!! The songs you mentioned from the early days are far too complicated and almost unlistenable for normal human beings!! We were too beyond and I still think we are!! Maybe I’m sick right??

4. When in 1992. you recorded the first demo “Reflections Of Sadness” it was accepted very well by the critics. The “Flash” magazine called you the best Italian vocalist. How did you feel after those compliments? Was that a “wind in your back” from the beginning for you and the whole band?

Well yeah, of course!! I don’t think I was or I am the best Italian singer, but for sure I don’t sound like a clone of Michael Kiske, Geoff Tate, Bruce Dickinson or other similar vocalists! I am myself and I don’t care about imitating these great singers….. Anyway, the good reviews gave us a great input to continue improving and I personally took singing lessons to be sure to not ruin my vocal strings… Now, after all these years I’m still here singing and travelling around the world with my music, so yes, the first great reviews gave us a big wind blow on our back!!!

5. When the “Promo Tracks 93” was recorded in the late 1993., “Rock Hard” magazine gave you high praise. They wrote: “The heavy and slashy guitar, the powerful double-bass drumming and the crystal singing show that five pro musicians are at work…this band has got an extraordinary talent…these guys don`t need any advice since all their songs are of an amazing high-quality level and a production too is worth a CD”. The “Headbanger’s Ball” magazine at that times wrote: “The first song alone (the magnificant `Incurably Ill`) is worth a 15 DM (deutch mark) price of the demo! The style of the band is very interesting mix of influences such as Dream theater and Fates Warning but with a rawer, heavier, more aggressive european sound”. A lot of magazines at that time were saying: “that they have never heard such artistry and professionalism coming from an italian metal band before!”. A Netherlands magazine “Mortician” wrote: “Their coming from Italy…was really a suprise to me! Excelent progressive power metal bands are also in Europe!”. A breakthrough in America, Japan, Brazil followed…an American magazine “Sentinel Steel” said: “The demo is chockfilled with unpredictable twists and turns, further enchanched by a superb production…there`s very little to criticize on this tape. Vocalist Terence Holler is just outstanding, a master of the mike; solo guitarist Eugene Simone is a virtuoso of his instrument…the lyrics about the Mafia, Catholic church, drunk driving and much more are all intelligently done. This is a great tape of progressive metal over 30 minutes in lenght!”. Was the continuation of praise from magazines from all over the world a sort of a big spring board for the bands career? Has the praise dispersed the doubt, if any, the band might have had in regards to subjecting your life to music that you make and to persevere with it?

Well, of course all the great words and all the rumors about our debut on demos gave us the input to continue in our project and gave us the conviction that maybe one day we could’ve become professional artists. Our intent was and still is, to play our own style of metal, with no restrictions or any kind of market request to follow…. We had a lot of discussions with our record managers at the time…. They wanted us to be more into a genre, but we always said: “or our way or no way”… The only thing that we still don’t understand after 20 years is why we never became bigger……

6. When “Seeds of Rage” album was released in 1995. both the fans and the critics were overjoyed. The album got the status of “the album of the month” in germany’s prestige heavy metal magazine “Heavy, oder was?”. Were you expecting such strong wind at your back from the beginning or was the success unexpected? Has the success of the first album predetermined you as a quality, creative musicians and one of the pillars of progressive/heavy/power/thrash scene at that time?

The first album quite surprised us!! We knew for sure that we could’ve done much better, that we were too raw and inexperienced… but then the result of the critic and the public was awesome!! This strong wind on our back was very encouraging and the whole world started to say that we were the European answer to Dream Theater…. We focused our minds on continuing our journey to the same destination we started with our first album for the following works….. We all were concentrated on improving each one of us on our own quality as musicians, studying more and more….. Nowadays we could confirm that we are totally satisfied as musicians… we could play any genre of music we want….

7. Which of the songs from “Seed of Rage” is your favourite? I noticed you perform “Incurably Ill” often…

Of course “Incurably Ill”, but not only!! I love “Under this Ground” and almost the whole album… we wrote each song with love and passion, so I think we love them all at the same way, like if they are our children!!! Yes, we still play Incurably Ill sometimes!! The song originally was written in 1990, so 22 years ago!!

8. At that time, which bands influenced you the most?

Fates Warning, Annihilator, Coroner, Metallica, Queensryche mostly!! We grew up listening to all these bands and we developed our style taking good examples from these artists…. Of course we never copied anything!! But I think you could hear the influences in our music…

9. Do you think that the Italian scene was stronger and more innovative in the middle and towards the end of the ’90s than it is today?

Oh yeah, for sure!!! The only bands that really made a mark in the world’s music history coming from Italy are Lacuna Coil, Rhapsody and Eldritch…. All coming from early 90’s… Other bands came after but they are absolutely not original or unique, they are just good bands, but in my opinion they all sound quite similar to each other…. Let’s forget about the scene nowadays, nothing at all is worth to mention or could leave a trace…… I know a multitude of bands that are good technically but they don’t know how to cut their own piece of pie in the big music industry…. Just clones of clones of the clones…..

10. When I look at the lyrics of the band I get the feeling that Eldritch is constantly sending messages about global problems on a planetary scale and collective problems of humanity as a race. Am I right?

Yes man, you’re damn right!! I prefer writing about real things instead of fantasy stuff or invented stories… I’m a simple but extremely real person! I hate falsity and hypocrisy.. Sometimes our messages might seem strong but at least they are current things…

11. Do you think that many of today’s bands are ignoring their responsibilities and are sending wrong messages to their listeners, messages that are full of hate and destruction?

Well, to be honest I don’t care about the other band’s messages… I mean, each artist is free to tell and write about anything he wants…. We’re still in a quite free world… I could just say that there are really a lot of frustrated people around the world…… and so also frustrated musicians too….. But in the end I think that each artist could say whatever he wants, really……

12. Often I found in your texts a certain philosophical and psychological note talking about the relationship an individual man has towards the collective known as humanity and the other way around… Do you think that today those relationships, that correlation between man and humanity is important for preservation of our planet?

Of course!!! The planet was given to us and we’re destroying it….. It’s a simple fact. A human being is an intelligent creature and should use more of his brain for good things… Of course I can’t convince the humanity to change their ways but at least inform some people about what’s going on….. I also wrote lyrics about human’s personal issues with their own mind…. Something really delicate to talk about… but I did taking the inputs from my own life, my problems and my thoughts…… I discovered that there are thousands of people that approve what I was talking about!!! Good…

13. On your last album “Gaia’s Legacy” I get the feeling that both musically and lyrically you came closer to the concepts of “El Nino”, “Reverse” and “Portrait of the Abyss Within” albums , I would even go as far as to say that in some segments you managed to evoke the “Headquake” phaze… Am I right?

Ha ha, you really know Eldritch even more than myself!!! I think that in the end all my lyrics from all the albums could be attached together… This is me… Who reads all my more than 100 songs could quite understand how I am and what I think about life and the world.. I hope I don’t sound boring though!!! But I can’t do differently, this is my ways to express my feelings in music…..

14. I always wanted to know how is it that you manage to cope with all those different musical styles like progressive metal, power metal, speed metal, thrash metal, classical heavy metal, melodical metal, AOR and in the end manage to come out as a winner with a distinguished crossover masterpiece in which again the boundaries of sound and styles were moved?

I don’t know!!!! We just write songs without thinking about what the style is… It’s just our feelings in music, no orders from any record guru or manager.. All our influences and music taste is on each riff or song and sometimes even more than a style in one only song… Eldritch is like this.. If we talk too much about what we’re doing it comes out a bad and ugly song…. We prefer leaving our minds free….

15. “Blackenday” always seemed to me (except for “Black Rain” and “The Fire” which are great tougher songs in the thrash/power/progressive metal manner), as a more restrained Eldritch album..Did you use this album as a kind of way in search for a new sound or did it spontaneously come into life, as a result of natural progression and work dynamics in the band?

Well, as I said, everything is spontaneous not discussed about previously… The only thing we try to fix in our songwriting is the research of catchy melodies… That’s it.. We realized that sometimes our melodies weren’t so simple to get into… so we try to be more accessful… “Blackenday” is an easy to listen album, maybe even too much!!

16. On the “Blackenday” album I found elements of your project Vicious Mary that you had with Sean. Is there really a connection btween those two or was I just tripping?

Ha ha!! Maybe you weren’t tripping!! It’s that I wrote all the songs for the Vicious Mary album and I wrote all the song of Eldritch (with Eugene), so the vocal lines may sound similar sometimes…. I only got one brain and one voice ha ha… Who knows?? Maybe one day I’ll do a second VM album….

17. I remeber my first encounter with the album “Headquake” when it came out. It was the first time I heard Eldritch and it was love at first sight. Olegs strong futuristic synth sounds, the complex song structure, your distinct vocals…it all blew me away and those feelings are still strong to this day. When after all those years I listen to the “Headquake” record it seems as if the album is still ahead of its time, not to mention 15 years ago…What I want to know is how much were you under the influence of alien forces to make such an outworldly album? Just joking At that time what inspired you the most to create something so much in contrast to everything heard at that time(even today, at this time)?

Thanks man!! Your true compliments make me happy!! We always knew to be a little bit beyond the rest!! Talking seriously, I think we’ve been really undervalued!! This is my only regret in my life… We deserved much much more….. Because I really can say that we were beyond 20 years ago and a song like Incurably Ill is still modern now!! Headquake is a fantastic album with unique/original tracks….. We were and still are inspired from our love for music, that’s all… we never really wanted to be progmetal, or classmetal, or thrashmetal… We don’t care about labels, we just want to be honest and fair with our listeners, we are only Eldritch..

18. When looking at the metal scene of the 90s and today…was being in the metal business more worthwhile than today? Can you survive on metal alone today? I’m not talking about a handful of bands that became brands, I’m talking about quality bands that became names but never ventured into the mainstream waters…

Nowadays is really impossible to live with metal music if you’re not one of the big big old names!! Believe me… I met so many artists that were famous in the past but now they all got a first job!! Music is a second job or only a hobby… Almost no more money around…. The situation is really bad… In the 90’s I earned a lot of money so I could buy a mansion, with a big green park, swimming pool etc. etc…. Nowadays I can’t almost even pay the electricity bills!!! I opened my artistic iron works shop and I do both things to live….

19. In the beginning of your career you were playing with progressive and power metal names like Pain of Salvation and Angra…At that time both the progressive and the power metal scene was bursting with innovations. Rarely did a new band come that didn’t have, at least in some small percentage, something new to offer. Along with Eldritch Italian bands like Empty Tremor, Mystere De Notre Dame, Athena, Labirynth, Rhapsody, Domine, White Skull…Everything full of good music. How do you look at the Italian scene from those times and how at the world scene? Are you nostalgic for those times of fame for progressive and power metal?

Those were the golden days for this music and for the Italian scene!! Every show in every country was always sold-out, even here in Italy we were always full of people at our shows (3/400 kids per show). Now everything is gone!! No audience for none of the bands you mentioned (some no longer even exist). Maximum 100 people per show for the biggest Italian bands…. Regarding the world scene, it’s better in other countries, like USA, eastern Europe or South America, but it’s not like it was before…. Yeah, I feel really nostalgic….. But we’ll keep on playing for our faithful fans that still are many thousands… We do this for passion, not for money….. But of course, we miss the 90’s…..

20. Quite a lot of modern post metal and metal core bands use elements that you guys already used quite some time ago. Do you think you had any effect on the newer generations?

Sincerely I don’t know if we were so important to influence other bands, but for sure I could say that we did things that other bands did later than us, but took all the awards!! It’s ok, we’re not angry with nobody in particular, but we don’t understand why just a few noticed that we were modern already 18 years ago!!!

21. Let’s go back in time a bit, in the “El Nino” phase. To this day this album is still one of my favorite albums, alongside “Headquake”, not only in progressive metal or metal in general, but of whole of music. Was “El Nino” created by following the concept of “Headquake”?

Thanks!!!! Some songs from “El Nino” were written before the “Headquake” recordings!! We just wrote songs that have no time…. Our first 3 albums were quite all written in 2 years, so the only difference between those albums were the recording studios, the mood, the physical and mental status at that time….. but nothing else!! From 1994 to 1998 we wrote 35 songs and recorded 3 albums…. That’s how it went..

22. On the “promo Tracks 93” demo and on the “Seeds of Rage”, “El Nino” and “Headquake”(especially those two) albums the concept of a complete band is fantastic. Oleg Smirnoffs keyboards and samples are in my opinion something that is still to this day way ahead of its time. Was special attention given to the sounds (especially the ones from keyboards and guitars) or was it something that came spontaneously?

Everything was spontaneous! The only thing we paid attention to was trying to not sound similar to others…. Oleg was a genius in being original… He was absolutely a non-clone of Kevin Moore like the 90% of all the metal keyboarders!! Eugene on guitars is also a creative mind and for me he’s one of the best talents worldwide!! Great taste, great sound….. and he never wants to put his talent before the song!! The songwriting is at the first place..

23. When today I look upon the studio albums of the band (correct me if I’m wrong or if I’m too subjective), I notice two phases and two sort of middle or transition phases. The first, the prog phase with elements of speed, thrash and power on the “Seeds of Rage”, “Headquake” and “El Nino” albums, the middle-phase with the “Reverse” album, which was completely different from the first three albums and leaned more heavily to the technical thrash genre, then came the more power prog thrash metal phase with the albums “Portrait Of The Abyss Within”, “Neighbourhell” and “Blackenday” and again, last year, a “middle-phase” with the album “Gaia`s Legacy” which, to me, sounds more like the “Reverse” album with a more pronounced technical thrash metal aspect. I don’t know if you’ll agree with me here. What I want to know is, by looking at the chronology and dynamics of your discography, is the next phase again the one in which for the next three albums we’ll hear a more progressive metal Eldritch like on the first three albums?

Ha ha, who knows??? Your thoughts are quite right, but it is only a coincidence… Our different phases depend more on our state of mind in that period of life while writing/recording…. Who knows what we’ll feel like for the next album?? I could just tell you that some new stuff sounds really modern…….. I think we’ll continue being progressive, modern, thrashy and most of all original… I can’t tell you more at the moment….it’s still early..

24. Was Eldritch created directly from the band Zeus?

Yes, me, Adriano and Eugene transformed Zeus into Eldritch, changing the music style.. We already had in mind to do something different and more original…. Zeus was just a classy metal/ hard rock band.. but with good songs too!!

25. I always wanted to know, how did you come up with the name Eldritch?

Eugene and Adriano were big fans of the American band Watchtower and after listening to the song “The Eldritch” they came up with this weird name, but very impressive and unique..

26. Is there a chance for you and ex-keyboardist Sean recording something together with the band/project “Vicious Mary”?

Absolutely not!! I don’t speak to Sean since 2003, when we kicked him out of Eldritch… Maybe there’s a little, very little chance I could do a second chapter of “Vicious Mary” but with other musicians, none of the ones on the first record… maybe only BB Nick….. but I don’t have time…. We’ll see…

27. Let’s return to the past a bit, the album that surprised me and many others with its diversity, the “Reverse” album. Have you at that time decided on hardening the sound? Hard, thrash metal approach, industrial space sounds, a unique version of The Knack’s “My Sharona”. How did you come up with the idea of making your version of that song?

Those days were quite heavy and bad for me, my wife was cheating on me and we divorced during the songwriting process of that album! I was angry with the world, so that’s why the album came out heavier, thrashier and at the same time modern… Yeah, we were looking for something more modern, but as I mentioned previously, we never sit at a table before writing songs….Eugene is a great songwriter and he always understands how my mood is…. His riffs fit perfectly my life status. Our life mood influences our music… so that time around we were kind of pissed off with the world!! Regarding “My Sharona” we decided to record it because we love the groove of its riffing… We knew it could’ve become a strong song and that’s what happened!! That song gave us popularity…. I mean it gave us exposure also to people non-listeners of Eldritch…..

28. “Portraits Of The Abyss Within” was again a complete shift in comparison to “Reverse” where you went more in power metal waters. Again I have to ask, was it a conscious decision because a wish for exploring new areas or something that came spontaneously, in that moment?

Both ways! We always wish to write songs not the same as the previous ones… But no, it wasn’t a conscious decision, it was a natural process of our songwriting…. Like always… I think there are great tracks on that album, really impressive…

29. “Neighbourhell” as an album has a similar concept to “Portraits Of The Abyss Within”. Is it right to assume that “Portrait”…felt so good to you that you decided to use the same concept on the “Neighbourhell” album and partially on the “Blackenday” album?

Maybe you’re right!! But let’s say that those 3/4 years we felt like writing that way… Those 3 albums were more like a triple album…. The mood and the feelings were quite the same….. I could say that our career was split in 3 parts, 1995-1999, then 2000- 2003, then 2004- 2010 and now our new era…… I think we’re getting back to a modern futuristic mood…… I’m curious to know what’ll come next!!

30. Can you remember which keyboards Oleg Smirnoff used on the first three albums (I am also talking about the beautiful sound in solo parts on “Ghoulish Gift” and “Heretic Beholder”)?

Uhm…. I’m really ignorant about keys!! I think a Korg was is his set, but I don’t remember the rest!! He was really innovative and beyond…… He did amazing things in that era, unfortunately he quit the music business too soon… We called him for our double live album “Livequake” and that’s the last time we saw him!!

31. What are your plans for the future? On which festivals will you bel playing this year?

We just been confirmed for Ragnarokkr Metal Apocalypse fest in Chicago USA on May 2013, plus we got a tour in Spain and maybe something in Australia… Plus some shows in Italy. We would really love to come to your country!!! But we don’t have any contacts…. We’re also writing new songs now, and probably we’ll record something next year…….

32. So, there is a chance of you playing in Croatia?

We really hope to come there soon!! We love your country and especially your girls!!!!

33. If someone asked me what my favourite Eldritch albums are I’d answer: the complete “Headquake” and “El Nino” albums from the first song to the last. Could you say what you favourite album/albums or song/songs are?

Well, I like “Seeds Of Rage” at the same level as the ones you mentioned, so this means the first 3 albums for me were and still are my favorite of all time… I also like our last one because it has some echoes of the past within it….. What I can’t tell you is my favorite song, impossible!! I love all “my children”! It depends on my mood, sometimes I like some songs more than others, but I change mind the day after!!

34. Terence, I am inceredibly glad to have had the chance of talking with one of to me faovurite and best vocals in the metal and rock scene and with one of to me favouite and best bands on the metal scene in general! Do you have a message for old and new fans and for old and new readers of Vision Rock Metal?

Wow man!! You can’t imagine what a pleasure it is for me and for the band to know that we got fans like you!! You really give us the strength to carry on in this world full of emptiness of ideas… And THANK you for considering me a good singer!! I really feel more motivated to continue my personal crusade to show the world that there are different ways to play and sing metal… The only message I have is that I’d like the people to trust in Eldritch and to listen carefully to our whole discography before deciding if we’re good or not…. And remember, “Gaia’s Legacy” just came out and we hope you guys support us!! So we could play in your land!! THANKS, thanks and thanks!!!

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