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Irdhing's members answering some questions

Irdhing is a band hailing from Haapsalu, the capital of Western Estonia - a cold seaside region notorious for its lack of proper hard rock groups. Finally, this situation has started to change.
In October 2001 a group of metalheads united under the banner of Irdhing (loose translation: "a soul aloof". - Mart.) gave their first live performance at Club Bremen in Tallinn. I'm happy to say I attended, and discovered already during the first few tunes that this is the most intense debut live I've seen in a long time. Encouraged by the powerful nordic metal ringing in my ears and the desire to share this unearthed treasure with other genre-oriented people burning in my chest I asked the members of Irdhing to answer some questions.

I've also taken the liberty of trying to translate a few captions of Irdhing's lyrics, which in actuality are written in Estonian.

Why did you decide to give your debut live in Tallinn? Is Western Estonia lacking in either venues or audience?

We planned to perform for the first time in 2001 in Haapsalu during the White Dame Festival, but thanks to the organizers this did not happen. Then Volly form Bestia came up with the opportunity to perform in Bremen. (We would like to use this opportunity to thank Volly).
About venues in Western Estonia - there's plenty of them, but there's not much audience for the style of music we're playing.

A short history, please - since when are you playing under that name, who's in the band and where did you play before Irdhing?

We finally decided to use the name Irdhing a week before the White Dame Festival in the end of July. By the way, we also have a song called "Irdhinged" ("Souls Aloof") - that's where the name came from.

"Voices are heard from the broad fields
approaching by the powers of the wind.
They're moving even faster than the wings of a black raven,
filling the whole of the sky."

- "Souls Aloof", Rain 2000

About history: The band is playing together since the ninth century, the time of the Vikings. After the battle of Ümera things died down for a while. In the summer of 1999 we regrouped, but the original line-up was a bit different, and we don't play the songs we used to back in the olden days.
In the beginning we had Heiki on drums, but he left shortly after. In January 2000 we found a new drummer and a bass-player. Since January 2001 the line-up is as follows:
guitarists Alvar (Emperor Chicken) and Arno (Sir Peerox), the four-stringed instrument is played by Andrus (Doomhand) and vocals are sung by Rain. (This calls for a comment - "Rain" is a perfectly ordinary name and has nothing to do with weather, at least not in Estonian language. - Mart.) The synth and the drums are currently taken care by a computer.
By the way, the full line-up (drums, synth, two guitars, bass and vocals) has never been utilised, not even in rehearsals. That's mainly due to constant changes in the line-up, and to laziness.

Alvar: I used to play in Big Candy.
Andrus: My history of band-making is limited to a punk rock project in Viljandi and a few rehearsals with Pluribus Impar.
Rain: I once played in a punk rock band.
Arno: This is my first band.

Who writes the music, who the lyrics?

Music is written by Irdhing, lyrics by Rain.

You played quite a few instrumentals. Were they meant to be "fill-ins", or are you actually a half-instrumental band?

We are a half-instrumental band.
It's true that, on the concert, we played two instrumentals in the end that were actually meant to have vocals, but that was due to urgent demand from the struggling masses.

Who named the band and where did he take the name from

Rain: I chose the name. It has to do with the religious belief that a soul can be separated from the body. When a person dies, his soul is released, it goes wandering, so to say. And that's where our name - "a soul aloof" - comes from.

Asking around among the audience I discovered that a lot of people consider you to be a Pagan Death Metal band. I personally would label you just a good and intense 21. century Estonian metal band. How do you label yourselves?

Well, we like to think that we are a Cyber - Pagan - Viking - Penguin - Folk - Death - Goteborg - Progressive - Atmospheric - Black - Chicken - Heavy Metal. We should add an explanation: we all have so different tastes in music that everyone has put their personally preferred ideas into the outcome. The result is our sort of wide-range style - Irdhing Metal :)).

Is Western Estonia devoid of percussionists or are your standards too high?

Rain: Both, actually. We had a drummer Ott who played with us for a year and a half and had good technique, but for a bunch of reasons he could no longer play with us. There are a few drummers beside him in Haapsalu, but they don't play Metal. We've tried to find a percussionist for some time, but our efforts have been in vain. Actually, the band's future looks quite dark.

What bands (Estonian/foreign) would you like to play together with? Whom would you never play together with?

Arno: Based on the music we make we would probably sound best together with Tharaphita and Manatark, but actually we don't have any special preferences.
Rain: There's definitely enough good bands in Estonia to share a stage with. I'd rather not name any foreign ones.
Alvar: I would not play together with Push-Up (This is an extremely commerce-oriented dance music performer. The success of this group can easily be traced to the record-breaking size of the singer's breasts. - Mart.)

On stage Rain wore a conspicuously ethnic top. Was this a part of a Western Estonian folk costume?

Rain: Actually, no.

Why weren't the rest wearing any costumes?

Andrus: Everyone wears the clothes he feels the most comfortable in.
Alvar: I don't know.
Arno: I left it in a sacred grove; by the time I went to retrieve it, the ravens had gobbled the costume up.

"Praise be to you, vikerlased!
("vikerlane" is an Estonian viking. - Mart)
(It is) your fierce will: from the soul
to hack the fettering yoke of slavery.

I sow this ode to bloodied fields from my lips,
a praise that mingles with the voices.

Can you still hear the voices of destruction,
louder still than the call of the oak-woods of Taara?
Can you hear the banshee still wailing,
devouring the rust I hate?"

- "On Ancient Battlefields", Rain 2000

Considering the contents of your lyrics and some of your answers, the sacred groves, sacrificial stones, ways of our ancestors and the whole local mythology is a matter close to your hearts. Why have you chosen metal music as the means of expressing this attachment? Have you had any plans to implement any ancient folk instruments - the Estonian zither, bagpipes, the Jah harp, and such?

Rain: Yeah, of course mythology and everything to do with it is a spiritual matter for us. And metal music is just the thing through which we can express our thoughts the best. You might say we are fanatics of metal.
Personally I have nothing against acoustic/instrumental (folk)music, if it's made well, but I don't see a point in using any ancient instruments myself. Still, the Jah harp would synch well with our music.

You sing in Estonian, your mother-tongue, about things concerning our national roots. Is it a token of your beliefs and attitudes, or is it just something you dig?

Rain: For me national pride is an important thing. I'd call it a patriotic approach. That's basically what I'm trying to say to the audience.

What are your opinions on attempts at trying to merge music and politics?

Arno: Merging music and politics can be very impressive (Sepultura, Biohazard). It's a bad thing, though, speaking of ideologies, if a person only sees one side when expressing their ideologies (especially extreme ways of thinking). But, nevertheless, it's a good thing that it gives the listeners something to analyze (this is true even when speaking about very lopsided and crude ideologies) and presents them witha a choice - which side do they want to be on.
Andrus: In my opinion, merging politics and music is nothing else than presenting the problems through music. People have chosen music as the means for expressing their thoughts. The same way you can go picketing with slogans in front of some or other government building, people make music and put their message in the tune, the rhytm and the lyrics.

The three bands that performed on October 27. in Club Bremen all expressed themselves in different languages - Grom in Russian, you in Estonian and Whispering Forest in English. Do you find it best if everyone uses their mother-tongue when making music? Is writing lyrics in English a way of sucking up to the West or just showing off one's knowledge of languages?

Andrus: It depends on the music and what you intend to say with it. I think it's up to a band to decide what language is best for putting forward their ideas. Personally I have nothing against lyrics in English.
Rain: I wouldn't say that using English in lyrics is the same as sucking up to the Western world. I totally agree to the notion that it's just easier to sing in English. If those who do that can express themselves better in this way, it's cool with me.
I myself only sing in my mother-tongue and intend to stick by it.

Where can people hear your music/see you play? When do you intend to record a demo/an album?

We will probably perform in Kruusaauk, Tartu, in November.
Right now we don't have plans to record anything. If we can find a lot of money, then why not.
At you can find a few mp3-s - made with midi drums, though, and recorded at home (which unfortunately means quite low quality), but they should give at least an idea of how the band is supposed to sound.

Our readers usually want to know what music you yourselves are listening to and whom do you consider your main influences.

Andrus: For some time my main influence was My Dying Bride; at the moment I don't have any role models. During a period of time my favourite bands have been My Dying Bride, In Flames, Dimmu Borgir, Mindrot, Summoning, Dark Funeral, Children Of Bodom, Emperor, Ebony Tears, Lacrimosa.
Arno: I have no role models. I have a lot of good music at home, but I don't know the names of the performers. On the other hand, I like work, honesty, homeland and friends.
Rain: I will name a few bands that have influenced me some time or other. These are: Bathory, Manowar, Slayer, Einherjer, Mithotyn, Borknagar. The influences mainly come from the mid-to-end of the nineties Black Metal.
Alvar: I have no role models, mainly I've been influenced by Sepultura and Clawfinger - to play metal, that is.

I would have liked to ask these enthusiastic young men, where do they get their will to battle the poor banding circumstances, the courage to carve another entry to the annals of Estonian hard rock history (that will, hopefully, come out longer than those of a multitude of other very good groups, gone before by now) and under the roots of which sacred oak runs the source of their creativity, when I stumbled upon the following lines:

These are the souls aloof,
the spirits of our ancestors
who have taken me to the sentiment of pride,
who guide the medley of my thoughts.
Give me, oh spirits of the Land of Mary,
(This is an ancient name given by the medieval crusaders to the country nowadays known as Estonia. - Mart)
give of your will that's sincere,
give me the power of the spirit -
the force that is the base of any activity.

- "Souls Aloof", Rain 2000

The spirits have answered the plea. Let's hope that the force remains with Irdhing for a very long time.

Author: Mart Kalvet
Zine: Surnuaed

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