This interview with Keith Fay of Cruachan was done through e-mail in October 2001.

Hello, how are you doing?
I am well thank you.

Would you be so kind and introduce the readers to the history of Cruachan?
No problem, After the release of Tuatha na Gael we had minor success in Ireland. We played a lot of folk music festivals with recognized Irish traditional groups and made an impact there, we were praised for bringing Irish folk into the 90's. Then Century Media came offered us a deal. When we went to meet them in Germany they showed us the contract and we were shocked, it was a disgrace. They gave us no musical freedom at all, if they did not like a piece of music they could change it no matter how we felt. We had to turn them down and say NO!, We returned to Ireland very disappointed but still continued to play. Around this time my brother John left the band for personal reasons, Jay Brennan and Leon Bias left and the band began to fall apart. It was quite sad after all we had gone through. We did continue to receive fan mail however and I could not get used to the idea of not being in a band so I got the band back together without Jay and Leon. We started rehearsing and writing and eventually recorded "the middle kingdom" on hammerheart records.

What does the band name mean?
Cruachan is a name given to a cave in Ireland that was allegedly the entrance to the Celtic otherworld (Tir na nOg). When Christianity came into Ireland, the monks, in a bid to convert pagans to Christianity, claimed the cave was the entrance to hell.

Your first ever single "Ride On" was released in mid-September and quickly entered the Irish charts. Was this expected?
Yes, absolutely, in fact I cannot believe it only got above the top 40, it should have been in the top 10 in my opinion. Shane mac Gowan is huge over here and in a lot of countries aswell. If the single had received proper attention it would have sold bucket loads.

"Ride On" was originally done by Jimmy McCarthy. For those unfamiliar with this artist could you please tell us something about him?
Jimmy is more of a song writer than a performer. He never released Ride On himself, it was sung by a man called Christy Moore in the late 80's and since then many other Irish performers have done their own versions of the song.

Your new album "Folk-Lore" will be released in late January next year. Could you tell us something about it?
I think it will make all our fans, new and old, very happy. There is a very eclectic musical mix on Folk-Lore, and obviously it is very hard to try and describe my music in words. One thing that was very "rushed" on the middle kingdom was my vocals, even today I still cringe when I hear them, this is not the case with FolkLore, I made sure I was 100% happy with my vocals this time. Karen sounds much better also, more part of the band than on the middle kingdom because originally she was just a guest vocalist. The music is heavier and folkier, we use a lot more instruments on this one. The last song, Exiles, actually has 15 different instruments playing at one point in the song.....and that is not counting harmonies!!!

Hammerheart has also recently re-released your debut album "Tuatha Na Gael". What do you think about this album today?
I still think the same things as when it was originally released. We were new to studios and basically did not know what we were doing. The songs could have been made a lot better and there a lot of blatant f*ck ups in some songs. But apart from that it is still a great album, some of the stuff we done on Tuatha was so ground-breaking for heavy metal but we did not realize that at the time. Apart from Skyclad, there was only us in 1994, that alone is something to be proud of.

Why did you leave the black metal influences behind?
We never did. You must realize - a band may record 10 songs on an album but may have 50 songs to choose from. The songs we chose for the middle kingdom were not our most extreme but they were the songs we wanted.

You have a very beautiful website. Being very interested in ancient history what do you think about the Internet?
The internet is great. No matter what interests a person may have you can find a wealth of information on the internet......and the p*rnography!!!!!!!!

Some of your lyrics are written in gaelic, do you all speak gaelic?
No, in fact I only have basic understanding of my native language. In school here we learn gaelic at a very early age but unfortunately I did not like school and therefore did not take advantage of learning the language. I began to get very interested in Celtic history, Irish culture etc. around 1992-1993 and since then have made an attempt to learn gaelic, I am getting better!!!

You were "discovered" through a zine that the guys in Primordial did. Are you still friends with them?
Yeah we still keep in touch, we meet up now and again for a few beers in our local metal club.

What kind of music do you listen to today? I suspect you like bands like Skyclad, Otyg, Thyrfing and others?
I listen to a lot of music, including metal. Of the bands you mentioned I would probably only listen to Skyclad although Tyyrfing and Otyg are great bands. I'm not even going to list my favorite bands for fear of turning everyone against me Ha ha!!

What is the Irish metal scene like today?
A lot better than it was. More and more bands are getting signed, releasing cd's etc. which is cool.

You were once offered a record deal by Century Media. Why did you pick the Dutch Hammerheart instead?
I think this is answered in question 1, Century Media were too controlling for us.

Are you happy with the work Hammerheart has done for you so far?
At the beginning we were very happy but as time goes on we are realizing that they cannot do much anymore, most people still cannot believe that we have never toured but unfortunately it is a reality we must face, although we are taking steps ourselves to change this and will be on tour soon. I think hammerheart have too many bands on the label and all the bands are happy to stay at the level they are at, Cruachan is different, we want to make it much bigger and become more successful than ever before. I don't mean any dis-respect to hammerheart or the bands on hammer heart because they are all cool.

You were once offered a record deal by Century Media. Why did you pick the Dutch Hammerheart instead?
I think this is answered in question 1, Century Media were too controlling for us.

Any final words for the fans?
We are signing a deal at the moment with a booking agency and through them we will finally be able to get out of Ireland, after being in the band for 8 years, and play overseas. See you on tour!!!!!!!!!!!!

Links of interest:

Hammerheart Records