Skyforger is a unique and excellent Pagan/Folk Metal band coming from Latvia. The band sings in Latvian and at shows, each song is preceded by a brief historical introduction. I missed both presences at SWR Barroselas Metal Fest (North of Portugal), but was lucky enough to assist an excellent show at Iberian Warriors Metal Fest, Zaragoza, in September 2016. After knowing that the band returns as headliner to Spain and Portugal in October (don’t miss: 14th in Lisbon), I’m so happy to include here this interview with Pēteris "Peter", the mastermind, vocals and guitars.

Hi Peter, it’s really a pleasure; I loved your show at Zaragoza, September 2016. Pity that, because of the delay in the schedule you had to leave soon. Thanks a lot for the interview!
Hello João!
Glad you liked our show at Zaragoza! Yea, unfortunately for us it was very short visit and quick trip there and back. Nevertheless it was great time and warm welcome from people there, so we are looking forward to come back to Spain and Portugal again!

If I’m not mistaken, the band played twice in Portugal, both at the SWR Barroselas Metalfest (2008 and 2015). Do you have good memories from both occasions? And the Portuguese fans?
Yea, without any doubts it was great both times, second time even better! We were surprised that people in Portugal knew our band and we got great support from people. You know, it’s always fantastic for small bands, when you go to some country you never played before and there are people, who already know you and like your music. It’s a pleasant surprise!

Besides these shows, have you ever visited Portugal? And do you know and like any Portuguese Metal band?
Outside of these two concerts not been there, unfortunately. But when we were there for first time, we met guys from local bands Thragedium and The Firstborn and had a little bit more time to walk around and see something. Great country - you have warm and nice weather comparing to Latvian one, and nice people. Only beer is so-so, and in very small bottles, no offence of course haha!
To be honest we know little to nothing about Portuguese metal scene, apart from Moonspell, of course. Maybe our bassplayer Zirgs knows some bands, because he’s a big melomaniac and collects a lot of metal music, but I have a poor knowledge about Portuguese metal scene, sorry ☺ Ah, it happens if you just visit country for so short time, I guess you guys know nothing about Latvian scene also.

In October you are coming to Spain (Madrid, Zaragoza and Vigo) and Portugal (Porto and Lisbon) as headliner. Personally speaking, it will be great to see you in Lisbon. Expectations for this Iberian tour? Can you advance the support bands? Will the bands be only local or there will be one following you?
Oh we really expect some people will come to see us again, what else we can hope for! Otherwise I think it will be good anyway, as we don’t have any special requirements – just go and play. Ah well maybe some decent place to stay at night and some alcohol haha. As far as I know, there will be local folk metal band Salduie also playing all five shows, looking forward to know them!
Update: The Porto date (13th October) was replaced by a Vigo show and an Oviedo date (12th October) was added. To the Lisbon date (14th October), three more bands were added: Gwydion, Air Raid and Evil Killer.

One thing that amazed me in Zaragoza is the huge variety of the band’s merchandise. There are motives and colors shirts for every taste, and also many other items. I believe it’s not easy to bring all this along a tour, is it?
We always try to offer something a bit for every taste. At least few album shirts, few lady shirts, few CD’s, patches and so on. About bringing everything this is what our manager does, probably not that easy indeed.

Most readers may not know that Skyforger comes from one of the last Pagan countries in the world and the Latvian History is the main theme in your songs. Here we also have Cruz de Ferro (epic Heavy Metal) that sings about the rich Portuguese History, in Portuguese. When and why this inspiration?
You see, history is my big hobby. It all started back in school, when I read my first books about ancient Greece and Romans. I didn’t study it, because my school time was spent in Soviet Union, where history was just sheer propaganda and lies. So I love to read books and watch documentaries. I try to read various sources to shape my own opinion on things, because as we know most of history is written by victors.
I started to write history themed lyrics even before Skyforger, only back then it was mostly about middle age Europe, knights, witches and stuff like that. And then at some point I realized why not make it all about our own Latvian and Baltic history and thus Skyforger was born.

At the show I found quite interesting the brief introduction to songs, adding an extra cultural note. Is this the reason, to teach some Latvian glorious episodes and to arouse curiosity in finding more?
Yes, of course! Somehow for me it is very important to let people know what each particular song is about – especially if they are sung in Latvian instead of mostly used English language.
I hope it helps to get into right mood and understand our concept behind the band. I also think that it makes people realize these guys are not just another “Viking metal”, that Skyforger are serious about what they are doing and there is some research and work done we even start to make songs. If this can arouse some interest and people afterwards go and search for more info, it’s even better and my mission is accomplished!
Thanks to occupation of Soviet Union for 60 years and tendentious history researches of past decades, history of Baltic people is still very unknown to people outside Latvia and Lithuania – almost like Baltic region and it’s people was not there at all and had no part in Europe history! Fortunately this is slowly changing nowadays and we are trying to put our own little effort to this thing.

You also have an interesting blog about Latvian History episodes (http://history.skyforger.lv/). When releasing a new album, can we expect more episodes?
Sure! I just became too lazy lately, can’t pull myself together to write some more articles - always got distracted by some other things. My blog is not related that much to our albums as it is more about Baltic and Latvian history, traditions and paganism. Right now I have article about our werewolf traditions almost ready, hope to put it out very soon!

If you were in the Tourism business, what would you recommend about Latvia [note: a country in my To-Visit list]?
Our capital city Riga, of course, and particularly Old Town! It looks like nice small European medieval town – after all it was built by German (Crusaders) invaders 800 years ago.
Then there is countryside – we still have a lot of greens and swamps, the area of Latvia is about 60% covered with forests. Some historical and pagan cult places, though you must know where to look. For example there is rebuilt lake settlement from 9th century in Araiši. Also we have rebuilt castle hill at Tērvete, famous residence of Semigallian warchiefs. Many old German castle ruins and manors, now museums. Also great open air Ethnographic museum on outskirts of Riga, where you can observe how our people lived in 16 -19th centuries.
Fine local beer (we have great traditions here) and some traditional food, like pork, stewed cabbages, beans and dark peas with meat. Also really beautiful girls on the streets – we have plenty of them here haha!

When can we expect a new Skyforger album? Will it maintain the same line of “Senprūsija”?
It is hard to say – we are busy with some other projects right now, like spectacle dedicated to Kurbads, where we recently did play whole “Kurbads” album and there were performance from big team of actors and dancers on stage – it was big event of 5000 fans just for us, a great challenge! Update: this concert can be seen in full here.
I am also still in research of fresh topic for next album – of course it will be historical as always, just need to find right theme for it. Musically I guess it could be in line of “Senprūsija”, but you never know how things would work out in the end, because we always try to align music with lyrics, but as I said right now I don’t how clear concept for it. So all in all I don’t think there will be a new Skyforger album very soon, maybe after two years.

As musician, can you share with us the most gratifying experience or gig?
Oh this is hard – we had so many great concerts in past with great memories, like one in Zaragoza for example! But when I think about it now, I guess most gratifying was those big shows we made by ourselves here in Riga for our new albums, as we like to call them “album presentation concerts”. There we had freedom and possibility to make it how we like – with stage decorations, invited guests and performers, best sound equipment etc. The show for our fans to be memorable for some time! The last one we did film for our first DVD. Unfortunately we can’t afford to do something like this outside our country – money, logistics and all other stuff, you know. But we are happy and thankful that people outside Latvia loves our music even without big stage shows!

Playing with many Pagan/Folk Metal bands I'm sure there are many amusing moments. Do you want to share some?
Like fights or big drinking parties? I must say that we aren’t rockstars, who like to be wild and loud around, so there isn’t that much to tell you. We love if everything goes smooth and relaxing, when there is no conflicts and stress situations. In most cases we were lucky and all our tours went that way, when we spent time together with bands and share drinks and stories. There were many great and friendly bands we were on tours and have pleasant memories, like guys from Ereb Altor, Månegarm, Sear Bliss, Bornholm, Obtest, Metsatöll, Odroerir, Menhir and many and many more guys. Of course there were some minor conflicts also, but they mostly arouse if that band thinks of themselves as some important, higher level rockstars – we despise such attitude. My personal observations is that real big old bands are more friendly than some new upstarts, who now thinks that they are kings only because they have some thousands more Facebook fans than we have. Unfortunately that’s music business for you and we must live with it – with both good and bad sides.

And our traditional final question. Do you want to leave a final message to the Sounds from Apocalypse readers? And the Portuguese Fans?
Thanks for this opportunity to spread a word and we are looking forward to come back and play in Spain and Portugal this October – we had great time and warm welcome from people there before and hope it will be the same again!
Also remember to check our internet sites for latest news here:
Facebook:
   https://www.facebook.com/skyforgerofficial
Homepage:
   http://skyforger.lv/en/
And listen to our latest album “Senprūsija” here on Bandcamp and Spotify:
   https://skyforger.bandcamp.com/
   https://open.spotify.com/album/5Pil5xhNWF8eYRoxBfkOz1

Thanks a lot Peter for your time and looking forward to see you in October!


Fig: Skyforger in first Portuguese tour, 2008

	
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
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