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Interviews: HAND OF KALLIACH


We have had the opportunity to interview the Celtic Metal band HAND OF KALLIACH from the UK. Check out the interview and follow the band on their FACEBOOK PAGE.

1. Where did you get the idea for the band name, you planned it or came out just like that?

The name Hand of Kalliach comes from the legend of the ‘Cailleach’, a Scottish witch god of winter, and in mythology one of the stories goes that she lies encased in stone at the bottom of an enormous whirlpool that is near the isle of Islay where John’s family is from. The whirlpool itself is at a site called Corryvreckan, and is the 3rd largest whirlpool in the world. She emerges from the whirlpool to usher in Winter, and she rules over the winter months until Spring arrives and then turns to stone again at the bottom of the whirlpool during Summer. We loved the mythology behind the stories, and some of the other grim tales that originate from folklore in those Scottish islands, so the band name is a play on the Cailleach name to try and capture a lot of that atmosphere.

2. Why did you want to play this genre?

The project was something we had talked about doing for some time, to try to meld all our favourite elements of melodic death metal with the passion and energy that is found in traditional Scottish folk music - but unlike a lot of folk metal, we wanted to do this without making a lot of use of traditional instruments. As a result, we ended up instead lifting rhythms, time signatures and patterns from folk music and adapting them for distorted guitars, and tried to do something different with it.

3. Did you know each other before the band was formed?

We’re married with kids, and only started writing at home in lockdown during the summer of 2020, so yes!

4. Each band member favourite band?

We have pretty broad tastes between us, covering a lot of metal and rock subgenres but also traditional folk. On the metal side, John is a big fan of technical death and melodic death metal with an atmospheric slant, particularly the likes of Fallujah. Sophie leans more towards a mix of thrash and folk metal tastes, though her favourite band is actually a Scottish Indy band called Frightened Rabbit – the breadth of styles in our music is probably reflective of these fairly diverse influences.

5. Who or what inspires you to write songs?

Going back to the ‘Cailleach’ god deity, she has a lot of malign connotations in folklore; but that said, she is also a sometimes nurturing creator deity, so the music we make is centred around these dual concepts of benevolence and malevolence, all against the backdrop of the history, mythology and land/seascapes of the Scottish islands. There is a hugely rich selection of things to inspire there, so we are never short of material.

6. Where was your last gig?

We haven’t been able to play live as Hand of Kalliach yet as we’re still pulling the band together for gigs in 2022. Sophie hasn’t gigged live yet, and John last gigged over a decade ago drumming for a grindcore band around Europe, so there’s definitely some cobwebs to blow off before we’re up to gig standard...

7. Where would you like to act?

We would love to play one of the metal festivals in the UK like Bloodstock Open Air. The dream would of course be something like Wacken!

8. Whom would you like to feature with?

We would love to do something really out there and collaborate with a pure-folk or post-rock band, maybe like Sigur Rós, and splice our more aggressive sound with their more ethereal atmosphere.

9. Whom not?

We’re pretty open minded to be honest, but if it’s not dark or atmospheric or heavy we’re probably not interested!

10. Any of you has ever suffered from stage fright? Any tip for beginners on how to beat that?

John’s first few gigs when he was a teenager were definitely pretty nervy, but having confidence in your skills, having practiced the tracks until your fingers bleed and you can play them in your sleep helps hugely – that way if any nerves kick in, autopilot should take over!

11. What bands have inspired you the most?

A really broad mix, from the Melodic Death Metal heavyweights we heard growing up like In Flames and At The Gates, to Scottish folk singers/pipers/fiddlers, to shoegaze and electronic atmospheric bands.

12. What's the weirdest thing a fan has ever asked you for?

Someone once asked us to send them our signatures – not signed merch, just a piece of paper with only our signatures and nothing else, to a PO box in the US, and insisted we pay for the postage. We’re generally pretty accommodating to fan requests if they want stuff signed, but that was definitely a weirder one... we declined!

13. What do you think of your fans?

They are absolutely phenomenal – they have been extremely vocal in their support of our sound, and we are only releasing a full length because of their encouragement, so we can’t thank them enough.

14. What do you think of our site?

It’s great - the variety you manage to cover within the scene is really impressive, and the amount of content on the site is excellent. Dedicated ‘new bands’ and Bandcamp sections are also massive positives in our books!

15. Something to add?

Thanks very much for the time interviewing us, we can’t wait to get the new album out and if your readers are interested we’re pretty engaged with fans on our social media accounts if they want to follow us there!

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