ELDRITCH (ITA) – Interview – 24/02/2022
ELDRITCH is an iconic progressive metal band from Italy. They are back with three-quarters of the original line-up so, we didn’t want to miss the chance to chat with them, also under the occasion of the release of their new album Eos. So we have sent some questions to the vocalist Terence Holler about the band’s current situation, but also about their more glorious and, why not to say it, unjustly forgotten past.
Subterráneo Webzine: Hello, Terence! It had been quite a while since I last was this excited about an interview, it is a pleasure to be able to ask about ELDRITCH first-hand. Do you have some sort of ritual for answering interviews? Maybe some music playing while you are at it? What’s on, then?
Terence Holler: Hello there!!! Wow!! I’m honored you are excited about this interview!! Ritual?? Yeah, some salted snacks and beers, lots of beer!
Subterráneo Webzine: Before I start asking about the new album, Eos, I would like to dig a bit further into the history of a band as fundamental to understanding Italian metal as ELDRITCH is. Your lyrics have always been very close to humanistic aspects, the good and the bad that our species have perpetrated throughout history. After so much destruction towards the planet and the selfish individualistic endless trend, do you see the current pandemic situation as nature’s response or some «divine» punishment? At this point, do you believe humanity turn the situation around, or have you lost all faith?
Terence Holler: Well, I really care and follow what’s happening daily in the world and I think that something is going wrong. Too many things make me believe that our planet is in the hands of just a few (super-rich) people, who are doing their own interests without caring about the masses… I’m pretty negative about a fair solution… This is why my lyrics are always kind of negative and depressive… I just write about what’s bouncing in my mind and how I feel. Something like an open diary. My life is full of bad issues as well, sometimes an everlasting nightmare!!!
Subterráneo Webzine: It has been more than twenty years since ELDRITCH released their first album Seeds of Rage. When you look back to the times of that first album and the more popular Headquake, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? How do you remember that first stage of the band? Do you feel like a veteran musician the vertigo of the «passing of time»?
Terence Holler: Those days were the most exciting and full of events of my entire life!! Demos, then records, tours, autographs, interviews, fame… It was a dream come true! The energy that the fans gave us had really saved our lives. I’m still excited when I remember those years (early ’90s) and to be honest, the time has gone fast but I’m still excited like the first time!! This is one of the reasons we named the album EOS, the goddess of Dawn. For ELDRITCH it’s still dawn!!! We feel young and full of energy, even though our hair is getting grey and our bellies are getting big… We are full of passion like teenagers!! We still have a bunch of great ideas for some more artistic music!
Subterráneo Webzine: Personally, I must confess that I met ELDRITCH when you released the 1998 album El niño. I remember that time very fondly because, together with another great friend of mine, it was a time when we discovered progressive metal and for countless afternoons we listened to this album and others from bands like ICE AGE, SYMPHONY X, DREAM THEATER or VANDEN PLAS on a loop. I sincerely believe that it was a very good time for this style. Although I have a very mythical album like El niño, because of what it meant for me in that stage of musical opening, I would like to know what you think about that album now that several years have passed. Would you have done any improvements or something different if you were to release it today?
El niño was and still is our almost perfect album. Of course, nowadays we are better musicians and maybe we could do things better, but in the end, I doubt that El niño could sound a lot better; we love everything, the production, the songs, the atmosphere… We still play the whole album live! 24 years after it still fits in the new music industry. We were modern since we started 30 years ago. Nowadays the musicianship of all the bands has grown, everybody plays great. The productions are powerful and clean. The only thing that I don’t like is the lack of creativity and originality of the new bands. That’s why people still listen to ELDRITCH!!
Subterráneo Webzine: That same friend I was talking about, made me aware that El niño is not available on Spotify along with the rest of ELDRITCH’s discography. And we have found that same situation with other more popular albums by other bands. Is this on purpose?
Terence Holler: I know. But honestly, I don’t know the reason of this. Our best-seller album is the only one of our 12 studio albums that are not on Spotify.
Subterráneo Webzine: Let’s come back to modern times and Eos but on one last El niño note, that was the last album where the original keyboardist, Oleg Smirnoff (currently also in LABYRINTH). And, so many years later, he returns for Eos. So, it’s Terence, Eugene, Oleg… We have part of the original line-up; do we also have a new and more ambitious ELDRITCH face? How did Oleg come back happen?
Terence Holler: Oleg joined ELDRITCH 30 years ago and was with us since the beginning. Even though we parted ways in 1999, we kept in touch as friends. I and Eugene asked him to finally “come back home” and three years ago he just said; “Ok, let’s do it!” We wrote Eos in the same way as our first three albums and the result is a super best-seller disc. This current lineup is the best ever! It’s like if the band will continue on from the El niño album…The best has yet to come!!
Subterráneo Webzine: Eos sounds massive and modern. The band has truly and progressively tightened the sound along with its evolution, but this time it feels like you have enhanced these facets more individually and the difference between them is more noticeable. Do you agree with this perception of mine?
Terence Holler: Yes, you said exactly what Eos sounds like. Each band member has their own style and everyone puts his ideas in our songs. This is also why ELDRITCH doesn’t sound like all the other prog metal bands. We are more like a big mixture of many genres. They consider us progressive but we are even more. I know, I might sound stupid saying it, but we are simply ELDRITCH. Artistic and original metal. It’s AOR, thrash, prog, electronic, etc.
Subterráneo Webzine: Something that will never change is your warm and melodic vocal tonality as can be appreciated in songs like «The cry of a nation» or «Sunken dreams». Although in many moments ELDRITCH’s music reaches groove metal heights, your singing is still based on classic progressive metal. This may sound unprofessional on my part, but after such a long time listening to ELDRITCH’s music, I feel your voice as that of a very close friend. This sense of closeness also happens with vocalists such as Klaus Meine (SCORPIONS), Bruce Dickinson (IRON MAIDEN) or the sadly deceased André Matos (ANGRA) and Andrew McDermott (THRESHOLD). So, I would like to approach this question from the technical aspect of your voice, how have you been modulating your technique? Do you find it takes too much effort to maintain the level you have reached? And, also, which is your trick to have kept your voice sounding practically the same as it did in 1998?
Terence Holler: WOW!! Thanks for the compliments! I had several classic opera studies but I use the skills only for the breathing and the maintenance of my voice. I try to use my personal way of singing and I don’t care what people say. I sing with the heart, with soul, and with passion. I write the melodies and lyrics and what you hear is perfectly representative of what I am. I keep my voice clean and functional with the right exercises and with a healthy life. No smoke and not too much alcohol.
Subterráneo Webzine: As the album title, you have chosen the name of a Goddess from Greek mythology. It’s not something uncommon within the progressive metal world but, given your usual approach to humanistic themes, how do you make them cope? What is both subjects’ nexus? If there isn’t one in this case, could you tell us the story behind this concept?
Terence Holler: We called the album Eos because, for our career, it’s a new beginning, a new day, new dawn! The lyrics are more likely a concept about my life, my mood, my feelings, and my hopes. This is why it’s a quite dark-mood atmospheric album… It’s nothing decided sitting around a table. We write songs naturally when inspired… We’re not into any political, historical o fantasy stuff. “Eos” is like an open diary. My life is full of many issues and I’m in a constant fight against depression. Our music is perfectly depressive. A lot of people fit themselves perfectly in my words, they have a shitty life too!!
Subterráneo Webzine: In addition to having Oleg back on keyboards, Eos marks the debut of bassist Dario Lastrucci and he really makes his presence felt from the moment «Failure of faith» begins. I sincerely believe that both Dario and Oleg have played a very important role in this album. Dario himself plays cello and violin on the ballad «I can’t believe it». What can you tell us about this new signing and about this composition in particular?
Terence Holler: Oleg and Dario are super great musicians!! They both gave huge imprinting on Eos. We never knew about Dario before but he is a real complete musician. A super technical bass player but also a great pianist, singer, and violinist!! He gave us the final touch for becoming a great music machine. All the musicians in ELDRITCH have a big theoretical and technical music background. The ballad “I Can’t Believe It” was written music-wise by Dario. Consider he mostly played in death metal bands before ELDRITCH….so this shows how big his background is.
Subterráneo Webzine: The album Gaia’s legacy ended with a cover of FATES WARNING’s «Through different eyes», and on Tasting the tears you did the same with QUEENSRYCHE’s «I will remember». In keeping with this tradition, for Eos, you have chosen BON JOVI and the song «Runaway». Have these covers become a tradition for you? Do you have some personal song repository from where you choose these songs?
Terence Holler: Ah ah, we like to put some songs that we grew up with on some of our albums. It’s just a personal fun reason. Who knows, maybe someday we could record an album of covers? We all have different ideas about which song to choose and I guess it could be really difficult to satisfy our ego!! Nothing has been planned, we recorded those covers just deciding at the last minute.
Subterráneo Webzine: Before we finish the interview, earlier I mentioned Gaia’s legacy and I must admit that, after El Niño, it’s possibly the album I am most fond of. Not only musically but also because of its subject matter, as it approaches climate change and its consequences from a scientific point of view. I would like to congratulate you for the good documentation work and the lyrics of that album. Now that the COP26 in Glasgow has just been held, how do you see the current panorama in terms of environmental issues? Is there a glimmer of hope now that environmental education is starting to be introduced in schools and young people seem to be more aware of environmental impacts at a global level, but above all at a local level?
Terence Holler: Thank you!! Gaia´s legacy has been a huge work for me! I studied for months all the things about global warming and climate issues. A lot of fans didn’t agree with the lyrics, saying they weren’t interesting!! A lot of metal kids always wanna read lyrics about dragons, knights, dwarves or sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll. Anyway, something now is quite changing in people’s minds, but it’s a long way to go!! I hope that the “local” people get aware of what’s happening, in order to try to do something. Even little things are appreciated…
Subterráneo Webzine: I have read you in other interviews talking about how you don’t think media and the music world haven’t been fair with ELDRITCH. For those who have been following you since 1998 like me, we are with you on this perception. I think there are very few European bands that have been as Europe whose legacy is as consistent or have maintained a quality level through their career as ELDRITCH. Is the market the “entity” that decides which bands deserve to be on the top? Under whose criteria? Has your perspective on the ELDRITCH matter changed?
Terence Holler: I think that the fault is ours in part. ELDRITCH is a multi-genre metal band and we understand that sometimes it could be difficult to get “into” us. The media have the most of the fault though!! They ALWAYS need to put a label on you!! We are not progressive like other prog metal bands, we have thrash, AOR, electronic, rock, sometimes some a little pop… We are original, even if we got tons of influences!! And this sometimes doesn’t pay!!! But in the end, it’s ok. We got only ELDRITCH fans of ELDRITCH’s music!! It’s enough…
Subterráneo Webzine: Thank you very much for bringing us closer to the history of ELDRITCH and an album like Eos. We hope this record will put ELDRITCH in the place of metal’s history that it deserves. The stage is yours now, you can add any final reflection or your goodbyes.
Terence Holler: Million thanks to you and the whole staff of Subterraneo!! We really hope that the big audience will understand that ELDRITCH is ELDRITCH and play ELDRITCH music!! Too much?????