Gwynbleidd are an extreme metal band that combine an interesting combination of Black Metal, Death Metal and European Folk Music with terrific results. Their newest release, Nostalgia is loaded with balls-out metal but also contains eerie, ethereal, almost ambient breaks that add variety and dimension, which I found to be quite enjoyable. The artwork for Nostalgia is quite impressive as well. I recently spoke with frontman Michal Kacunel about the band and their newest release.
Where did the name Gwynbleidd originate from and is there a special meaning behind it?
Michal: The name Gwynbleidd was taken from a book by a really great Polish author. At the time, the band was still in the making and consisted just of Maciej and I. We finally decided that it was time to choose a name for the project and since we were both fascinated by those books, that name came up at one point, and without much questioning we both decided that it was the right one.
Now that your new CD, Nostalgia, is complete, how do you feel about it? Are you satisfied with the outcome?
Michal: I do not think that I will ever be fully satisfied, even in the future. I always feel like everything could have been made better, written, played and engineered better. I definitely think that this was a big step up from our first recording Amaranthine, but there are so many things that I would have done differently, if there was a chance do go back in time. It is a learning experience every time so far, I just wish that we could be learning on somebody’s mistakes and not our own.
What was the writing process like for this CD? Did you guys all write together? How long did it take?
Michal: Most parts for this album were written when the band was still a duo. We even started crafting ideas for the next coming album way before this thing was put to into the machine in the studio, just to give you an idea on how long this “Nostalgia” was in the works for. As far as the writing process for this album goes, I would meet with Maciej and exchange ideas together to see if and how they would fit and work together. It usually was, and still is, a rather long process as both of us are very picky. A piece of music has to really sit right for me to accept it and move on to the next part. After the idea for the album was mostly complete we started working with Adam and many things started taking a slightly different shape. Adam is not a typical “metal” drummer, if he is one at all, which is great. A melody can sound and feel very different if you just change a beat under it to a different signature.
Playing such visceral music in a recording studio must be vastly different than at one of your live shows. How did the recording process go for Nostalgia?
Michal: Wow, I am not sure I really want to go there! The recording process for Nostalgia was definitely original I will tell you that. I can give you a formula though: Add one acoustical consultant company, solder some audio snakes, and disassemble a conference table, bring that to a boil and simmer for quite a long time or until tender. Very quickly mix in one or two Polish rock stars (session bassist and mixing engineer, both are bassists in big pop bands over in the motherland) and move it from the stove into the oven set at very high temperature, baste from time to time and voila!
The band keeps things interesting thematically. Can you talk about some of the subjects you tackle on this record?
Michal: The album’s concept started around the theme of Nostalgia, from which we tried to grow a fictitious story allowing to dig into certain feelings through anthropomorphication and bringing the nature to life. As the album progresses, the concept pretty much dissipates into a jumble of incomprehensible mess. Perhaps that’s the way it was meant to be.
In addition to the band, do you have a full time job outside of music? Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Michal: Yeah sure. I am a freelance live sound engineer and technician. This job keeps me very close to the entertainment industry and I can say that I enjoy it quite a bit. Other than the crazy hours and very erratic schedule I must say that I would not want to do anything else at this time in my life.
What kind of preparation went into the live show?
Michal: Oh we are still preparing for that. The fun never stops. We are still finding new things to work on for the live performances. Trying to translate our music into live show in a way that works was a bit challenging at times but I think we have it mostly figured out.
The artwork is quite amazing. How is it tied to the albums title?
Michal: Artwork is as much a part of this album as music is I think. Those are images of times and places that I wish I could go back to most of the time. Travis Smith did a great job of tapping into the concept and giving our ideas their visual equivalent. Furthermore, the pictures that make up the booklet were all assembled specifically in reference to each song. Once again, Travis managed to put it all together into a cohesive gallery of sorts.
What is your view on the current state of Black Metal? How do you identify with the rest of the underground scene?
Michal: I personally have no idea what is going on in that scene. Unfortunately that underground scene is pretty much non-existent in this town, at least that is the way I feel. Hard to identify yourself with something that isn’t there.
Any plans to tour at all?
Michal: For now we are just weekend warriors of sorts, but I think we are all on the lookout for something bigger.
What is next for Gwynbleidd?
Michal: I am hoping to play some bigger shows in the near future and while that is in the works we are working on some new material for you to listen to. Thank you from the Mountain. [ END ]