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Interview with Eden's Curse
20 December 2016
Interview by Mark Donnelly
Before the show at The Corporation in Sheffield, I got the opportunity to chat to Paul Logue, John Clelland and Christian Pulkkinen from Eden's Curse.
What has been the initial reaction to 'Cardinal' following its release?
PL - It's been amazing. We have been very fortunate. All of EC's records seem to have been well received. This one has surpassed our expectations. We were quite nervous in some quarters because there was a little difference here and there, with little changes in style. I think essentially it is EC at the heart of it. We have pushed some of the boundaries more Progressive in places. We have pushed on songs like 'Symphony of Sin'; the title track from last year gave us some idea of how an epic song would work and be received. Could we take that one-step further with a longer instrumental section? Would it bore people and how would it go down live? We have done that and those two songs in particular have come out massively in the press. The most important people to us are our fan base and any new fans that we attract; and we seem to be getting new faces all the time to the shows. It has been very humbling, to say the least. I think it is a very diverse album.
JC – It is very heavy in places, certainly Progressive, but always has that melody.
With five quality studio albums now under your belt, was it difficult choosing a set-list for the tour? Are you concentrating on material from the last two studio albums?
PL – With great difficulty. We need to be prepared and not killing Chris, Nik and John with the older material which they do not know as well as myself and Thorsten Köhne. Keep it to the point where we have got all the main Eden's Curse big hitters. We are not a band who has had multi-selling big albums and singles but there are certain songs that we do have to play and we try and at least make sure that every album is covered. Not four or five songs but at least one or two. With 'Cardinal' we have six songs on the set list and a month after its release we were so well prepared; we had the set list put together three or four months before the tour. We kind of guessed which were going to be the best songs. Luckily, the choices that we made were pretty accurate in terms of what the fans wanted to hear; the six songs that the press talked about the most with maybe one or two exceptions.
Listening back, I think that you have achieved a progression with each new album and I can understand why there is a bias towards the last two albums.
PL – Songs like 'Holy Man' and 'Angels & Demons', they just have to be there. Nobody sings a song like Nik sings his songs; Chris plays his keyboards and John his drums. We are very much a band, proud and extremely passionate about our past and very much looking forward as a group and it is all about our future. For EC, it is the here and the now.
Was there ever any fear that you would not be able to reproduce the songs in the live arena to the level of the album?
PL – Maybe not reproduce but maybe the sonics or those big sounds that you produce in the studio. You have to bear in mind that you are just five musicians up on stage and you cannot always do what you can in the studio but the audience seem to appreciate that and they just want to hear the songs the best that you can do it.
CP – We come pretty damn close in the new songs and I have tried to learn all the old songs, tried to find very similar sounds and learn them possibly as well as I can. It's going to be pretty authentic.
PL – Even just looking at John and Chris when they joined the group; these two guys are real studiers of music. They dissect the song and when they brought the songs to rehearsal, they brought parts that even I had forgotten from the original versions. John was playing fills that Pete had played on the record but maybe not live. Wow! I had forgotten about that.
It's great that you're doing the duets on tour.
PL – Yes, we originally just started off with Barbara (Clelland, wife of drummer John). I had done a show for Women In Rock at the Hard Rock Cafe in Glasgow (I book shows for the venue) and Helen Hurd from Permageddon was playing; so, I asked John if she would do it in London and she said that she would love to do it. So, then we said, can we get a call in every town? A ship in every port? (laughs). That wasn't easy, particularly Norwich where we struggled; I had never been to Norwich in my life (sic. "Ha, Ha!"); and so didn't really know anybody from Norwich, therefore, started asking around. The promoter was actually the one that told us about some of the singers; so we've hooked them up but we don't know how good they are all going to be but they have had the songs for two months to rehearse.
JC – Barbara loved every minute of it.
No chance of Barbara becoming a permanent member?
JC – Oh, No! (laughing)
PL – You shut that one down quick (laughing). Are we still taping?
JC – A big influence on Barbara's vocal style is Pamela Moore; that's why she really loved being involved.
Where are the EC girls? Surely, you should have brought them out on tour?
PL – I think I would have been divorced if I had done so. We brought them out in Glasgow and I am sure that the boys in the band would have enjoyed their company every night. We made a real solid friendship with those girls; they really are great fun and they have loved every minute of working with us too.
JC - Considering they didn't know each other before, they get on really well together.
Paul, you always seem to be extremely busy; whether it be writing, producing, recording or playing live. What's next after the UK tour?
PL – the next thing is preparing for the February tour. I think with such a tough schedule for the record and the November tour, we all owe it to our families to take a couple of months off and enjoy the Christmas break. Then we will start thinking about what we are going to play in Germany in February (12 dates with Freedom Call). We have another project up our sleeve, which we are halfway through working on which will be coming out in 2017. We will try to play as much live as possible in 2017; it has to be the right concert and hopefully get onto some of the big festivals.
There seems to be resurgence in Melodic Metal, with quality albums released by Eden's Curse, DGM, Evergrey and Serious Black to name but a few. Any particular reason for the latter?
PL – Just good music, good songs and I think personally even my taste has moved on a bit; bordering into that territory and into Prog. I listen to a lot of Prog and it just excites me more. A lot of bands that come out, just re-hash the 80s sound and they just miss that little bit of an edge to them. A band like DGM that are one of the best Progressive bands but, have unbelievable hooks which come out of nowhere and floor you, and that is the type of stuff that I want to listen to. It takes a real special band to stand out from the crowd like H.e.a.t; however, there are a lot of "grazers" as I like to call them.
Chrism: as the newest member of the band, how are you fitting in / enjoying the experience?
CS – As Paul said, it feels like I have been in the band for ages and we haven't really had any arguments.
PL – Our only differences are only musical... debates (laughs).
You can clearly hear the contribution of John and Chrism on the new album.
PL – Chris's in-put was quite deliberate. We gave him the fastest and hardest perceived song composition and Thorsten and I said that if he can play that, he can play anything. We already knew from videos that his technical ability wasn't in question but we needed to know what kind of guy he was, would he fit in and what he would contribute. The band is like a family, hand on heart, without blowing smoke up his ass, it was the best audition that I have ever heard. You can hear me on the EPK video, me laughing, when Chrism says that he is a pompous dude!
CS – I am a Progressive and proactive guy. I really put a lot of effort into this album.
JC – I have real Progressive influences when it comes to drums. Simon Phillips (Toto) Rod Morgenstein (Winger) – I love the way he plays, it's not just straightforward.
I've seen Winger down here (The Corporation) sat on front of the stage.
PL – I was at the last show that they played in Glasgow. Last song Kip (Winger) said, "Any musicians in audience?" So, I volunteered. Winger asked me, "Do you play bass?"
When I said, "Yes", he said, "Come on up."
As I got up on stage, he handed me his bass and said, "Do you know anything by Van Halen?"
I replied, "Yes," as unbeknown to him I was in a Van Halen tribute band (the amusingly titled Van Hielan) for four years; so, I can play forty Van Halen songs!
Winger said, "Can you do 'Ain't Talking 'Bout Love?" which happens to be the easiest Van Halen song to play. He gave me his bass and I got a pick off him and I'm stood their thinking that I have got Kip Winger's pick and playing his bass, I'm on stage with Reb Beach and Rod Morgenstein. There may have only been about two hundred people in attendance but my knees were shaking more than at Dream Theater where Eden's Curse played in front of 3,000 people, because it was your heroes. It was quite funny because they started the song and the bass does quite a high octave and sixteen's on it; and Kip turned round to tell me to do it and I was already there. He smiled and gave me the thumbs up, "Dude!"
How was the first show in Glasgow?
PL – Yes, it was difficult being on a Monday night but we had 170-175 people turn out which, was awesome for a Monday night and the fact that there are currently so many shows on in November/December.
Reading on the website, I see that you would love to see Giant reform. Did you ever get the opportunity to see them play live?
PL – No I didn't. I did, however, get to see some footage and have to admit that I was not really that impressed. The reason was that Dan (Huff) was singing and not playing the guitar and he had a second guitarist. He is an amazing singer and guitarist and I did think he would be able to do both together.
I met Alessandro Del Vecchio at the recent Rockingham Festival and joked with him that he had not included any Eden's Curse songs in his set.
PL – He actually co-wrote 'Holy Man' with me. I wondered if he would have played anything but, I'm sure he would have phoned and asked me; maybe even ask me to come down to do it with him. He has done so many great records recently.
He's probably even busier than you are Paul?
PL – That's the reason that he left, because he was busy. When he was in the band he went down to Frontiers Records in Naples; and Serafino Perugino came out with his diary that had his whole life mapped out for the next two years. It was at the time we were about to go into the studio to record 'Symphony of Sin' so he said that he could not be involved.
Will you continue to write with Pete (Newdeck)?
PL – I don't see why not; Pete's written with the band for many years. However, I am looking forward to writing with Chris and John; Steve Williams contributed to one song on the last record too. It does not really matter to me who contributes the songs to Eden's Curse. They just have to be good songs and fit in; any song with a good structure, good chorus, good lyrics with a good story to it, we can always shape it to the style of Eden's Curse. I am looking forward to seeing what Chris will bring to the table.
CP – I have been composing since I was thirteen.
I was going to say, that's about two years isn't it?
(Laughs all round)
PL – He's not that young but, he has certainly brought the average age of the band down.
CP – Nic's 35 and I'm 32. I've mostly been writing hardcore Progressive stuff. So, will I bring my Progressive elements to the next album or tone-down my style...
Whereabouts in Finland do you live?
CP – It's like the old capital city; it's about one and half hours away from Helsinki.
Couple more questions, first, should I mention the football?
PL – What Scotland v England? Scotland are always rubbish, they always let you down. The big difference is that you guys (England) are shit and we are shit but, we know it!
CP – Finland are even worse. We're good at ice hockey.
Believe it or not, I live in Sheffield, was born in Lincoln but support Southampton.
PL – How does that work out?
I lived down there for 16 years and started supporting them when they were rock bottom of the division.
PL – My team is Wolverhampton Wanderers. I loved their strip when I was a wee boy – the gold and black; they must have been on the TV at the time. I used to go down to a few games but I have not been for a while.
Any final message for the fans?
PL – Just to everyone that has bought the records and supported the band over the last ten years, a huge gratitude to them. Also, to thank them for all for all their messages of support. As we're driving through the country, the telephone is going and I'm so behind with them because we're coming off the shows, going to bed, the next morning loading in; and I have so many unread messages. When I get a little break I go away and read them and it's people from the shows saying unbelievable things; the reaction to the gigs has been phenomenal. I think that tonight (Sheffield) will be even better as the machine gets tighter and tighter; it's true what they say the more you play the better you get.
A massive thanks to the guys from Eden's Curse as this was my first ever face-to-face interview and it felt like I was just chatting to old friends. The show was fantastic! (click HERE the concert review on Rocktopia)
Click HERE to read the review of Eden's Curse - 'Cardinal'
(Photo by Wojtek Gabriel @ emp-studio.com)