Saturday, 14 July 2012

Radio Rivendell interview

On 25 June 2012 Hugin gave a rare interview to Radio Rivendell - the self-proclaimed 'one and only fantasy radio station in the world playing fantasy music 24-7', and which has been active since 2001. Here's the interview in full, which adds some interesting new information to past interviews reported here on Honour and Darkness.

"Uruk-Hai's concept was born in 1999 by Alexander Wieser (Hugin), who produced a handful of recordings for friends under the band name of Hrossharsgrani. After receiving positive feedback, Uruk-Hai became its own musical entity with influences mainly coming from the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Now, 13 years later, the tracks are well received and enjoyed by many of Radio Rivendell's listeners.

Radio Rivendell (RR): Welcome Alexander, thanks for talking to us!

Alex: Thank you for getting in touch! I´m deeply honoured to be a part of Radio Rivendell!

RR: For how many years have you been composing and creating music, and what got you started?

Alex: I started back in 1984 playing in a Punk band called SCHLAGANFALL, we did cover songs but also self composed stuff! After that I played in several Punk and Metal bands till the middle of the 90s In 1998 I decided to start my solo project HROSSHARSGRANI, and in 1999 created a HROSSHARSGRANI tape called "Uruk-hai" Only 6 copies were made for good friends of mine, who told me after listening to that tape that they like it very much. So I decided to start a new project doing this kind of "Battle Ambient" under the name of URUK-HAI.

First I decided to do music only regarding Tolkien's world, but later in 2004 I lost a bit the fascination about it and I started to create Nordic mythology influenced music. I also created a concept album about the ancient Inca culture in South America. But Tolkien Hailz, the fascination about the wonderful world of Tolkien's books comes back to me stronger than ever. The ideology of URUK-HAI I only can say is that I try to create a soundtrack to Tolkien's world as good as possible. Hmmm what you never heard before, I always mix sounds from old URUK-HAI tracks with new ones to create something like a concept through all the releases I´ve ever done...

RR: What musical instruments do you play?

Alex: Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, and Programming. Nowadays I do more a mix of computer based music and real instruments that makes the typical sound of URUK-HAI I think!

RR: Do you ever use session musicians in your work?

Alex: Yes, a lot of good friends and well-known musicians did guest appearances on several URUK-HAI albums! For example on the upcoming album "And All The Magic An Might He Brought“ we will hear Joe Matera (AUS / Guitar), Rich Davenport (UK / Guitar/Vox), Trevor Sewell (UK / Guitar/ Vox, Pr. Sergiy (Screams),... It gives the music of URUK-HAI much more life and authenticity in my opinion!

RR: Have you performed live?

Alex: I did some live shows in the 80s but not with URUK-HAI yet! There is a plan to do a one song only live acoustic performance with URUK-HAI on a great Acoustic Festival in Linz / Austria in late September 2012. It will be something special. I call it Orcish Music, very shamanic & archaic. This show will be filmed too, to use as bonus for an upcoming release. Joe Matera will come from Australia to play guitar at this gig too!

RR: Why did you choose Tolkien as inspiration for your music?

Alex: I´ve been a huge Tolkien fan since my childhood, and as I listened to some Black Metal bands for the first time like Summoning, Valar, and Druadan Forest in the middle of the 90s, I was really fascinated because I thought "This is the sound of Middle-Earth...", I really had all these pictures of Orcs, Mordor, and Isengard in my mind when I listened to these bands. So it was just a small step to create my own sounds of Middle-Earth too. :-)

RR: What themes are your favourites to write about? For example, the great battles of Middle Earth, or the tragedies of the Silmarillion?

Alex: My all time favourite story is "Of Beren and Luthien“. It is so full of emotion and beauty! But I like very much the story about Durin and Durin´s Halls too. There is so much; the whole world that Tolkien created is full of fascinating stuff, you can pick a little of each I think! The Silmarillion is still my favourite book; there is so much background knowledge in it. It makes the whole of Lord of the Rings much more interesting!
RR: Have any other Tolkien themed bands inspired you?

Alex: As I mentioned before it´s Summoning, Valar, Druadan Forest but also Nargothrond & Heresihra.

RR: You hail from Austria. Have the scenery of the mountains and the folklore of your country affected your musical style?

Alex: Yes for sure, I always get a lot of inspiration being in Nature! The mysticism of a dark green forest or mountains covered in mist inspires me a lot! After I´m back from vacation in the mountains I´m always ready to create a new album, I´m so full of emotion and mystic thoughts and the only way I can share these thoughts with others is through my music! I have another project called HREFNESHOLT it is inspired by nature and mystic folklore too; it's a kind of Dark Side of Folk Music, so to say. :-)

RR: Although the music of Uruk-Hai includes lighter themes, many would describe your style as "avant guarde dark ambient". Would you agree with this?

Alex: Yes you could say this too, but I also have a lot of very epic tracks or Black Metal parts in my music so the style changes each time. That's why I call it often "Soundscapes from Middle-Earth“. The new album for example, will include a lot of Heavy Metal parts too. So we have again a little change in genre!

RR: What is the philosophy behind your music?

Alex: There is no special philosophy behind the music of URUK-HAI it is more based on my personal mood, so you will find in each track I have recorded over the last 13 years the mood of the day I did it! And the mood often depends what I feel when I´m in nature; so maybe the philosophy behind this project is to transfer the mystical mood of nature to the listener...

RR: I think of Uruk-Hai as a soundtrack for Middle Earth. Have you considered other fantasy settings such as Conan's Hyboria?

Alex: Yeah perfect; I call it often a soundtrack for Middle-Earth too!!! I like also the Nordic mythology a lot, that's why some of the URUK-HAI tracks based on these themes too. There is also a very strong connection between Tolkien's novels and the Nordic mythology, which is why it fits perfect with URUK-HAI too in my opinion!

I like Conan a lot, and the Soundtrack Basil Poledouris did is awesome!! I did some cover versions of that soundtrack for the Demo tape & 3"CDr release "The Barbarian“ and both tracks on the split album "~2~“ with Vinterriket are based on the "Secret Of Steel“ story from Conan too! But to be honest I don't like the new Conan movie at all!!!

RR: There was a period when Uruk-Hai left the boundaries of Middle Earth and produced music with themes from Nordic mythology and also the Inca people of South America. What made you decide to do this?

Alex: That's very simple; the "Tawantinsuyu“ album is based on Inca mythology because it was created after a trip to Peru & Bolivia, so you see again I try to transfer the mood I captured there in my music! And as I mentioned before, I think there is a very strong connection between the Nordic mythology and Tolkien. There are also a lot of similar names in Tolkien's universe and the Nordic mythology!

RR: Did you enjoy doing something different?

Alex: Definitely yes!! I always love to go my own way, but I´m also happy when other people like what I did because it never was and will be music for the masses!

RR: You are working on many projects, including other musical concepts besides Uruk-Hai. Could you talk to us about those a little?

Alex: We begin with HROSSHARSGRANI, my first solo project, which I started with Dark Ambient music, then came into Black Metal / Metal, and the last album I did in 2010 with HROSSHARSGANI was Martial Industrial.

EISMOND is a project I run together with Jaron Good from Funeral Fornication, its Melancholic Black Metal.

ELISABETHA is based on 60s Horror movies especially the Hammer Studio Dracula films. I did it together with Uwe Backer but a few years ago he decided to stop doing music so now this project is on ice!

BONEMACHINE (B-MACHINA) was founded under the name HEIMATLEID and its Noise Industrial Music sometimes with Folk elements!

WACH is an high quality Noise Ambient project I run together with Reverend Kim. It's very dark and scary music like a never ending Nightmare!

SOLID GREY is the most catchy project I do. It's Gothic Rock/Pop in the vein of The Cure or Fields Of The Nephilim. I do it with my good friend Bart Piette from Dead Man´s Hill, a very talented musician!!

C.O.I is a mix of 80s Dream Pop & Neo Classic. I work on it from time to time when I´m in the right mood for it. C.O.I. Stands for CEREMONY OF INNOCENCE.

DRACHENFEUER is an Electronic Instrumental project I do together with Jim Kirkwood. The whole music is based on Tolkien too!

MANWE is another Tolkien Based Epic Rock project I do together with Rich Davenport!

HREFNESHOLT is my dark and mystic folk project, it sounds very different to all my other projects, hell yeah it sounds different to everything I think :-) All the vocals are done in native Upper Austrian dialect and the stories are based on Upper Austrian sagas!

RR: You also manage the independent label, W.A.R. Productions. How many artists are currently on the label, and what themes do you cater for?

Alex: W.A.R. Productions have about 100 releases so far with bands, like Uruk-Hai, Hrossharsgrani, Mystified, Svarrogh, Allerseelen, Hugin Munin, Pope On Acid, Nova Sak and many more. A full list artists, including sold out and still available releases can be found here:

RR: Are there any forthcoming releases from Uruk-Hai for the listeners to look out for?

Alex: TRYBY Label in Poland has already finished a 3“CDr series and a 6xCDr Box Set called "Everlasting Wrath Of The Tyrant“, and S.T.S. Label from Australia will do 3 different 3“CDr´s soon too! Rigorism Productions In Russia will release soon a 3xCDr Box set called "Legacy Of The Tyrant“ and a Split Cdr with NEBULA.

I have been working since September 2011 on my upcoming Full-Length album "And All The Magic And Might He Brought“, which is in my personal opinion includes the best URUK-HAI songs so far! Really Epic and powerful stuff, and also deep melancholic hymns. Be prepared for something special in late 2012!

RR: Last but not least, the obligatory silly question! If you could be anything in any fantasy setting, what would you choose and why?

Alex: If it is not based on LOTR I would choose the everlasting life of an Vampire. I love Ann Rice´s "Interview With The Vampire“ a lot and I would love to see all those ages by my own! In LOTR I would choose Glaurung the Dragon, because I love this mystic story around him and the magic spells he could use. Sad that he died in the end. :-(

RR: Thanks again for answering our questions. Best of luck with your many creative projects!

Alex: Thanks for asking me to do that. It's really a pleasure and I´m always here for further questions/answers. May the Valar guide you!"

The full interview (including Uruk Hai's extensive release history) can be found here

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