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Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Corr Mhona Interview


1.For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the band?

We are Corr Mhóna from West Cork, Ireland. We have been going since 2009, when two sets of brothers (the Farrows and the Quinns) decided to get together and form a band after years of playing and going to gigs. We like to combine all our skills and influences in the band, so we write riffs and sing in different styles depending on the mood of the song. Our lyrics are entirely in the Irish language (Gaeilge) and we write about natural and environmental themes, reflecting our current reality, heritage, and mythology.

2.You have a new album coming out in April, musically how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?

The major difference with Abhainn over our last album (Dair) is the quality of the production - this album is far heavier and more substantial in tone and sound. We have gotten the metal sound we wanted for drums and guitar, with a live feel and lots of power. In other ways, the album is a continuation of our earlier recordings. We have a variety of moods and styles on the album, with choral sections, instrumentals, and a mixture of vocals, just like before.

3.This is also your first release since 2014, can you tell us a little bit more about what has been going on during that time frame?

Quite a lot! We began writing the material for Abhainn in the Summer of 2015, and we have been steadily working on the songs ever since. As our band members can often be living abroad, we have to time our trips to the studio to record the different elements of the album when people are back in Ireland. Some of us have lived in Canada in recent years, which obviously makes things more difficult! The album has been fully ready for the last couple of years, but then Covid has also gotten in the way. It made it more difficult to find a label as people were unsure whether to commit or not; but it all worked out in the end, and we are happy to finally release the album with Satanath Records in conjunction with Negra PlanY on April 16th.

4.The lyrics on the new recording are also a concept album, can you tell us a little bit more about the songwriting on the new release?

The album as a whole has one overarching concept and narrative journey, that of the Irish river or “abhainn”. We had some music already written when we came up with the idea and then began combining the songs into one musical flow. As the album represents the river’s life from source to sea, we placed each song where it would be relevant within that journey (e.g., heavier and faster music to represent rapids and falls). Each track has its own character from its place in the flow, as well as representing a particular Irish river and referencing the story and mythology of that river in the lyrics. We recorded natural sounds from locations in Ireland to embellish the soundscape. These can be heard on both instrumentals and heavier tracks, which include water noises and birdcall. As always, there is a broad spread of moods and styles within the music.

5.I know that the band’s name is the Irish word for 'heron', how does this name fit in with the musical style that you play?

Yes it does, Corr is the Irish word for heron-like birds and Corr Mhóna means the heron/crane of the bog. The ‘cor’ in the English bird name ‘Cormorant’ is a cognate. But a corr is also a twist or turn or twisted thing, so we liked the idea of the ‘twisted thing of the bog’. Herons are a common site on the rivers of West Cork and something of a symbol for the region. We also wanted a powerful Irish name as the band would be singing in Irish. As for the style, our music takes a lot of turns and changes and can seem a bit odd in contrast to more conventional stuff, just like the heron can seem strange or otherworldly in the wild.

6.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the new album cover?

We would love to! The main piece at the centre of the cover was drawn by Mairéad Mc Guinness of ‘Mairéad Mc Guinness Art’. She is a fantastically gifted artist from Drogheda in Ireland, and we asked her to help with the new album as we thought her art would be a great match for our music; it has that combination of light and dark within it. We are old friends with Mairéad and were delighted when she said yet. She created several pieces for us, each one inspired by one of the rivers on the album. We finally chose Suláin for the cover and then Martin (guitarist and vocalist) created a variety of amazing backdrops for the album cover and booklet. There is plenty more art to show you yet!

7.What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and also how would you describe your stage performance?

Playing live is very important to Corr Mhóna’s identity as a band. We pride ourselves on putting everything into our live shows, and try to recreate as much as possible the changes in vocal and musical styles on stage. We try to bring a lot of power and precision to our shows, which we have built up through years of playing together. We also try to bring that sound to our albums, where we record without click tracks in a ‘live’ feel. Memorable gigs over the years would include the Dair album launch gig in Mister Bradley’s Cork (2014), playing the Siege of Limerick festival several times or a memorable mini-tour with Mael Mordha supporting them on their ‘Damned when Dead’ tour (2013).

8.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of pagan, black, doom and death metal?

The reaction worldwide has been very good, and we really appreciate all the fans who have supported us over the years. We haven’t been very active in the last few years, so it was really heartening to see the reaction from fans to the news of the new album release. We have had fans across Europe, in the US and in South America in the past, but we are now seeing more fans from Eastern Europe and Russian due to our connection with Satanath Records. Though there is a mixture of all those genres in our music (among others) we tend to get a bigger reaction from fans of pagan, black metal due to our lyrical content, themes and imagery. We have a lot of doom fans too though, and we all love the stuff (check out An tSuláin on the new album)! The death influence isn’t as obvious so we would have less death metal fans, but it has always been there in our music, and is more evident in this album. 

9.What is going on with some of the other bands or musical projects these days that some of the band members are a part of?

There is a lot going on in the Cork scene, with plenty of new releases during lockdown. It is a close scene (possibly incestual!) and we all help each other out in different acts. Currently Stephen and Paul are in The Grief with John from For Ruin; this is a more traditional 90s doom band (debut album ‘Horizon’s Fall’, 2020). They are also in blackened filth Procession of Spectres with Marc and Liam from Soothsayer and Steve O’Connell from For Ruin (debut EP ‘Procession of Spectres’, 2020). We have all been involved in different acts in the past, and no doubt will be again in future!

10.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?

We have always combined influences from whatever music we enjoy in our songwriting, and we will always write music this way. We feel it is the only way to keep the music vital and real, to avoid boxing ourselves in to a certain style or genre. We realise that this has been a problem for us in the past, as it is more difficult to promote something that’s hard to categorize! But we wouldn’t do it any other way.

11.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

Almost everything released in the early 90s! :) Obviously, the metal that was popular when we were growing up had an influence on us. We loved death metal (At the Gates, Dismember, Death, Bolt-Thrower, Napalm) black metal (Emperor, Thorns, Enslaved), doom (Anathema, My Dying Bride) … We grew up loving Thrash and traditional metal (Sabbath, Maiden) and were fans of grunge and indie as well as electronic and traditional music. We all love classical, soundtracks and instrumental music of any kind. Progressive music is another big influence, both in rock and in metal (Arcturus, Cynic, Age of Silence). These days we still listen to a big spread of styles, from trad music like The Gloaming to soundtracks from Max Richter and Jeremy Soule; from doom such as Ahab to old school Stockholm-sound death such as LIK.

12.How would you describe your views on Paganism?

We respect everyone’s right to believe what they want, from once it doesn’t harm others. Whatever floats your boat! We have a deep respect and interest in heritage and the preservation of culture and diversity, both in society and the natural world. So we will obviously have an interest in the ancient cultures that believed in their pre-monotheistic pantheons of gods… We reference several heroes from Irish mythology in our lyrics which most definitely were Irish gods before Christianity arrived. It’s a deep question, but I suppose the beliefs of the band would be described more as atheistic than paganistic, though pagans are fecking cool! If we were to become pagans in a sense, we wouldn’t ascribe to one overarching pagan belief, but choose one of the pre-christian faith systems such as Celtic Gaelic Druidism.

13.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts? 

Thanks a million for having us on for this interview! It is great to finally release Abhainn and to get feedback and contact with people in different countries from it, such as yourselves. We look forward to being able to get back out there on stage and play these songs for people around the world - see you at a gig somewhere in the future. Until then, take care and keep it metal!

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