Interview with Robert Garven
Hello and welcome to Acier Doux Metalzine Tunisia , First of all congratulations on your Boxed Set An awesome Epic Boxed Metal. What’s the feedback so far ?
That was released on the occasion of our concert at “Up the Hammers” in Greece. We were all very impressed with the quality of the boxed cassette set and many others seemed to agree. It is not a format that is used much in the United States but many saw it as a collectors edition! BTW I still have a cassette player.
You are really becoming a high standard name in the underground scene, but there might still be someone out there who hasn’t heard the name, so take your time and please answer probably the most boring question in the world. What would someone have to know about Cirith Ungol ?
That we were a band that formed to play music as heavy as possible, when we were very young. We struggled for over twenty years but seemed to be creating music for small number of discerning listeners. Fast forward many years to find out that we had been listened to by a growing number of underground hard rock/heavy metal aficionados. We reunited to live our dream of playing overseas, and to complete the dream of many of our listeners, to bring our live music to many who never thought they would see us live. Our music was inspired by many of the great musicians in Hard Rock & Heavy Metal stretching back to the beginning of rock.
I’m very glad that you’re finally receiving the respect that you deserve ! Cirith Ungol known than ever. Are you surprised by the number of younger bands and Metal fans that now love the music of Cirith Ungol ? I just turned 32 this year, so I suppose that I’m part of that demographic as well.
The majority of our new followers are under 30. Yes, we were surprised that so many all over the world had even heard of the band. Our records originally were more popular outside the United States, as were our major influences, so it makes sense, that is where our largest following is, but nothing can prepare you for an entire audience humming your songs louder than we are playing them. It is very humbling.
I too am glad for the dedication that has helped keep your music alive. As a fan of all four of your albums, seeing Greg Lindstrom, Jim Barraza and you of course together in the lineup is awesome for me. Do you think this makes you more versatile as a band ?
We are lucky that we got almost all the original members back together. We had played previously with Greg & Jerry on double lead guitar for a while years ago. Having two guitars again allows us to play the songs as they were recorded !
Can you tell us how you have joined Cirith Ungol ?
I was inspired by Greg Lindstrom, who I met in 7th grade, we were about 13, because he would always turn me on to new music. I remember him showing me a copy of Mountain Climbing, and saying something like, “You have got to hear this!” We wanted to create a band, and we had met Jerry Fogle who played guitar and another friend Pat Galligan (who went onto play in The Angry Samoans) who played guitar. We originally called Titanic, and were playing all Beatles songs, as that was Pat’s favorite band. Greg, Jerry and I wanted to play heavier music so we left Titanic to form a new band, which we called Cirith Ungol. Our goal was to create the heaviest Metal know to man !
How did you get involved in the Metal scene ? What attracted you in the first place? Remember the first metal band you heard ?
We incessantly combed the LA area record stores mainly searching for new imported music. There we discovered Thin Lizzy, Scorpions, Lucifer’s Friend, Night Sun and many other heavy bands years before they were even on the radar in the US ! There were very few that heard as much early hard rock and metal as us back then. I remember picking up Deep Purple “In Rock” at the local Sears the day they put it on the shelf! We also went to many local concerts mostly in LA and saw many great bands, most before they even became known such as Rush, Montrose, Blue Oysetr Cult, etc. The music was our life. A good friend took me to see my first concert, which was “Mountain”. I was blown away as they were probably one of the best live bands I saw, out of hundreds over the years, along with “Thin Lizzy” !
Tell me a little about the recording sessions. Those things you play are demanding and something tells me that studio time could easily be a pain in the ass…Was it indeed a pain in the ass ? Any funny shit to share during the recordings ?
The best were the first two albums ” Frost & Fire ” & “King of the Dead ” as these were self produced records and we had complete control over everything from recording to mastering. I always loved being in the studio and the band has always been very prepared. We always had our own small recording equipment and would completely record all the songs, overdubs and mix down before we even booked studio time. This way we would waste less time and money and know exactly what we wanted. We are doing the exact same thing right now! We also had lots of fun in the studios, of course everything was on tape back then. We also took it very seriously and wanted to create the felling of power on our records.
So what was the plan on promoting ? Hit as many live gigs as possible ? Was there a tour or single live shows ?
We had a great practice room and played as many shows as we could. Back then we never got tour support and the farthest from home we ever played, was a big show in Mexico City. We always would play local shows and many opening in Los Angeles for other bands such as Ratt, or Lita Ford, Uli Roth. Later on before we broke up we headlined a few shows. We never were lucky enough to tour. I was working a job that was one of the major sources of income for the band, so it was hard for me to quit. There is a story that we were offered a show in San Francisco which I could not attend, Metallica went instead and supposedly got their big break there, although I cannot confirm this a fact. The band really gives me a hard time about that one !
What bands of your times that you never played with would you pick to join you on stage now ? And what bands would you bring back to remember the good days ?
Wow that would be easy as there are so many bands we admired. Of course bands like Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, Budgie. What is amazing we are playing at shows coming up with some of the bands which are were our heroes. We are playing ” Days of Darkness ” in Baltimore with Captain Beyond and ” Hammer of Doom ” with Lucifer’s Friend ! We are pretty excited about that !!! Some bands I would bring back are “Night Sun”, “Dust”, “Head over Heels”, “Highway Robbery”, “Left End”, “Tempest”‘ “Trapeze” etc. the list could go on forever !
So what do Cirith Ungol work on currently ? New songs ? New album probably ? New live shows ?
We are booked to play a bunch of great festivals coming up, some announced some not, a few in the US but mostly in Europe. We are currently working on new material and the goal is to re-release a new album at some point. Metal Blade Records is also working on a live album and DVD of some of our best shows in Europe! Our music will also be featured in the upcoming animated movie “Planet of Doom” out in 2018.
I see that Jarvis Leatherby is playing with the mighty Jaguar band too, can you tell us about it ?
Jarvis Leatherby, our good friend and one of the people that talked us into reuniting, plays bass with “Night Demon” and “Cirith Ungol” and sings for Jaguar. Weare playing with them at a festival in our home town, “Frost & Fire III” .
Beside the band you must have an ordinary life. What do you do outside the band / music ? And what are your hobbies ?
The guys in the band all have worked various jobs during the time we were not together. What is important is now that we are re-united all we want to do is focus on bringing the message of “Cirith Ungol” to the hordes of true believers! “Cirith Ungol” a “A Churning Maelstrom of Metal Chaos Descending” .
Thank you very much for spent your time with us and good luck !!!
Thank you so much for your interest in the band. We would also like to thank all those who have listened to the band over the years and also the many that have came out to see one of our rare appearances ! I would encourage anyone who likes the band try to catch one our upcoming shows, we are not as young as we once were and who knows how long we will be able to keep this going .
Interviewer : Med Manef Slama