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Ciaran O'Neill (Old Season)

Interview with Ciaran O'Neill from Old Season
by Michael Dalakos at 07 September 2006, 12:29 PM

Old Season rule!!! No doubt about it!!! Their debut limited release Volume One is definitely one of the best albums I have heard in my life. What follows is a set of questions answered by the mighty Ciaran O'Neill.

 Welcome to our magazine. Please lets start with a short biography of the band.

Hails Michael, and first off I’d like to say its an honour to be interviewed for your webzine after the amazing reviews you gave both our CD and our live-show. Ok, I think long biographies in interviews are quite boring but I’ll give you the brief low-down. Basically the band was started by me and one of our guitarists Phillip many moons ago. We first went under the moniker of Taranis and a few years later that changed to Karnayna, which eventually became Old Season sometime during 2002.

We had tons of line-up changes through those years but when Dermod (keyboards) joined in 1999 things really started to become more serious. An to came on board next and then Frank and Jim were the final pieces in the puzzle now known as Old Season. This now truly is, I believe, the definitive line-up for the band and we will be together as a band for a very long time to come and can hopefully keep recording Powerful Heavy Metal music and deliver it to as many like minded souls all the world over as we possibly can.

 Your first album was released in a limited print. Why is that?

Volume One was initially released in a limited pressing alright, but that will be repressed pretty soon as that limited edition digi-pack is now sold-out. The reason we did this was that we really wanted to give something special to our fans, many of whom have been waiting a real long time for this release, so we decided to go ahead and have a first digi-pack pressing of 666 copies.

We are real happy with the way they turned out and owe a lot to John Fay the artist and Demo the graphic designer who worked with us to make it all look so well. Hopefully the repress will look well too, but it was important for us to mark this release with something special and I think we did, at least to the best of our ability at the time. We will always in future try to make our releases look as well as possible and hopefully give to our fans something they are really proud to own and listen to.

 Can you give us some information about the recording sessions of the album?

Well, I could talk all night about recording that album man. It really was a great experience for us from start to finish as we undertook to take on most of the recording ourselves so we could just relax and do it all at our own pace. The drums were done at a studio in a place called Kells and we also went back there for the recording of the vocals but all other recordings and all mixing was done at Dermods Rectory studio. It was great to be able work free of deadlines, arrogant producers and stuff like that but I think our inexperience in recording comes through in the final product.

However it has to be said too that we would certainly have settled for the sound we achieved before we started recording and the knowledge and experience gained by doing so is invaluable to us and will stand to us so much in the coming years and on our future recordings.

 Ireland has spawned several known metal acts and most of them had a strong folk vibe in their music. Is your country’s culture such a strong influence for you?

Oh yes, most definitely, our country’s history and culture is very important to us and influences us in many ways. In our music the folk element is not always as obvious or prominent as for example Cruachan or Waylander, but it is still there buried deep down and sometimes brought to the fore in our music, such as in the opening riff of A Dwindling Seed for example. Our past, our surroundings, our great literary tradition, our wonderful Irish folk and traditional music all inspire and influence us greatly and are very much a part of what we do.

 Can you please tell us what the lyrics of the songs And Sands She Turned For Time and The Claw talk about?

Strange that you pick those two songs together as both deal with pretty similar topics - dreaming. And Sands She Turned For Time is about being visited in a dream, and The Claw is about the sense of release that can come through dreaming. Both are pretty old songs and a proper Old Season show is usually opened with And Sands She Turned For Time, as I think it brews up a great atmosphere and can really draw the listener in without being too overbearing. The Claw is a great live song too and a lot of fun to play

 How does Old Season compose music? Is it a team effort?

Yes, it is a team effort. Phillip has in the past been the chief song-writer but for so many years we didn’t have a line-up stable enough that we could trust people enough to help us write our music. That has changed now and everybody contributes in some way. The same goes for both lyrics and music. We all contribute and I think this is a great thing and the diversity shown in some of our material is down to this.

 If you had to describe with words the music this bands play you will say…

Haha, not the first time I’ve been asked this question! Well, what we write on posters and fliers for our gigs and stuff like that is Epic, Haunting, Doom-laden, Irish Heavy Metal! And I believe that description fits our music quite well and would be a pretty direct indication of what we do. I really just consider us a Heavy Metal band but in today’s overcrowded scene people need a bit more than such a basic description so hopefully that can help out people who never heard us or anything about us.

 You have recently played in Athens. What do you recall from that show?

Holy fuck! Is what I recall from that show - it was easily one of the best shows we have ever played, a real unforgettable experience for Old Season and something we truly plan on making a regular occurrence for us. I remember from the first notes of And Sands until the last bars of Forever Damned being in total awe of the crowd and I think they felt pretty much the same as they really drove us on to perform, what wed like to think, was a great show. From speaking to the other bands and some of the fans afterwards we really seemed to have gone down well. We can never thank Manolis and the Battleroar guys and Greg and Jim from Eat Metal enough for making that show happen for us. I hope Battleroar and Airged L?mh look back on their first visit to Ireland with as many fond memories as we have taken from our first time in the great city of Athens.

 During that show you performed two songs not included in the CD. I was amazed from Meet Me On The Battlefield that sounded totally different than the rest of your songs. Should we expect much more surprises from you in the future?

Well, if there is something you can expect from OLD SEASON that is to expect the unexpected!… obviously once its Metal, but I’m sure you know what I mean. Meet Me On The Battlefield was a strange song for us when writing as it came out really different in the end than how we originally envisaged but really I don’t consider the final result to be too far removed from any of our other stuff. It maybe has slightly more mature edge but it is most definitely OLD SEASON.

It has all our trademarks. Epic Heaviness, haunting and dramatic keys, soaring vocals, enchanting leads and a progressive touch which we like to throw in sometimes but not in a hey look what we can do way, but a more a natural progressive feel which is something that can take us anywhere really in the future. But as I always say, we will always remain 100% a Heavy Metal band, as that is what is in our hearts and that will never change.

 How difficult is for a new band to make an impact on the overcrowded metal scene?

Hmmm, hard to say for us really. Have we made in impact yet? I hope so, but there really is so much that we want to achieve as a band that I’m not sure if we have fully made an impact on the Metal scene just yet. In Ireland of course we have, but we have been plugging away here for a long time and the fruits of all that hard labour has finally come to us, but I think the next year or so will fully enable us to make our mark internationally too.

 What is your opinion about the Internet? Does it help the bands or not?

Oh yes for sure! The internet is such a great tool for bands. It is an amazing way in which to promote yourself and also a great way to find out about other bands if you are a fan, which each one of us in Old Season is. There are so many younger guys around our scene now into old classic 80’s bands and I think this is great. Some of them are even able to educate us on things which is great and I really believe it is an exciting time to be a Metalhead here in Ireland.

This is down to not only the internet, but it is one of the major factors in this and I think it must be embraced. Obviously there is the downside, like the endless streams of promo hunters setting up useless webzines simply for getting free stuff but there are certainly some quality ones out there (your own included Michael) that support True Metal whatever way they can and this can only be a good thing in the long run I believe.

 What are the immediate plans of the band?

Well, we are currently finishing up the songwriting for our second album. We hope to begin recording this soon and plan having it out before the end of the year. We haven’t played quite so many shows this year as we usually do but we did get to play an interesting show opener for Obituary and Samael (strange one for us, I know, but it was great nonetheless). We also played with Blitzkrieg in February and did a couple of our own headlining shows. A lot more shows will be played over the summer though, I think, so we can really tighten up a lot of our newer material.

We also have a split picture seven inch due to come out in the summer with another Irish band, Geasa.

 Thanks for your time. Close this interview with a message to all our readers.

Well, readers of the Metal Temple, never surrender to the mainstream, keep Hellas the true underground Metal capital of the world and we will make it our duty to crusade across Europe as often as we possibly can to perform for you guys! Massive hails to you all and to the Metal Temple, Battleroar, Eat Metal Records, Litany, Wrathblade, Airged L?mh. And don’t forget. MEET US ON THE BATTLEFIELD!!!


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