Heathen Harvest: Can you explain the name Gaë Bolg and the Church of Fand and what personal meaning it has for you?
Eric Rogers: The Church of Fand didn’t exist anymore. Their members have disappeared, one day, without any other explanation… About Gaë Bolg… well… it seems that Gaë Bolg is simply me, or a part of me, or what I could have been…
HH: Did you grow up in a home where music and playing music was encouraged?
ER: My parents were, and still are, amateur musicians. They were, and still are, both playing in non-professional orchestras for their pleasure, and I’ve always heard a lot of classical music at our home. It was something very natural and which had been present during all my youth.
HH: At what age did you begin exploring music?
ER: Very early. When I was in the belly of my mother, shortly before my birth, she played the “Flying Dutchman overture” (Wagner), and apparently, I’ve highly appreciated it, considering the high number of foot beats she received!!!
HH: Have you studied music professionally?
ER: Yes, and it’s very helpful because I’m a music teacher!
HH: When did you decide to pursue music as a professional musician and what factors influenced this decision?
ER: Again early. But I’ve to say that I make my living from teaching, not from Gaë Bolg or Seven Pines activities, which is much more comfortable for my freedom as a musician and composer!
HH: You now have two ongoing music projects that you are responsible for. Can you discuss how you came about forming Gaë Bolg and the Church of Fand and Seven Pines?
ER: I’ve in fact much more projects but I didn’t release anything (or very few) since now with the others. At the beginning, Seven Pines was my first and main project. Gaë Bolg came after, and was just supposed to be a punctual side project. But for many strange reasons I would have difficulty explaining, Gaë Bolg took gradually more and more prominence, and I can now say that both have the same importance in my eyes.
HH: What do you see as the distinguishing factors between Gaë Bolg and the Church of Fand and Seven Pines?
ER: I think the biggest difference was clearly that Seven Pines was much closer to what I was really. Musically speaking, at least during the first years, I was much freer with Seven Pines than with Gaë Bolg. Gaë Bolg, as I said earlier in this interview, was more a reflection of a part of me, or a part of what I could have been. It was a means to explore very fixed forms, to adopt certain types of gimmicks, and to respect a certain bombastic vision of orchestration. It was very ironical in this excess, often parodist (and consequently critical) and in fact never really completely serious. Seven Pines was much more psychedelic (in the idea, form and music), more electronic in its conception, and probably much darker. It was more a catharsis, sometimes violent, and the music came more from a pulsing than for Gaë Bolg. But I have to say that it’s not so true now, especially since Aucassin, who is clearly much more deeply personal than the previous Bolg albums.
HH: Are you attempting to communicate something different within the context of each project?
ER: Not necessary, it just related to my sometimes schizophrenic personality!!!
HH: Can you explain the titles or names of Gaë Bolg and the Church of Fand and Seven Pines?
ER: Gaë Bolg has to do with Cochleae, one of the most Monthy Pythonesque heroes of the whole world mythology!!! He was a sympathetic but really naive hero, more interested by love than by his rule (making war), pacifist and independent, loosed in the world he didn’t understand its stupidity, and he saved Ireland, but by accident because he was absolutely not interested by it!!! A sort of hippie hero!!! The name Seven Pines has been taken in “The avengers”, one of the most inventive, intelligent, psychedelic and surrealist TV series.
HH: You are the dominate singer for Gaë Bolg and the Church of Fand and Seven Pines. Can you explain what vocal training you have received previous to singing in these projects?
ER: Mostly long hours in my shower!!!
HH: Do you compose the music for Gaë Bolg and the Church of Fand and Seven Pines alone or does the compositional process include input from other persons?
ER: I’m the only composer. On this aspect, Gaë Bolg and Seven pines are completely autocratic projects!
HH: How many of the instruments used for Gaë Bolg and the Church of Fand and Seven Pines is sampled and how much of the music is played on actual instruments?
ER: I use a lot of classical instruments in both projects but none of them are sampled. When I sample something, it’s just orchestral bars or rhythmic noises to do loops or background landscapes. If I need a violin, I record a violinist playing his instrument. If I can not find a violinist, I didn’t use violin sound, it’s finally very easy!!! Probably due to my classical music education, I hate to use an electronic instrument to do “like real instruments.” It sounds generally horrible and “impossible” for someone who knows the original instrument. If I use an electronic instrument, it’s for doing electronic or “abstract” sounds! But of course, I like and use both in all my projects, without any restriction, and I try to mix it together correctly!!!
HH: The music and singing on Gaë Bolg and the Church of Fand has a distinctly medieval flavoring. Can you explain your interest in medieval music and vocal styles?
ER: My interest for medieval times is more fantasmatic than something else, a sort of escape to our actual world. It’s a smell of mysteries and darkness I like. A strange period of religious extremism but in the same time, some people who try to escape to this fixed model, maybe the first anarchists people of history…
HH: Does this interest in medieval music also extend to an interest in medieval culture?
ER: Yes but again, it’s a very superficial and fantasmatic interest…
HH: The lyrics and text of Gaë Bolg and the Church of Fand also seem heavily influenced by medieval period writings. Can you explain what influenced you to focus upon this period in history for lyrical inspiration?
ER: I’m before all interested by all the writings of that time who were on the margin and by all those free minded people who have refused an imposed repressive model. It’s what I’ve liked in “Aucassin et Nicolette”, who was in fact – if you consider the fact that it was written in the 13th century - an incredible humanist, libertarian and pacifist pamphlet hidden in the dresses of irony.
HH: There is a strong atmosphere of myth and legend that enshrouds Gaë Bolg and the Church of Fand. What is your interest in mythology and is it exclusive to European mythology?
ER: I have the same sort of interest for mythology, European or not, than for tales. For that also, it’s mainly fantasmatic. I really like tales. A sort of dreamy and childish door to escape sometimes the pressures of this world…
HH: The music of Gaë Bolg and the Church of Fand and Seven Pines is particularly Eurocentric. Was it your goal to focus upon your European heritage?
ER: I don’t know what “Eurocentric” means really. Like for all the countries in the world, France and Europe, during all its history, have been influenced by other cultures of other continents, and of course have influenced these same cultures. To give just 2 examples amongst many others, Arabia had invaded Spain and the southern half of France during, at least, the first millenary, and France, England and Holland had invaded a big part of Africa and Asia between the 17th and the 20th century!!!
People who speak about “pure culture” or “race” or “preservation of identity” or things like that are simply stupid!!! Europe, as well as all the other continents - and maybe more than the other continents - , is a big mix of cultures, and it’s this mix which give it its richness. Personally, I’m not interested by a suppose-to-be “Eurocentric” fact. I just do the difference between “culture” and “non-culture.” For me, “culture” is interest in art, people, traditions, tastes and uses, and a certain capacity to be open to the others and to think for yourself. “Non-culture’ is the contrary, it’s TV and media, it’s all this shit produced by ultra-liberalism, multi-national enterprises and money!!! And it has nothing to do with continent or frontier, you can find it everywhere in the world, including Europe!!! But of course, I don’t do traditional African music, or Balinese gamelan, and yes, on this aspect, I’m probably more European than Balinese or African…
HH: Gaë Bolg and the Church of Fand albums have been released in rather limited quantities. Has it been your intention to propel Gaë Bolg to collector status within the music arena?
ER: I’m a collector myself, which probably easily explains this fact…
HH: The lyrics of Gaë Bolg and Seven Pines are exclusively sung in French and German or English translations do not appear on the albums. Why have you chosen to keep the lyrics in French and not offer you non French speaking audience a chance to understand your lyrics?
ER: Simply because the only language I know correctly is French (thing you probably easily seen by reading my interview in this… hum… so typical English!) I’m clearly not able to write lyrics in English or German. Personally, I find it strange to sing in a language you don’t really know. I just do that when I do a cover version or if I use a pre-existent text.
HH: There is a certain wit and humor that is injected into the cover art of Gaë Bolg and the Church of Fand. Is it important for you not to take the music and presentation too seriously?
ER: Music is just… music!!! Some people died every day in this world due to hunger, cyclones, wars, or things like that. How is it possible after that to be completely serious in music and art?
HH: There is also a particular presentation of sexuality that permeates the album covers of Gaë Bolg
and the Church of Fand. Can you explain your use of sexuality in the context of the music and presentation of Gaë Bolg and the Church of Fand?
ER: Sex is the most important thing for humans!!! (At least for me!!!) It’s the best and easiest pleasure in life!!! Gaë Bolg clearly assumes this fact!!!
HH: There are many critics and persons who would like to censor bombastic / martial orchestral
music coming from Europe. Has Gaë Bolg and the Church of Fand or Seven Pines faced accusations of militancy or political fascism as so many bombastic music projects have?
ER: Never because I’ve always been clear and I never played with this ambiguity.
I’ve definitely nothing to do with fascism, right ring, war fascination or militarist topics. I’m humanist, pacifist and politically green left.
HH: What is your opinion of the far left attempts at censoring and ostracizing musicians who create what the left claims is politically challenging or offensive material in the form of music or fascist imagery?
ER: Personally, I find all the fascist imagery or all this sort of ambiguity in music both ridiculous and dangerous. I don’t see anything glamorous or sexy in the 3rd Reich’s symbols and it’s often there just to hide the musical emptiness. All the people who do that are just teenagers who try to exist and who probably don’t have a lot of things to do in their life. It’s pathetic and dangerous, and it conveys insane ideas and hate. Most of those bands pretend to an intellectual background, but they don’t realize that what they say is completely empty. They just all repeat stupidly the same things, do all the time the same citations of the same authors and are unable to have just a parcel of personal thinking! Not to mention the fact that they forgot how many millions of people those ideas killed!!! I really don’t understand. If they’re so fascinated by war, it’s easy to be engaged in the army!!! And if they have such a strong interest for totalitarianism, why don’t they live in a dictatorship? It’s easy to find one in this world!!! I completely understand that some people protest against this glorification of those right wing insane and smelly ideas!
Personally, I clearly made my choice: I prefer fascination for good meal, good wine, nice girls and nature!!! To be completely honest and to finish with this subject, I have also to add that in the same time, I’m completely against any form of censorship, and I think that real left people - and not people who just try to have good conscience - have the same opinion. Censoring makes martyrs, and of course promotion and you finally arrive to the opposite result!!! Personally, if I find a band dodgy, I just ignore it and boycott it!!!
HH: Gaë Bolg and the Church of Fand recently released the album "Aucassin Et Nicolette" on Auerbach Records which is a sub division of Prophecy Productions. "Aucassin Et Nicolette" is drastically different in sound and composition from earlier Gaë Bolg and the Church of Fand releases. You have abandoned the bombastic orchestrations that defined your earlier albums in favor of a gentler compositional style. Can you discuss what brought about these changes?
ER: As I said before, I think it’s my most personal album under the name of Gaë Bolg till now and it’s certainly due to the fact that it was much more spontaneous. I had composed it and recorded it very fast, and, contrary to the previous albums, I didn’t give myself the time for questions.
HH: It has been said in press releases concerning "Aucassin Et Nicolette" that this album is your most personal work to date. Can you discuss this statement and explain what makes this release so personal as opposed to previous releases?
ER: I think this album is much more varied, more subtle (and sometimes more complicated), more “composed” and more “open”... at least I think…
HH: Can you discuss how you came about choosing the French novel that is the basis for "Aucassin Et Nicolette"?
ER: A little theatre company worked on this theatre piece and proposed me to do a sort of “stage music”, a thing very common in the 19th century but quite unusual today. The idea in itself was very interesting and the text was absolutely great, so…
HH: You have been an active member of Sol Invictus for some years now. Do you see your contribution to Sol Invictus as having helped you launch Gaë Bolg and the Church of Fand and Seven Pines?
ER: It’s difficult to say, I can not be objective! But I don’t think so, Seven Pines as well as Gaë Bolg existed both before my participation with Sol Invictus.
HH: Did you expect in the beginning that your music would reach such a wide audience and gain the acceptance that it has?
ER: The only thing that surprises me is to have, till now, not received any serious proposition from MTV!!!
HH: Gaë Bolg and the Church of Fand have played live in Europe. Commentators often refer to a large number of musicians participating in these performances. Can you discuss your live performances and why you include so many musicians?
ER: Again probably due to my classical music background: it’s impossible for me to play a sort of “classical orchestral” music if we’re 2 on stage!!! I never considered that it must be a certain relation between the “sound” and the “visual”. Anyway, even if we’re 10 or 12 on stage, it stays a compromising: the ideal should be to have a whole choir and orchestra on stage!!! I’ll have the chance to do it for a festival next year in Paris, but of course, for financial reasons, it’s impossible to do a tour in this configuration…
HH: There is a certain nature mysticism that is communicated through the music of Gaë Bolg and the Church of Fand and Seven Pines. Can you elaborate as to the origin of this nature mysticism and what personal meaning it has in your life?
ER: I feel me very close to nature, and I try, as much as possible, to respect it and to entertain a sane “relationship” with it. I can stay hours in a forest or on sea. It gives me, in the same time, inside peace and powerful strongness. I can sometimes be really “connected” with it. And when it happens, it’s really magic! But it’s very difficult to explain why and how, I don’t really know myself. It’s just a personal feeling…
HH: Is the music of Gaë Bolg and the Church of Fand and Seven Pines supposed to covey any particular pagan or spiritual message or idealism?
ER: Yes and no. No because it’s really not my first preoccupation and I didn’t do music to convey any message. And of course yes because all my music have in the background my humanist convictions, a certain idealist view of the world where nature and people of all religions, colors and countries are living together and respecting each other in a desire for peace.
HH: Are you personally associated with any spiritual tradition or path?
ER: No. I have no interest for that. I have, as I said before, a sort of “nature mysticism”, but it’s something very personal and it has nothing to do with an interest for spiritual traditions.
HH: Are you involved in artistic pursuits beyond music such as writing, painting, etc?
ER: Unfortunately not enough. I wrote in the past, and I continue sometimes to write, but not as much as I want. As well as for painting (and sculptures): I will certainly do it one day, but till now, I never found enough time for that. Music takes most of my time - apart from Seven Pines and Gaë Bolg, I have many other musical projects and I’m also conducting 2 amateur orchestras - , and because I
have a regular job, I have to make choices for my other activities.
HH: And lastly is there anything you would like to share with the Heathen Harvest audience?
ER: It’s a lot of things I would like to share with everybody! A good meal, my joy to be on this world, my love for people, my desire for peace, my wish to see stupid egotism and individualism disappearing forever for an intelligent, creative and humanist thinking, my dream that people will one day think by themselves without being influenced by little hateful leaderships… Yes, I know, I’m a hippie!!!