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Zine Roadie Metal • Published Sat 18 May 2019
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Cirith Ungol is with arrival scheduled for Brazil. The legendary band is the first time the country to join the Black September Fest 2019 in São Paulo on September 8. In an interview with Roadie Metal , drummer Robert Garven talked about the band’s visit to Brazil, the covers changed in the 80’s, Lord of the Rings and possible future plans. The questions were asked by the editors Anderson Fleet and Daniela Farah .

Robert Garven on drums. Photography: Albert Munoz

Cirith Ungol began in 1972. When did you decide: now we are a band? What inspired this process?

Robert Garven: Greg, Jerry and I were at school together in another band, the Titanic. We wanted to continue with heavier music and go to form the “Cirith Ungol”. Our goal was to play the heaviest metal known to man! We were listening to heavy music all the time, and we really wanted to play music in that style.

The band officially ended in 1992, but you returned in 2015. What prompted this return? When you decided it was time to return to the stage and who started the conversation?

Rob: Jarvis Leatherby, bassist of the “Demon Night” lived in our hometown, Ventura, California. He contacted me several years ago and shared that when they traveled to Europe on tour with “Night Demon”, they saw many fans with shirts “Cirith Ungol”, and many knew our band and our music, even though many were not born when we parted! I had taken an oath never to touch on a stick, so I always told him very politely that he was not interested. Everything changed in “Frost & Fire” in 2015. Oliver Weinsheimer exclusive “Keep it True Festival” festival in Germany came to the show, where we did a meet and greet prolonged, even though we were not playing. Oliver was contacting me for probably 10 years or more, with interest in having the band playing in your festival. I always told him no, but kept in touch with him, for he was responsible for keeping alive the flame of true metal in Europe! Jarvis said that if we got back together, it would be our manager and offer us the leading place in your next Festival “Frost & Fire” in 2016. Oliver invited Tim and me to “Keep it True Festival IX”, to check and see what we thought, and we were interested in the headline would offer in its 20-year anniversary show. We traveled there and we were treated like royalty, everyone seemed to know who we were and it was a first class event. We were so impressed that there was no doubt in our mind that we wanted to be part of this new awakening of Metal! If not for these two masters, the band would never have retired. The band and our fans are both a debt of gratitude. When the old stars have aligned, “Cirith Ungol” crawled out of his former sleep, to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting world! In the end, our veteran bassist Michael Vujea “Flint” could not play, so Jarvis asked if he would take over the bass duties. It made perfect sense because we would be traveling with our friends from “Night Demon” doing many shows together, and it worked fine.

Taking Greg Lindstrom who played on Falcon, there are a lot of information about what the other members have been doing during the years the band has been stopped. You turned away from the music business?

Rob: Most of us were surviving. I still listen to music, but, true to my oath, never touched a stick in those days! I can not speak for all the members, but not touch was killing me slowly. I often dreamed of returning the band, recording more songs, and always dreaming of batteries and plates. I tried to go see music bands that were not hard rock or metal, because it was too depressing for me, and I always wanted to be on stage.

Cirith Ungol. Photography: © PETER-BESTE

In 2018 it was released the single “Witch’s Game” which is a real trip back in time, preserving the characteristics that make the Cirith Ungol is unique. Why just this song?

Rob: In 2017, we discovered an animated film in progress, “Planet of Doom”, a film about the exploits of a hero “Havlar the Brave”, who seeks revenge on board a witch helicopter, traveling through a psychedelic landscape, in a mission to defeat the deadly beast Mördvél the murder of his beloved bride. The film has a group of talented artists working with a group of heavy bands, working together in each segment of the film. We were intrigued by all this because of our music full of Doom, “Doomed Planet” in our third album “One Foot in Hell”. We contacted the producers and they were interested in using “Doomed Planet” for the end credits of the film. Luckily, one of the original bands and gave the producers asked if we could write a song for a part of the film. We had never worked on a soundtrack before and seemed not only a challenge but a project well in our area. The band worked closely with producers to make sure that the music would fit on the plot and at the time of animation. Everyone is happy with the way the music was, and we can not wait to see the finished film. With the exception of “Servants of Chaos”, we were fortunate to be able to use the incredible Elric series graphics Michael Whelan as cover in all of our studio albums, and we plan to continue this tradition! For this single we wanted something that would take the music and film. Michael had a very crazy paint witch, we saw and immediately loved. He modified the original a bit to match the music, changing some details, such as adding tarot cards in your hand.

Which plans to launch new material? Can we expect more welcome news from Cirith Ungol around?

Rob: We are working on the new album as we speak. If you like “Witch’s Game” will be more of the same hot metal forged in the fire of Ungol!

What are your influences and what you currently listen?

Rob: The band grew up listening to all heavy bands from the US and Europe. Mountain, Black Sabbath, Grand Funk Railroad, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Budgie, Dust, Sir Lord Baltimore, Lucifers’s Friend and many others! We’ve all heard heavy music and still one of our favorite new bands is the Night Demon! We are excited that a new generation of bands that play Epic Metal is on fire!

The media and fans often currently categorize the band’s sound as Doom Metal, and at the time the term even existed. Do you agree with that sound your rating?

Rob: I always thought our sound as Hard Rock / Heavy Metal, but we definitely had images of Doom from the beginning of our composition, with songs like “Death of the Sun”, “Doomed Planet” and “Eternal War”. The world is moving to a definitive Doom cycle and we could see it from the very beginning!

The Cirith Ungol became known in Brazil as early as the first half of the 80’s with the release of the album “Frost and Fire” and “King Of The Dead”, but they came out with inverted covers. You knew that? What do you think?

Rob: Yes, we saw it and did not know what to do with it at the time! We were happy to some of our songs have arrived to our friends in Brazil and in South America. We never thought in our wildest dreams we could play there and that will be another dream come true for the band!

You will come to Brazil in September, part of Black September Fest 2019. How did this invitation?

Rob: I’m not sure how this happened, we are very happy that we were invited. I wish we could stay longer to spread the word! I hope that if we are well received, call us back …

Cirith Ungol comes to Brazil in September.

This is the first show in Brazil, which expected to play in the country? You have contact with the Brazilian fans?

Rob: Over the years we have had contact with listeners from Brazil, but unfortunately they are not as extensive as those in Europe. We are very excited to bring our unique Metal style to Brazil, exposing it to a new generation of aficionados Metal and hopefully recruit new members to our “Legions of Chaos”!

Still on the show, which music can not miss the show of Cirith Ungol?

Rob: Since we have a large catalog of material, we will try to play as much as possible. There are always songs that will be left out, but we will play all the classic, for sure! No fan of the band be disappointed!

During his nearly 50 on the road, what do you think that was the high point of your career? Because?

Rob: The highlight of our career is happening now and with each new show being able to play for so many new friends around the world. We worked so hard, for so long, and we could never play for those who really could enjoy our music, to our reunion. There is a whole new generation of enlightened metalheads that I think really understand what we were and we are trying to say, and are proud to bring the message of Ungol! Travel to Brazil will be another chapter of this historic and epic crusade!

The name “Cirith Ungol” gained worldwide recognition with the movie trilogy “The Lord of the Rings.” You watched the movie?How did it feel to see the tower Cirith Ungol portrayed on screen? Met imagination of yours?

Rob: It was a wonderful series of films based on the books, and captured the imagination of the world. It was an amazing experience and exceeded my wildest imagination. We adopt the name Cirith Ungol, because for us it was a symbol of a dark place that was forbidden and possessor of foreboding!

Cirith Ungol returned to the stage after 20 years without touching.

On October 10, 2016, the city of Ventura, CA, officially announced the Cirith’s Ungol Day, commemorating his contribution to the local music scene. How did you receive this honor?

Rob: Jarvis had his festival “Frost & Fire” in our little seaside town for several years and attracted many visitors from around the world, and I think that local authorities enjoyed it. It was an honor for the band and we all hope that his festival back after a short break!

Thank’s for your time! Any final words for the fans?

Rob: I just hope everyone can come out and see us play when we go to Brazil. We’re not as young as we used to be, and many of our musical heroes have fallen recently. We are members of the same generation and we should live each day as if it were our last! So listen to our cries sad and primitive drum beats! Our message is of imminent destruction and suffering that awaits us all in the end times! For surely we will bring “The Churning of Metal Maelstrom Chaos Descending”


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