CELTICA – Pipes Rock!… The Celtic Spirits! Interview with Gajus!

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CELTICA – Pipes rock!Is a Great  Band shows with its battle cry their musical direction: The majestic-mystic sound of the Great Highland Bagpipe elevates above the powerful rock band, the masterly played violin expends the unique style with symphonic-epic melodies.
Influences of Irish Folk, Symphonic Metal, and even Gothic merge with the energetic Celtic music, full of lust of life. This sound, as international as the musicians – coming from Austria,Scotland and Mexico – and the spectacular show guarantee a concert no one will ever forget.

Mystic torches on the bagpipes and burning drumsticks, thundering against huge drums, create a cultic atmosphere, flames, shooting out of the instruments, entertain every audience worldwide…

THE MEMBERS OF THE BAND

Gajus Stappen, Vienna, Austria; acoustic- & electric guitar, experienced live and studio guitarplayer, bandleader and producer of the Celtica, worked with artists such as Jennifer Rush, Maurice Gibb, Ace of Base; video- and photo artist.

Duncan Knight, Knight of the Pipes, Edinburgh/ Scotland, UK, Great Highland Bagpipe; Studied bagpipes from the age of 10. Graduated as a Bachelor of Music with 1st class honours, from Edinburgh Napier University in 2007. Played with The 1st Battalion, Royal Scots at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2004 and at Balmoral Castle as part of the Queen’s garden party entertainment. Played with The Royal Scots Borderers competition band 2007 till present. Other performances in France, Austria, Italy, Hungary and Tunisia; Currently also playing Scottish Smallpipes, whistles and mandolin with Edinburgh based folk group ‘The Gorms’.

Ernesto Góngora, Mexico City, Mexico, Great Highland Bagpipe, Flute, Whistle; the first South American bagpiper, who won the All Ireland Solos Championship in Dublin, Since 2009 Pipe Major of the St. Patrick’s Battalion Pipe Band (SPBPB), at this time the only Scottish pipe band in Mexico, Working with Carlos Núñez (2010 and 2011) and The Chieftains, among money others, Own projects: Ogham Ensemble, Bagad Elven.
Lukas Schlintl, St. Veit/ Austria, drums; lives and works as drummer in Austria, international performances; Double bassdrum-specialist with Metal-background, drum teacher; regular band member since October 2019

CELTICA – Pipes rock…. and Till now 550 performances and over 8mil.views on YouTube, and still counting…
Crazy Pandemic days of COVID -19 and in Athenscalling.gr webzine office listening CELTICA- Pipes Rock music…in a beautifull October day we had a chatting with GAJUS STAPPEN  bandleader and producer of the CELTICA!

Athenscalling.gr: Hello Gajus .Really I am very happy chatting with you, so I have to tell you, that your band has a magical, special sound… welcome in Greece and at Athenscalling.gr webzine!

GAJUS (CELTICA – Pipes rock!): Kalimera! Thank you for your request and the nice welcome!

Athenscalling.gr: How do you spend all these days of the pandemic COVID -19?

GAJUS (CELTICA – Pipes rock!): Busy! There was only one day when I thought: ”Ok, the world stands still, so I have a lot of time now…”, but I realized soon, that there are enough things  to do to keep Celtica present during these distant times, e.g. making videos, being active on facebook and our website…

Athenscalling.gr: When and why did you start playing music? Do you remember your first music teacher?

GAJUS (CELTICA – Pipes rock!): Actually I remember the very day: It was a Good Friday, as I had found a guitar-book which was my parent´s Easter present already 2 day before Easter…;-) I had a few teachers, they gave me some advices, but I was always quite creative to find exercises myself.

Athenscalling.gr: Why the band chose the musical genre of Celtic music?

GAJUS (CELTICA – Pipes rock!): Well, as soon as you have the Great Highland Bagpipe as the lead-instrument any music you play is considered “Celtic”…I´m very happy that we found this combination of Scottish bagpipes and a rock-band as so many people all over the world love this sound!  and even more, that the way we developed our music – on Steamphonia in a more orchestral way and on Celtic Spirits in a more Celtic-direction- is absolutely appreciated by our fans!

Athenscalling.gr:…¨ Celtic Spirits¨is the title of your new album.Tell us about it

GAJUS (CELTICA – Pipes rock!): Actually we are an instrumental band, so there are nearly no lyrics. Once a CD is finished, I start collecting musical ideas for the next album. I started to turn these fragments into tunes for Celtic Spirits in January 2019. Please find some notes for each tune attached!

Athenscalling.gr: The album released during Pandemic days, this is good as music merchandise?

GAJUS (CELTICA – Pipes rock!):  No matter what you do or don´t do: The pandemic is a catastrophe for all bands who play a lot live shows, like Celtica! We had the album ready for the 1st concert of the tour when all concerts got cancelled. We decides that it would be better to release it even without live shows to keep our fans happy and to have the chance to earn at least some money – but it is just a small fraction of what we have lost this year. Yes, most of the shows are “postponed”, but we can´t play the double amount of concerts next year, and actually ALL events are postponed 1 year, so also any pre-pandemic requests for 2021 are now for 2022: We simply have lost the income of a full year.

Athenscalling.gr: Which of the album 13 songs, do you love more?

GAJUS (CELTICA – Pipes rock!):  It is a bit like you ask a father for his favorite kid…;-) I love of all of them, otherwise I would have changed it till I´m absolutely happy or it wouldn´t have been on the album. Still, our Beethoven-version sounds really amazing, the blend of bagpipes and the massive choir with Beethoven´s mighty compositions is incredible! For performing live, I have a slight preference for the more rocking tunes like Time to Rise and Ferrum Noricum. Actually the intro-song “Celtic Spirits” works fantastic as the opener of our concert!

Athenscalling.gr: … What are your fondest musical memories?  

GAJUS (CELTICA – Pipes rock!):  I was 12 years of age, when my brother gave me headphones and played Jimi Hendrix´ Star Spangled Banner΄, the Woodstock-version. That was incredible! Nearly a shock, but I loved it. Before that, our father used to play Big Band Jazz like Glen Miller and Wagner-operas on early Sunday morning – maybe that influenced me to tend to a big, orchestral sound…

Athenscalling.gr: And about your preferences, favorite musicians? Groups?

GAJUS (CELTICA – Pipes rock!):  I have a wide range! In the last years Nightwish was very inspiring, also Rammstein, but I still love Van Halen, too, -unfortunately Eddie has died just a few weeks ago…- and most of the 80s/ 90s Rock & Metal, but also Beatles and many others…

Athenscalling.gr: Let’s talk now about your band members …

GAJUS (CELTICA – Pipes rock!):  For Celtica spirits, as well the album as the concerts, I wanted to go more in Celtic orientated sound by replacing the violin, which we had only on “Steamphonia”, by Irish whistle and flute. Ernesto Gongora is an amazing bagpiper –he has won the All Ireland Solo Competition 2019!- and whistle-player. He was in Vienna a month before the lockdown to record the new album. It was a very creative, satisfying collaboration! Unfortunately, all concerts got cancelled, and the only 2 shows we still could play this year, he wasn´t able to join us as he was struggeling with his working visa. So, instead of 2 bagpipes and whistle, I invited Aya, our previous violin player, to adept the new tunes to violin. In Corona-times simply nothing is sure, and you have to improvise all the time… Since last fall we have Lukas Schlintl from Austria on drums, he has played already at our concert at Mumbai, India, in December2019 and he recorded the new album: On Celtic Spirits we have the best drum-sound ever!

Athenscalling.gr: An optimistic question, what is the future plans of the band?

GAJUS (CELTICA – Pipes rock!): Well, a very optimistic question – as long we have the pandemic, nothing can be planned like normally. We have just played 2 concerts in fall and we have filmed both shows and a lot of footage on other locations, so we will be able to release 5-7 music videos within the next weeks and months. These 2 concerts showed us also, in which direction we will develop our performance, e.g. stage styling and some other improvements that we will prepare for the concerts in 2021 – if there are any…but I´m confident…And we started a little side-project, Celtica Unplugged: Whistle and fiddle instead of bagpipes, acoustic guitar instead of a rock-band. We really enjoyed it, to play and jam just as a trio!

Athenscalling.gr: Do you know something about Greece? About music or anything you like? 

GAJUS (CELTICA – Pipes rock!): I love Greece! I go there nearly every year since I was here the 1st time in the 70s! My favorite islands are Kalymnos and Leros, unfortunately I couldn´t go there this year. I love the climate, the sea, the food…! The music is amazing, in spite of 5/4 or 9/8s-rhythms it sounds so natural and harmonic, and full of life!

Athenscalling.gr: Many thanks for your interview and I hope that your amazing band CELTICA – Pipes rock…they will come in Greece for a concert, when all about getting well.

 GAJUS (CELTICA – Pipes rock!): Thank you for the interesting questions! Yeah, I would love to perform at Greece, fingers crossed, that this will happen someday…!

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