Could you please introduce yourself to those of us in the dark?
Ralf W. Garcia: We are Wolf Counsel, a four-piece Doom Metal band from the alpine country of Switzerland. From city of Zurich area to be precise. The band’s consisting completely of veteran musicians with around 25+ years of playing live, recording and touring. Originally this band was a brainchild of the 90s and finally came into existence in 2014 when Reto (drums) and I merged our enthusiasm for classic traditional Doom Metal joined by two great guitarists which we’ve known before for many years. So far two albums have been released in 2015 (Vol. I – Wolf Counsel) and Sept. last year 2016 (Ironclad). The third album will be unleashed at the end of this year 2017. Once again released through Czar Of Crickets Productions (a very fine underground label operating from Basel/Switzerland) with worldwide distribution via Plastic Head Distribution. Since the beginning there were quite a bunch of shows together with bands like The Order Of Israfel, Year Of The Goat, Obelyskkh, Castle (US) and others in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
I often wonder how people discover that they can do what they do. How did you discover that you can sing and play instruments?
Ralf W. Garcia: Well in my case it just came to me. I didn’t discover it consciously or by intent. I was raised most of the time by my grandparents which were both professional musicians. So I remember my granddad trying to teach me reading notes and listening to classical music albums until the mid 80s if I remember it quite right. Well and then I was drawn towards all kinds of rock and metal bands which influenced me to learn to play Bass and write songs and so on. Many years, album recordings, European tours and live shows later I’m still doing it and appreciate it each day. I’m grateful for this even though we and I always played in lesser known underground bands.
When did it become a revelation that you can do this and maybe get paid for having fun, instead of just putting out all the money?
Ralf W. Garcia: It went very fast and didn’t remember a time when I really thought about this topic like you’ve asked now. We all are the same age and we just started to play when we were kids and we never stopped. At around 16 or 17 there was the idea to make this a living but as fate decided that didn’t happen. Up until now we and I never earned something from playing in bands. Even with Wolf Counsel. Everything that’s coming in will be spend on stuff for the band besides that we have to finance a lot by ourselves as well. So in the end there’s no earning money with what we do. It’s just our pure passion and our conscious decision to be creative, to write, record and play live. That is what drives us keeping on doin’ this.
When you spend an amount of your life in a band does it ever feel like you have wasted time, that you have fought one too many windmills?
Ralf W. Garcia: Well I never had the feeling that I wasted time. There were times of great frustration of course. I and most of us always did put the music first and that’s still the case. Well at least for the ones that decided to not have a family and children I guess. It was a struggle, yes but I personally learned that a lot of things in life are a matter of perspective. At some point in the last 10 years or so I denied to look at the whole music thing as fighting windmills. I concentrated on the smaller much more important things. Writing, playing and so on. Having the ability to create sounds, songs, riffs, melodies etc. That’s my personal success and a the same time the driving force as well. To get better at all these creative things. To get a better songwriter and bassist and singer etc. And all these things to me are totally independent from commercial success and to be well-known and so on. It became very clear to me if I’d keep on thinking of fighting the imaginative windmills I wouldn’t do me a favor. I honestly believe that there’s only one thing you can do as a musician, creative person and writer. Just do what you love to do and do it with lifeblood, honesty and authenticity. No matter if you tour or sell thousands of albums or if you only play for one person. I know it sounds like a stereotype but it’s true. At least for me it is. Be real and develop creativity and skills and never stop.
No matter how small or big you were as a band you will leave a legacy behind you. How do you want people to treat this legacy?
Ralf W. Garcia: First of all there’s nothing I can do to control this in any way. I’d like to be remembered as a band I think. Being remembered for honest, authentic Doom Metal songs that really got to people’s souls. And for the few that saw us live for our intense and powerful live show. In a best case scenario I would love to be remembered as a very good band. No more no less. I think the worst thing would be to be totally forgotten.
Is digital taking away the mystery of waiting for a new album now that you can upload as soon as you have written a song?
Ralf W. Garcia: That’s another interesting question I never thought about. Well in our case and I can only speak for us of course. We write and record the old school way. In a real studio with an experienced soundguy and friend of us. From the finishing touches of the recording and mixing sessions to the final public release of an album it often takes several months. So there’s at least the wait and the mystery for us ‘cause we are wondering how our new songs will be received by our fellow Doom lovers of course. In general I think the waiting period is independent from the format of music wether it is digital or a physical album. But the pleasure and ritual to hear an album for the very first time changed a lot I believe. I raised up with vinyl. There was this vibe and even with CDs it’s still very cool to put it in and read the lyrics while listening. So I guess the mystery’s still there but it has taken another form. Music will always be a kind of mystery I think and especially in metal when you wait for the new album of one of your favorites.
How important is image in separating you from all the million different styles of metal there is out there?
Ralf W. Garcia: Another good topic. Great questions by the way. So I think that there isn’t one image that hadn’t been used in the last 70 years since the RocknRoll thing started. It’s all there and therefore there was always a need for artists to separate themselves to be different. Some of them planned this others didn’t and it happened as a coincidence even though I do not believe in coincidences personally. Separating through image is quite difficult I guess due to the fact that everything was already used before. But of course it still works sometimes with masks and/or makeup etc. However I believe that as a band you need something. Something unique and personal. Something authentic and as we as humans are mostly different this authenticity derives from a personal style of individual playing techniques or of course a voice. I don’t know if I would call it image but as an artist or band you need something of your own to define yourselves to be recognized. Most importantly of course to no become just a copycat of someone else. Therefore again I believe that the music itself stands in the center of it all. If you write original music and write in your own individual way like no one else the separation of others has already begun. Besides the fact that it’s all about metal and there’s nothing wrong with having a visual concept of course.
Do you deal in different topics lyrically or do you keep to one, just using different variations?
Ralf W. Garcia: All my lyrics are different even though I discovered lately that by coincidence (or fate?) all the lyrics of our next album are about one topic and the topic is death and the transience of human life. Decay, getting older all of that. But usually I write a lot about personal experiences by using metaphors and certain images to express something. And of course there are typical Doom topics as well like spirits and magic, wolves, supernatural beings, little horros stories and the essential historic coverage of medieval events and/or personalities. So the range of topics is quite wide so to say.
Do you consider yourself a live artist or do you like to spend most of the time secluded in a studio?
Ralf W. Garcia: Both I guess. I really love studio work. But that’s just me. I could spend days and weeks writing and developing arrangements and vocal lines etc. But of course playing live is something special in it’s own right. Every liveshow is something unique never to be repeated in the same exact way and the interaction with listeners is something to be really grateful about. It’s always a great experience even when there are only a few in front of you. So I consider myself our ourselves as live artists as much as creative writers. We’re just thoroughbred musicians.
How much of a touring band are you guys? What memories do you take with you?
Ralf W. Garcia: As of yet we played a lot of single liveshows and some short weekend tours but never a full European tour with this band. It’s something we try to achieve in the near future. We all toured a lot with our other and/or past bands. So we have quite a lot of memories and experiences about what it means to tour underground style. These experiences shaped us I guess and therefore we’d really like to gain new memories by touring with Wolf Counsel as well. We’ll see…
What does the future hold?
Ralf W. Garcia. Well I just mentioned that it’s a priority to get a tour slot preferably with a well-known Doom Metal band but that’s up to fate I think. We all hope that we’ll make this happen. Apart from that we will record our third album in May this year. Again with our friend and producer V.O. Pulver at his Little Creek Studio with a propable release at the end of 2017 followed by new liveshow dates and promo activities and so on. The same circle of things when you write, record and release an album of course. I guess the future will hold a lot of things for us. Some of these things are in our own hands and others not of course. But mainly it’s our will and priority to continue and improve what we started for a longtime and to write and release another bunch of albums. Thank you very much for this interview by the way. Cheers!