The Band: Crystal Viper
Answers by: Marta Gabriel (vocals, guitar)
I talk to CRYSTAL VIPER, a heavy metal phenomenon of the current scene. And who better to talk with than MARTA GABRIEL. She represents all that heavy metal is about: energy, dedication, passion and a way of living. If you have never talked to her o read any interview before I guess you will be positively surprised by her natural charming and her attitude. Moreover, she is not just another beauty, she delivers true heavy metal in every Crystal Viper’s album. Enjoy it.
Hello Marta and congratulations to all the team for your new album “Queen Of The Witches”
Marta: Hello! Thank you!
After more than 13 years of existence and six albums we can say that Crystal Viper is already a classic band, a big name of the current heavy metal scene, what do you think?
Marta: To be totally honest, I don’t count the years before recording out first album, because that was a time of looking for right band members, Crystal Viper was more a project back then. The first official lineup established in 2006, and that lineup recorded our first album "The Curse Of Crystal Viper". I don’t think that Crystal Viper is a big name on the current Metal scene, but does it really matter? I don't think in such categories, most important is to enjoy what we love to do: composing and playing Heavy Metal!
Cheers for that! In your opinion, what has been the most important moment on Crystal Viper’s path?
Marta: I suppose that for each of us that moment would be different, but for me, personally it would be the release of our first album. When I was a teenager, I loved to perform, to sing and to play, but I didn’t even dare to dream about being signed to a record label, about playing live shows on a big festivals and so on. After our first album got released, I understood that everything is possible, all dreams can come true, and all I have to do is to believe and work very hard.
Of course, Crystal Viper would not be what it is without Marta Gabriel, may be you can change other pieces but not that…
Marta: I agree with you, because from the very beginning I’m the only composer in Crystal Viper, so the style of music that we play, is a style that I created. Our fans and friends used to say that my voice is also very characteristic, so I believe that without me it would be totally different band.
And talking about new members, Błażej Grygiel is the new bass player. What can you tell us about your current line up?
Marta: With Andy and Golem we are friends and band mates for 11 years right now. Blazej joined the band after our previous bass player, Michal, decided to leave the band 2 years ago. But what’s funny, it was Michal who recommended Blazej to us, they are actually best friends.
Your new album “Queen of the Witches”, out February 17th through AFM Records, has all what any Crystal Viper’s fan can expect: catchy melodies, fast tempos, great guitars, awesome vocals…
Marta: Thank you! Indeed, our fans can expect from “Queen Of The Witches” everything that Crystal Viper is all about, classic Heavy Metal, with melodic songs, aggressive vocals, pounding rhythms and heavy riffs.
Comparing it to previous albums what is your opinion about this “Queen of the Witches”?
Marta: I think this is our best album, seriously. There is a new energy, you can hear real emotions while listening to our songs. Maybe it’s because of such a long break, it’s been 4 years from our last album "Possession", and 3 years from our last live show, so everyone in the band was beyond excited to work on it.
Some people still consider your debut album The Curse of Crystal Viper your best album till date
Marta: I know, and I can understand that, because every single person has own taste. For me our first album was like trying if we really can do this. I was not an experienced composer, I couldn’t play other instruments except piano back then. I was at the beginning of my journey with singing in the style in which I sing today, everything was very wild and, I don’t know how to name it, very "first". Our skills were different, for sure we all are better musicians today, than we were 11 years ago.
Marta: I’m still the only composer in the band. It's difficult to answer how long it took to write this album, because there is never a specific moment when “I start” writing. I keep on composing all the time, I have literally hundreds of song ideas. The process is the same for years, when I start working on the album I revisit some of the old ideas, I complete them with new ideas, and I simply do the album, without thinking how many songs I have, or how many are missing. I don’t think about the time frames, and I don’t have any deadlines.
When composing a new album you think about what the fan expects from you or you are just driven by the inspiration of the moment?
Marta: There are only inspirations. I always compose music that I love, and love to listen, and I believe this is one of the reason that we still exist as a band. Our music is real, we are true as musicians, we don’t pretend we are someone else. We never try to fit in current trends, because for it wouldn't be real art anymore. The honest art is about making what your hearts tell you to do, not about doing what other people expect you to do.
It’s nice to see that Marta’s raspy voice sometimes, high-pitched others, is still intact after so many years, a cornerstone in your sound. Marta, have you developed your singing style naturally or you have been inspired by others?
Marta: I always try to push myself to the limits, because when I do that, I discover new things in my voice. And of course other vocalists also have been a huge inspiration for me, like Leather Leone, Tony Martin or Rob Halford. While recording albums, and playing live shows, I always try to pull out what’s the best in my voice, and I always imagine the situation I’m singing about at the moment, because when the emotions are real, you can do an amazing things with your voice.
"Queen Of The Witches" offers a wide repertoire of songs that go from the classic heavy metal to the ballads or some speed metal…
Marta: I agree, every single song is a bit different than the others. It’s because when I was working on songs, I was inspired by different things, and I wanted to be sure that the music match the lyrics. All these songs are full of real emotions, and I think you can hear that when listen to them. These changes in the mood refer to the story that is told on the album. When you will sit down with a booklet in your hands and you will follow the lyrics, you will see it's all one big piece, the music and the lyrics. It's like watching a movie, but with music instead of pictures.
Together with Marta’s voice I would say the other big asset in your music is the amazing melodies you are able to produce and the attitude you show in every song
Marta: Thank you! I think that Crystal Viper songs are so melodic because of my inspirations. I’ve always been a huge fan of music, I’m also a classical trained pianist, so there’s been a lot of music around me from my very early years. I’ve always loved musicals, like “Hair”, “Fiddler On The Roof”, “Phantom In The Opera”, operas, movie soundtracks, Mike Oldfield, and all genres of rock and metal in which you can find good melodies.
Awesome. What songs of this “Queen of the Witches” will enter you live setlist?
Marta: It will be faster to tell you which ones we won’t play, the ballads: "We Will Make It Last Forever" and "Trapped Behind". Not because we don’t want to, but because it’s not possible for us to put a grand piano on stage. I don’t want to perform playing on keyboard, it would be weird for me. But I really hope to perform “Trapped Behind” one day, with grand piano on stage. That would be awesome.
Yes, that would be something not to miss at all. I suppose you are programming an extensive and international tour to promote your new album, what countries will you go through?
Marta: In about one month we are going on European tour, and after that we will play several separate live shows as well. We will play in Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, France, Switzerland, and Belgium. I hope more dates will show up soon!
Hopefully you will invade Spain with your hordes. What gig or gigs from past years you remember with more affection?
Marta: It’s difficult for me to say, because when I go on stage, I totally lose control. It’s like crossing a border of another dimension, where stage, band and people in the crowd are the whole world. I go totally crazy, and I totally lose control, and very often, when I go off stage, I don’t even remember what was exactly going on! This is why I love making music, and afterwards play it live. Man, I don’t need drugs, put me on the stage, and leave for an hour (laughing)! You give your energy to the people who came to see you live, and afterwards they are giving that energy back. We really enjoy what we do every single time, and when our fans do so, this is what makes a good live show!
Yeah, that’s an amazing spirit, Marta, pure fire I would say. I have had the opportunity to salute Marta and I can say that although she sounds and looks as a divinity on stage she is a very accessible person, like any metalhead attending any gig, something that I suppose the fans also appreciate very much
Marta: Thank you very much, nice to hear that. I just live my life as I want, I don’t pretend and I’m not trying to be anyone else. I’m just a person, who loves Heavy Metal, I'm a fan who keep on buying CDs and go to live shows of favorites bands. These things are part of my life, for me Heavy Metal is not only making music and playing in a band, it’s a lifestyle!
True as hell. Marta you have also played guitar with Jack Starr, how did that collaboration arise?
Marta: We have the same manager and producer, I mean Crystal Viper and Jack Starr's Burning Starr. When Burning Starr got booked for the Keep It True Festival in Germany, where they were supposed to record a live album, they had no 2nd guitarist, so I was asked to join the band. We had few rehearsals in Germany, played the festival together, and next year guys asked me to join them again, when they were playing their tour in Europe.
In what moment did Marta Gabriel decide to dedicate her time to the Heavy Metal? How did you start on this?
Marta: I don’t remember the moment exactly. There was a lot of different music around me from my early years, so I suppose I heard something somewhere, and started to look for more. I remember first bands that made me feel like “wow, this is awesome” were Virgin Steele, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Warlock, Blind Guardian and so on.
Marta, surely many teenagers, and not so young guys too :) have a photo of Marta Gabriel on their school folders or notebooks. How do you feel about it? Do you consider yourself a Metal icon?
Marta: Metal icons are usually a bit older than I am (laughing). But seriously, I meet with our fans after our live shows, and they’re usually very nice and kind, they’re taking photos with me and ask about signing some stuff and so on, but I know my place. I don’t consider myself as a Metal icon, but as a person who tries to continue their legacy. Some of the Metal icons are for me Rob Halford, Ronnie James Dio, Doro, Tony Iommi, Lemmy, Glenn Tipton (my metal god!) and others.
Your humbleness just makes you bigger. And finally, what are your Crystal Viper’s plans for the future?
Marta: We currently focus on promoting "Queen Of The Witches" and on the forthcoming tour, and after that we plan and hope to play as many concerts as possible. This is most important at the moment.
Thank you very much for your attention Marta, we wish you a big success with “Queen of the Witches”
Marta: Thank you for the interview, it was a pleasure! Metallic regards to all Spanish Metalheads, we are Metal Nation!