Draugûl is a one-man band epic/viking metal project, with Tolkien and Norse mythology inspired lyrics. Today we are interviewing the man behind this project, Mark Azzopardi who to his own merit, did everything himself. From guitars and bass, to vocals, drums and recording.
How did the idea to start a one-man band come about?
The idea started out back in 2009, I had written some lyrics about Norse mythology and some Tolkien stuff as well, but the styles never really fit into the bands I was playing in back then (Martyrium and X-Vandals). So I decided to make things my way and started this one-man project. It was also part of the reason that I left Martyrium, so as to fully pursue this style.
What made you choose Tolkien’s orcish language for the lyrics?
Tolkien influenced a lot of my writing as well! I am a bit of a Tolkien fan (nerd lol) and me and a friend of mine decided to learn Orkish and Elvish, for the fun of it (yeah you can learn these languages! There are online lessons and tutorials with grammar and shit!). So I also decided to utilize these languages in my lyrics as well! Some of the songs in the album “The Voyager” contain passages in Orkish / Elvish in fact!
How has the world received Draugûl?
Well the feedback from foreign countries was very positive! I had a few good reviews of the CD as well on some webzines and distribution agencies!
Even the hits on YouTube are getting higher as time goes by! So, I’m pretty happy with how things are going actually, because this was just a project which I started for my own personal reasons…and not to release CDs, T-shirts, doing gigs, etc!
How did you sign up with German record label, Pesttanz Klangschmiede?
Well first of all… I never had the idea of signing myself up with the Draugûl project to begin with! I just put up a couple of songs that I’ve made on YouTube for my friends to listen to! Then one day I received an email from the owner of the record label Pesttanz Klangschmiede, stating that he liked my music and that he was interested to work with Draugûl if I was interested! I admit that I was not expecting it, but accepted heartily! Since then, the label released my album and is helping in distributing and selling my CD outside the Maltese islands!
What’s the highlight of your musical career so far?
Hmm… considering my overall musical career, I have experienced many memorable moments, especially whilst touring Europe for the 2nd CD Launch a few years back with the band I was with at the time! It was a great experience, as we got exposed to a larger audience than we were accustomed to here in Malta, and also the feedback from the crowd was a positive one! But I guess the best memory I have is when I had the opportunity and honour to share the stage with the mighty Rotting Christ back in 2005 when they visited Malta for a concert!
As some people may already be aware, Draugûl is not your only band. You’re also the guitarist of the legendary band, X-Vandals. What’s it like to play with them?
Yeah, I’m also one of the guitarists in the veteran Thrash metal band X-Vandals! Started out with them in 2008 if I recall correctly! They’re really a bunch of cool and relax dudes! I really enjoy playing with them, apart from the fact that I love that old-school pure-metal sound that X-Vandals produce.
How do you find time to juggle all the stuff in your life, considering you recently earned yourself the father title? Congrats by the way!
Thanks, hehe! It’s a really challenging adventure I must say! To begin with, I never really had time for myself with all the things and projects that I start and with the coming of the Draugûl project and as you correctly said, my first-born son, things got a bit more challenging lol. But yeah, overall I try to manage things as best as I can even though with a very tight schedule!
On the good side though, my son Damien seems to love the metal world already as he spends whole hours at times sitting beside me watching me play guitar, etc. (and sometimes trying to reach out as well so as to play himself lol) and is very enthusiastic when he hears the crushing metal riffs from the amplifiers! HAHA
What are your views on the local metal scene?
Well, regardless of the fact that we are a small island, there is a substantial amount of people who are into the metal scene. The Maltese bands are really talented and should get more exposure from our media, and not just giving opportunity to some shitty commercial bands that always play on TV and other festivals which always consist of the same line up of bands… year after year!
The underground scene NEEDS to be given its importance!
Who or what gives you inspiration?
Insipiration you say? Well.. first of all, my main inspiration was always SLAYER! I grew up with this band and it helped me a lot through the difficult times! Needless to say, their music influenced my songwriting, as well in the bands that I have played with. Though where Draugûl is concerned, my main influences are Bathory, Burzum, Immortal, Summoning and Dissection!
Lyrically then I am influenced by Norse History and Mythology, and even Tolkien Literature!
Favourite Band….haha… SLAYEEERRRRRRR!!!!
Favourite Song….HELL AWAITS!!
Then one must not forget my other 5 bands which form my pentagram: Marduk, Dark Funeral, Necrophobic, Dissection and Bathory (yeah all Swedish… I guess I have a thing for Swedish black/death metal!)
Any advice for beginners?
Advice… advice… first of all to believe in themselves and in their competencies! Never be intimidated by foreign and bigger bands! If one has a dream, for fuck’s sake, pursue it!
Can you share a funny story in your musical career?
I can’t be funny… I’m BLACK METAL!! Lol..
Nahh… well I had loads of funny moments during my career!
I guess one that I will never forget is; once we were playing at a particular local festival with the band I was playing with at the time… so we were playing and the groove was amazing. We are all serious, playing.. people were moshing and stuff…. and all of a sudden the band member next to me (no i will not mention the person lol) farts and the stage is all drenched in this putrid smell!! This guy farts at the exact moment that I took my breath before starting to sing a phrase of that particular song! So I was like choking instead of singing…. I had to turn around… I was laughing my ass off on stage!! Him as well!!! The other members were like…’what the fuck guys???’ and we could not stop laughing… in fact I made half of the song with my back towards the crowd! I couldn’t face them with tears running down my cheek now could I?
Name a song you are embarrassed to admit you like.
Hmm I’m not the guy who listens to just metal….so I can say that I love many other styles and songs that other people in the metal scene would not maybe consider listening!
But I guess I have to admit that I still love those cartoon themes that we used to hear when we were kids! I have a whole playlist of the songs by Cristina DaVena etc… and when I’m in the mood I just put them on the Media Player and spend all day listening to those songs… which yeah yeah.. (laugh all as much as you want) include the themes for the cartoons “The Smurfs” 😛
What’s next for Draugûl?
What’s next….hmm so many things actually! Just finished the design for the first Draugûl T-Shirt. The label will be printing T-Shirts in September hopefully! I also have another official band member with me, Ryan Borg, who will be full-time playing flutes and bagpipes for Draugûl!
…And regarding live gigs, after so much consideration and requests from locals and even foreigners, I have decided to gather some session musicians so as to be able to play concerts as well! Rehearsals have started out a few weeks ago actually, and its going on pretty well!!
I am also currently composing / recording new Draugûl songs for the 2nd CD which will be released in Spring 2014 if things go smoothly! This time the CD will be a concept one, lyrically exploring the Viking history. In fact it will be a chronicling of Viking Raids throughout Europe from 793A.D. till 1066A.D. I am very pleased with the current songs actually, and can’t wait to get feedback on this material as well!!
Are you in a position to reveal the line-up you put together for these live shows?
Sadly I have to say no for now! The line-up will remain a “secret” for now to the public until we build some solid foundations!
That’s it boys and girls. Draugûl and Rejects Magazine are giving away a free copy of Draugûl’s album – The Voyager. All you have to do is like both the Rejects page and Draugûl’s page on facebook and answer a very simple question. What does Draugûl mean ? Leave your answers on the Rejects page on facebook and at the end of the month we will select the winner. To be eligible, the winning answer must have liked both pages.
…till next time.