Interview with Helfahrt

by Dimo Dimov

Interview with Helfahrt, March 2009

Helfahrt is a young Pagan Metal band from southern Germany playing a very harsh, raw, yet enough melodic variant of this genre. I listened to them the first time very long ago and I could witness a huge development through the last years - musically, lyrically. The songs are full of energy and nature mysticism - the lyrics are very mature, complex and full of symbolism and romanticism. The band is signed to Trollzorn/SMP Records, one of the most important pagan/folk metal labels in Germany. Two european tours with bands like Helheim, Odroerir and Eisregen are remarkable periods of their musical biography.

Sturmgewalt, LP 2006 Wiedergang, LP 2008

Here is my interview with Max, the founder of Helfahrt.

1. Where have you been during the last winter solstice and what have you done then?
Slava! This year our winter solstice wasn..t very spectacular. We just had a small fire in the big garden of the house from a good friend of us. Later on we cooked some awesome dinner all together and started to have some cosy jam-sessions with our acoustic guitars and flutes. As we do it every year by the way! I have to admit that I have a special view upon the winter or summer solstice. In my opinion it is more important to gather and to have a nice time with the most important people in you life. So we always celebrate this holy time together with best friends and life partners. Even if they do not believe in ancient or pagan views and lifestyle. It is a little bit difficult to describe it - but I think that the most important part of this all is, as I said before, to reconvene and to celebrate the rebirth of the sun. All together! Never mind what other people think.

2. How would you describe the heathen elements in your music and lyrics?
A very though question. It is more than difficult to describe these elements as I have a very personal and special view upon heathendom. I never use personalized gods or parts of the Edda to write my lyrics. I try to express myself ín my very own and extravagant way. Most of the lyrics are basically about old customs and stories from Bavaria, were we live. I also often use old german dialects and lines aswell, to show the readers and listeners a hidden part in their own soul. We try to describe everything in metaphors and don..t use those typical but yet very popular metal-cliché-stuff as battles, blood and beer. Everything we write is based on a deep and, as said before, an extravagant view upon nature spirits and heathendom. This is our conviction! Read our stories and you may find what you were searching for.

3. I know your drummer is a part of a bavarian Perchten-group and you, Max, are in a reenactment group - please tell me more about this.
The word Perchten is plural for Perchta, one of the most important gods of the southern germanic paganism as well as the name of animal masks worn in parades and festivals in the mountainous regions of Bavaria and Austria. Perchta means translated "the bright one" and this old cultural event takes place every winter between christmas and new year. This ancient cult has its roots in the bronze age and it is still alive. The intention is, to praise the rebirth of the sun in the dark and cold days of winter. We use a lot of influences from the Percht-traditions and embed a lot of lyrical themes from it into our music.
Concerning my reenctment activities: It is a personal thing and has nothing to do with my band Helfahrt. I try to keep my art and music away from my reenactment involvement and I am sure that everybody understands this reason. So I am sorry to tell you that I don..t want to speak about it in an interview which is ment to highlight the music and art of my band Helfahrt. IF there is anybody interested to talk about this hobby with me, do not hesitate and write me an E-mail or letter.

4. Why are tradition, ancient culture and heritage important and how can you preserve them or take them through modern times?
In my opinion, culture is the soul of a country. If you take old customs or the culture itself, there isn..t anything left. Just a dead and empty case. I think it is especially nowadays - in the world of computers, internet, tv ect. very important to keep your own culture, your european heritage alive to preserve not only the history of your country but also to preserve your own identity! Our lyrical content cares about old forgotten german dialects, old storys and custums such as the before stated Perchta-tradition. It should be seen as one of the highest aims to remember tradition but don..t forget to mix it up with a modern mind. If you keep your heritage and tradition in mind - you are still alive.

5. Do you think the modern pagan music is just a trend show and a lot of stuff is very unreliable (also due to label policy)?
Of course it has become a huge trend - there are so many bands and projects out there. Most of them are pure crap, just trying to ride the trend and to become famous in a very short period of time. It seems that nearly everybody wants to have his own piece of cake. Ridicoulus! But you should never ignore that there are also many good and profound bands out there who don..t care about the trend. seen so many bands rising and falling within this trend - but today I can say that only the ones who did not expect to become a "big star" really created something outstanding and are still worth listening. Why? Because they never cared about a trend or concentrated their work on PR and gigs and all that. They just wrote their music - how it should be!!! If you take a look to the really serious bands out there, like Kampfar, Nordafrost, Helheim or Solstafir, you will also realise that those bands partially started with their art 10 years ago - long before pagan metal became a trendy thing. They still exist, they still write very good music and - thats the most important fact: they are still with on leg in the underground. It..s really strange that all the good, extravagant and outstanding artists are not that famous than they should be. Sad but true. I think that the Viking/Pagan Metal-Trend won..t exist very long anymore. I give this movement approx. 2 years - not more. Pagan metal will experience the same downfall that the black metal trend experienced in the end of the 90ies. It is not the thing that I don..t like the trend - I just don..t care about it. I will write my own definition of pagan metal still when the trend is over and maybe Helfahrt plays gigs in front of 10 people. But that is not important. Art should always be self-fulfiment - no matter if you are famous or not.

6. You were on european tour - how are your impressions about that so far?
It was just amazing! The "light a pagan fire"-Tour brought us through 8 European countries and lasted nearly three weeks. It has been our second tour now, but it was, as the tour we did before in 2006 definitely a highlight in our life that surely won..t forget! We had 17 amazing Gigs and every concert had it..s special atmosphere and energy. We are very grateful to have the possibility to go on a proper tour as there are just a few bands out there that can put their youth-dreams into effect - if you know what I mean.
The next tour will be in 2010. Be aware!

7. Future plans for Helfahrt and last words?
Self-fulfilment, Life and lifes-quality, friendship - a formative time, maybe the best in my entire life! Thanks a lot for the interview my friend!

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