Crystal Viper Interview (2020)

Posted: January 16, 2020 in Classic Rock, Classic Rock - Interviews, Cool stuff

When I discovered Crystal Viper a couple of years ago I bought the entire back catalogue within weeks and it was obvious to me that they were going to be held in high regard by many people and that vocalist Marta Gabriel was an amazing talent worthy of recognition. Formed in 2003, they now have a string of studio albums under their belts that are all powerful and highly entertaining. To me, Crystal Viper are now on my list of bands that I will support forever, and it is nice to find such talent out there when the old school bands are slowly riding into the sunset. Heavy Metal will never die and Crystal Viper is proud to wave that flag, hopefully for decades to come. This is the first interview since my decision to get back into the game again and I am glad that Marta Gabriel accepted my request. It was the first I sent out to anyone. Special thanks to manager Bart Gabriel for your help. All pictures are by Tim Tronckoe and are used by permission. This interview was made via e-mail.

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I have to say that you ended the last decade with a bang with the ”Tales Of Fire And Ice” album. How has the response been so far?

– “Well thank you. I would say that the response was very, very good, it’s without a doubt the most popular Crystal Viper album. Lots of old fans like it, and we have many, many new ones. We are very proud of this album, as it represents the new chapter for the band”.

The production is better than ever and I think you have a shot at the big leagues in the 2020s. Do you have any favorite tracks on the album?

– “I totally love how this album sounds, and I also agree that it’s the best production we ever had. We worked with the same producer as always, Bart Gabriel (who is my husband), he did an amazing job with this one. My two favorite songs are “Still Alive” and “Under Ice”, but there is also one song on our new album that means a lot to me, because of its lyrics. It’s “Neverending Fire”. The lyrics are based on a Cowichan legend (Cowichan was an Indian Tribe) “Who Was Given The Fire”. It’s a song about being true at heart, being good to the others, about respecting life and nature, about doing good things, not being an egoist, and giving a helping hand without expecting something in return. These are very rare features nowadays, which I value a lot in people”.

”Tears Of Arizona” is about the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941. Have you been in Hawaii and seen the Arizona?

– “No, unfortunately not. It’s one of my biggest dreams to visit Hawaii one day”.

What is the story behind ”Tomorrow Never Comes (Dyatlov Pass)”?

– “It’s a song about the Dyatlov Pass incident that took place in the Ural Mountains in 1959, but the story on our album is told from an unusual perspective – it’s told by the force that killed the hikers, the force that was afraid or was protecting its own territory. The case hasn’t been resolved and as far as I know, the Russian government reopened it at the beginning of last year. I’m very curious about the results of the reopened investigation”.

This is Swedish blog and I understand that you are a fan of Heavy Load, tell us a little about that.

– “Yes, that’s true. A few years ago, just before Heavy Load reunited, I was invited to sing a few songs with a Heavy Load tribute band, named “Heathens From The North”. I performed with them two times in Greece, and I was singing “Take Me Away” and “Heavy Metal Angels”. Good times! And it was a great feeling to hear nice words from the Heavy Load members themselves after the show, as they were present there. After that I’ve seen Heavy Load live two times, one time in Germany and one time in Greece. I love them!”.

How about 220 Volt and Treat, whom played a televised festival in Poland in late 1985?

– “I don’t know those two bands I’m afraid, and it wasn’t possible for me to watch that festival, because I was a newborn back then. I’ll check them out. When it comes to Swedish bands, I’m a big, big fan of Candlemass and of course Bathory”.

Can you recall your first record that you bought and how you were introduced to music?

– “My music journey started when I was six or seven years old. I saw a symphonic orchestra on the TV and I told my parents that I want to be a musician. They sent me to music school, to a piano class. Later, when I was a teenager I discovered rock, punk, and metal, but everything came very naturally, so I don’t remember the very first metal record or band. I remember that some of my first metal and rock bands that I was listening were Virgin Steele, Scorpions, Queen, Iron Maiden, Helloween, Black Sabbath, Blind Guardian, Metallica, Type O Negative…

When did you realize that you had to be in a band and did you sing in any bands before Crystal Viper?

– “I realized that music is one of the most important things in my life right after I started playing piano. I was composing my own music already at the age of 10. Except playing piano, I’ve always loved to sing, and I joined my first band in high school, I remember having rehearsals in our school’s basement. After that I was singing in one more band, and later, with the help of my husband, I decided to create a real heavy metal band that I was dreaming about. That band was Crystal Viper”.

I guess that singers like Ronnie James Dio, Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford are heroes. Can you tell us a little bit about early influences?

– “Yes, all three of them. My vocal heroes were (and still are) Tony Martin, David De Feis, Leather Leone, Jutta Weinhold and Doro… I also like voices of Gigi Hangah from the first Phantom Blue album, and Janet Gardner from Vixen. I also love the voice of Noora Louhimoe, she is an amazing and talented singer”.

What do you think about the old school bands, like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath?

– “I like them, and I’m very much into classic rock. I also like Uriah Heep, Jethro Tull, Queen, Status Quo, Thin Lizzy, Electric Light Orchestra, Rush, Jefferson Airplane, UFO, Scorpions, Janis Joplin, KISS, and many more. I also listen to a lot of blues music, especially with piano. My personal favorites are are Memphis Slim, Otis Spann, Pinetop Perkins and Roosevelt Sykes”.

Who would you love to collaborate with if you had a chance?

– “Mike Oldfield! This is my biggest dream as a musician to record something with him one day”.

Do you prefer indoor gigs or festivals?

– “It’s not possible to answer that question, because these are two completely different types of shows, with totally different vibes. When you play a live show in a small venue, it’s mainly your fans there, people who came to see you and people who know your music. When you play at a festival, you play to a lot of new people, who see and hear you for the first time”.

You also play guitar, what is your guitar of choice and why?

– “I started playing guitar to be able to compose music not only on my piano, but on a guitar as well. It was sometimes difficult to show my band mates, especially guitarists, how to play guitar riffs composed on piano. I was checking out and playing many, many different guitars through the years, but I feel the best with the LTD / ESP guitars, and I own a few of their models. I’m also endorsed by them for some time, and I’m very happy about it!”.

Can you mention some guitarists that you appreciate?

– “Yes, the one and only Glenn Tipton. He’s my guitar hero from the very beginning, even from before I started to play guitar myself”.

I think that ”When The Sun Goes Down” from the ”Queen Of The Witches” album has tremendous power and I think legions of Dio fans would love that tune if they heard it. What is the lyrics about?

– ““Queen Of The Witches” is a concept album, and “When The Sun Goes Down” is part of the story. It’s a song about secret knowledge, and about spiritual and mental development”.

Did you ever meet Ronnie James Dio?

– “I saw him live one time, with Heaven And Hell, but I sadly never met him in person”.

As a collector of Vinyls I could really appreciate the Limited Edition ”At The End Of Time” release. Might we see more of them later on as well?

– “Crystal Viper is a hyperactive band from the very beginning, and we have many ideas all the time, so I’m more than sure we will release more stuff like that in the future. We are actually planning something very special right now!”.

Where do you stand on Vinyl versus CDs?

– “Well, it’s nice to have the vinyl album in your hands, with that big cover art, big pictures and so on, and vinyls are usually released in a more exclusive way, so you feel like you really own something unique, something special. But they are sometimes less comfortable than CDs, because it’s not always possible to listen to music from vinyl. Just like it nowadays became easier to listen to streaming services instead of CDs. But vinyls are and always will be special. We sometimes listen to vinyl records together with my husband, it’s like watching a movie – you focus on the music, without thinking too much about anything else”.

I can sense that Classic Rock/Metal has a huge resurgence coming and that the 2020s will be a good decade for your music. Can you sense this in the air as well?

– “Classic heavy metal seems to be an underground genre of metal right now, and I think it will remain like that. Just see how many classic heavy metal bands you can see at the big festivals? They’re usually headlined by younger, more popular bands, and sometimes you have just a few classic bands, playing early in the afternoon or something like that. It is how it is, but to be honest I don’t think much about it, I just keep on doing my thing”.

Can you mention some bands that you want to give a shoutout to as we head into this new era?

– “I really like Idle Hands, and I think the new Ram album is awesome! Check them out!”.

How about Babymetal? I have been a fan of hard rock and Metal since 1971 and I just love them.

– “I remember checking them out because someone sent me a link, but it’s not kind of music I personally enjoy, so I would say it’s not really my cup of tea. But I know they have their fans and people enjoy their music, so it’s cool”.

What do you have in store for us in 2020?

– “We will try to play as many live shows as possible, which isn’t that easy to organize, as members of the band live in four different countries. It’s too early to think about a new album, as “Tales Of Fire And Ice” is still hot (and it’s actually coming out in Japan this month), but I’m thinking about a few other projects”.

If you were granted a secret wish to come true, what would it be?

– “Well, if I would tell you, it wouldn’t be a secret anymore (laugh)”.

Thank you for your time. Anything else that you would like to add to this chat?

– “Thank you for the interview and for your support!”.


(No part of this interview may be used without permission. If you want to quote something in a book or a magazine, let me know)

Mike Eriksson (Trinkelbonker 2020)

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