Ralf W. Garcia: Well the album was released in September 2016 and received very good to great reviews from magazines and critics worldwide. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this album “Ironclad” is really highly critically acclaimed but there are a lot of reviews praising our kind of songwriting, arrangements and overall style in which we wrote this album. As a matter of fact it really took us by surprise ‘cause after around 30 years playing in underground bands we’re quite used to be overseen. So we had no expectations at all. This band and our music are a matter of lifeblood and real passion towards Doom Metal and all it’s creativity. So we are really happy about the fact that the album was received very well with the audience and critics. Soon after the release we played one liveshow after another and the demand is still going strong somehow. We have been invited to play in and even outside of Switzerland with a variety of different artists and bands. Currently we’re looking for possibilities to get on a full European tour. So we’ll see…but to summarize it all: it went quite well since the release for us. How would’ve thought about that one or two years ago.
2.In September you had released a new album, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording and also how does it differ from the album you had released a year earlier?
Ralf W. Garcia: The new album is more polished and goes even deeper in regards to transporting certain emotions than the first album. Well at least besides the fact that it has a bigger and better sound. The first album is very raw and especially regarding my singing and height of the voice very different to the new album “Ironclad”. The debut was after all more of a journey and a search to an identity than everything else. “Ironclad” defined our more prolific side on which we will build our future albums.
3.Your lyrics cover spirituality, mysticism and philosophical themes, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in those topics?
Ralf W. Garcia: Basically most of my lyrics cover different aspects of life itself. Coming to this world and leaving this world besides the journey of discovering your own personality as well as some epiphanies and joy, pain, anguish, despair, sweat and tears that comes with being a human being. So most topics are based on personal experiences or views on certain perspectives we all or at least some of us endure during our life. It derives from our own self-awareness. In addition philosophical issues from various writers found its way into our lyrics. It is our intrinsic need to use the music and lyrics as a vehicle to transport these views, theories and ideas. In regards to mysticism it is something that always had a strong fascination on me. Stories behind stories and facts. Alternative multi-angle aspects to firm beliefs and the natural order of things. There are things that cannot be explained with a scientific approach so logically there must be more between the sky and the soil. These are just some examples what inspires me to write about mystical themes besides a few lyrics based on historic events and/or pure imaginative fictional topics.
4.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Wolf Counsel'?
Ralf W. Garcia: That’s a question we don’t get very often. It’s a very simple idea behind that. “Wolf Counsel” is the meaning of my name “Ralf”. “Ralf” derives from the very old name “Radulf” or “Ráðúlfr” with the Norse elements ráð meaning "counsel" and úlfr meaning "wolf". In addition I’m a counsellor in my daily bread winning job so I thought that Wolf Counsel is a perfect fit for our Doom Metal band. And so it became a real conglomerate of like-minded people even though the origin is coming from my own name.
5.What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and also how would you describe your stage performance?
Ralf W. Garcia: Well it’s hard to say how our stage “show” is really like. We should ask people who’ve seen us play live but I would describe it as a trance-like experience. We are very authentic and transparent. No singalongs or announcements to bang or shout or something like that. So that means no artificial ways to entertain the audience. I just like being me and being us. A couple of really dedicated musicians that let the music speak for itself. At some shows I tend to tell little stories about some songs in between and thanking people a lot ‘because it’s a real pleasure and honor to play for people and especially for people that are really interested in your own songs. That’s something very important we do not take for granted. Sometimes I play some riffs with my eyes closed just to feel the sonic experience standing in front of tube amps, huge cabinets and the powerful playing of our drummer Reto. Most of the times we communicate with people through eye contact.
Every show we played so far was different in special in its own way but there haven’t been that many of course. I remember the very first show we ever played. We were supporting the band “Castle” from San Francisco and even though there were only a few people attending that show was very special. Recently a show in Freiburg/Germany (which was packed) was very special (there’s raw live video on YouTube from that show) and a show in Basel/Switzerland was quite something to remember. All these shows had one thing in common and that was the fact that we managed to generate that trance-like Doom Metal atmosphere in a live situation. So we’ll see how it’ll go on. We’ll support Year Of The Goat and The Order Of Israfel (both from Sweden) this week in Vienna/Austria as a matter of fact. I guess this will be a good show for us too.
6.Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?
Ralf W. Garcia: Oh yes fortunately. Besides the show in Vienna this week we’ll play almost every weekend from February to May this year with confirmed dates in Switzerland, Germany and Ireland for autumn this year. What’ll be past October we don’t know yet so I guess we just look forward to all the shows and hope for the best. At the moment we do all the booking by ourselves so may be there’s a chance someday to join the roster of a touring agency which would make things a little less difficult. However this year 2017 is already safe and booked so far. That’s a thing we’ll enjoy for sure.
7.The album was released on 'Czar Of Bullets', can you tell us a little bit more about this label?
Ralf W. Garcia: “Czar Of Bullets” represents the metal side from CZAR OF CRICKETS PRODUCTIONS, a Basel based independent label founded in 2006 by Frederyk Rotter of the band ZATOKREV. They also have “Czar Of Revelations” which shows more of different rock genres like acoustic singer-songwriting, psychedelic, ambient, indie etc. The label comes with worldwide distribution with Plastic Head Distribution based in the UK as a partner and different other companies all around the world. We’re very happy and honored to be on this particular label with good friends and people behind it that really understand where we are coming from and where we want to go creatively.
8.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your newer music by fans of doom metal?
Ralf W. Garcia: Well as I said before the feedback was overwhelmingly great. We never expected such fine comments from Doom Metal fans from around the globe. Most reviews and ratings were in the upper part of rating scales so it’s really encouraging. It’s really great to see that the Doom Metal scene is connected worldwide and so we had the honor to get comments from places like Scandinavia and most other European countries as well as from the US, Canada and even from Turkey and Asian countries like the Philippines and Indonesia.
9.What is going on with some of the other bands or musical projects these days that some of the band members are a part of?
Ralf W. Garcia: We all play in other bands as well (like Requiem, Poltergeist and Punish) and will release new albums with these bands too. There’ll be a new Requiem album coming this year; the new Poltergeist album was already released in October last year and Punish had a great feedback for their new effort. However for me personally even though I partake of other music styles, bands and projects Wolf Counsel is the number one priority and a matter of the heart. So we’ll see if it’ll be possible in the future to keep on playing with so many different bands. There are only 24 hours in a day…
10.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
Ralf W. Garcia: Currently we are writing songs for our third album that we’ll record in summer this year. From what I can hear and see at the moment it has progressed to a harder and even more melodic direction. There are even more powerful riffs but the vocal arrangements are even more elaborated. On a couple of new songs I used different harmonic scales and especially some that I hadn’t used before. So it’s always hard to say how it’ll turn out but I guess we will keep on progressing and focus on writing the best songs we can. And even though the riffs will keep their place as the key centre to our kind of Doom Metal we will see even more versatile influences coming into our music. More twin-guitar harmonies, kind of prog elements, big epic melodies and a very heavy bottom floor with interesting drum grooves and a lot of drum fills. So that’s perhaps the outlook on the future regarding our creative approach. But as I will always emphasize each song will always be a snapshot, a catch of the moment and even if I give you a description of ideas and prospects now – in the same moment change and progress will take place for sure. A constant flow of variables so to say.
11.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Ralf W. Garcia: That’s an interesting question. I like to talk about other bands and artists because I’m a music fan first and foremost. Well of course Cathedral, The Gates Of Slumber, Trouble and Saint Vitus had a big influence on the newer songs besides Black Sabbath obviously of course. But there are a lot more influences from classic 70s artists and bands like The Cream for example even though one cannot hear it directly in our songs. Nowadays I tend to listen to even older and older records/albums I bought over the years. Currently I listen to the first three Rainbow albums (with Ronnie James Dio) a lot. The debut album from Wretch (ex-The Gates Of Slumber) and the new Spiritus Mortis album are really great too. Well what else…let’s see. The greater part of Bolt Thrower’s discography is on heavy rotation at home as well as classic Judas Priest albums, the first two albums from Iron Maiden, Lord Vicar, Reverend Bizarre, Saxon, classic Venom, Sleep, Shrinebuilder, Rush and so on.
12.What are some of your non musical interests?
Ralf W. Garcia: Music is the centre of my personal life but when I find the time I like to read a lot. Mostly biographies and fictional and/or historic novels. Rugby (the sport) is another interest of mine, the art and craft of brewing beer and travelling to millenniums-old Celtic stone circles (and travelling to northern European countries in general). A wide array of things…
13.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Ralf W. Garcia: Thank you very much for the opportunity to talk about our music and all these different topics. So if you or your readers would have the chance to see us play live it would be our pleasure to play for you. Thanks for the great support and interest in Wolf Counsel! Stay DOOMED! Cheers