Circle Of Bards is the brainchild of Mariusz Migalka and as outside his home country Poland only few will know him, I jotted down a few questions and sent them over. Thanks to Mariusz for taking time to answer them. Enjoy reading!
From the initial idea to start Circle Of Bards, how much time passed by till you recorded Tales?
I think that the CoB's official beginning stared from releasing the demo untitled Circle Of Bards on February 2008. The idea of creating such a project has evolved over the years. Initially, I was primarily associated with rock music as a singer of Mr.Hyde, then in the bands like Acute Mind or Tipsy Train. But in the beginning of my music adventure I started with a very soft music, which we call in Poland sung poetry. Something changed when I first heard The Bard's Song by Blind Guardian. I really liked a whole album Somewhere Far Beyond, but specially that song was something unique for me. I thought, 'Wow, it would be great to do a whole album in this climate" and I started composing. On Tales album released in May 2010, I put many different compositions from different periods. The oldest song is Czarne Smoki - written for my wife (then fiancee) around the year 2004. But When The Bard Sings is a song written specifically for Tales in 2009, just before entering the studio. Therefore Circle Of Bards is a project that matured for many years.
Actually if I would have seen the CD in a store, the name Circle Of Bards (and the artwork) would make me think of some Blind Guardian clones... Why this band name? Did you never feared misinterpretation?
Well, as I mentioned, in the beginning Blind Guardian was for me the greatest inspiration, an incentive to write such songs. As far as the name - originally I planned to create a project under my own name, but, hmm ..., it isn't too attractive for media (laugh). Btw I wonder how you would make out with its pronunciation. So I decided to a specific name. I dreamed for years about the band in which I could realize my music fascination. Inspired by the works of old creativity, fantasy literature, the tradition of wandering singers, I create Circle Of Bards.
In fact, many people notice the similarity to Blind Guardian. It doesn't bother me. Each artist has his mentors. For me, in the initial period of CoB, it was BG. But since then a lot has changed. I met many other great artists, opened up many other sounds. Clannad, Blackmore's Night, Loreena McKennitt ... I can promise that the next album will be more mature, more diverse but still - I'll not forget my rock roots.
I guess, you had gather some ideas before starting... How many made it onto Tales?
I was singing the material on Tales over several years. Some songs, like Czarne Smoki, are very old, others were created just before the recordings. Very important was also the demo from 2008. I chose on it the songs that fit into the convention - a Celtic and rock ballads with the lyrics inspired by the fantasy books, etc. For Tales were created two more compositions, but everything was very thoughtful. I had a concrete vision of the whole - all had to be harmonized. Not only songs, but also the cover art, my image, etc.
Who are the musicians who joined you for Tales? Please tell us a bit about them!
The contract with Electrum Production and the recording were a big surprise for me. CoB existed only in my mind as well as a demo album. Suddenly someone appeared with the idea of recording a professional album. There was no such thing as a Circle Of Bards group. On the album we worked with Mariusz Ostanski, the producer of Tales. The final shape of the album is the result of our cooperation. I brought the compositions and recorded guitars and all the vocals. Mariusz arranged other instruments that appear in the recordings. I invited to the studio only two guest musicians: Anna Bielecka, flutist, who done for me all the flutes line, and Sylwester Laskowski, classical guitarist, who played guitar solo parts.
You have 2 songs with Polish lyrics, have you considered to do an English version? Or to do liner notes for them?
Yes, I think that perhaps on the second Tales edition we will post the translation of these songs. But I don't think I would decide to prepare the English version. At least at this moment I do not feel such a need.
If the translator I used is right, one title means something like 'black dragon' the other means 'rainbow bridge'... The Rainbow Bridge is a stone arc in Utah, beside other bridges... also related to Hendrix. First, is the translation right? Second, what's the story of Tęczowy most?
Czarne Smoki is in English 'The Black Dragons' - the title I took from the first words of the song. Black wings of dragons symbolize gathering night. This is a love song written for my wife. Every time during the show I dedicate it to her. Tęczowy most (The Rainbow Bridge) is the story of twelve Vikings, who set out on a sea voyage to find the Bifrost - the rainbow bridge connecting Asgaard with Midgaard. They want to cross it and look in the face of the gods. The text refers to the mythology of the Vikings.
You choose Our Own Land for a video, why this one?
Our Own Land is the most commercial song on the album. I think I don't have to explain that choice. This is a song that best fitted for radio. I don't want to say that CoB's music is somehow commercial, but the media rules are quite specific, so we had to select a song quite catchy. I think that Our Own Land accomplished its mission.
Please tell us a bit about the video shooting!
First of all, it was really great fun. We didn't have a huge budget for this. All was financed from our own funds. However, we got a professional film team who did it with very clear vision. I believe that the effect is great. Do not forget that this is our first video (laugh).
We had shooting in late autumn, when the temperature was already quite low. You can't see this on the video, but we were terribly cold. Fortunately, the atmosphere was really great, full of humor, and our life was saved by hot coffee.
What bands / artists inspire(d) you musically?
Hmm ... There are many of them. Because I am a singer my attention in the first place always attracts singers. Among my favorites is few of Polish artists, but if it comes to foreign - Bruce Dickinson was my first mentor. I'm mainly rock man and I grew up in that tradition. I love the classic voices - David Coverdale, Jørn Lande, Ronnie James Dio. As for the interest in music, as I mentioned, I grew up on rock and heavy metal. Later I became interested in artist such as Loreena McKennitt or Blackmore's Night. I'm inspired mostly acoustic rock and Celtic music. I love rock ballads.
And what inspires you to write lyrics? Books? Movies?
I studied literature, so the area of my interest and knowledge is quite large. In the case of Tales the main idea was to create lyrics inspired by world of fantasy. I would therefore mention Tolkien and Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski – the author of The Witcher. My lyrics, however, have a double significance - these are not only the simple stories. I always try to show some depth, a metaphor of things, feelings that surround me. For sure the next album will have the lyrics with a wider spectrum than on Tales. Of course, this does not mean that I'll abandon the fantasy theme. Rather searching.
You'll play later this month with Touch Of Ireland. Looking forward to hit the stage?
Yes, we are thinking already about the next concerts. Meanwhile, there are a lot of things that were driven about it. Even changes in the band, works on new compositions.
More shows on the way? Festivals?
This year we will try to play many gigs. We want to appear on the biggest summer festivals in Poland. We're also preparing to new album recording. Following many requests from our fans in other European countries we also work on the concerts abroad. We would like to visit a few European countries like Italy, Hungary, Germany.
As far as I know you are the singer of Mr. Hyde... Any news to tell about Mr. Hyde?
We recently recorded the EP Straight To Your Arms, which is available for free download on our website. We think about our debut album. The reconciliation of the two bands is not easy for me, especially that I am a leader in both. At the moment I concentrate mainly on CoB.
What's on your schedule for the rest of the year?
We have a lot of plans for the rest of the year. First the concerts - especially those in summer. Then preparation of the material for the second album. We're working on this with other musicians who joined the band. For sure we will try to surprise in the meantime. We want to prepare a single, which will show the direction of CoB's music journey. Certainly we don't rest on our laurels.
It seems that Mariusz Migalka has a lot of plans and is ready to spend time and effort to reach his goal, to make people listen to his music. I guess we will soon here more of Circle Of Bards!