CELTICA -Pipes Rock!
In 2016, the 7th year of touring all over Europe and North America, from Florida to Alaska, after shows and video shootings in New York City and Hawaii, after 3 albums and over 1,3 million views on YouTube (counting the official videos only), it seemed to be time for a change.
Steamphonia, the upcoming 4th album, takes the listener across time to the Victorian age. A magic moment when aristocratic elegance meets daring visionary passion, the steam engine promises to become the modern gate to Utopia, and here, as a scientist, you are also adventurer and romanticist. Celtica transforms this fantastic epoch into music distilled from Gothic, Steampunk, and Metal styles to break all the traditional limits of the Great Highland Bagpipe, and creates a totally new musical context for this majestic instrument.
The symphonic, powerful rock-sound is the main difference to the previous albums. Also it features exclusively original compositions. The guitars are tuned down, there are a lot of double bass-drum parts, and even classical choirs widen the sound extremely. Gajus Stappen, producer and composer of most of the tunes, explains the band’s motivation: “In some way the sound of the Great Highland Bagpipe reminds me of an Aria by an opera singer or a powerful church organ. I always wanted to emphasize this dramatic aspect with a symphonic arrangement. Our performance at Wacken Open Air (the world’s biggest Metal festival) has encouraged us to go in this direction“. Having Aya Georgieva, a classically trained violin player, join the band a year ago as a regular member was the first step.
The new sound is also reflected visually in the new band outfit, which shows influences of Steampunk and Gothic styles. High quality garments were designed by the fashion designer Thomas Rettl – brocade instead of tartan cloth. The first photo-shooting took place in Hawaii in October 2015.
When the new album “Steamphonia” will be available in mid-May, Celtica will be on tour with the new show in Europe, including a club tour in Germany in September and October, and later again in the USA.
But how did it start…?
Celtica –Pipes Rock is founded in December 2009 by the Austrian guitarist and composer Gajus Stappen who gathers several European and US-American musicians in Phoenix, AZ, to record their first CD “Rising” and to shoot their first video at Grand Canyon and Monument Valley for the song “Atholl Highlanders”. On bagpipes: John McLean Allan and Gwendolen Rowe. Bass player Harald Weinkum stays as founding band member till presence. Thomas Rettl, kilt maker and fashion designer, supports the band from the very beginning with for the band designed kilts and accessories. The combination of the traditional sound of Scottish bagpipes with the power of a Rock Band promises to become a recipe for international success.
During the summer touring season Celtica plays most of Europe’s major Celtic and/or Scottish themed festivals, as well as many local Music and Art Festivals, taking them to Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Croatia, and Austria, just to name a few. Their first CD “Rising” becomes a “Celtic” favorite on European radio stations and a hot seller on Internet Music outlets.
The season extends Celtica’s touring territory in Europe and even bigger festivals, while they start working on their second CD “Oceans of Fire”. Duncan Knight becomes the male bagpiper of Celtica. Trying to extend their popularity “across the pond”, they start gaining notoriety with several US- and Canadian promoters, leading to the planning of their first North American Tour for fall of 2012. The co-operation with AKG, a world famous company for audio technical equipment, starts.
Energized by their second CD release “Oceans of Fire”, which contains also original tunes, they are booked solid on the European festival circuit from May to October, only to be joyfully interrupted by the 1st Canada- and USA-tour including prestigious Celtic Festivals like Canmore and their 100th performance at Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Sally Garen, promoter of the Canmore Highland Games, Canmore/ CAN: “Celtica has a very professional show; crowd-interactive, with high-caliber studied musicians. Really enjoyed your music and meeting you all. What a lovely group of people!”
This year brings lots of touring in the USA playing shows from Alaska to New Mexico, from Newport, RI, to San Francisco, so Celtica invests in a complete 2nd backline, a van and trailer for the US. In Europe shows are played from Netherlands to Italy, from Northern Germany to Southern Spain. Jane Espie, the “Phantom Piper”, follows Gwendolen as the female piper of Celtica, drummer Matthias Katzmair becomes a regular band member. At Schotten Radio, one of the biggest Celtic radio stations, “Cape Horn” gets more than 250,000 requests and Celtica gains the pretty rare, prestigious “MacDudel Award” (within 14 years only 7 bands received this award). Their version of “What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor” stays among the Top 20 of Schotten Radio`s most requested songs for nearly 2 years. 2013 ends with a short Scotland-tour and more than 5000 followers on Facebook.
Hartford, CT/USA-based promoter Gail McClellan calls Celtica “THE new band on the international Celtic music scene”, and she goes on to say, “I really loved the Celtica CD; their music is very appealing, they have exciting stage presence, not to mention the fire show which people love.”
The year starts with the 4th US-Tour including a video shoot for “Whiskey in the Jar” in New York City. In spring the 3rd album “Legends and Visions” is released. Besides 4 tunes all other are original compositions. The 3 Celtica CDs became all #1 of the CD Baby charts and in 2014 all 3 albums are among the top 5 selling albums at the same time. In August contracts are signed with Magnetic Music as the booking-agency for Germany, Swiss and Luxembourg and Membran Media Group for worldwide distribution of the Celtica albums. In fall Celtica is touring again for 2 months in the USA, performing the 200th show. The official videos on YouTube have more than 1,000.000 views; Over 10,000 followers on Facebook.
Rick Field, promoter of the Hagen Celtic Festival said, “you were the hammer, the whole town is talking about you…!”
The classical violin player Aya Georgieva joins the band to make the sound more symphonic. The 2nd video shooting in New York City: “Avalon” in Manhattan. Celtica plays their 1st Germany club tour as headliner. Sven Hilberth gets hired as the band ‘s first full-time sound engineer. In August Celtica is invited to perform at a top slot at the world´s biggest Metal festival, the Wacken Open Air in Germany: Saturday 9-10pm, and the band presents a kick-ass show. Two videos catch the electrifying performance in front of thousands of head banging “metal-heads”. Another highlight is the performance at the European Harley Davidson Week, one of the biggest biker festivals in the world. Suzanne Lee-Barnes, London based promoter, is extremely enthusiastic about the hot show: “One of the 10 best performances I have seen ever in my whole life!” In fall Celtica performs again in the US, including their 1st time on Hawaii. The band uses the chance to be on an island, which is famous as a shooting location for Hollywood blockbusters, to film a spectacular video: “Visitors”.
The 7th year on tour brings a complete re-launch. The 4th album “Steamphonia” is released and delivers a significant change in sound and musical style: Influenced by bands like Nightwish and Within Temptation, symphonic and Metal elements make the sound more epic and powerful and introduce Celtica to an audience outside of the Celtic and Folk orientated circles all over the world. The band-styling follows the music and shows influences from Gothic, Steampunk and Metal styles. Stage design and website look also reflect the new sound. Christof Seidl, one of Austria´s top live sound engineers, gets signed for the upcoming show. The band tours again the US, including several shows on Hawaii. On YouTube, Celtica has more than 1,400,000 views. The 300th performance is celebrated at Hagen, Germany, on May 28th, and the band counts over 15,000 followers on Facebook.