Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER) on RockOverdose: All lyrics for “the Cult” are inspired by works of H.P. Lovecraft!


 Rock Overdose and Zisis Petkanas, had an interesting conversation with Marta Gabriel, singer of Crystal Viper, who said a lot and interesting things about the band’s new album "The Cult" which has just been released, about some changes in band’s members but also for Greece.




Rock Overdose:Hi Marta and welcome to Rockoverdose Greece. 


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): Hello, hope you are doing fine and thank you for having me.



RockOverdose: That’s my pleasure. So, how are things in Poland regarding the pandemic?


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): I believe it’s difficult for everyone. No live shows, no travels, I haven’t seen my friends for months already, because most of my friends live far away from where I live. Most of them live behind the border, I have a lot of friends in Greece, in Spain, even the US. It’s not possible to hang out with them.


I also haven’t seen the guys from my band in almost a year, because we live in 3 different countries, so since last February it was impossible for us to meet. We were even working on the new album online, because we haven’t been to the studio or anything like that. However, we don’t give up, we try to do our best and not waste time. We are trying to stay as active as possible.




RockOverdose: That’s the main part. To be active during the lockdown.


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): Yes, of course, you know there are so many things to do, especially when you’re a musician, there are a million songs to compose and even if I can’t meet with my bandmates, we still have internet, so it’s much easier to work on music without seeing each other, than it was 15 or 20 years ago.


We are speaking with each other almost every day with guys from Crystal Viper on Skype, Messenger and so on. If we are not working on music, we stay in constant touch, but we keep working on something all the time, so I can’t say we are bored, because it would be a lie.


I would rather say I still don’t have as much time as I would like to for other activities, because I simply don’t have time for everything. The most important thing is music, I’m focusing on music and doing my best, as the guys from my band.



RockOverdose: How do you see the future of music industry after all this?


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): I hope everything will get back to normal, maybe not this year, I’m not very optimistic about 2021 to be honest, but I think everything will slowly get back to normal. I can’t imagine living like that for the next couple of years. 



RockOverdose: Me too. 


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): You know, I’m not only saying it as a musician who misses playing live, I’m also saying it as a person, who loves to go to live shows to see favorite bands as audience. I miss travelling, because we love to travel with my husband to be close to nature. Even now, we can’t visit interesting places in Poland far away from home, because hotels are closed, so there’s nowhere to stay at night for example.



RockOverdose: What can we do, it’s a general situation. Let’s pray for everything to come back to normal. What about Crystal Viper signing with a French label, Listenable Records, after finishing your recent album with AFM Records?


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): After we released Tales of Fire and Ice, our contract with AFM Records simply expired and we agreed it would be better not to extend it. It is a very good record company when it comes to modern power metal bands and stuff like that and I’ve always considered Crystal Viper as a classic / oldschool heavy metal band and for all this time I’ve this feeling that we don’t “fit” in 100%, because we’ve always been like that. So, when the contract expired, we decided to work on the new album as an independent band, without any contract, so we could only focus on music and things that we really want to do and on songs!


After the album was ready, we decided to look for a label and then we received some offers, some of them were better, some of them worse, but we decided to procceed with Listenable Records. In my opinion, they are passionate about heavy metal and I have a feeling that they know what Crystal Viper is all about. I think about joining new record companies like getting married and it’s very important to get married to the right person! So far, we are very happy with how the cooperation is going on and I think it will be a nice cooperation for many years.



RockOverdose: In Poland, is there a company that focuses on rock / metal things?


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): It depends on what kind of company you mean, because we have some record labels here, but I don’t think they are interested in classic to be honest.



RockOverdose: Your line up has recently changed, right?


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): Yes, yes.



RockOverdose: With the addition of the guitarist Eric Juris.


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): That’s right.



RockOverdose: And also Cederick Forsberg, on drums.


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): Yes.



RockOverdose: So how did the new members manage to contribute to the band with their experience?


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): Let me start with Eric. A couple of years ago, in Crystal Viper we were advised by some people that maybe we should try to find a new guitarist for a band and let me sing only on stage. Some people advised us that maybe we should try a different look for Crystal Viper, so I could look more feminine, because with the guitar on stage I look pretty aggressive, I headbang a lot. So we were advised to try something else, because some people would like it. We said “yeah, why not, let’s try it”. I’ve been playing guitar on stage for so many years, for me it would be something new, something fun, so we started looking for a guitarist.


We put some info on our social media, that we are looking for a guitarist and Eric contacted me by my Instagram. He sent me a message that he sent us an email. I took a look at his Instagram and I was scrolling down his profile and the first thing I noticed was that he was playing the same amp I do (Layne Ironheart). Then I noticed he was using the same guitar cabinets as I do and then I said to the guys from the band, “Guys, I think it’s a kind of destiny! We need to take this guy”. So we called him and a couple of days later he came to Poland (Eric lives in Germany). He travelled for us from Germany to Poland and played with us, we spoke about some things and we liked each other immediately, so we decided Eric would be the new member of the band. Everyone was happy (including him).


He’s a very talented guitarist and he’s also a music teacher, he teaches guitar in music school. But he’s not that new to the band, actually, he already recorded our previous album with us. In some ways he’s still new, because time is running so fast, sometimes I feel like I’ve known him for years and I feel like he’s been in the band for a couple of months. Especially now, when we haven’t seen each other for so long. But yeah, he’s a great guy, super nice person and talented guitarist.


Regarding Cederick Forsberg, this is a very funny story actually. Last year, when we already knew that Golem was going to quit the band, I started looking for a new drummer for Crystal Viper and I remember I contacted my friend from Sweden, Karl Löfgren from Follow the Cipher (he’s also a drummer), I asked if he could join Crystal Viper or maybe if he knows someone who would like to join us for drums. He said he would love to help us, but he had just become a father and he didn’t want to leave his wife and baby alone, so he asked me why I hadn’t contacted Cederick Forsberg. So I said I haven’t contacted him, because he doesn’t play drums. Karl starts to laugh and says that’s weird, because Cederick is a very good drummer and drums was his first instrument.



It was funny, because Cederick and I knew each other for many years. A couple of years ago I even recorded guest vocals for one of his bands for one album and that’s why Karl was surprised that I hadn’t contacted him, because he knew that Cederick and I knew each other, but really, I had no idea that Cederick was playing drums. Ten minutes after my conversation with Karl, we were on the phone with Cederick and 7 days later he came to Poland to play a bit with us and talk about the band.


That’s it, he liked us, we liked him, he’s a super talented drummer and since then he plays with us. A month after he joined us, we went on a Spanish tour and then we went on tour to Germany together, but then the pandemic began and now we are here.



RockOverdose: Do you do any rehearsals via internet?


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): Regarding rehearsals, we don’t play rehearsals, not only because we have pandemic. With Crystal Viper we don’t play rehearsals for years right now, because for us it makes no sense and in my opinion it’s a waste of time. We only meet for one rehearsal before we go on tour or after we haven’t seen each other for many months or something like that, but playing rehearsals on a regular basis, to me it makes no sense.


Everybody knows the material, everybody is practising songs before the live shows, so playing rehearsals just to practice songs that have already been recorded is a waste of time. Sometimes we have no time to play before live shows, so we meet in a hotel room and you know, drummers play on pillows, we play with guitars without distortions to make sure we are on the same page regarding some songs and that’s it! Everybody on Crystal Viper is a great musician, so we actually don’t rehearse at all. 



RockOverdose: That’s great! So let’s go back to the new album. Would you like to tell us about “the Cult”, what is the vision behind it and how the band is going forward with its music?


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): This is our newest album and we decided to record it after we started to receive info about our live shows last year, that some of them were cancelled, some of them were postponed. In March last year, we knew that live shows aren’t going to happen, so we decided to work on the new album. It was finished in 4-5 months, everything was done, songs were composed, album was recorded and everything was put together. The Cult is not a classic concept album, but songs are connected in a way that all lyrics are inspired by works of H.P. Lovecraft.


When I started reading his books (his story novels), it was like someone was giving me an injection of ideas for songs and lyrics (and music in general). So our lyrics are inspired by works of H.P. Lovecraft. I can even say that our new album is a kind of tribute to his works. Musically, it’s oldschool classic heavy metal, melodic, with lots of great guitar riffs and I believe that if someone listens to it, he will headbang hard, because this is what I do when I listen to this album.


We are very proud of it. Working on it was pretty hard for us, because it was impossible for us to meet in the studio to work on it together, we were working on it completely online, but I’m very glad we made it and we are very proud of it.



RockOverdose: That’s great. And we already watched 2 official lyric videos for the Cult and Asenath Waite.


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): Yes, we released those lyric videos, because... this is actually funny from the one side, but from the other side it’s very sad. We weren’t able to meet as a band, because we live in Poland, Germany and Sweden.


So, we have no new photos, no promo photos for this album and we have no music video, so the only way was for us to do these lyric videos and to publish songs that way, instead of band photos, we hired an artist to paint us as kind of comic characters and we are using this picture as a band photo.


You can see we are using it on our Facebook page, for Crystal Viper, because this is the only one we have, actually. I hope we will be able to do something when this pandemic ends and after we are going to take a band photo and make a music video. These are the things we will do first.



RockOverdose: And you have two cover songs on this album, you pay a tribute to Satan and King Diamond, right?


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): Yes.



RockOverdose: How was the experience to take on their theatrical vocals?


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): “Welcome home” from King Diamond is a song that I really wanted to record for years, but the moment was never right. When we choose covers for albums, we are always choosing a cover that will fit the entire album with its climate and finally, when we recorded the Cult, it has that kind of horror climate, lyrics and music and so we finally decided to record Welcome Home, from King Diamond.


For me, it was an amazing experience to record vocals for this one, because in original, King Diamond is singing this song in a kind of theatrical way with lots of emotions and I had no idea what to expect from my voice, I only knew that I also wanted to sing with this kind of emotion, this horror climate and to tell the story with my voice. I also wanted to sing it in a kind of theatrical way and I didn’t know if I would be able to, so I was singing the song, I was recording the song and I was learning new vocal techniques.


There were some moments when I was recording, when I had to sit on the couch and stop laughing at myself, because sometimes the noises that were coming out of my mouth were so funny! I literally couldn’t stop laughing, they were so weird to me, but in the end, thanks to this song, I learned new vocal techniques, I actually learned a lot for my voice, because I was singing this song in a way that I couldn’t do before. So I learned a lot and I really liked it.



RockOverdose: I suppose the result was good enough.


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): Thank you very much, I’m glad you like it. And regarding “Trial by Fire” by Satan, it’s one of my favorite heavy metal songs and I also wanted to record it for a long time.



RockOverdose: Another surprise was the Shred Version of it. What led you to this decision?


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): Actually, this is something I have been thinking about for many years. The first versions of Crystal Viper songs from the very beginning are always instrumental, because when I’m composing music, I compose most songs with my piano and I don’t sing, I only play. Later, when I’m recording and arranging songs with other instruments, guitars, bass guitar and so on, I don’t sing either, so the first version of the song is always instrumental.


So, I always wondered what would happen if we released a version of an album without vocals to do something like Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, Petrucci or something like that. We had time to do it last year, we finally made up our minds and decided to do this kind of an album. So, on shred version you can’t hear my vocals, all melodies are played with guitars, with beautiful solos and guitar harmonies. If there is someone who wants to get this album, they’d better hurry, because it’s a very limited edition, available with preorders, so it’s not going to be on regular sale. 



RockOverdose: That’s very interesting. Also, your new album, the Cult, will be the first Crystal Viper album to be available as a cassette tape.


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): Yes, and that’s fantastic, it brings great memories.



RockOverdose: Yes, I have to find my cassette player to listen to your album!


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): I will listen to my album from a cassette for sure! I remember when I was younger, I remember going to school by bus with my walkman and there was a release from Iron Maiden. It was my first Iron Maiden album and my favorite one until today. I was listening to this album from the cassette every single day.



RockOverdose: Which album did you say?


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): Somewhere in time!



RockOverdose: That’s my favorite.


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): Yeah, I had it on the cassette and that’s why releasing Crystal Viper on cassette brings back memories. They were great times, you know, people were buying albums on cassettes and vinyls, I have a feeling that people respected music a little bit more than right now. Those times were fun, you know? And I was dreaming about releasing an album on cassette and finally it’s possible. For many years, we couldn’t find players to do that. After we found the Arcadia we decided to do that.



RockOverdose: That’s really great! Cassettes… very romantic!


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): Yeah, in a kind of way! I even remember I was buying cassettes on shops with some christian songs and later I was using these cassettes to record songs from the radio, because these cassettes with christian songs were cheaper than empty ones! That’s funny, crazy times!



RockOverdose: Yes. So, are you going to release any other single or lyric video from the new album?


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): We will release something for sure, very soon, I can’t tell you which one it will be or when, because I don’t know at the moment, but I would also like to add that after we finished working on the Cult album, in August last year, we started to work on a new project with the guys from Crystal Viper, so stay tuned, because very soon you’ll hear some great news.


As I told you before, I’m trying to stay as busy with music as possible. That’s why working on the album wasn’t the last thing we did last year and right now we’re still working on those things. Very soon we’ll announce some cool news.



RockOverdose: Great. What about Jack Starr's Burning Starr?


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): It was a tour scheduled for last year and I was supposed to play with them again in Europe, but it didn’t happen, everything has been postponed or cancelled. I hope it will be back on schedule for 2021 or 2022. For sure, I will play with them again.


They are lovely guys and for me playing with Jack Starr on stage is magical, because Virgin Steele was one of the first bands that brought me to heavy metal and Jack Starr was playing on Virgin Steele, so he’s kind of my idol. It’s an honor for me to stand on stage with him and play his songs, super talented guy and in general guys from Burning Starr are super nice and talented. I really hope to go on stage with them again.



RockOverdose: It will happen someday! 


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): Yes, for sure, but noone knows when!



RockOverdose: What about your memories from our country, Greece?


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): My memories from Greece are always great, because our live shows in Greece were amazing and not only live shows, but everything in Greece is great. I mean you have a nice weather, you don’t have heavy winters like we have in Poland. Even now as I’m speaking to you there’s a small heater by me, because I’m freezing here. The food is also fantastic in Greece, I would love to live in Greece, in general. I hope one day it will be possible. And I hope I can go back to play with the guys in Greece as soon as possible. Really, miss you!



RockOverdose: And what about your live shows, is there any of them that you remember best?


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): To be honest, it’s not possible to pick just one live show, because every time I go on stage, I appreciate every second that I can play live and stand on stage to play our music. For me, playing live is like making myself feel alive. Look, some people, to feel alive, they jump on a bungee line or jump with a parachute from a plane. I just need to go on stage and play. And that’s why every live show is very special to me.



RockOverdose: Any other plans regarding you, as Marta, except for your band?


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): Actually there’s a lot, there’s a lot especially musically. I cannot tell you about them right now, because as I said we are going to announce very cool news, very soon. Regarding myself, I will try to keep myself busy, as usual, but it’s not possible to be bored, there’s always something to do.



RockOverdose: Great! Would you like to send a message to our viewers and listeners?


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): Guys and girls, thank you very much for your support, we really appreciate that and I hope you’ll like our new album, the Cult. Check it out, maybe you will like it and remember: We are metal nation and we can’t wait to come back to Greece and play for you again! Stay healthy and take care of the people you love.




RockOverdose: What about the cover album? 


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): It was painted by Mario Lopez, he did an amazing job. We had a very specific idea about the cover of the album, because we wanted it to have a classic heavy metal look and at the same time we wanted to make sure that fans of H.P. Lovecraft would know what the album is about after they take a look. I think we achieved what we wanted, Mario painted it in a beautiful way and there is one pretty interesting thing about this cover art, if you take a look closely, then on the left, on the balcony, you can see all members from Crystal Viper. We are laughing because Mario was probably painting us with a needle, because if you really enlarge the picture you can tell who is who!



RockOverdose: Great, so thank you very much for your time, it was a pleasure talking to you, and I hope to see you in Greece as soon as possible.


Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER): Thank you very much for the talk and the interview and for supporting Crystal Viper. I also can’t wait to be back on tour to play and visit Greece, because I have a lot of friends in Greece and I miss them a lot. So thank you and stay heavy!




For RockOverdose,


Interview: Zisis Petkanas


Questions: Vivi Zapantiotou


Transcription - Translation: Daphne Georgadaki