By Ken Morrison
Continuing on with their Southern Tier tradition, Celtica - are bringing their great highland music back to McGirk's Irish Pub this Friday. I've had another exclusive chat with guitarist Gajus Stappen to find out what's going on with Celtica.
KM: Hi Gajus, thank you for sitting down with us again.
GS: Hi Ken, thanks for your interest in Celtica
KM: I believe you just recently flew in from overseas, to join up for the last few US East coast tour dates. What have you been working on behind the scenes?
GS: Well, when we got rebooked for Ocean Shores Celtic Festival we didn't know, that they have changed the festival to one weekend earlier. So we confirmed a show in Europe for the same weekend. We didn't want to cancel any of these shows, so 4 of us were playing in Europe and Jane and Harald were playing with substitutes in the US. Now is the main part of the tour with 9 performances in 2 weeks, and it is the original line up, we only miss Jane who has returned home.
KM: We're glad to have you all here, I know Jane will be missed. This summer, after months of hard work, Celtica's first DVD (Live in Montelago) was released (it was preceded by a double live album). How has that been received, and will we be seeing a Region One release for the North American fans?
GS: To film and record our show at Montelago, Italy, and to make an exciting live CD and DVD was indeed a very intense project. We are very, very happy that our fans love it and that we've got already some sensational reviews. We just recently released the US-version of the DVD so finally, after 2 years of constant work, now everybody can enjoy this outstanding concert of Celticrock!
KM: That's great. I'm looking forward to watching that! Now, Speaking of the US tour, I hear your trusty US Tour Van just passed 300,000 miles. That's quite a feat! I saw pictures on the band's Facebook page of a celebratory cake.
GS: This number reflects indeed quite well our hard touring. Maybe one day I´ll make a Celtica- USA- map with all our shows to see the few states where haven´t performed yet. As it is with the Celtica-van, to celebrate, we added a shot of Whisky to the fuel…LOL
KM: If I've done math right, I think this is the fifth time Celtica has performed at McGirk's. I know you have different touring versions of Celtica, who will be joining you onstage this time around?
GS: Performing at McGirk´s feels already like coming home to us (Editors note - we feel the same way!), it is always a pleasure to play at Binghamton. In general we play with the original line up, but this time, Jane won't be with us.
KM: After performing well over 400 performances world wide, what do you do to keep your stage shows fresh?
GS: On one side we released every other year a new album and we tried to make it different to the previous one, like Oceans of Fire had a kind of Pirate-theme or Steamphonia features steampunk-style. This way we don´t have to play the same concert over and over, but we can offer every 2 years a new show, and we constantly improve it. On the other side, every evening, you have a different audience even if you got re-booked at the same festival or venue, so every show has a different atmosphere. But the main factor is actually the music itself –no matter when or where we play it, it always kicks in like a double espresso.
Celtica Pipes Rock live at Montelago 2017
KM: Awesome. So, what's next for Celtica after you finish this US tour?
GS: As for performances, we got very promising requests from India for 2019 and for Australia 2020. We work on making it happen as we would love to perform the 1st time on these 2 continents. In 2020 we have our 10th anniversary which we will celebrate with a new studio album and a new show.
KM: India and Australia. That's terrific. I'm sure you'll totally bring the Celtic Thunder, down under! Thank you Gajus for taking time to sit down with us again, it's always a pleasure.
Well, there you have it folks. If you want to see a truly international band, full of energy and excitement - then all you have to do is get yourselves down to McGirk's this Friday at 8:30pm.
McGirk's Irish Pub
1 Kattelville Rd
Binghamton, NY 13901