Planetmosh: How did the band start?
Emily: Oh gosh, this is such an old story. The band started with Dyos the drummer sending me an email one Christmas time asking me if I would be interested in starting a heavy metal project. He was sort of a fan I suppose of the Mediaeval Baebes, and also really liked Celtic Legend which is another project I’m involved with, and when I got the email it was Christmas, I’d been having a few drinks and I’d also been looking around for something else to do and by coincidence I’d been doing some auditions for Nightwish at the time [NOTE: Emily reportedly got down to the last handful of singers being auditioned to replace Tarja], which was the first time I’d really put my voice into that genre, heavy metal, and I was starting to realise that my voice worked quite well in that genre because it’s got kind of a dramatic quality to it. So I thought “why the hell not” and we met up and had a beer when I got back to London and the rest is history really.
Planetmosh: How would you describe Pythia’s music for someone who hasn’t heard it yet?
Emily: Well I think its got elements of Power metal, Symphonic metal, gothic metal, its all of those things rolled together into one lovely fabulous epic pot.
Planetmosh: You have six members on the album but only five for live shows. Are you ever likely to have Richard Holland play live with you?
Emily: Well we constantly mock him about it, but I think actually Richard Holland our fantastic keyboard player would love to play live with us one day. I’m sure it will happen one day, but when that is, who knows. I think it’s probably when, if the band ever became more financially viable to be honest, you know with the music world as it is today, and everyone having families, mortgages and all that boring stuff it’s tough. If payday ever did come along then I think that might be the time that Richard might be able to come and join us, but he’s a very different kettle of fish to us you know, he’s a classical musician, and a jazz musician a bit as well, so hopefully one day, we’ll see.
Planetmosh: Your first album was released in Japan. How has it sold over there?
Emily: I actually got the sales figures through today coincidentally and they were very encouraging. They’re clamouring at the door for our next album and for us to get all the bonus tracks together and stuff so it’s looking very positive.
Planetmosh: I’ve never understood why its only the Japanese who seem to get bonus tracks on every album.
Emily: I don’t know, it seems to be traditional almost.
Planetmosh: You recently had a change of line-up with Andy Nixon Corfield leaving the band. Why did he leave?
Emily: I think to be honest with you, he’d moved to Manchester some time ago and although the rest of Pythia, we don’t live next door to each other, we’re all in the vicinity of London, and I think the stress of travelling from Manchester for shows and rehearsals put quite a lot of pressure on him in different ways, and I think the physical distance of him being in Manchester sort of distanced him from the band if you know what I mean, and it was very much a mutual decision that it was the right thing for him
Planetmosh: Is it not true he had to leave as the others were jealous that he had a better beard than them?
Emily: (laughing) that may be the real truth.
Planetmosh: There was one report he left to become a plumber – what was your reaction to that?
Emily: (laughing) I know, I loved that report. It really shows Pythia in a good light – “I’d rather become a plumber than be in Pythia”. I think it’s very untrue that report.
Planetmosh: Your new bass player, Mark Harrington joined from To-mera, who are very different musically from Pythia.
Emily: They are very different musically, but I think there are some prog element in Pythia. Obviously To-mera are a much more distinctively prog band than we are but To-mera is still going, he hasn’t left To-mera to join us, but he was looking to do more gigging and be involved in another project that’s active you know and it just seemed to come together at the right time, and so far he’s proved to be perfect for us. He’s an excellent player, he’s got a really sound head on his shoulders, he’s a great performer and I think he fits in very well.
Planetmosh: Last night’s gig in Reading was his first with Pythia.
Emily: Yes. He’s a very tight player, so it hasn’t been a challenge for him.
Planetmosh: What’s the status of the new Pythia album?
Emily: It’s absolutely all done and dusted, and ready to go. At the moment it’s just business things that need to be sorted out you know, but we’re looking at a release sometime early next year.
Planetmosh: Do you have a title for the album?
Emily: We do and we’ve announced that already. The title is “The serpents curse”
Planetmosh: You are playing a few UK dates at the moment. Are there more dates planned or are you waiting till you have a release date for the album?
Emily: Basically the dates we’re doing this year are really just to get the band up and running again. Obviously after I’ve had a hiatus while being pregnant and having a baby we needed to get the band up and running again, gig in the new bass player, and just get things happening again you know, and that’s really what these gigs have been about, so once we have an album release date we’ll almost certainly be building some proper gigs around that.
Planetmosh: You’ve played Hard Rock Hell, Bloodstock and Metal Female Voice Festival as well as Power Prog and Metal fest in Belgium. What festivals would you particularly like to play ?
Emily: Well I really love Bloodstock and I’m really hoping we get to play there again – next year maybe. We had a very nice email from Paul Gregory who’s heard the new album and he was very complimentary about it and said he would possibly be interested in us playing again, so that would be fantastic if that happened. Obviously it would be great to play Sonisphere, Download, Wacken, the really big metal festivals, Roskilde would be great. We had a fantastic reaction at Metal Female Voices Festival, despite being on at 9.30 in the morning or something, but generally I think Pythia are a good festival band and we’re pretty much up for doing anything, and I think that shows from us playing some tiny little venues like we did last night, to playing those bigger stages when we get those opportunities. We just want to gig.
Planetmosh: As you say, you were the first band on at MFVF on the Saturday morning, were you surprised by the reaction you got when you played and at the signing session?
Emily: Very surprised. I went on stage with an extremely gung-ho attitude convinced there would be nobody there watching us, and I was greeted by a venue that was almost full. I was very surprised, yes and very excited and pleased that the amount of effort that we’d made to get there was worth it, because for a band on our level where we’re financially supporting ourselves, it’s a colossal effort for all of us to get over to Europe and obviously we played in another country the night before with Arch Enemy, so that drive through the night and to get on stage first thing in the morning, takes a lot of energy. So when you get it back from the audience, when they appreciate what we’ve done, it makes you feel a lot better about the amount of time and energy you’ve put into the project.
Planetmosh: As well as singing in Pythia you sing in Celtic legend and the Mediaeval Baebes and have also written a book. Where the hell do you find the time?
Emily: I don’t know, I’m one of those people that gets bored really easily. If I don’t have a project on the go or something to focus my mind I do get very bored, and it’s almost like I wake up every day and think “great I’ve got this project to do today, or the Pythia website to work on or whatever”. If I wake up and haven’t got anything to do, I start to feel quite depressed you know, I suppose I’m a bit of a workaholic really.
Planetmosh: When can we expect a second Celtic legend album?
Emily: There are actually two Celtic Legend albums out, but I was only involved in the second one. Yes Chris and I talk regularly saying Gosh we must get this next Celtic album on the go. We’ve actually written a fair amount of material for it, it’s just that when you’re working on an album there’s that moment where you suddenly get the momentum that you need, inspiration and excitement and its then that you really start to put it together and I think at the moment both of us, because I’ve been so heavily involved in finishing this Pythia album and then trying to find the right business route for it, my mind, I find it quite difficult to focus on more than one project at a time, it’s almost like I do projects in blocks. I think that once we have confirmation about how we’re releasing this Pythia album then I’ll be able to put it to the side and start working on the Celtic Legend album properly, but I am doing the Mediaeval Baebes album at the moment.
Planetmosh: When is the new Mediaeval Baebes album due for release?
Emily: Again that’s not been confirmed yet.
Planetmosh: You’ve got some tour dates planned in December with the Baebes haven’t you?
Emily: We have, we’re playing about 15 dates I think in December which will be good, it’ll be nice to get on the road.
Planetmosh: Any plans for a second book?
Emily: Yes, I’m always thinking about…I’ve actually written a second book, I just haven’t got round to getting it edited properly and doing all those bits. I’ve always got ideas in my mind for writing. In some ways I feel that when I’m a bit older and too old and decrepit to get on stage in a metal band or call myself a Mediaeval Baebe because I’m too haggard, then I feel that the writing will probably take over because it doesn’t require youth, energy and glamour in the same way that the music industry does.
Planetmosh: You say that but Biff Byford for instance isn’t exactly a youngster is he?
Emily: Yeah but I think… I know there are a few older female singers in the metal scene still like Doro, and god bless her for still rocking out, but I think for women it’s a harder road, you know to work the “Lemmy” image. We’ll see, where there’s a will there’s a way, you never know.
Planetmosh: You recently became a mother. Has this slowed you down at all?
Emily: Well I’m still finding out really. At the moment he’s around three months old. I’m determined to sort of truck through and keep going as long as it’s not detrimental to his upbringing. I’ve been blessed by having a baby that seems to enjoy touring as much as I do. He actually really likes being out on the road and doing stuff and being around people, and starts being a bit fractious when we’re at home doing nothing, so I think he’s taking after me in lots of ways.
Planetmosh: What bands do you listen to in your spare time?
Emily: I have very broad musical taste. I quite often say this, but good music is good music in my eyes so I listen to many different genres. I think my main motivation in music is lyrics, so if something has good lyrics, or quite dramatic lyrics or interesting lyrics then I tend to get drawn to it. In some ways I think that’s why I like heavy metal a lot as well because you get all these dramatic stories about wizards and dragons, at least you do in Power Metal. Unicorns and all that kind of stuff, and I can relate to that kind of thing, the fantasy element of stuff. I have a vast music collection, and music is totally my life, and there’s not a day goes by when I’m not listening to something or checking something out new.
Planetmosh: Who drinks most – the Mediaeval Baebes or Pythia?
Emily: Definitely..Well actually it depends, if you’d asked me that question two years ago I’d have said the Mediaeval Baebes without a shadow of a doubt, without any second thought, but it’s kind of changed recently with some line-up changes – we don’t have so many what I’d describe as party animals in the band, and more people with maybe a more professional attitude, but I’d say Katherine Blake of the Mediaeval Baebes could drink anyone in Pythia under the table and then some!
Planetmosh: Is it true that your drummer, Marc Dyos has never bought a round of drinks for the rest of the band?
Emily: (laughing) You know what, I think that is true. I can’t remember him ever buying me a drink.
Planetmosh: Thank you for your time.
Emily: Thank you.