Interview with George Nicholas of Cernunnos Rising

George Nicholas: Cernunnos Rising




Just before Yule I was fortunate enough to catch up with a favourite interviewee of Pagan Pages, George Nicholas of Pagan band, Cernunnos Rising. George was kind enough to bring us up to speed with what’s been happening since he last spoke to us.
MS: It’s been five years since we last spoke to you, and there have been two more Cernunnos Rising albums in that time. How has the band evolved? Who are you working with currently?
GN: Albums to date have been Cernunnos Rising, Wild Soul, Urban Druid, and the latest is Nature’s Child. The band members are now Martin Robinson on flutes and keyboard; Phill Orme on various instruments, vocals and lead guitar; Terry Gallagher on bass; Carla lewis on vocals and Eric Smith on drums. I tag along too.
MS: Going back to your third album, the title Urban Druid will no doubt resonate with many Pagans who live in our ever increasing cities. What was the primary inspiration for this album?
GN: My primary inspiration for creating the Urban Druid album was living in London; years of commercial business and hassle, and a feeling of being disconnected from nature in particular. I would seek out green spaces whenever I could and write my poetry and songs. Many of the songs are about trees, in fact, and some of their lost lore and mythologies. One song in particular was inspired by an ancient Yew tree I use to visit whenever I could, up in Borrowdale in the Northern Lake District; still alive thousands of years later, and going strong.
MS: What made you decide to use the theme of different trees throughout Urban Druid?
GN: The theme of trees seemed to sit well for me on the Urban Druid album, because trees and wild natural places occupied my mind so much when i was surrounded by concrete and city structures. It was my method of escape: visualising, drawing and writing about trees, and their ancient myths and legends.
MS: Is there a particular tree you connect to spiritually and why?
GN: I have no particular favourite tree really. I love them all, from the acorn decorated oak, to the essential apple tree, to the Elder tree with her beautiful, rich berries and aromatic flowers, to the ancient thick dark verdant Yew. All of them, special.
MS: Are you still an Urban Druid yourself, or are you more surrounded by nature and the countryside these days?
GN: I have seriously made it my business to spend the remaining years of my life enveloped and surrounded by nature. I live in an open aspect upon a hill. I welcome the clear vista of the sun arriving in the east, and relax and admire the beautiful sunsets that this aspect allows me to enjoy of an evening. I also spend much of my time on my land where I have my own stone circle with a central fire pit, surrounded by a mixture of trees; my peaceful little Nemeton.
MS: When and where do you feel most connected to nature or your spirituality?
GN: I feel most connected to nature and in the moment when I’m in a storm, or swimming in a cold mountain stream, or diving in the sea, or hang gliding, or skiing, climbing or in caves; in fact any aspect of land, sea and sky and in all seasons.
I certainly feel divorced from nature stuck in front of the T.V. or glued to a computer or mobile phone in a built up, urban scenario. Dissolves the soul.
MS: Tell us a bit about this year’s album, Nature’s Child. How has this latest album differed from your first two? Has it been more of a challenge, or as you create more albums, does the process become easier?
GN: The Natures Child album is different from the other albums in as much as I have mixed up the treatment and styles of the songs, as not to follow any format. There are personal songs on there; there are heartfelt ecological concern songs and protest songs on there; even new mixes of older popular songs, particularly Blessings Of Beltane. I had my Daughter Katie and co singer Carla do a much more sensitive and feminine version. I feel they have a quality in their combined voices i could never achieve and their version is closer to the Goddess.
MS: Do you have favourite tracks from the albums? If so, which are they, and why?
GN: I’m afraid I don’t have any favourite tracks from my albums. It’s the same with my artwork or paintings; once I’ve completed it I no longer like it! I instantly move on to the next creation.
MS: Do you have any gigs coming up over the festive season?
GN: There are many gigs we are considering at the moment, including a very large one in North Wales. We like to visit and play to our fans at our usual yearly venues like Pagancon in Preston, Lancashire etc. We will be confirming our dates in Jan 2016. Our last gig for this year will be our Yule event for the Merseyside Circle of Pagans at the `Casa Liverpool city centre.
MS: What has been your favourite gig to date, and why?
GN: My favourite gigs to date have been PaganCon as it is so friendly and warm, and a wonderful communitas has developed. Also I loved playing in the beautiful wooded areas of Silverdale for Wood Spirit Camp.
MS: How many of you are there when you play live, generally?
GN: 6 or 7 usually in the band when we play live, but can cut down to 3.
MS: Which do you prefer: composing, studio time or performing?
GN: I really like studio time. It seems like  a magical creative process, where things come to life and the last drops of inspiration jump from the cauldron and add to the tale.
MS: Do you consider yourself a Bard?
GN: People describe me that way… I consider myself a ‘creative’, be it poetry, music, art, sculpture. I consider myself fortunate and blessed.
MS: Who have been your biggest musical inspirations? Is there anyone you would absolutely love to work with, given the chance?
GN: Again, I try not to follow another’s style or skill. I don’t want to have musical inspirations if i can help it. The words and lyrics are my own, and the sound of the songs just happens, although some of my songs seem to me to have a formula. For instance Urban Druid has a jazzy twist, Beyond Us is the Cost has a Spanish feel, etc.  I’d love to work with Kate Bush, Nigel Shaw of 7th wave music, Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance, Mike Oldfield, Loreena McKennitt… Ha ha, don’t want much do I?




MS: What other projects do you have on the go at the moment?

GN: I have projects upon projects!! My charity takes up so much of my time it’s hard to get anything done, but I’m doing a new album, launching The Werebears (my character creation) again, various mural projects, possibly building a roundhouse meeting centre and devising a new book.

MS: And finally, how will you be celebrating the festive season?

GN: I`ll be celebrating the season with family and friends, with music and laughter… and prayers and deep thought for those now and in unborn time who the British government decided to turn to dust and exterminate. /I\