Interview with James Paul Luna (Holy Grail)

MER: You seem to put a lot of energy in every live show; are you doing this in every live date or whenever you get a certain ‘vibe’ from the audience?

: We are trying to do that as much as possible.

MER: Isn’t playing almost every night quite exhausting?

James: We try not to drink that much before the show in order to have more energy. In fact, nowadays I have slowed down a little (laughs).

MER: How did the Blind Guardian fans treat you during the recent North American tour?

James: I think they really liked us. I mean in every show the response was very good to us.

MER: You have also booked some live dates with Eluveitie. Do you think it will be hard to ‘earn’ a crowd that is into Folk/Page Metal?

James: No, I do not think it will be a problem. After all, we did some live dates with them in the past and they were great.

MER: Holy Grail is a young band so, can you give readers a brief story about how you started?

James: We started in 2008 with three ex-White Wizard members, including myself. We wanted to do something different from strictly Iron Maiden/Judas Priest stuff and add some Thrash and Speed Metal elements to our music. Moreover, we wanted to throw some Modern Metal finishing touches on the sound … and that’s how Holy Grail started.

MER: Do you feel a little bit awkward when someone in a live concert screams ‘White Wizard’?

James: You know, I really do not have a problem with it. It was a band that I have been in, so I am ok. It’s my past after all.

MER: But how do you feel when people are connecting Holy Grail and White Wizard?

James: I don’t think it is fair to connect those two bands. Ok, three members were in White Wizard’s original line-up, but Holy Grail is kind of a natural progression. These bands are not the same.

MER: Moving on to the debut full-length album by Holy Grail; you have just released a new video for “My Last Attack”. Who had the idea to use live footage in the video?

James: We were thinking of doing something raw with a small crowd like an old Iron Maiden type video. They liked the idea so we went for it and I think it looks good!

MER: How long did it take to write the music in Crisis In Utopia?

James: There are three writers in the band: myself, Eli Santana, and James Larue. Eli worked three months and put together almost 200 riffs, and from them he created 30 song structures. Me and James prepared 6 and 3 songs, respectively. After all this work we ended up having 40 songs and from them we chose the 11 favorite ones for the album. This process lasted about 3-4 months. After that time period we re-recorded those songs and put them through production and final mix.

MER: You seem to have a lot of unused material; do you plan to use it in a future Holy Grail release?

James: Yeah, I think so. At least some of them; we will have some new ones so it will be again a process of choosing the best ones for the album.

MER: Do you have a time schedule when the band will begin working on the next release?

James: We’re probably gonna start working on the next album sometime in 2012 or maybe 2013. We want to tour as much as possible for the next two years.

MER: How did you choose to join Prosthetic Records since it is a label that is focused in extreme Metal bands?

James: After White Wizard and when Holy Grail were making their first steps, Earache and Prosthetic Records contacted us and offered us a record deal. In fact, Prosthetic Records came first since they heard that we were going to make a new band after White Wizard. I believe they found out about this from a friend of ours. So, since they were the most persistent and most interested, we joined them. Although they are working with extreme Metal bands, they have been supporting us from the very beginning and gave us whatever we needed.

MER: Can fans expect more vinyl releases from Holy Grail?

James: Of course! The vinyl edition of Crisis In Utopia was not ready for the Blind Guardian tour, and I think it will be ready sometime around the New Year. So, we’re gonna have it ready for the next tour in February. We are thinking of recording some singles and maybe something in Spanish, but we haven’t yet decided.

MER: Have you been with Holy Grail in Europe?

James: Yeah, we have played in some European festivals like Wacken, a festival in Austria, and also we did a UK tour.

MER: Do you think there is a difference between European and USA metalheads?

James: Definitely there is. I mean it seems that Metal never died everywhere but in the USA. There isn’t that interest in the mainstream market, but thankfully there is still hunger for Traditional Metal. Actually, the new album was well-received in the USA.

MER: What are Holy Grail’s immediate plans? What do you have in mind?

James: We are trying to book as many European live dates as we can during spring time. Maybe hitting some festivals there too. Also, there is a chance to book a summer tour in Canada, but nothing is confirmed. We also want to get back in Japan sometime in November next year, and then return to the USA for more shows. In 2012, we want to reach South America — that will be awesome. We want to be as busy as possible.


  • Dr. Dimitris Kontogeorgakos

    Dimitris was a reviewer and interviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He has a diploma in Physics, a Masters in Medical Physics and a doctorate dimploma in Nuclear Medicine (this is the reason for his Dr. title). He was given his first Heavy Metal tape at the age of 12 which was a compilation entitled Scandinavian Metal Attack. The music immediately drew his attention and there he was listening to the first Iron Maiden album, trying to memorize the names of the band members. That was it! After some years, he stopped recording tapes and started buying vinyl records, spending every penny in the local record shop. The first live concert he attended was Rage co-headlining with Running Wild.

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