ATLANTA, Ga. – On July 16 Arthur Hinds, singer and songwriter for the popular band Emerald Rose, announced via his personal Facebook page that it was time to split the party. The Wild Hunt talked with Hinds, who is also a well known ritualist and bard at Pagan gatherings, about the highlights of performing with Emerald Rose and what’s in store for him in the future.Over the years, Emerald Rose gained a devoted following in two areas that often overlap: Paganism and geek culture. The group was formed 20 years ago among a group of friends who enjoyed getting together and playing Magic the Gathering. As Hinds explains, one of their spouses said that they were wasting their time and should make some music for the Pagan community.
Larry Morris was already well-known in the local Pagan community as a drummer. Logan Sullivan had previous experience being in a band as a brass player. Clyde Gilbert’s background was in heavy metal. Hinds had been a singer and songwriter since he was in his teens.
“Our first paid gig was at a nudist resort where we played about 6 songs.” – Arthur Hinds
While the group was ostensibly created to appeal to Pagans, the group developed a Celtic folk-rock sound that soon made them one of the top local bands in the Southeast United States. Most of their music draws from Celtic mythology, but one CD, titled Con Suite, highlights their roots as a group of guys who love all things geek. It was the odes to Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and gaming culture that further widened their audience. Their music was used on the soundtracks of two documentaries, including Ringers, which is about Lord of the Rings fans, and Done the Impossible, which is about the Firefly Television series. They were also the headliners for Hollywood Lord of the Rings Oscar parties in 2003 and 2004.
The Wild Hunt: So you were created as a Pagan band, but when did you become a sci-fi/fantasy convention favorite?
Arthur Hinds: Ahhh, well all four of us were geeks- from comics to anime to science to RPGs and of course MTG. Clyde and I had been to a bunch of DragonCons [a yearly Sci-Fi and Fantasy convention in Atlanta] in the varied incarnations it went through, but we did not know each other at the time.
Then in 2002 Clyde talked [DragonCon] into letting us in. Larry, in particular, writes wacky geeky songs that fit well, but really our strength at cons has been as a Pagan band. The overlap between Pagan and geek is gigantic.
TWH: Yes it is. Why do you think there’s such an overlap?
AH: There are probably PHD papers on that subject. It might have to do with the power of imagination, creating thought forms. Most Pagans identify with created worlds where Nature is recognized as live and worthy of veneration. So many Pagans are first drawn to their path after being illuminated by fiction. Mists of Avalon called many to the Goddess. Also, the willingness to think outside the mainstream is there as well.
TWH: So, at the start, all band members were Pagan? Are they still?
AH: Honestly Cara, I would prefer not to speak for another person about their spiritual path. I think it is safe to say that I am very much Pagan.
TWH: Fair enough. The announcement that Emerald Rose is disbanding comes 20 years after its creation. Is their significance to that? Did you think, “20 years? Hmmmmm…..”
AH: I can’t say that the number really impacted our announcement. It was simply time. Our lives and commitments did. 20 years, however is a loooooooong time.
TWH: It is. Most bands don’t stay together anywhere near that long. Life changes, personality conflicts. Why were you able to stay together?
AH: Well, first of all, we started as really good friends and many of the choices we made over the years were based on that friendship. And really, the Pagan root that we grew from helped to give stability as well.
TWH: In that 20 years you’ve created so much music. Played so many venues. Do you have a favorite memory from a Pagan venue or some time where the spiritual component was most memorable?
AH: Wow, you are asking a lot
TWH: I know, right?
AH: I always love singing Freya Shakti for the right crowd, it has raised much power, but I think I am going to go with a different song. We were performing Dagger of the Moon outside on an overcast night, when the crowd gasped as one. I turned to see that the clouds had parted to reveal a crescent right behind us.
TWH: Where was that at?
AH: I think Maryland Fairy Fest, but I’m not entirely sure. Another one of my favorite Pagan show memories took place on a rainy night. We were dry and safe on a covered stage but the crowd was getting damp. They did not scatter, but kept on dancing. All of a sudden the sky opened and a rain fell. Did the people run? No, they took off all of their remaining clothes and danced harder. I bet U2 never had that happen. it was a mighty rain
TWH: On the flip side, what has it meant to you, to be able to offer excellent quality Pagan music? Why do it?
AH: I love it. I love Pagan music. I love playing and performing in general, but being able to let my spirit shine is the glimmer on the lake. For me it is part of my clergy work and art of my Bardic spiritual path.
TWH: So you know this question is coming. Why is Emerald Rose breaking up?
AH: We haven’t had a giant fight. We still like each other, but our lives and creative paths are separating. It has been happening for a couple of years, and we thought that we owed it to our fans to not just sort of fade away. We wanted to let them know that we are leaving this wonderful path with good feelings and great memories.
TWH: I know from my own experience with serious health challenges how stressful it can be on a spouse. Your wife has been facing her own medical challenges. Is that coming into play for you personally as a reason why you’re ready for Emerald Rose to end their run?
AH: Only a little. I think. I have walked a hard medical path with My Lovely Wife our entire relationship.
TWH: What’s next for Arthur Hinds? I can’t picture you not performing and I’ve seen how much you enjoy encouraging people to perform at Pagan Spirit Gathering’s talent show.
AH: Well, I came to Emerald Rose as a singer and songwriter of both Pagan and secular music, and that is how I leave it. I have three solo CDs and I am working on a fourth. I plan to continue touring and singing and telling the old tales. I had an awesome crop at this year’s PSG show and I’ll continue to do that as well.
TWH: Thanks Arthur. Anything you’d like to add?
AH: Well, I just want to thank the fans who supported us all of these years. I know that sounds like an old saw, but in truth, it is what kept us going. We had a hell of a time.