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Solstafir

Solstafir
Songs Are Living Entities

30.07.2019

Архив интервью | Русская версия

I’m not leaving Iceland till I have spoken to Addi! — I used to wake up to this thought every morning on my Icelandic trip this June. The original plan was to catch up with him at Ascension festival. In fact, I arranged interviews with several musicians there, but little did I know that at festivals, musicians are as elusive as ever. Of course, we could reschedule and do it on Skype some time later when I would at least have a proper excuse (a new Sólstafir album is in the making and I’m pretty sure after its release there will be new shows in Russia). But what’s special about that? Talking in Iceland in person  — ow that’s what I call special. There wasn’t much I could do, though. Some local advised me to simply look him up in a phone book (yes, that Icelander had his own idea of privacy - by the way, there are three Aðalbjörn Tryggvasons living in Iceland, in case you were wondering) but I decided to do it the old way and sent him yet another message on Facebook. And just when I was about to fall dead after having walked 30 km around Dimmuborgir (the volcanic field, not the band), I was given a reason to live, as Addi messaged me back and suggested to meet the following Wednesday. Coincidentally, it was the very last day of my stay in Iceland. Quite an epic ending to my journey!

I’m gonna start with a real fangirl question. I know you’re close friends with Alan Averill. One time, during a Primordial performance, you even took hold of his mic and sang a song… so, why hasn’t there been a collaboration yet?


It’s funny you mentioned that. Alan’s coming to Iceland and he’s gonna come here on July 10 — we play on the 12th (at Eistnaflug festival – ed.). And we have actually done a little bit together before. I have a side project going on, it’s like a crust punk death metal album that I wrote. I wrote it this year, and I’ve recorded it, there are 8 songs like Wolfbrigade, Disfear and stuff. So, he’s gonna sing one song with me on the album and we’re recording his vocals on the 10th of July. And actually we have plans to do some Townes van Zandt country stuff together. And he has another band called Aprilmen. When he was starting that, I was with him in Dublin, I was in the studio doing some stuff, we did some ideas together but they didn’t really end up being used, so… we’ve taken it a little bit steps, I was there with him in Dublin, we were doing some stuff but then I didn’t have time, he didn’t have time and then I wrote this crust punk death metal album. We’re even using some of his lyrics, so he’s gonna write some lyrics on this crust album and he’s gonna sing a song with me as well. Then of course I’ve sung with them two times live. So, we’ve done a little bit but we’re gonna do more.      

When can we expect it to be out?

This album’s pretty much recorded, and the only thing missing is 4 songs of vocals. I’ve done vocals for four songs, guitars are all done, drums are all done, so, everything’s done. It might be out in September/October. We’re gonna finish it in July, then we’ll have about three months before the release, so… yeah, hopefully, the second part of this year.

And via which label? Or is it self-released?


No, it’s not self-released but I can’t tell you right away. But it has a label, so it’ll come out on CD and vinyl. So it’ll be cool.  

What other musicians are involved in the project?

It’s a friend of mine called Birgir (Jónsson). Birgir used to be in a pretty big rock band around here called Dimma. We’ve always wanted to work together, just like me and Alan. So, I wrote the music and he plays the drums. It’s a side-project, you know, old-school.

You’re often asked about playing at very diverse festivals. Obviously, you have a lot of fun hanging out backstage at metal festivals but what about the family-oriented ones?

Most of these festivals — it’s just in and out. I mean, we played Graspop last summer and I hardly remember it, because we did it 3 years before and it’s the same - we arrive like half an hour before the show and we’re gone half an hour after the show. But it’s fine. Sometimes it’s a great scenery. If you go to Brutal Assault, of course, it’s a metal festival that’s held in an old fortress, and you can walk around. We played a festival called Rock Warrior in Munich, Germany, at a great old Olympic stadium, so it’s a cool building, great surroundings. Of course, I’d prefer to be at metal festivals because usually there’s a metal market where you can go and check out old vinyls and stuff like that but then again, we’ve played at a lot of, like you said, normal, family-oriented festivals. It’s cool, it’s just a different perspective. I think it would be tiring to only play metal festivals in a field in Germany. It’s just like music — we like exploring music, we like exploring different territories, and we like playing at new festivals and to different crowds. So, no complaints.

But still, I think it’s more fun when you have friends playing at the same festivals…

We’ve been around for like 20 years but only in the last 10 years we sort of became a touring band. Oh, I remember like 10 years ago we started doing festivals and we didn’t have friends there, we were normally just the band which brought with us 5 liters of brennivin and were drunk all the time. Everyone would be like, “Look at these guys, they’re obviously new guys to the game” — because normally new bands just arriving at this touring scene are the ones who do drugs the most and drink the most. But when you’ve been touring for 10 years, you’re not really doing that anymore. (laughs) These days we know a lot more bands, so it’s more fun. I’m not shy about, you know…. I’ve met a guy from Trivium, I’d never met him before and it turned out he’s a fan of Sólstafir. It’s cool meeting people like that. I’ve met Tragedy, the American band, I’ve met Brujeria, Atheist, Obituary. It’s pretty cool. I’m not making an ass out of myself. I used to be the drunk guy who would just make an ass out of himself, but now it’s nice meeting people who like to talk and meet, like you say, at the backstage areas of the festivals.   

And since you’re a touring band now, when you write new songs, do you immediately think how they’re gonna sound live?

No. We’re not very good at that. Normally we just write them and we figure out afterwards, “Why the fuck didn’t we do it like this?” For example, now we have a song from the last album (“Berdreyminn”, 2017) called “Bláfjall” which we love playing now. We basically play it every time. It’s my favorite song of the album. I think it’s way better now than it is on the album because when we wrote it we hardly played it. Now we’ve played it like 100 times or whatever. Usually a song sort of gets little extra changes with time. It’s like when you’re a kid and you leave home, sort of start to mature, clean your own socks and buy your own food, there’s no mom. It’s a little bit like that with songs - you write them and record them and then you start playing them, and they become bigger songs. It used to be different because we weren’t really a touring band, so we would just write songs, record them and then we would just never play them or just keep rehearsing them. Now we’re just a little bit more into live scenarios. We always change a little bit, songs are live, they’re living entities.  

I remember you complaining about having to tour too much because obviously being on a bus for several months is kinda tiring. Given the opportunity, would you tour less?

No, I like touring. Of course, any band will tell you that after six weeks on the bus you get a little bit crazy, and people wanna go home, but the shows are getting bigger, we’re getting more audience, we can bring more crew, so we can have better quality shows, so it’s more professional and more fun. A band is like an iceberg, you know. You only see 10%. I mean, there’s a lot of travelling, a lot of rehearsing, airports and stuff but it’s worth it. Like I said, we’re having fun. On the tour we did in March, we were nine in the band, we had two sound engineers, one light guy, so, it’s a big thing and everybody is cool. And when you have live strings and a piano player, it feels like, “This is what we’re about, this is what we always should have been”.  But then again, when you’ve done that, you think, “We should be this and that, we should try to expand”. I’ve never been happier with the band, I mean, touring-wise, we never could afford to bring a keyboard player with us before, and now we manage to bring four string players, and it’s working, so it’s great.   

And what’s the optimal length of a set? Because I remember a few years back in Ukraine you played for two hours…

You mean the festival in Ukraine? Maybe we got 90 minutes or something. Two hours for a festival is very unusual except you’re Metallica or something. But sometimes they give us 70-80 minutes if you have the last slot. We like playing two hours a night.

Well, that’s a lot. Most bands now play about 70 minutes, even if it’s a solo show.  

Yeah but we have long songs. If we were a grindcore band — no grindcore band plays two hours a night. A two-hour show isn’t that much. I mean, some of the songs are 10 minutes, some of them are 12. Never in the history of touring with this band have I heard anyone say, “The show was just too long”. What I’ve heard is like, “The set was too short, they should have played longer”. I hear it all the time and I’ve never heard anyone say, “They should have skipped at least 2 or 3 songs”. Sometimes, like on the last tour, we do two hours. There was a little intermission, and then we did the whole “Otta” album (2014) and then we played some older stuff. And we’re still skipping songs. I mean, if I could sing three hours a night, I would do it. But it costs money to tour, so we can’t really afford taking that many days off. Renting nightliners cost a lot of money, and getting gas at a gas station costs money. Normally we play every day but you know, your body has only such limits to singing. You have to take care of yourself. For singing, two hours is what I would prefer at minimum.  

Huh, I thought a band like Solstafir can actually make a living off music…


If you’re touring, you can get money for it. But when you come home, it’s not like you come home with 7 million dollars. I mean, that’s not the reality. If you’re always touring, you can do that. But you can’t overexpose yourself, and we like putting more money into production. I mean, we could just tour with a local sound guy and some keyboards on mp3 from a phone — we’ve done that for years. But we always wanted to expand, to have rented video gear and other stuff. If you don’t have kids or family, or mortgage, you can do it, sure. But if you have kids and family, if you have to buy a house, if you have to pay the bills like most people do, then it’s difficult because when you’re not touring, there’s no money coming in.

And you work as a sound engineer, correct?

Yeah, I just came here from work. Once in a while I get this job. I’m not a full-time employee, so I have contracts for a few months dubbing children’s material. Grimsi (Hallgrimur Jon Hallgrimsson), our drummer, is a gardener, he’s a true hipster. He looks like a forester with a chainsaw, chopping down trees. Svavar (Austman, bass) works with people with special needs. So, you know, it’s all sorts of stuff.  

Has your work as a sound engineer affected the way you write music these days?

No, no, it has nothing to do with that. Writing music is a very introvert thing, it’s like channeling out of you what you don’t even know you have inside your head. Sometimes it’s hard to press that button, to create, to write. Sometimes it just won’t go on. It’s easier to put it on when everybody’s together and we focus, we help each other out with ideas and challenge ourselves, but work is work. Today I’ve been mixing children’s material for 8 hours and I don’t feel like going home and writing the best song in the world. These are completely different things.    

You have very special connection with your audience, your music really resonates with them, and sometimes they would even come up to you to say just how your music helped them through some very hard times in their lives. Are there any stories from a fan that are stuck in your memory?


Many of them are very tragic because we’ve been singing about depression and alcoholism and addiction and all sides of suicide. It’s pretty tough. We’re just channeling our life, so it’s basically about life and death and they’re opposites of each other but they’re holding hands. It can be hard with people reaching out when they are really really in the darkness and they’re on the verge of giving up. It can be in Texas, or in Ukraine, or in Sweden and it’s still intimate. This is, of course, the subject I could talk about for a long time. Normally after a show we go and meet people and — let’s just say there are 50 people in the line, and someone is very upset and you wanna talk to them and it’s very hard to stop people talking when they’re really opening themselves up. You feel bad, because when someone’s talking to you, they’re obviously opening up your heart and there’s a shitload of people who want to do the same. I try never to leave before I can talk to everybody. I couldn’t tell you a certain story, there are just people saying, “I lost my boyfriend or my girlfriend”, or even “My child survived the third suicide attempt”. Sometimes it’s a rock concert and after the show people may be drinking, everybody’s sort of having a good time and it’s a bit of a contrast — being high on adrenaline from the gig, meeting people, taking photos, signing and then suddenly you’re talking about some people’s deep stuff, and then five seconds later someone goes, “Hey! Let’s take a photo!” I like talking about human stuff. I quit drinking 5.5 years ago, so I’m a little bit more into the spiritual or human element of life. These are deep subjects. Sometimes it’s just difficult to mix them with the spirit of rock’n’roll because in the big picture it’s a rock band, it’s a rock show but we aren’t really an ordinary rock band, we don’t sing about banging chicks or driving fast cars, it’s not really what we do. It’s different worlds. We sing about this stuff – our family and friends have died, so…

You said you’re channeling your own life. Do you actually have that much darkness in your life?

I’m pretty good now. Like I said, I used to do a lot of drugs and drink a lot. Svavar as well, he used to do even more drugs and drink more that I did. To a certain point, drugs and booze are fun, for most people it’s fun. But it gets out of control and nobody realizes it until it’s too late. Otherwise, you’d just quit. And when you do too much drugs, you pay the price for it, normally it’s depression. A lot of people don’t get it. “Why am I so fucking depressed? I think I’ll just drink beer or red wine instead of all this vodka or do the speed”. You pay a price. And yeah, I’ve been there, I mean, depressed from doing drugs. I’ve lost many friends on doing drugs. I don’t want to be a preachy guy and call on people to stop drinking or doing drugs — do whatever you want. But it comes with a high price of falling down into depression. Sometimes, when you’re down there, it feels impossible to stand up. And when you’ve been down there for a long time, feeling it’s impossible to stand up, you just give up. I’m not talking about a movie here, I’m just talking about people like me and you. It’s real life.     

You even have a song about domestic violence but according to global polls, Iceland is one of the most peaceful countries in the world. Do you really have that much domestic violence here? And why would you write such a song, anyway? Few bands write about stuff like that.


I think domestic violence is everywhere. There’s not more domestic violence in Iceland than in America, or in Poland, just to name any countries. Some people like to talk more about stuff and when you become aware of it… I mean, when I was 15, or 20, or 25, I was not aware of such a thing called domestic violence, I wouldn’t understand what it meant. When you get to know someone that sort of tells you their story, completely how their life was — it looked great, it looked like a fucking postcard: smiles and kids and holidays. And then you turn the postcard the other way round, and it was a fucking living hell because of domestic violence. It fucks people up for good. It can start from being a kid. And you feel ashamed of it. You’re different, you’re always playing a game, you always have to “read” circumstances – “Am I gonna be yelled at or get beaten today? Will I get food, or should I make myself invisible?” And when you become older and you feel this fucking black hole in your heart, the first thing to do is do cocaine and drink whiskey, smoke weed, self-medicate. It affects a lot of people and it’s a taboo. You don’t go to a bar and say, “Hey man, I fucked up my wife yesterday”. It’s not talked about. It’s a shame. And the only proper way to talk about it is to turn the fucking postcard the other way around. It’s the way to expose it. Expose this shit. Don’t keep it locked. People are committing suicides or going fucking mental.   

While Solstafir helps a lot of your fans to overcome serious hardships in their life, you once said you never had a band like that in your life, a band that would help you through the darkest times. What do your favorites bands mean to you, then?

Maybe it’s because I was never much of a “lyric” guy. I was more into checking out the bass drum sound or something… Look, here they are playing Mad Season (grunge supergroup featuring members of Alice In Chains, Pearl Jan and Screaming Trees – ed.)! I love Layne Staley and this band was sort of the sound of my youth. But I don’t know many lyrics. I know the sound and all that. Maybe it’s more about the soundscape than the message to me. And of course in black and death metal, it wasn’t really the message — it was the atmosphere and the feeling to it. It’s only when I became older, I got into Neal Young or Nick Cave – they’re probably the one who spoke to me most in terms of telling you the way it is, like no one has told you the way it is. They’re not metal, but I don’t really refer to a lot of metal bands. I mean, my metal bands would have been Slayer, Autopsy, Morbid Angel, Entombed, Exodus, Morgoth or At the Gates. Of course, none of these bands are giving me that. They are giving me a different feeling than Nick Cave or Neal Young or some other people.  

And how do you find out new bands these days?

I have very few friends whose musical taste I look up to. Alan Averill is certainly not one of them. He’s always like, “Listen to this band”, and it’s fucking rubbish. If a few of my friends are saying, ‘Have you heard this band?’ and another guy comes and mentions the same band, I go like, “OK, I’ll check it out”. Sometimes we get recommended to take up a band on the road, like Esben and the Witch from Brighton, England. I LOVE that band today. I’d never heard about them before, but the idea came from people I respect and so I was, “OK, this is an interesting band”. But the older I get, the less I discover. The more I enjoy the silence. Sometimes while we’re at festivals, I see someone who’s amazing, but it happens less and less. Sometimes I just go back in the catalogue, more into the 70s and the 60s. A few years ago I listened to lots of 50s rock’n’roll, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and stuff. Or maybe I’ll just listen to British new wave, you know, The Sisters of Mercy or Fields Of The Nephilim. I’m not always looking forward because there isn’t much new under the sun. Some of the coolest things I’ve discovered like Beastmilk of my good friend Mat (McNerney also known as Kvohst), they’re now called Grave Pleasures, and they’re excellent, but the album they’ve done sounds like it’s done in the late 80s. It doesn’t really sound new. Sometimes I discover new black metal bands, like Funeral Mist. Everybody’s been talking about them, and so I thought, “Oh, it’s gotta be some crap”, but then I listened to them and thought, “Holy shit! Why didn’t I listen to it before?”

Why did you think it was crap?


I don’t know. Maybe just because I hadn’t heard a good black metal band in years. If you need a few favorite black metal bands — I have all mine, I don’t need more. I have, like, seven…

And they are…?


I just made up a number (chuckles) but my favorite black metal bands are Darkthrone, for sure, and Immortal. I was never too much of an Emperor guy, they were too technical for me. Impaled Nazarene is one of them. Then, Mayhem, of course. I love “De Mysteriis dom Sathanas”, and all that stuff. Beherit… Maybe I don’t have seven… anyway, those are the ones I listen to the most, mostly Norwegian and Finnish bands. So, when someone’s talking like, “Listen to this band, listen to this band”, sometimes I do and it’s nothing special. But then I hear Funeral Mist and I’m all like, “Fuck, man, it’s cool”.

What have you listened to today, for example? Or was it silence?


No. I mean, at work I was listening to children’s material, cartoons. On the way to work, I was listening to the demos of my crust punk album. And on the way here I listened to the demos of the next Solstafir album.

So, there’s a new album on the way, right?

Yeah, we’re writing stuff but…. What have I been listening to recently? (takes out the phone and shows me his bands on Spotify) The new Smashing Pumpkins album, Thin Lizzy – it’s one of my favorites, Little Richard, also some old stuff like Black Flag. “Back in Black” by AC/DC is one of my favorite albums ever - well, I’m a Bon Scott fan, but this is a great album. Atheist – I love Atheist, discovered them in the early 90s. Wolfbrigade — fucking love it. Foreigner – I love Foreigner. Limmer - this is like 80s American industrial rock band. Stone Temple Pilots – fucking love this album, The Brain Police – one of my favorites, Hermano – it’s John Garcia from Kyuss. Neil Young – fucking love Neil Young. This band here — Nux Vomica - I got it pointed out by some friend of mine. Because I was looking for more crust punk bands, I put it on Facebook – “what are the crust punk bands that I don’t know?” And someone pointed this out. This is an AMAZING album! It’s not really crust punk, it has the spirit of crust punk. Autopsy – this is the album I’ve been playing in here. Listened to some Bathory. There’s a lot of diversity.

Since I was a major in literary criticism and languages, I can’t help but contemplate how bands choose the language they write songs in. Of course, you feel more at ease with your mother tongue, but why, for example, “Necrologue” was written in English?

At that time we were writing in English. I mean, “Masterpiece of Bitterness” (2005) was all in English, there isn’t a single Icelandic song on “Masterpiece of Bitterness”. And it was written in 2003-2004, so, we were writing “Kold” in 2006 and 2007. We weren’t a touring band and I hadn’t really started singing clean. So, the first song that I ever sang ‘clean’ clean was…. Well, half of the “Kold” songs. So, we went to Sweden with everything written in English, therefore ‘Necrologue’ was written in English. I was recording the vocals and I was done recording “Kold” in English. The “Kold” song was initially called “The Curse of the Cold Greek”, and we have it in English somewhere. But something about the clean part in the middle of the “Kold” song called for this tiny lyric that I’d written and I said, “Hey guys, I wanna try this here” but we didn’t have much time. So, I tried it and I was really shy. I mean, being a metal guy and all that shit, I had just tried to sound like Tom Araya or James Hetfield or Atilla from Mayhem up to that point. But at that point I was sounding very clean and naked. This was…. 12 years ago? No, 12 years ago was the recording, it came out 10 years ago. I’m confident now with it, I mean I can sing “Fjara” and lots of more quiet music but at that time I just thought, “Holy shit, they’re gonna laugh at me. They’re gonna say that I suck and this is terrible”.

But you went for it anyway…

Yeah, I mean, I didn’t like it but the guys said, “Oh, this is really cool, we have to use it!” and I was like, “Fuck no man, it’s like a career suicide. All the cool black metal kids are gonna say we suck. We can’t use it”. But of course, we stuck with that idea. They guys thought that we should have it. I’m confident with it now but it was a very big step for us. Just a few years before we did these 5 songs, we called it our black/death era, this “Black Death” EP, and I was screaming my ass off on it. So, having done that in 2002 and switching over to singing clean in 2007 - I thought, “Holy shit!” But the “Kold” song in Icelandic sounded beautiful, more romantic or emotional… It was a natural progression, like, “Okay man, I guess I should use Icelandic then”. And we’ve been using Icelandic since.

I recall you saying that stupid ideas always turn out to be the best ones. Has it become easier for you to put these so called stupid ideas into action or is it actually harder for you these days?  


I just always hope for stupid ideas to come. I’m waiting for them. You can’t really decide to have them. They just come to you. You can call them stupid ideas but in reality it’s more like out of your comfort zone. I think it was David Bowie who said, “You should walk into the ocean until the ocean hits your nose and you can hardly breathe — that’s when the magic happens”. You should write it because you’re reeeeally out of your comfort zone and you can hardly breathe. It’s exactly the thing with “Kold”. It was a ridiculous idea to be singing clean heartfelt emotional stuff. “Fuck no, we can’t use that!” And then “Fjara” came. And I was like, “oh shit”. Even when we wrote ‘Fjara’, we called it the Eurovision song because it was a bit different song. Again, we were a little bit shy. We were saying, “We can’t do this. This is too soft, people are gonna abandon us”. Wimps and posers, leave the hall, like Manowar say. So, even the “Fjara” demo had a black metal ending on it, so, we have somewhere a recording of “Fjara” from our rehearsal place with some blast beats in the end because we wanted to keep it metal. But we didn’t do it and the song was great. Then we used a fucking banjo. Another stupid idea.

Speaking of rehearsals. A friend of mine told me that right before Ascension where you played the special “Kold” set, you actually rehearsed on the beach! How did you end up on a beach? Is there something so special about “Kold” that you…

Our rehearsal space is at the end of Reykjavik, I can show you. (opens Google Maps)

Do you all live in Reykjavik?

Yeah. I used to live in Glasgow, Gummi (Guðmundur Óli Pálmason, former drummer) used to live in London, Svavar used to live in London, but now we are all here. So, this is Reykjavik (points on the map), Mosfellsbær (the town where Ascension was held) is here and our rehearsing place is this building here (points at the Seltjarnarnes peninsula, the north-western point of Reykjavik). We were rehearsing the other day, and some guys were outside of the building knocking on the door. We were like, “Who the fuck is this?”. They were some guys from Germany and Switzerland who were walking from the Kvika footbath. They had been walking for like 6 hours from there or something. They heard our music and they knocked on the door and were like, “Oh, it’s Solstafir, huh”. Yeah, our rehearsal space is by the beach.

Any plans of coming to Russia any time soon?


No. We will play there again, of course, but we don’t have plans. Right now the only plan we have is to do 5 or 6 gigs this year and write a new album. We can’t be writing an album and touring Russia or anywhere at the same time. September, October, November, December – they’re just off. Let’s say, imagine that we deliver an album in February - just imagine we do it, but we probably won’t do it because we’re always late. Then we’ll need March, April, May for promotion, and then it’s June, time for summer festivals. So, June, July, and August will be devoted to summer festivals. Then from September to December is a touring season, so, it’s a year from now. So, no, we’re not coming to Russia till a year from now. Unless some billionaire from Russia, like Abramovich, calls us and pays us 10 million dollars — we’ll skip anything and go to Russia. Do you know Roman Abramovich? Have him call me. (laughs) Now we don’t have any plans save for South America.

But it’s expensive to go there, isn’t it?

Russia is easier. I mean, just go to Helsinki and you’re in St. Petersburg right away. South America is way more difficult. We flew from Central Europe to Santiago in Chile and then all the way to Buenos Aires, Sao Paolo, Mexico… Where do you live?

Moscow.

So, you live in Moscow. It’s kinda weird because for a long time we never went to Moscow. The first time we went to Moscow was 2015 and we came back a year later with Mono. So, we were there twice in, like, two years. (Their first Russian shows were in February 2015 and the shows with Mono were in October, only half a year later. The very last time Solstafir played in Russia was in November 2017 — ed.) I know we’ll be there again but like I told you our plan is… I don’t like taking all those months off touring but we’re doing it because… like, last year we did an American tour with Paradise Lost and for this you have to rehearse a different set - I mean, if you haven’t been in America for a long time, you play these songs. Then you come home for a week and after that you go on a European tour for a month and you have to do more songs from the new album. Because you can’t play the same songs in America and Europe.

Why?

Because you play so often here in Europe, you have to change the setlist, you can’t just go on playing the same songs all the time. In America we sort of played the songs that we used to play all the time, that helped get rid of stress a bit - playing the hits, there were only four songs we could play. We were opening for Paradise Lost, so we didn’t have much time. Then in March we had the strings tour. We decided to do all the strings songs off the “Berdreyminn” album along with other string songs, so we had to rehearse that. And now we’re playing the whole “Kold” album, so we have to rehearse the “Kold” album. Then we have a fill-in drummer for two shows, we have to rehearse him up. And then a fill-in bass player for 3 shows. And we’re going to Norway in August to play with a Russian male choir and some Norwegian string players, it will be at the Varanger Festival, so we’re going back to rehearsing strings stuff. It’s different programs, different programs and rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing. And you never have time to write anything.

I think live shows play an extremely important role in metal culture but I guess there were very few bands coming to Iceland when you were a kid. So, how did you compensate for not experiencing live shows?

Well, if you buy an original CD of the first Deicide album, you’ll see its distribution: House of Kicks, Sweden, and Steinar, Iceland. There was a distribution too here through Roadrunner/Atlantic in the early 90s, so all the death metal stuff came here. I was listening to Deicide and Pestilence in 1991, they all came here. Of course, Metallica and Guns N’ Roses came here, everybody was listening to them here – I mean, albums, but no bands would come here to play. I mean, Led Zeppelin came in 1970. Kiss came here in 1988 — I didn’t go there, of course. Iron Maiden came in 1991, I think. I didn’t go there.

Why? You don’t like Iron Maiden?

Iron Maiden’s for the girls. I listened to death metal back then, so of course I didn’t go. It wasn’t my cup of tea. I love Maiden today but…. Then Rage Against the Machine came here in 1993. Their first album was out, but they hadn’t exploded, it was before they turned huge. So, we were a proper Hillbilly nation. Everybody’s going to the gig - even though most of them didn’t even know the band. I remember everybody went to see Rage Against the Machine, there were like 5 thousand people, it was crazy! Metallica came here in 2004, Megadeth one year later.

Do you actually remember all that year by year?

Yeah, because it was such a rarity. I mean, I remember all the dates when they came, but the one that sticks out is probably Rage Against the Machine. It’s funny because it’s not a metal-oriented band, but we were really so hungry for a foreign band coming here. There was a band called HAM, it’s like “ham” but it’s a different meaning. They were sort of the biggest band here, and everybody — if you liked indie, pop, black metal, death metal — everybody liked HAM. Someone asked me once why some band from here sounded obscure. It’s because no bands arrived, it was sort of inbreed influences. I mean, there was punk and hard rock and weird stuff, so maybe we are a little bit weird because of it as well. We don’t sound like many other bands. We used to be a very remote island.   

I’m afraid it’s gotta be all, my flight back to Moscow is in 2 hours. Thank you for your time!

No problem, see you in Moscow!

Or in Norway!

Then Addi gave me a hug, I asked for a selfie and he took like eight shots, just in case. If you want a perfect musician to take photos with, he’s your man.  


Solstafir on the Internet: http://www.solstafir.net/

Interview by Lena Pashko
Photos courtesy of Season Of Mist Records
June 26, 2019
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