Of Monsters and Men
Of Monsters and Men are the 2010 winners of Músiktilraunir (a nationwide Battle of the Bands competition). The band's name is apt and fitting to their lyrics, which mostly comprise stories of all kinds of monsters, both fictional and human. While they used to be mainly an acoustic band, OM&M has taken their sound to a different level with the addition of bass, drums, piano and the accordion, creating a bigger sound.
After spending most of last year playing gigs and festivals all over Iceland and in Holland the band focuses now on recording their first full length album that’s set be released in the summer of 2011. The six piece indie/folk band has already had some success though, with their song “Little Talks”, that has spread over the world wide web like wildfire after the Seattle based radio station “Kexp” recorded it live over last year’s Iceland Airwaves festival.
Interview with Ragnar Þórhallsson
So, you won the Músiktilraunir last year - how did that feel and what kinds of doors has it opened?
It felt great and it opened up a lot of doors for us. We got a lot more attention here in Iceland which then led to some people overseas noticing us. So now we're just trying to make the most of that.
Not bad considering your first gig with new member Arnar in March 2010! did Arnar complete the band in a very final way or will you add more members?
When Arnar joined the band things really started to roll. He started out doing some percussion work for us and singing back up vocals but as the songs continued to evolve we knew we had to kick it up a notch. So now he's behind the drumset fulltime and we've also added two new wonderful members; Kiddi Palli on the bass and Árni who plays the accordion/piano.
When did you form and what was/is your musical mission?
The six of us have been playing together now for about eight months but I guess you could say that we've been together as "Of Monsters and Men" for about a year now. Our mission has always been simple. We just want to make good music and have fun. Simple as that.
Who are your main musical influences?
That's always a hard question to answer. But for myself I'd have to say Bon Iver and Ray Charles. Those are my favorites. I can’t answer for the others though...
And non musical influences?
We tend to get our inspiration from all sorts of weird stories that we find here and there. These are mostly stories of people doing something out of the ordinary, something that's not considered normal human behavior. It's the weird things that excite us!
Where does the name come from?
The name is sort of a spin of from the 1937 novel "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck.
The name sounds frightening yet your music is so lovely: discuss!
Haha well...yeah. I guess it's a bit of a scary name when you hear it at first, but if you put the name in context with the lyrics it all makes perfect sense. (to us at least).
You've been generating a bit of a buzz lately, what's the cause of all that?
I guess it all started when the wonderful people of the seattle based radio station KEXP came to us around last year's Iceland Airwaves Festival and asked us if they could shoot a video of us playing a few of our songs. We of course said yes and ended up playing a song called "Little Talks". They then posted it on their website and that's when everything started to happen.
Rumour has it you've been working on a new album - what can you tell us about that?
Yes we're in the studio as we speak. I'm actually writing this from the control room where I sit comfortably on an old brown sofa while resting my feet in the table in front of it. We're well into recoring the album and are looking forward to showing everyone the finished product.
When will it be released and with who?
It's set to be released in the end of May/early June and hopefully that won't change. We're working with a great label here in iceland called Record Records. But we're not signed outside of Iceland.
What other plans do u have for 2011? Tours? Shows? Naked skydiving?
As of now, nothing is set in stone, but we’re definitely hoping to play some shows overseas. Naked skydiving sounds great as well. Maybe we’ll combine the two and play a show while skydiving naked.
Which other icelandic bands do you rate at the moment?
There are so many to choose from. Right now my favorite Icelandic band is Valdimar. You guys should definitely check them out. Then there are other bands like Cliff Clavin and Rökkurró that are also great. Check them all out on www.gogoyoko.com. A great website that gives you easy access to all the main icelandic artists.