Was an Independent, Do It Yourself Blog dedicated to Icelandic music by music slut Wim Van Hooste

Was an Independent, Do It Yourself Blog dedicated to Icelandic music by music slut Wim Van Hooste
Moved back to I love Icelandic music & started new blog Icelandic Music Mob
The Enfant Terrible of the Icelandic Music Scene - Crapule de Luxe Islandaise
The Mob
and I love Icelandic music

September 20, 2011

Reykjavik! in the Spotlight @ IMX

Reykjavik!: Something biblical happened...
Iceland's irreverent rock polymaths Reykjavik have been terrorising audiences (in a good way) since 2004, and are currently preparing their blistering new album for full-scale assault on ears everywhere. With a reputation for working as hard as they party, it is, as guitarist Haukur S Magnusson's Grapevine cohort Birkir Fjalar Viðarsson put it, 'baffling they haven't self-imploded yet.' Icelandmusic.is manages to meet them before they do...
According to your Twitter you’re in the midst of mixing your new album, which sounds ‘like God crying gold tears from heaven’. For those not already acquainted with this no doubt beauteous sound, can you expand a little further on this?
Bóas: This time, we have touched down on divine sounds while collaborating with Birgir of Sundlaugin Studios (our first two records were mostly inspired by Satan and Thor, in equal measures). Something happened during that recording process which might possibly never ever be conveyed through mere use of words (although some combination of the words “God”, “crying”, “gold”, “tears” and “heaven” would place you on the correct path). We’ve never been big on divine interventions, but during these few weeks it is hard to look past the fact that something big has happened, something beyond this realm. For sure! It’s very reminiscent of the magic that happened when Wu Tang constructed their ‘36 chambers’.
Haukur: What? Someone reads Twitter? We signed up to promote our band because we read somewhere that ‘social media’ was the only way to sell records these days, however I hadn’t imagined anyone actually reading that or placing any particular meaning on whatever was written there. This might mean that we should start being more careful with what we say on Twitter.
Anyway, yeah. ‘God crying gold tears from heaven’ is sort of an in-joke of the Icelandic music scene. It’s something some hapless UK music critic or other supposedly remarked in a published review of the second Sigur Rós album (WTF is up with y’alls music press, UK! GO FIX IT ALREADY!). Certainly, something Biblical happened while we were recording our as of yet nameless third LP with Biggi at Sundlaugin (we just finished mixing it and goddamn! So much fun! We are so fortunate to be part of this stöff!).
So yeah, in this case, ‘God crying gold tears from heaven’ is meant to indicate that there are a lot of harmonies on the record. And keyboards. It’ll be out by Airwaves in some form, right? I think that’s the plan. Not sure what it’s called yet though.
- We read your post that in Iceland ‘the softer a band’s music is, the likelier they are to behave like Motley Crue on the road… this is one of the reasons we’ve been trying to mellow down our sound…’ Does this mean we can expect your new release to be something of a departure--and if so are you really getting even madder than usual behind the scenes to balance things up?
Haukur: Not so much a departure. It’s an album that’s made by the same people that made and toured the other two albums. But we maybe spent more time writing the songs on this one, also more of us are singing now. As a collective, we don’t really share a taste in music aside from our mutual affinity for the band Ride (who were really big in Ísafjörður around 1992, when we were growing up (except for our singer, he grew up in a place where no one liked Ride) and Slayer (because, SLAYER!). And we’ve never really had a proper sound system to rehearse with before, so we haven’t really even heard the vocals until it was time to release an album. So this time, we had somewhat of a setup, so we could experiment with stuff like backing vocals and harmonies and stuff.
So it’s like ‘Nowhere’ meets ‘Seasons in the Abyss’. Sort of. Definitely mellower than ‘THE BLOOD’, but we tend to find most earthen things are mellower than ‘THE BLOOD’. That was a goddamn intense record.
So, if the above theory is true, which supposedly delicate flowers of the Icelandic music scene are the wildest, would you say? Like, has Ólöf Arnalds been biting the heads off any small furry animals recently? Has Jónsi been throwing any appliances out of windows? We feel the world should know.
Haukur: We could tell you, but you wouldn’t believe us. Very seriously. Ask any of us to krútt-gossip next time you meet us. Oh, the stories we could tell. 
Back to you: Glacial Landscapes… featured a track called Ted Danson; The Blood paid wild homage to Kate Bush – are you giving the Reykjavik! treatment to any more famous names in the new album?
Haukur: So have you guys noticed something? Anytime after we lionize an entertainer on one of our albums, their careers get going again! Like Ted Danson, he’s suddenly all over the place! Have you seen ‘Bored To Death’? It’s amazing! Same with Kate Bush, we hear she’s doing an album now and everything.
We will keep in with this ritual. A name brand star will be revived to celebrate our new album. Buy it when it’s out to find out who (PS: It’s not Bruce Willis and it is not Carl Lewis).
Being largely from Ísafjörður, land of the wondrous Aldrei, some might ask why you plumped for the name Reykjavik!. Was it an ironic nod towards the fact that the capital pulls so much focus, and that most musicians feel they need to flock South in a bid to ‘make it’?
Bóas: We are all raised in the countryside, and we all fostered mad dreams about eventually going to Reykjavík and maybe even meeting great people like Biggi (of Maus fame), Halli from Botnleðja or Jakob Frímann. To us, Reykjavík was what New York is to people in Reykjavík (or Arkansas). It is also surely the best-named city in the world. Just think about it.
Haukur: Then we got here and it was like: Meh. It’s OK. So we added an exclamation mark, for fun and profit!
How did the band first come together?
Bóas: Now, here we have a long story coming up. Haukur and I, we met at the University of Iceland. Those were some good times, we studied philosophy and soon enough made a connection talking about our favourite books and music. We got to know one another better, and before too long I called Haukur up while on the way to the video-store to pick up some great movie (it was probably ‘Batman Returns’), and asked him if he was willing to start a two-man band. The original idea was to play music in the vein of as Ryan Adams, The Red House Painters and Simon & Garfunkel. We made a few songs as ‘Væmna gengið’ (“The Tender Boys”). But after a few bottles of red and many great nights, we found out that our tender ballads needed to be shouted out, and there was not enough feedback (and almost no reverb!). So we got Gummi, Kristján and later Valdi and Geiri involved. And it all made perfect sense. Eventually.
Haukur: I would like to add this: everyone should start a band. It’s fun. And it keeps you busy. That is all.
There are so many musicians in Iceland now, there seems to be an incredibly rich vein of abundant creativity in the cultural DNA – but what were your reasons behind wanting to form a band?
Ásgeir: For some of us, it was the wild women, while for the others it was the rippin' and the tearin'.
Bóas: To tell you the truth we thought there was a gap in the scene. There was no band around that would let out their emotions; there was the lack of tenderness and fragility. Is that a word? Frailty maybe?
Haukur: Yeah. Goddamnit. All those other bands were so busy looking cool that they forgot to make interesting music. And we thought: we are experts at not looking cool! It’s what we do every goddamn day! So in turn, that must mean our music will be interesting.
(one outta two ain’t bad)
Also, like, why wouldn’t we form a band? Back then, it wasn’t like it is now. If a new band came along, you heard about it immediately and went to check them out. Now, there’s too many damn bands. Those kids and all their bands! Darn that racket. DJÓK. That was a joke. But yeah. Funny question. “Reasons behind wanting to form a band?” Why does anyone? I can only speak for myself (collectively, we did feel like something important and inspiring was missing from the landscape back then and we thought we could contribute), but as for myself, the main reason was this: being in a band looks fun. It sounds fun. I love music and I have been listening to it since I... well since forever. And you know, if something looks and sounds fun, it probably feels fun and IS fun. And I love fun things, so I wanted to be in a band.
Haukur, you are not only the guitarist in Reykjavik! but you are also the editor of the brilliant tourist magazine The Reykjavik Grapevine – how do you manage it all without cloning yourself? Or have you cloned yourself?
Haukur: I have this trick I use when I need to stay up to work or whatever. It is this (follow at your peril): You start off by drinking lots and lots of coffee. All day long. Around 11pm, you switch to beer. Drink beer for around three or four hours (not too many, that will get you drunk), then switch back to coffee. This trick will enable you to do ANYTHING. Also: thanks for saying Grapevine is brilliant! That made me smile!
We’re looking forward to seeing you at Airwaves this year, and you’re known for your high-octane live shows – do you have anything particularly bonkers planned for your festival appearance this year?
Bóas: We are going to try to outstage ourselves, get people to sing along and dance along. If we make that happen, we have accomplished our mission. A few stage-dives and laughs would be a plus. Some of us might even wear new pants.
Haukur: As a ‘gimmick band’, you can rest assured we have some new gimmicks planned. Might don a monkey suit, might pretend it’s someone’s birthday, might take our fancy new pants off. You’ll hafta show up to know up!
Which artists are you especially hoping to catch at Airwaves this year?
Bóas: Oy sounds interesting. Liturgy as well, and of course Sudden Weather Change, Mugison and other friends that always put on their dancing shoes for this weekend.
Haukur: I am looking forward to seeing the following acts: K-X-P, Liturgy, Iceage, John Grant, Björk, Steve Reich, that whole Bedroom Community gang, Adda... wait, wow! There are so many goddamn good bands and artists playing. Expect me to be at every goddamn show, with a special nod to the ‘Geriatric Stage’ where some former glories will be relentlessly relived.
You famously once played 12 gigs in one day – an impressive effort indeed. Any preferably legal tips for touring bands who are finding their stamina is flagging?
Bóas: Just go ahead, there ain’t nothing to it. Just run along and do it!
Ásgeir: Beer, G&T and especially vodka+Red Bull.
Haukur: I think any touring band will tell you that it’s not the actual shows that are gruelling, it’s all the bullshit and travel in-between. So I recommend bringing a lot of books and an iPod. And uh. Drink lots. Drinking is a fun way to pass the time. 
What have been your favourite collaborations as a band – and who do you still dream of working with?
Bóas: Wow, this is such a great question.  It was fantastic working with Árni Plúseinn on the remixes for ‘Dirty Weekend With Reykjavík!’ and it was mad fun doing a summer love song with Mugison, working with Ben Frost was also very radical. It would be the bomb to do a collab with Páll Óskar and it would be fun to do a theme album with Hank Azaria and Sam Amidon.
Haukur: I would like to add that I really liked our stage collaboration with the aforementioned Sam Amidon (his fans still think we’re all huge assholes from running him off the stage... ha ha ha) and also recording with Valgeir Sigurðsson was absolutely lovely and giving. As has recording with Biggi of Sundlaugin been. And Erna Ómarsdóttir and Lazyblood. Did I tell you about that already? We have a dance piece we’re performing with Erna and Lazyblood. It’s called ‘THE TICKLING DEATH MACHINE’ and we premiered it at a performing arts festival in Brussels this last spring (Kunstenfestival Des Arts). That was a crayyyzy show! We’re taking it to France, Australia and Japan next year! Such a fun opportunity! It’s about life and death and the end of the world and whatnot.
Valdimar, tell us more about how the collaboration with Lazyblood came about, and what we can expect from a live show.
It started out as a way to relax after a hard day, then evolved into something with a life of its own. Our live shows are quite theatrical and dynamic, black metal meets pop, and together they go to the opera with candy-floss and blood-sausage, a life saving experience.
Finally, who are you listening to at the moment?
Tyler the creator, Mugison, Brian Eno, Aphex Twin and Arvo Part.
Haukur: I am listening to our own album, which we just finished mixing (as I just said like 2000 words ago!). It’s freakin... great is what it is. Other than that, I am constantly listening to Hüsker Dü, The Lemonheads, Ride, NAS and Steve Reich (if I keep doing that for long enough, something interesting is BOUND to happen). And uh this past year, I think the ‘new’ things I’ve listened to have been, like, that whole Odd Future thing, SALEM (I adore SALEM), Baths (I liked Baths while walking around Copenhagen), The Men. Jay Reatard?... uh? Whatever’s cool to like at the moment I suppose. Fill in your own cool and with it bands if any are missing.
Look, here’s some lines to write them in:
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7.    Lou Reed and Metallica
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Source: IMX 

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