Interview with Týr

Perhaps one of the greatest folkish/Nordic/younameit line-ups aside from the European spectacle of Heidenfest graced The Garage this past Saturday evening: behemoths Finntroll were joined by Metal Blade’s Týr, who are touring their latest album, and were supported by Iceland’s Skálmöld for an evening of sweltering debauchery and a raucous good time.

A long time fan of Týr himself, Jon caught up with Týr before the gig as the crowds started to swell up Holloway Road.

Absent for most of Týr’s interview was lyrical mastermind and mythology nerd Heri Joensen, who popped in his head for a few questions before ducking out, but Jon sat down with bassist (and comedian) Gunnar Thomsen, lead guitarist Terji Skibenaes, and new recruit drummer Amon Djurhuus.

Jon: Ok, introductory question: tell us something interesting about yourself!

Gunnar: I’m a plumber?

Jon: Everyone knows you’re a plumber!

Gunnar: And a diver!

Terji: Only perverted things come into my mind… I hate driving cars!

Amon: I can actually play the harmonica! 

Jon: Is the harmonica going to be on any Týr records then?

Amon: No way! Never ever! 

Jon: Gunnar, I saw you wearing a Trollfest t-shirt the other day; they’ve covered Toxic by Britney Spears. Aside from the new covers of Iron Maiden and Pantera on Valkyrja, out of any genre, what would you cover?

Gunnar: I would probably cover a Deep Purple song – I would never go so low as to do Britney Spears!

Terji: Pop song? I thought about it the other day! Chicago, It’s Hard to Say I’m Sorry – it will just be me in a one man show.

Jon: You went for a quite a power metal vibe in Valkyrja; Liv Kristine, singer from Leaves’ Eyes, joined you in ballad Lay of Our Love – have you thought about collaborating with any other musicians?

Terji: No, I don’t think we’re going to do that. 

Jon: I know you don’t align yourself with the folk metal scene, but a lot of bands use unconventional instruments- maybe not harmonicas, but accordions, violins…

Gunnar: Yeah, that’s never gonna happen – an orchestra, maybe… that could be something!

Terji: No violins though… 

Jon: I know Valkyrja has just been released, but have you started doing work on the new album?

Terji: Only demos so far.

Gunnar: They sound amazing, absolutely brilliant! 

Jon: Do you have a concept that it might focus on?

Terji: No, we don’t know yet…

Gunnar: We’ll do a cover track by The Bee Gees maybe… we’ll put a nail in our balls and- (quiet, high-pitched wails) 

Jon: That could be your stage performance next tour… Now – you cover modern issues; for example, your anti-racism song Shadow of the Swastika. Do you think any cultural values from Norse mythology are still relevant today?

Gunnar: That’s what Heri does with lyrics – he takes old situations and compares them to new situations because they’re quite similar. So it kinda draws a line between the two.

Jon: Do you like singing about modern issues or would you prefer to stick to singing only about mythology?

Gunnar: If it was up to me, we’d sing songs about cars and planes!

Terji: Sex, drugs and rock and roll! 

Jon: I think Shadow of the Swastika was a good response to the criticism you faced from people under the misconception you were a right-wing band.

Gunnar: Yeah, that whole thing came totally behind our backs. 

Jon: So from the new album, what’s your personal favourite – you know my favourite is Lady of the Slain, which I believe you wrote, Terji!

Terji: Yes I did! Mine is Another Fallen Brother.

Gunnar: It’s difficult to say, Valkyrja is my favourite- maybe because I wrote that! No, it’s difficult to say. I like the whole album.

Terji: Mare of My Night!

Gunnar: Mare of My Night is my favourite, yeah! 

Jon: That was so embarrassing to listen to… just listening to the lyrics…

Terji: Did you blush?

Jon: I did! Listening to it on my own I thought ‘you can’t say that, Heri!

Gunnar: Good! I think that’s where we should go! Getting brutally honest!

Amon: I think Mare of My Night is my favourite, too. I love playing it live- it’s a pretty cool live song. 

Jon: (Mathias from Finntroll is lounging on the sofa in the background behind Terji) What’s your favourite song, Mathias

Mathias: What favourite? No, I do know the songs! I listen to it every day! Uh, probably Mare of My Night, too.

Jon: Are there any songs you recorded but couldn’t use for Valkyrja?

Gunnar: This was what we had. We never actually record more songs than needed.

Jon: So Amon, have you ever been on tour before?

Amon: Yep, I’ve been on tour with Týr two times before – this is my third – and with Heljareyga (Heri Joensen’s side-project) also. It’s going good.

Gunnar: We bully him a bit – we’ve tried to break him in (whip crack sound)

Terji: Gunnar thinks we bully him, but we actually bully Gunnar!

Gunnar: I’m used to it!

Jon: I know a lot of fans were upset Kári (Streymoy, previous drummer) left, but the fans that have met you have said you’re cool, Amon – you’ve got our support! Can you teach us to say something in Faroese?

Terji: Spina. Spin-hora. Sperm whore. 

Jon: Would that help me to pick up a guy at a bar?

Gunnar: That would probably work on me!

Jon: Wow – next question! I’ve been listening to you since I was fifteen – so five years now. And I have to Admit that when I first started listening to you, I hated you!

Terji: Usually people do!

Jon: And now I run the UK fanpage on Facebook- funny how things change. When did you first realise you were getting noticed? I know Valkyrja is having great success in the charts and with critics alike.

Terji: Probably since after By the Light of the Northern Star was released. 

Jon: I know a lot of places in South America are crazy about anything Nordic-themed, do you find you have a good reception there as well?

Terji: Yeah, a lot! (Gunnar says ‘No’) Gunnar’s never on Facebook; he doesn’t know!

(Heri Joensen wanders over from the corner) 

Jon: Do you want to tell us about any lyrics you’re working on?

Heri: Uh, well Terji and I have talked about some stuff, and that’s all that’s happened so far. I don’t think we should mention it yet…

Terji: No, not yet.

Heri: Turn the microphone off!

Terji: Our manager will kill us…

Gunnar: No, it’s about big elephants in Africa, and the situation with the pelican that flies off and mates with the flamingos. It’s very disturbing.

Jon: I think you’re going to have to write that now! (Heri tries to run away; Jon pull him back) Stay here – there’s another one! I know a lot of my friends are starting to form bands and write lyrics about their English heritage. Do you encourage that, and how can people who are interested in that best go about interacting with, or writing about, something personal to them

Heri: I think that in the Faroes at least we have a very direct connection with our heritage, so when I started to write lyrics I didn’t have to dig very deep to find anything, and there was no artificial angle to it. I can imagine if you grew up in England that

Jon: It would be more about learning what you know from history lessons

Heri: Yeah exactly. You have to be into that sort of thing to know anything about it, but still I would encourage anyone to do it. I like it when music sounds like where it comes from and also has mythological subjects related to a band’s heritage, if you’re into that kind of thing. So when everything isn’t so internationalised.

Jon: I must say though I love the new African animal direction you’re taking, and Terji was also telling me about wanting to cover musical theatre…

Heri: I’m now officially out of the band!

Amon: Elephants in Chicago!

Terji: That’s the new album title!

Jon: Recently, fanclubs have grown amazingly for Týr. After your gig in York, I started the UK fanpage from a computer in my hostel. Now I’ve seen the Italian fanclub, the Polish fanclub, and of course the US fanclub getting lots of likes on their pages… What can fans do to help you guys?

Terji: I think talk to the local promoters… When they see more people asking for us, then it will most likely happen

Gunnar: And spread the word!

Terji: And hello to Týr Fans in the UK! Thank you for everything!

Gunnar: Rock on!

Amon: Thanks – come to our show!

Týr online:

http://www.tyr.fo
http://facebook.com/tyrband

 

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One Response to “Interview with Týr”

  1. […] 23rd October 2013 Interview with Týr […]

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