Archive for Light of the Northern Star

Interview with Týr

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , on 23rd October 2013 by vmteam

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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Týr w/Support @ Fibbers, York

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , on 21st February 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Bands: Týr, Ravenage and Maelstrom
Location: Fibbers, York
Date: 18th February 2012

The Jorvik Viking Festival has been a proud tradition and mighty festival in the City of York for many, many years now, so what could be a more epic way to end this year’s festival with none other than Faroese Viking metallers Týr? The show, which sold out, was organised by the nice folk over at Asgard Online (who sponsored Valkyrian Festival last year). After my interview with Týr’s frontman Heri, I waited outside with the rest of the horde that virtually filled the street. By the time I got inside, the venue must have been reaching its capacity as more and more people trooped in along with several people dressed in Viking apparel which included shirts of chainmail. The buzz of excitement could be felt in every corner of the room as the horde eagerly awaited the first wave of a metal assault.

Opening the proceedings with a brutalising onslaught  were the Glaswegian black metal warriors Maelstrom. They opened up with a little song known as At Dawn They Die, a song that featured a truly terrifyingly good use of powerful screams and clean vocals. The guitar and keyboard riffs were executed perfectly like a dagger slitting a throat with precision. The shirt-and-tie wearing quintet then blasted their way through With War We Wander, a quite Turisas sounding track, especially where the keyboards are concerned. The third song they performed, currently unnamed, was quite aggressive sounding though This Dreaded Symphony sounded to have more bite while their final song of the night, Arctica, seemed to the most tragic and cold sounding part of Maelstrom’s set though the keyboards injected a subtle hint of a sagaic sound. One band in and the night was already proving to be an epic event worthy of the Aesir themselves, especially considering Maelstrom’s overwhelming and unique sound. I certainy hope to see these guys again in the near future!

The second invasion of metal came from Hull’s very own Ravenage, who over the years have become one of East Yorkshire’s finest exports and one hell of a live act! This was the fourth time that I had seen them perform and I was sorely disappointed at the length of their set. Their keyboardist, Windrider, was absent as he was touring with Alestorm, so he had been replaced for the night by his mentor whose is known simply as Art. Ravenage made way to the stage in their trademark outfits and opened up with Viking Dream which was sounding more brutal than a mace to the face. The guitars felt like they had a bit of extra crunch as well. Following soon after was the catchy Bernard Cornwell-inspired anthem known as Northbound, which Art pulled off brilliantly and would have made Windrider proud. Ragnar recited a poem that led into the eerie introduction of Shieldwalls Collide. Ravenage finished off with a heavy rendition of Drunken Sailor which led into the final song More Beer! While the performance was grand and epic – as is to be expected with Ravenage – their set seemed lacking. I’m not sure if this was due to the shortness of their set compared to previous shows or the size of the stage that made it hard for them to be active as they have been at other shows. Either way, they were the perfect choice of main support for Týr. Sadly for the York folk, it won’t be until September for the Warhorns Festival when Ravenage return. 

And then came the fury of the Northmen in the form of Týr. I literally had to fight through the hordes of fans, including several blokes in chainmail, to get near the front. A fierce roar of cheers erupted through the venue as they tore through The Lay of Thrym followed by Shadow of the Swastika. During the performance of those two songs, the energy burst from Týr like an explosion. Straight, away, it was easy that the performance was going to be epic as Heri’s vocals were on top form and each note and drum section were played masterfully. They took a quick break to engage in banter with the crowd before playing the catchy song that is Flames of the Free. By the Light of the Northern Star and Wings of Time were certainly two of the most exciting parts of Týr’s set, along with one of my favourite song’s which was the slower-paced, more progressive sounding Hail to the Hammer. The performance of Tróndur Í Gøtu brought a very folkish sound to the set that seemed to go down very well with the sold-out venue. A few songs later came a powerful and overwhelming performance of Take Your Tyrant which almost everyone in the crowd sang along to, making it much more entertaining while others began dancing around and starting a mosh pit, including some of the blokes in Viking-styled chainmail. Sinklars Visa was introduced by Heri having a bit of banter about the Scots, which enticed a group of Scots at the front to hold up the Scottish flag in true patriotic fashion. The cover of The Wild Rover was introduced in a similar fashion, only with banter and jokes about the Irish as opposed to the Scots. Týr ended their set with Northern Gate and Hall of Freedom… Or so it seemed. Every single person in the crowd began demanding more and more. The encore began with a smashing rendition of Ramund Hin Hunge followed by Hold The Heathen Hammer High and By The Sword In My Hand, both of which just made the night complete.

I think I can safely say that Týr are the best live act I’ve seen and I don’t think their studio albums will ever compare to their performance on Saturday night. Týr are definitely a band worth seeing, hell, they’re more than worth seeing. I don’t think I’d be wrong when I say their show on Saturday night could easily compare to an Iron Maiden performance.

The support acts, Ravenage and Maelstrom, are definitely two bands worth checking out as well and they certainly helped make the end of this year’s Jorvik Viking Festival very special indeed. Also, kudos to Asgard Online for a successful first gig.

Nico Davidson

Photography by David Taylor.

Photos of the gig can be found here.