On February 24th, I was given the chance to interview the band Týr when they came to Vancouver opening for Children of Bodom and Death Angel. Out of the three bands that night they were the one I was most interested in. It was a sunny Tuesday afternoon in the green room at The Commodore Ballroom when my partner Astrid – who is an avid archaeology/mythology, folk metal, and Týr fan, and was more excited than I was for the interview – and I sat down to chat with Amon and Terji from Týr about their new album, folk metal, sexy immortal women, and more.
Disclaimer: Unfortunately, some of the recorded audio was unusable due to the fact that there were some dolts cleaning up dishes in the background, making noise and even talking, causing a bit of a problem with hearing the words from the interview. I did my best to work around it, but there are a couple parts that I had to omit due to being inaudible.
Kevin: I want to start by saying thanks for the interview, I appreciate it.
Amon Djurhuss: Yeah
Terji Skibanæs: No problem
Kevin: So you guys are touring supporting your new album, how has it been so far?
Terji: Very good! It was just the first night that was a bit…rough
Kevin: Oh yeah? What about it was rough?
Terji: It’s always chaos the first night. But other than that we’re fine.
Kevin: So it’s a bit different lineup from the last time you were in Vancouver, with Bodom and Death Angel this time.
Terji: Yeah, we try to get more tours like this also, so we’re not just stuck in that pagan/Viking thing, you know.
Kevin: Yeah of course. You don’t want to put yourself into a niche crowd.
Kevin: So what are your post-tour plans?
Amon: Yeah, we are going to Russia
Kevin: Another tour?
Terji: Yeah it’s a…
Amon: A week? Two weeks?
Terji: Yeah I think six concerts or five.
Kevin: That sounds great!
Terji: And then…then South America at the end of May. And then some festivals around Europe.
Kevin: So your new album, Valkyrja, your seventh album so congratulations, you’ve been doing this for a while now, eh?
Kevin: It was pretty well received from what I saw.
Terji: Oh yeah it’s been very well received. This is one of the best received.
Kevin: Yeah, I didn’t get around to writing a review for it unfortunately, but I really liked it.
Terji: Thank you!
Astrid: Is there a big scene in the Faroe Islands, like, what do people back home think?
Terji: I don’t know what they think. I mean, we’re the biggest band from there.
Amon: Hah yeah they like it
Terji: It’s great especially when we play festivals there and stuff. It’s really good. But we don’t play there so often, we only play there like twice a year, cause if we play there all the time then it gets boring.
Kevin: No kidding! So, do you have any thoughts on the new album, things you liked, things you didn’t like, anything from a songwriting perspective?
Terji: Yeah, it’s more fast now, with the guitar playing and drums, so we want to head more in that direction, but have some of these slow Týr songs also. This is mostly where we’re heading.
Kevin: It’s a good direction to go in!
Terji: Yeah, I like it better!
Kevin: You can get more energy and the crowd gets into it more. Not to say the slower songs are bad or anything.
Terji: Yeah, but it’s more fun to play these faster songs live too.
Kevin: Of course! You just said your stylistic approach has changed over the years; how about your writing approach? Has that changed at all?
Terji: um…well, we used to rehearse together, and Heri [Joenson, the singer/lead guitarist] wrote most of the songs then, but now we write it all on Guitar Pro, when you can come up with a riff, put it in there and mail it to the others.
Kevin: That seems to be the way people are going these days.
Astrid: So it’s a collaborative kind of thing?
Terji: Yeah it’s more of that now, but it used to be more or less only Heri, the singer.
Astrid: I think you mentioned earlier, and I’ve seen from previous interviews you guys have given, that you don’t really like to be stuck in just the folk metal, or just the Viking metal label, and you guys do have a very unique sound in that regard, so I was wondering how did that sound come about? There is the folk element but also metal, and like, how did you guys decide that’s the kind of music you wanted to make?
Terji: We started out with these old traditional Faroese songs that we made into metal, and then we just got labelled “Viking metal” by the record label we had then. We didn’t even know it existed, Viking metal or anything like that. So yeah, we got stuck in that for a few years, but hopefully we can get out of it.
Kevin: Well you guys seem to be breaking into the bigger time these days.
Terji: Yeah, we’re trying!
Astrid: Even with the change in style, a lot of the lyrics have stayed very much about mythology, and the culture. Is that something that you stick with, you think it’s something that you want more people to get interested in?
Terji: Yeah, we have to stick with it somehow, but the newer album is more about sex and stuff like that, so…
Astrid: Yeah it’s like ‘Oh there’s a love song on here, that’s interesting!’
Terji: *laughs* So that’s also where we’re going.
Astrid: Heheh, I see.
Terji: So we’re gonna keep those two elements together, I guess!
Amon: Yeah *laughs*
Astrid: And you guys are singing more and more in English, is that just for wider reach? Do you prefer singing in different languages?
Terji: Yeah, for wider reach, but also…I don’t think that was important for this album, but um…really some of the other songs that were in Faroese, it’s because we might have made them from traditional songs and we haven’t done that now, so that’s mostly the reason why it’s mostly in English. We only have one traditional now, a Danish one on this album.
[Amon and Terji converse in Faroese for twenty or so seconds]
Amon: That’s mostly Heri’s field, so that’s not really us
Astrid: *laughing* Yeah like half my questions were very specific. Oh well.
Kevin: So back to the album, it’s a concept album, am I right?
Terji: ehhh mostly. But mostly based about Valkyries and sex.
Kevin: So it’s just kind of a themed album then?
Astrid: Hot mythological women!
Kevin: There’s a market for that, right?
Kevin: You ended up working with George Kollias as the drummer on the new album, how did that come about?
Terji: Um…well it was our ex-drummer, and then our manager contacted George Kollias to get him to play drums, and he was interested in it so… yeah.
Kevin: It is a little different from what he’s usually done.
Terji: Yeah, but he was a good choice.
Kevin: Yeah, I was surprised to see him doing the guest drumming for Týr, because I know him from Nile and that kind of music. And now you’ve got a new drummer [Amon].
Astrid: How’s that been-
Amon: Terrible! *laughs*
Astrid: -being in a band that had a previous name? Are they mean to the new guy?
Amon: Ah it’s been good. In 2008, Paganfest, I toured with the band and was related somewhere else to Týr so um…
Terji: Yeah, we knew each other before. So he’s not getting teased.
Amon: That’s our bass player.
Astrid: That seems to happen.
Kevin: They’re important, know what place they are. Just stand off to the side.
Kevin: But the drummer is really important, right?
Amon: *laughs* Oh yeah
Kevin: Can’t have a band without a drummer unless you’re Sunn O))) or something. Do you have any advice for people aspiring to make folk music, the kind of music you do?
Terji: Ah…I am not really the person to be asked for that *laughs* I dunno…don’t do it!
Kevin & Astrid: *laughs*
Kevin: I’ve had a few people say that!
Astrid: What about music in general?
Terji: Yeah that’s another story. It takes a while before you can break through.
Kevin: Yeah, I mean you guys have been doing for sixteen years I think? Something like that?
Terji: Yeah we had to live a lot of years without money.
Kevin: How does it feel to have been doing it for so long?
Terji: Ehh, we don’t really think about it, it’s been so long. But the tours get better now and stuff and we’re not getting ripped off anymore by our record label. Now we are on a new one, Metal Blade and they treat us very well.
Kevin: Yeah, I know they’ve got some good people over there. Do you have any final thoughts for the readers?
Amon: Buy the album! Come to our shows!
Terji: All of that! And don’t have sex without a condom… Or maybe do, I don’t care.
Kevin & Astrid: *laughing*
Astrid: That’s very vague advice
Kevin: Alright, that’s all we have. Thanks for the interview, it was great meeting you!
Amon and Terji: Yeah, thank you!