They’re not Björk, they’re not Sigur Rós, and don’t you forget it. Icelandic quartet Agent Fresco chat to us at Tech Fest
Icelandic quartet Agent Fresco have taken the UK tech metal community by storm, and so it’s no surprise their two sets at Tech Fest 2015 were highly anticipated. Their blend of complex, fluid songwriting and articulate, emotional lyrical content has captured the hearts, minds, and rhythmic glands of so very many metalheads that to see them all dancing and crying together, you’ll wonder if you’ve wandered into a parallel universe.
Since Tech Fest, their second album Destrier has dropped, to rapturous applause. A veritable war horse of an album, it’s dynamic, expansive and utterly brilliant.
We managed to catch some time with vocalist Arnór Dan and guitarist Þórarinn (Toti) to discuss reasonable riders, breaking the law, and the corpse of Chris Farley. We dove straight in with…
What is the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
Arnór: It’s a good question because, is the scariest thing that I felt like I was doing? Or because I did a really scary thing but it wasn’t scary? I don’t know. I’ve jumped out of a plane once.
Arnór: Yeah. I need to show you those pictures. Really good pictures. It was right before I really like…I need to stop having hair because like, you see the wind blowing and the hair line is just over here. But I felt like that was just crazy fun, I wasn’t scared. Scary stuff, scary stuff…any scary stuff?
Toti: The only thing that pops to mind was a really bad drive I had in Iceland from the West fjords to Reykjavík and it was the worst weather.
Toti: No, I was with a couple of people. It was terrible.
Arnór: Yeah, that’s not to fuck around with. Sorry. Sorry for cockmouth, cock.
No problem. I swear all the time! Have you ever knowingly broken the law?
Arnór: Yeah. Yeah.
What did you do?
Arnór: A lot of stuff. There are a lot of laws everywhere that are ridiculous. No, no I guess…yeah…just stuff that we shouldn’t mention! But I don’t think that any of the things that I’ve done are morally incorrect, like for the normal person…it’s just like, it’s just not legal.
These interviews have been a right little confessional, I’ve had people confessing to drugs, shoplifting, setting cars on fire
Arnór: Well, ah shit I think I’ve done everything.
Breaking into abandoned places!
Arnór: Yeah, also that yeah. Factories.
And derailing a cargo train?
Arnór: That was the scary thing I did, I was like 14 years old and I broke into an old, it was like a chair factory in Sorø, the place I lived in in Denmark, and it was like four floors, it was like taken out of a, have you guys at any time like see those documentaries…those ghost, paranormal something where they go into these…it was basically that, like complete darkness and going through these empty rooms and people had crashed there also, and there was like drawings and satanic stuff, and you’re going up to the top floor and up on the roof. That was probably the scariest thing I’ve done. Sorry that was question number one. I think everyone has broken some kind of law at some time right?
There was a recent survey that said that Iceland is the safest place on the planet.
Arnór: Err, well, yeah. Not a lot of murderers. Murders.
I thought I’d disprove it
Arnór: Yeah, yeah, sorry. We just don’t get caught.
What Nickelback song would you cover?
Arnór: Ooh, Toti, that’s your platform. Your playground. Your favourite band.
Toti: I can’t remember names of songs. “Photograph“?
Arnór: Is it called “Photograph“?
Þórarinn Guðnason (Toti): loves Nickelback
Would you kind of, just play it pretty straight?
Arnór: I think he would play it exactly like it is yeah, nothing changed. And only Toti, so him on guitar everything on playback. One spotlight, only on Toti sitting on like a barstool. That’s good.
Toti: Sounds good.
Arnór: I’d pay for that. I’d pay a lot of money for that! [laughs]
Tomorrow, with the acoustic set, do a Nickelback cover
Arnór: Yeah, “we’re just gonna end with this”, everybody leaves.
Tonight, just listen to some Nickelback and do an acoustic cover
Arnór: That would be so good.
You’d fucking annihilate the crowd. They’ll all be like “I can’t believe you’re doing this”
Arnór: “And we never got invited back again.”
You’re stranded on a desert island, which band member do you eat first?
Arnór: Vignir, he’s definitely the cleanest, healthiest. He probably has nice skin. He’s got muscles now, is that good to eat?
Arnór: Great elastic skin and he’s a guy who loves to grill and so probably as he’s grilled so much in his life he’s got like a grilled flavour. It’d be the way he wanted to go, he wouldn’t want it any other way. Yeah, Vignir, no question about it.
Arnór Dan and the apparently chewy Vignir Rafn Hilmarsson
He’s gonna have fun reading this. What is the least accurate thing you’ve ever seen someone write about you?
Arnór: There are so many. Fuck, there’s so many. Because it’s like, I don’t…I try not to take it personally but its like, you have to be honest because I treat it like it’s a really personal project, Agent Fresco, and we really do our best in trying to create something fresh and fun for us and we’re a boundary pushing band for us, so it’s always weird when you then get to hear that we’re like a band that you’ve never heard of before and there’s just too many band names to name. That’s the weirdest part, when they’re referring you to other bands that were created after we started that we’ve never heard of.
And then of course the fucking, the whole, because we’re from Iceland we of course, I love them, I love Björk and I love Sigur Rós to death, but to say that I’m like a male version of Björk is like, is really weird. I don’t hear why – it’s probably an honour because
Toti: It’s kinda racist.
Arnór: It is racist, it’s gender also racist. It’s flattering because I love them but I don’t really hear why. So often I just think people are really lazy and saying the first thing that pops to mind when they think about an Icelandic band.
People have a desire to label everything, and so there’s this desire like you say, literally its because you’re a great singer, Björk’s a great singer and you’re both from Iceland. You’re the male Björk – done, job done you know.
Toti: There was also, in some old biography of ours, it said “jazz and funk”. A lot of times funk comes up when people are writing about us. When we were playing a show, I don’t know where it was – it was like Germany or Switzerland, our first European tour – and we saw how some of the venues were presenting us and some of the promoters were like…did you even listen to the music? They were like “Icelandic funk fusion band” – like what the fuck. I don’t even know if it was in the biography, it was just some people have reviewed us like that and they’ve picked up on that and I’m like, “where do you hear the funk? Where do you hear the glaciers? Where do you hear the…?!”
Some people are just really lazy, they’ll hear half a song and be like, “there you go there’s my review”
Arnór: Exactly. And at the same time you can’t really expect people to always be like, “okay I’m gonna dig in to Agent Fresco, I’m gonna listen to all 17 tracks on A Long Time Listening and I’m gonna get into it”. You understand that as well, but there’s a ton of hilarious and weird stuff that people write and the amount of bands they compare us to is sometimes just, although we clearly love a lot of the bands that they mention, it’s just misplaced and I don’t know.
Sure. And you can tell that even if like, Agent Fresco are very particular, even if they’re not your thing you can just tell that you guys put everything into it and there’s just so much love and passion in that music and it feels like something that you guys write for you; you’re not trying to be Nickelback you’re not just trying to sell an album, sell a million copies – you’re just making what you want to make.
Arnór: It’s basically like that and I’ve said it many times before it’s always been a really personal project and I think it’s also visible with our performances. We talked about it once in an interview where we said we perform, first and foremost for ourselves because its kind of, it’s almost a celebration up on stage of basically what we’ve been doing in the studio and writing, but then the crowd just completely rules the energy, but it’s first and foremost for us and it’s just how lucky we are to have other people to listen to us as well, that’s a beautiful thing.
I’ve never seen you live so I’m really looking forward to it. You’ll be one of the only bands I actually get to see.
Arnór: That’s great, that makes me really happy!
You are offered a slot on the bill of your dreams, but you have to kill a puppy.
Would you kill the puppy? And this is the nicest goddamn puppy you’ve ever seen
Arnór: Well, every single day – almost every single day – we eat meat, we’re part of killing another animal and I hate when people say that killing a dog is worse than killing a cow – they’re all animals and they all should be treated equally – so I say kill the fucking puppy, I want to do a show
Who would be your dream show?
Arnór: I don’t know, I just wanna kill a puppy. No I’m kidding!
Would it be opening for Björk ?
Arnór: [Laughs] Or Sigur Rós
Björk? Sigur Rós? I’m running out of Icelandic bands
Arnór: Just any really. I mean there are so many great festivals we just want to play everywhere, but yeah, I think that’s a good answer, we need to treat animals all equally. If we can kill some animals we should be able to kill.
It’s like the people who are like “Aww I couldn’t kill a puppy. I could kill a person but not a puppy”
Arnór: I understand but I don’t know why it’s manipulated, like when you watch the movies and when you’re younger you’re like “no, not the puppy please, kill the people but not the dog”.
If you could request anything on a rider, what would it be?
Arnór: I’m getting older so I would say a physiotherapist, plus masseuse, plus personal chef, everything combined. Just one person who makes sure that we are just good to go, with massages on tours – sitting in a van for a long time I feel it’s kind of modest.
Toti: Too modest. I think we need to order a new car. That would be nice
How do they know when to stop rubbing and start cooking?
Arnór: Can’t they do both at the same time?
Where’s the worst place you’ve been sick?
Toti: There’s a ship in Iceland…
Arnór: A shit ship
Toti: …that sails to an island just nearby to Iceland and we landed in a terrible storm and I had to play a gig that night.
Arnór: I think the trip was supposed to take 2 hours but it was 4 hours because of the storm. It was ridiculous how delayed we were, and I spent 5…maybe 10 minutes with the guys on deck and then I spent the next 3 hours and 50 minutes on the toilet vomiting like every other minute. I just started praying to gods that I never even knew existed. Never vomited as much as that, I was sweating so much it was just the worst, worst, worst trip ever.
“Zeus, Odin, Allah, anyone!”
Someone help! What celebrity would you like to be stuck in a lift with?
Arnór: Well definitely not a female I think because we don’t know for how long and if you have some needs like you need to take a piss. It would have to be somebody on your level. No, I take it back! I think it would have to be…
Because you might eventually have to get naked
Arnór: Um…I’m just thinking about any fun person to be with. I’m gonna say Chris Farley again. I said it earlier in another interview so I just have it in my head.
The corpse of Chris Farley
Arnór: His corpse, without the flies…and worms. No, just him, alive again I think because he would just make it, he would panic probably and we would just crash the elevator. He would just be fun…but then again we only have a little bit of oxygen, so it’s a bad idea to have Chris Farley. Ah you only live once! Chris Farley
Toti: I love him. Barack Obama?
Arnór: That’s actually pretty good, and you can really like figure out who he is
For me, if he was still alive it would be Robin Williams
Arnór: Ahh that would probably be the best.
His death hit me hard
Arnór: Yeah, I think it hit a lot of people hard. Me too
What would be the title of your autobiography?
Arnór: Robin Williams…no it would be…that would be a weird title. Arnor Dan: The…
Arnór: Yeah! I got nothing. Sad smilie! [laughs]
Would you choose to play a gig in an old folks home or a kindergarten?
Arnór: I think…man that’s terrible, because we’ve done…we haven’t done both; we’ve done not a kindergarten but we’ve done an elementary school.
Arnór: For very very young kids and I don’t know if they…
Toti: I think I’d play for the younger kids
Arnór: Yeah me too, I think it’s more fun. They’d probably laugh at us. Laugh at Keli’s hair and me for being bald. I would cry and then the show is over
Hrafnkell Örn Guðjónsson (Keli): he of the hair. Photo credit: Jo Moolenschot.
Kids are tough critics they’ll just come up and kick you in the nuts
Arnór: Exactly, yeah! And the older people they just don’t want the loud noises.
And some of them might die during the performance!
Arnór: You never know, it’s a difficult one.
What’s the craziest conspiracy theory you’ve ever heard?
Toti: I think it’s with the lizards ruling the world.
Arnór: Alien lizards
Q: Illuminati. Contrails.
Arnór: But there’s a lot of, yeah, yeah, I think that’s the one. There’s definitely I believe you know there’s definitely life outside of planet Earth, there’s no doubt about it, but it sounds…I don’t know where it came from, the whole lizard thingy, it just sounds like a Men in Black movie.
There’s probably another world like this one too far away for us to reach and they can’t reach us either.
Arnór: Without a doubt, of course there’s gonna be life somewhere, we’re just a micro micro micro micro part of the entire universe. It’s insane. Now I can’t stop thinking about it.
What’s the worst and best thing about the internet?
Arnór: The worst is definitely the lack of empathy and lack of moral boundaries.
Toti: Because you’re anonymous
Arnór: Yeah. It’s so fucking dirty and disgusting what people can say, and it’s a total lack of empathy. Also because we know children and we’ve been teaching also in elementary schools and stuff like that, you know how much the internet is changing the new generations; it’s kinda like you can be connected so well. I use this a lot for getting connected to my friends outside of Iceland but at the same time you’re separating yourself from society in so many ways, so definitely that whole social aspect, I would say that’s the worst part of the internet.
We grew up not depending on it though that’s the thing, whereas the new generation depends on it.
Arnór: This is just a luxury we have now later on
My 12 year-old cousin is constantly on it you know
Arnór: And then again the most positive thing about the internet is the fact that you can reach so many people that you can be connected to a lot of people outside. I think that’s the best thing about the internet, the connection.
Toti: And of course the access to information. You can access everything, you just don’t know if it’s true or not.
That is true
Arnór: Or not!
Who has got the band MILF?
Toti: …who has what?!
Whose mum is the hottest? [laughs]
Arnór: I’m not gonna answer. Toti you can answer on behalf of everybody here.
You have to because every other band has answered this
Arnór: Well my mum is the most beautiful woman in the entire world, there we go
Toti: I would also say my mum.
Well there you go, that’s very very nice of you. Will they read this?
Arnór: Hopefully not.
How would you prepare a toddler to be cooked?
Toti: Where’s Vignir?
Arnór: [laughs] Where is Vignir when we need him? He’s the grill man. I would just pass the toddler over to Vignir and he’ll put them on the grill and spice them up and he’ll have some nice vegetables and mushrooms and stuff like that yeah.