“We are blamed of being Nazis, and we are not. We have nothing to do with that at all. Where that comes from [the accusations] is simply because where we’ve came from, we have runes and runes are over 1000 years old. Hitler used these runes and Germans connect it with Hitler… They are missing it all, the old culture from where we come from with something much newer. That’s all it is.”
You guys are doing a North America tour with Moonsorrow, Metsatol and Korpiklaani. How has the public reacted to this lineup so far? Very positively. It has been amazing crowds from the first night on. You can really see that they really like these bands… it is very positive!
You guys were here at the end of 2010. How often did you receive requests from the American fans to come back here? Every time we’ve been here, we have more and more requests to come back. We enjoy touring in this part of the world [North America].
Has your fan base in North America increased with every tour here? Yeah, definitely. Even the first time we were around, we had a very good response which was very strange when you come from where we come from (laughs).
Yes… the Faroe Islands! Faroe Islands is very small… it is just 48000 people, that’s all. That’s all its population and we have our own language.
So, where and how do you record your albums? Do you do it in the Faroe Islands or do you do it in Europe? Recording of albums have mostly been done in Denmark. We’ve recorded one album in the Faroe Islands but that again was sent to the same guy in Denmark and got mixed there.
Usually, we just show up at the studio with the material ready and record it there. Today, you record one on one so it is not all the time that everybody is there. Last album, actually, Terji [Skibenæs] and I did the most time “alone” (finished the guitars and bass). And then we recorded the rest afterwards, with the other guys of course.
Are you all still living in the Faroe Islands? Terji Skibenæs lives in Faroe Islands. Heri [Joensen], Kári [Streymoy] and I live in Denmark but, in separate places in Denmark. We live pretty far from each other. Heri is going to move to the Faroe Islands. So… we never see each other (laughs).
Talking about your latest album: “The Lay of Thrym” was released more than a year ago. Was it a successful album? It was a very successful album. And I think, personally, myself… that it was a very good one. That’s the best album we’ve ever made. I like the direction of the album very much also, because we tried to be a little bit more commercial. Not too much… just to survive in the business…we have to.
Have you already laid out a plan about the new album? Do you have a vision for it? We have a vision for a next album, most definitely. We have plans already but I can’t say anything right now.
Is it going to follow the direction of “The Lay of Thrym”? Yeah… maybe. Maybe it will have even more changes, I don’t know but, I think it will be pretty close to the last album because we are very happy about it, or actually about the two last albums, so… (laughs)
ont size="3" color="#CCCCCC">You have already written songs in several different languages: English, Faroese, Danish, and Norwegian. Do you guys speak all these languages fluently? Icelandic, I cannot speak that language but Heri knows it. We can understand bits of it. Because we know Danish, Swedish and Norwegian are not a problem. I can speak Norwegian fairly well and Swedish… I can “do” that one too but not that well but I can understand it perfectly. And then, English is good and we have been learning German.
How do you choose the language in which you will sing a specific song? That’s pretty simple. Usually a song is based on an original, traditional song. So, that is usually in whatever language the song is in. So, we just use that.
We don’t necessarily use the text [of the traditional song] as is, we might make a few changes. The [traditional] songs are more like a “sketch board”, to do a [Tyr] song over. They [Tyr songs] are not always as the original [traditional songs], we just use the inspiration from it.
You guys said in the past that you don’t like labels, that you guys would like to “break down the walls” of these labels, often used to describe a band’s “style”. Do you think that you guys have accomplished this objective? Fairly. The problem with all this stuff is that the labels want to label you. They want to sell you as “Viking metal”. But, that’s not the way we think of it. For us, we just want to play heavy metal and that’s it. That’s what we grew up with, that’s what we’ve been listening to and that’s what we are inspired by (and classical music, of course, also).
So, for us, there need not to be any title. But, the record companies, they want people to come into a shop and see “Viking Metal” and [say]: “Oh, that’s what I’m looking for.” But, the problem with that is that the other people that don’t like Viking Metal maybe will pick up the album and say: “Oh… that’s Viking Metal” and put it down again. So, that’s the barrier we want to break, because it is really, music for everybody [Tyr].
Are these different languages also a weapon to break down any type of stereotypes around metal? Like for example: only a certain style of bands sing in their native language or all internationally known bands need to sing in English? Oh yeah, most definitely. Because, you know… it works. In this tour we have Metsatöll and they do their music in Estonian and it works fine. Moonsorrow do it in Finnish and it works, nobody minds and same with our songs. For example, last night [at the Whisky a Go Go in Hollywood]: everybody was singing along when we were singing in Faroese. I don’t think that anybody knew what the hell they were singing but they tried.
I have seen and heard you guys being classified as folk metal but, when listening to your music, I, personally don’t think you are a folk metal band. What do think about this? Yeah! It really doesn’t
go under folk metal because folk metal, very often, is based on old instruments and in Faroe Islands we don’t have any [traditional] instruments. All our traditional songs are gone from “mouth to mouth” so, it’s all singing. Singing and dancing. There is a dance that goes along [with the songs] and the dance is the same for whatever song it is. The steps are exactly the same (laughs). It is called the chain dance. I just called that traditional Faroese; some may call it folk music… I don’t know. It is not really the same.
Talking about your lyrics now: you guys write about folkloric tales. This has kind of created a lot of polemic around you guys about you being Nationalists. So, basically… …We are blamed of being Nazis, and we are not. We have nothing to do with that at all. Where that comes from [the accusations] is simply because where we’ve came from, we have runes and runes are over 1000 years old. Hitler used these runes and Germans connect it with Hitler.
So, these rumors have nothing to do with your lyrics then… Not as such. The only thing is that they said we were singing about followers and leaders but so does everybody (laughs). I don’t know what that has to do with Nazis. There’s nothing in it. We didn’t expect that reaction.
So, do you think that they are mixing your pride for your country and culture for something else? They are missing it all, the old culture from where we come from with something much newer. That’s all it is.
Do you think that you guys would have received the same accusations if you were from another part of the world than Northen Europe, or even Europe? I think that they would still interpret it the same way, no matter where you are from, because that’s the whole thing”: they just connect it to Hitler and all that shit, right away.
The focus is all on what we are using (runes and lyrics, not so much on the lyrics but mostly on the runes). Moonsorrow had the same problem. In Germany, they were trying to ban a concert of ours. We had to get on TV and say: “We are not Nazis!”
Some people get their mind set on something and no matter what you say, they will still believe you are a Nazi. What the hell can we do about it?
Do you think that this polemic has affected your relationship with your fans in any way? No, not at all. I don’t think so and if it has affected some fans I would say: I don’t give a shit because we are not Nazis. If they think so, then well: goodbye, I don’t want you.
Talking about the plans for the rest of this year and the next: what is in the agenda? There are a lot of things coming up. I can’t say too much about it right now. But, there are a lot of good things coming up.
Any messages to the SOM readers? Buy our album, check it out; you are going to love it! I can guarantee!