partners: Aðalbjörn, Sæþór, Svavar
questions by: Surtr & Twilightheart
time of publishing: June 2012
This interview was recorded during the Christmas Metal Fest in November 2011 in Lichtenfels/ Germany. Surtr had just said, he would like to interview Sólstafir, when Twilightheart saw them walking by. So very spontaniously she invited them for an interview. Please bear in mind that there were no questions prepared upfront. It was just a nice talk in between the festival activity. Maybe the question about the musical style of the band was a bit of a misfire, but it was fun anyway, as you might notice when reading some of the answers that Svavar gave after he had some cups of mulled wine. So please read all this with a wink and a twinkle.
Surtr: Nice to meet you guys. First of all I want to thank you, because
your new album stands for the highest level you can reach, or better: it is the
best album you can do at this moment.
Aðalbjörn: Well, of course it does. But in the end of the day it is just our new album. We did not plan anything, decide and talk about. So we just decided we are gonna do a new album, so we gonna rehearse every day for three months. We got no idea what was going to happen and it happened. And you know maybe in one year we will do the same thing, we will do it again, meet up, for three months, or whatever, write a new album. So I don't know. Things just happen, we do not plan them. It just happened, you know.
Sæþór: You know, it was raining when we made it.
Aðalbjörn: We did the writing in the winter, so it presents a lot of snowing and raining and freezing and so on. The space we rehearse in is not bigger than this thing here. ()Aðalbjörn shows up to a little shelter, next to the concert hall)) You know a little room and then it is freezing outside and snowing.
Twilightheart: Do you need this for your inspiration?
Aðalbjörn: (both are laughing) No, just for everything else.
Twilightheart: (laughing) No, I mean also mean the weather and the atmosphere.
Aðalbjörn: No, not really. The album before the Köld album, we wrote that one mostly in the summer time. There were no windows. So it was like 34 degrees inside. Really bad air. Really hot. And this was written during the winter. And there was lot of coldness. So whatever the weather is, we are going to make a killer album.
Surtr: I think that is a aspect you can hear on the new album. It is a bit more basics-like. I think I can hear all the influences and for me it sounds like a tribute to Fields of Nephilim and something like that.
Aðalbjörn: Well, you know, I have to stop you. We have had Fields of the Nephilim-influences in the past. But if you take the songs, step by step, track by track, it does not sound anything like Fields of the Nephilim. ((Now he made Surtr speechless)) There are some aspects in the past that have, of course influenced us, but in general I do not think it sounds anything like Fields of the Nephilim. So too much pop, too much rock'n'roll. So that's my opinion.
Aðalbjörn: But I do get your point. (laughing)
Surtr: When I was able to hear the new song from the new album (Sólstafir played „Þin Orð“) on the last tour with Swallow the Sun, and when „Fjara“ was pre-posted I thought that Sólstafir are going back to what they basically believe in.
Aðalbjörn: But do you really think that „Fjara“ sounds anything like Fields of the Nephilim?
Surtr: Yes, in the basics.
Surtr: For me it does. Even when you are listening to the drums, then...
Aðalbjörn: Yeah, but with the drums in the „Fjara“-song we use brushes. Fields of the Nephilim never used brushes. So of course, it is different for us as insiders. We only look at us as insiders. So it is: different views, being in the band and not being in the band.
Surtr: Okay, this is awesome. So, for me it was always like, when I saw you first time live on Party.San Open Air 2009, I thought: „What the Hell is going on here?“
Aðalbjörn: Yeah, we did play „Ritual of Fire“ which is a bit like a Fields of the Nephilim-song, so that is why people say: „You sound like Fields of the Nephilim!“. That song does. It is a bit like a tribute to them, because we love the band. But the new album does not. Well when you say: „Party.San“. That was a really good gig.
Surtr: Yeah, when I think of that gig, well I didn't know your music and for me it was like, you have four men standing on the stage, and they are doing they basically want. And it doen't matter, what...
Aðalbjörn: This is the only thing we can. We couldn't play a death metal-album or a jazz-album. This is the only thing we can. This is the right music and this is it.
Surtr: This is cool. And this is maybe the reason why I prefer your music, because I can hear that it comes from the heart and I can hear in every single note and in every song from the first to the actual album, that this music comes from the heart. Actually when I think of Cathedral and their split up:. You know they say, we have reached the point, where we always wanted to get to, we do not need anything else. And for me the actual album sounds like you have reached a highest point.
Yeah, but when you say Cathedral. Of course we were listening to
them, to the former stuff, when the first album came out. Here you have a doom
metal-band, they wrote more Sabbath-stuff, more stoner rock. I can understand.
But we have gone from our range, from A to B, and compared to Forest of
Equilibrium-stuff and the „Witchfinder General“, whatever the last album was
called. Well our range is quite a lot from being a black metal band and this
shit, well „Fjara“ is not much black metal. So I think the range has gone
from this to „a lot“. Since we are here we can take it any further. So we
are in a new dimension or level. We can do now anything. We have, you know,
expended our music, our style. So, I think we could probably do a lot of
different stuff. We are writing more, you know, a bit piano and different styles,
techniques and so on. We have certainly have not reached the point that we have
done everything the creative way.
Twilightheart: How do you handle this live to bring everything on stage what can be heared on the album?
Aðalbjörn: We have been talking about that, because on some songs we had like eight guitars going on. On the last album Köld we used a harmond organ and we had it on playback. Because we could not handle it to bring a keyboard-player. So our keyboard-player, he is called „Mr. I-Pod“. So Mr. I-Pod is playing keyboards for us live. And tomorrow we are going to use Mr. I-Pod again, he is gonna play more for us. So in the future, well, we are doing the Roadburn-Festival, we are going to bring a real keyboard-player there and beside from that, we can get away with it. We step it a bit down, just a bit more rock'n'roll. You'll see it tomorrow.
Twilightheart: Will you only play songs from the new album?
Aðalbjörn: Only from the first album... No I'm joking. (everbody is laughing) No, we are gonna play three songs of the new album and two from the Köld-album.
Twilightheart: Ok, but do you think you will have enough time?
Aðalbjörn: Well, we do not have 20-minutes-songs anymore, we have 50 minutes. And thirty minutes will be from the new one, that's like three songs, and two from the old, the Köld-one.
Surtr: Do you think that there's a big difference between the Svartir Sandar-album and the Köld-album?
Sæþór: No, not much. But it is more... jazzy. But the old one is more heavy rock.
Aðalbjörn: Yeah, I think it is more prog, I think. You know we are not prog, but there is strange stuff going on. More soft stuff, well, more jazz probably.
Sæþór: Yeah, just rock 'n' roll.
Aðalbjörn: I think it is all the same. It is just us, the same friends, we know each other 15 to 20 years. And we just play rock 'n' roll.
Surtr: Is that what you would describe your music?
Aðalbjörn: Rock 'n' roll.
Sæþór: Yeah, rock 'n' roll.
Aðalbjörn: I think that's it. We don't play black metal, we don't play doom metal, we don't play heavy metal as Judas Priest. We don't play viking metal, we don't play folk metal. We don't play rock'n'roll like AC/DC. But rock 'n' roll is way... a bigger term than AC/DC, so we don't play rock'n'roll but it's really epic. Some sort of epic rock'n'roll.
Surtr: Well there are many people who describe your music as „post black metal“. What do you think about this term?
Aðalbjörn: Well, it does have the word „black metal“ in it. So, I mean... We are closer to some big rock'n'roll stuff than black metal. If Svartir Sandar would be our first album why would you call us post-black metal? Why the fuck would you do that? There is no black metal in there. Since we did black metal in the past we were called post-black metal. So it is not describing our music, it is describing our history. Do you agree?
Surtr: I agree. Yeah, that's a fact.
Aðalbjörn: People that ask me and do not know black metal or „post-viking-core-bullshit-crap“, they are asking: „What kind of music do you play?“ And well this person knows Pink Floyd and The Beatles. So I say, „We are not rock'n'roll like The Beatles, we are more like Pink Floyd, but a lot more heavy. Pink Floyd are rock'n'roll but it is strange rock'n'roll, there are not „post-pre-some-crap“.
Surtr: I think that fits.
Aðalbjörn: We are more like Heavy-Metal-Pink-Floyd.
Surtr: (turning to Sæþór) What I wanted to ask you especially, when I see your live-shows, when I look to Aðalbjörn he is very emotional on stage but you are on stage the „cool guy“ which is just...
Twilightheart: ... like dreaming along.
Surtr: Yeah, just like dreaming. What do you think about Sólstafirs live-performance, are you going on stage just doing your thing as a whole band or are going on stage as individuals?
Sæþór: I would say, it is just feeling. When you are listening to the guitars, and the feedback of the audience and the good sound, and when you are standing there and the feedback comes it kicks ass... (he is smiling). So it is just a feeling.
Twilightheart: So do you concentrate on the music on stage or do you see anything else, like the audience, do you notice how the people react?
Sæþór: Yeah, when people have a good time, I have a good time.
Twilightheart: So, can you see the faces?
Sæþór: Not the faces. But the looks and the feeling, and yeah, I mean If I have a good party at home and everybody's having a good time, then I have a good time.
Surtr: When I saw you at Nuremberg with Swallow the Sun and you were playing „Godess of Ages“ you were not standing to the front, but to the side and you were just like she said dreaming. It is interesting, because on stage everyone is like a individual. Everyone is a different character to the other but you present your music combined together.
Aðalbjörn: That is the cool thing, being in a band.
Twilightheart: You know, he (Surtr) is just so amazed by it. He can rhapsodize for hours and noone stops him.
Aðalbjörn: But that's good. We are doing something right then.
Twilightheart: Do you get much compliments in general? Do the fans tell you how much the music means to them?
Aðalbjörn: You know, a drunk at a bar: (plays drunk) „You are a great band!“, but a lot of people talk to you and that's something that explores the music. And that's really cool. You know, there were some children talking about anything. But when the people are talking about the music, it is really interesting, and of course we listen to it, we want to talk about it. I can imagine, you know the bigger bands are getting compliments and they get tired of it. We are not a big band. We live in a small city and, you know, everybody knows us there. So, of course you get compliments and it is very nice to hear.
Twilightheart: id you also get bad opinions?
Aðalbjörn: We are a good band. We don't get bad opinions. (laughs)
(Svavar arrives, in fact it seemed that he was more interested in the German „Glühwein“ instead of the interview. Surtr used the situation to ask him a question... but please bear in mind that his replies might be influenced by alcohol, not by seriousness.)
Surtr: What do you think does Sólstafir represent in the global metal scene?
Svavar: I think it represents a fucking wet pussy.
Surtr: (laughing) Do you really think so?
Svavar: (very serious) Yeah!
Surtr:Well, for me Sólstafir is something very outstanding.
Svavar: I mean, when you travel to Iceland, it is nice, beautiful, but there is something else. The guys always say the nature has got nothing to do with our musical writing and stuff. But for me it has to do with a lot. You know, Gringo (Sæþór) and me, we write nearly 80 % of the music. You know, but we are that kind of guys, we take the ladies and we just: „Hey baby, it is like eight o'clock in the morning, let's go for a ride!“ And it is beautiful.
Twilightheart: So you are the womanizer in the band?
Svavar: Me? Yeah. Something like that.
(Svavar tried out a drink of a friend of the band. He was looking out for some coffee. In fact this was the German traditional Christmas-drink „Glühwein“. He never tasted it before. )
Twilightheart: You never tasted Glühwein before?
Twilightheart: So, have a try and tell us what it tastes like.
(Svavar tastes and is very amazed.)
Svavar: So, do you know the difference between this sugar (points at his friend) and this sugar? This one is Swedish.
Twilightheart: I am probably the thousandst person who asks you were the hat-fashion comes from?
Svavar: That guy here was born with this hat (laughs). I am always wearing different hats. Last year I was wearing this English hat. Hats are cool.
Twilightheart: So it is not for the "Cowboy"-reason?
Svavar: Well, this one for example: there is a really rainy season in Iceland. It protects you very well.
Surtr: I remember a fan shouting to the stage: "Give me some Johnny Cash!" - And Aðalbjörn answered: "He is already on the stage."
Sæþór: Oh yeah.
Svavar: Of course, I mean. Look at him.
Twilightheart: Do you like Johnny Cash?
Svavar: I love him. Respect. Rest in peace Johnny. Rest in peace, brother.
Twilightheart: Do you enjoy the festival?
Svavar: I enjoy the people. A festival, it is meeting people. We are not assholes, like: "Look, we are famous!" Nothing like that. We have fun, taliking to everybody. Don't be afraid to come. Come talking.
Twilightheart: Well, you said, you do not like interviews? How come?
Svavar: Well you know, people have so many questions about the music. And answering things about music. I always have to stop and think for a while. And I don't like thinking too much. I am more into experiencing things.
Twilightheart: So what would you like to talk about?
Svavar: Are you married? (laughs)
Twilightheart: About women, okay.
Svavar: I love women. I just love them.
Twilightheart: But in your country?
Svavar: You know, we have pretty women. But elsewhere there are pretty women as well. Not just in our country.
(In the background the other bandmembers are heavily discussing about Glühwein.)
Twilightheart: Would you ever leave your country for any other countries?
Svavar: Of course I would. I've done it a couple of times. I moved to Greece once. And I moved to London. London is a crappy place. But if you are a good person it has beautiful people for you like... him (Aðalbjörn).
Twilightheart: We just put the question to him. What would you like to talk about, because he just said he does not like interviews.
Aðalbjörn: Have you asked him about his career in Germany?
Svavar: Ja, ich arbeiten in einem Stahlwerk. (Yes, I am working in a steel-work). Well, a beautiful place. Lot of pollution and stuff.
Aðalbjörn: Have you seen the Simpsons? Do you know what Homer does?
Surtr: You mean the atomic power station.
(Now there were some jokes about Svavar being really polluted with more gesture than words.)
Twilightheart: Do you feel a bit exotic between all the black metal bands here, because they would like to see "all mankind destroyed" and something like that?
Aðalbjörn: They got kids and loving wifes. And they cry when their parents die. They are normal people. But we feel exotic, like... I think it was Party.San, we played there and we were the lightest band on the billing. It was like Deep Purple with Deicide. We have the soft stuff and there is Marduk and all the other crazy black metal-bands. So we feel exotic in that way. Of course we do look a bit different. But the exotic thing is: We did Ragnarök Festival. Last year I think and everybody there is wearing sheep-skin and horns. And they were laughing at him: "Look at him, no horn, no Thor!" We feel exotic in that way, a bit different. But it is not that we are trying. Of course there are not many bands like us. And even being from Iceland, an isolated country, it is, when we formed the band, there was no heavy-,black- or death metal band in Iceland. Not only one band. And name me any year, when there was just one band in Germany or England. So, it is quite different where you come from.
Twilightheart: Are you going to see any band on the festival?
Everyone: We are looking forward to see Anvil and Sepultura.
Surtr: Have you ever seen them?
Aðalbjörn: I have seen Sepultura about three times.
Svavar: Sepultura were really nice to me yesterday. I was dead. I do not remember it. And they carried me into the lobby.
Aðalbjörn: Of course, we have more bands tomorrow. Immortal and Primordial for example.
Twilightheart and Surtr: Okay, thank you very much.
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