Interview with Tyr at Metalheim 2011
On the first day Metalheim Festival I had the chance to sit down and chat with Gunnar Thomsen, Kari Streymoy, and Terji Skibenaes of Tyr. The guys talked to me about their desires to expand musically and what we can expect from Tyr in the future, as well as some interesting tour experiences.
So I’m here with Tyr, why don’t we start by introductions?
I’m Gunnar! Bass player in Tyr.
I’m Terji. Guitarist in Tyr.
I’m Kari, drummer in Tyr.
Great! So how are things going for Tyr since the release ofThe Lay of Thrym?
Terji: Horrible! (laughs)
Horrible? That’s not good to hear!
Kari: No, no, its been ok!
Ha! Well you guys just had a new album release was that everything you expected it to be?
Gunnar: I think better!
Good! how so?
Gunnar:It got fantastic reviews! And it’s my favorite album anyways.
So how could you describe the progression of the sound since the first release?
Terji: We’ve become more straight ahead, not so technical. And that’s the direction we want to go in.
Gunnar: More Power metal!
Terji: Yeah kind of.
It leaves more room for creativity?
Kari: Leaves more room to be creative, and we are trying to take it down a notch so everyone can be into it.
Gunnar: Yeah, and probably easier to perform live, we haven’t really tried it yet but we hope so.
What would you say this album is about?
Terji: Ha, I don’t know!
Gunnar: Well its very political. It’s about the end of days for tyrants. But that might be a question for Heri, our songwriter.
erji: But in a nutshell that’s it!
Well delving a bit into symbolism a bit, you guys have a song called Shadow of the Swastika, which had a lot of mixed reactions.
Terji: Yeah! And that’s basically why we wrote the song, because some people think we are Nazi’s and whatever, fascist.
Gunnar: so this is a big fuck you for them!
Terji: Yeah, Because we are definitely not.
Gunnar: Yeah we had some trouble a while back with a German guy who wrote a lot of stuff about us, and it came all over the media and it was totally misunderstood. Our point of
view was misunderstood by him and he was calling us Nazi’s.
Nowadays a lot of people don’t even realize symbols may have multiple meanings. Is that something that went into the writing of that song, trying to shed light on misunderstanding?
Terji: Yeah to tell people that it doesn’t belong to Nazi’s.
Gunnar: Hitler didn’t invent them.
Kari: He just used them.
In a very wrong way then the original. Well in recent years theres been a lot of people becoming interested in Pagan belief. Thoughts?
Gunnar: No, We aren’t into that.
Terji: No not at all, I don’t know why people think that.
Gunnar: It’s just our heritage and a good story.
Kari: Yeah, just the history.
Ok. well you are from the Faroe Islands, near Iceland. How much do you guys have in common with Scandinavian or Nordic Countries?
Kari: Quite a lot with Norway, and Iceland. It’s all very much the same not much different. Much harsher climate, but still everything is the same as in Scandinavia.
Gunnar: Just smaller, we have cars, we don’t live in caves or anything!
True. Now I would say it can be tempting to lump Scandinavian bands into a Folk metal category, but so far as actual sound how much do you take from Faroese Folk styles?
Terji: A lot, really a lot.
Kari: A lot of it is based on old songs.
Terji: Also the melodies are based on these.
Kari: And old sagas and stuff like that. It just sounds good.
Gunnar : And on some songs you can’t really even hear that there are influence if you don’t know them. You wouldn’t know it was inspired by folk music.
Are there any particular ones you use?
Kari: hm, just what sounds good!
Gunnar: Keep all doors open and not focus on one thing, just do what we like.
Kari: We also write our own stuff, not only that kind of thing.
When you are writing what inspires you?
Terji: Well Heri the lead singer writes most of our songs.
Kari: For me its just whatever sounds good!
Gunnar: I know Heri likes to compare the old days with todays’ world, especially we write about that. I think it’s very political, and these sagas all together.
Kari: And a good inspiration is other bands.
Who inspires you?
Gunnar: Dream theatre, Iron Maiden.
Kari: All kinds of stuff!
Nice, very diverse! In what countries have you had the best response?
Kari: Probably Brazil!
Gunnar: Yeah, South America.
Terji: and Poland.
Gunnar: And States also.
Yeah, I actually saw you guys a few years back for the Paganfest tours. That was a great show also.
Gunnar: Hopefully it will be that good tonight we are playing a lot of new stuff.
Is it nerve-wracking to be playing new stuff for the first time?
Kari: Yeah and many times we do songs we haven’t rehearsed .
Gunnar: Maybe festivals aren’t the best place to start playing a song, Ha.
Well, on the bright side, you are in Finland, everyone will love it, and then we will all be drunk anyways!
Kari: Hopefully! And we will to!
So far as touring, where haven’t you been that would be amazing?
Terji: Japan. Asia in general.
Gunnar: Yeah we really want to go there and actually in Japan this is the first album we are selling there. We are kind of excited to see how that goes.
What expectations do you have?
Gunnar: None really, no idea yet.
Terji: We’ll take it how it comes!
That’s a good attitude! What would be the next ideal goal for Tyr?
Kari: to make this for a living!
Ok, you aren’t at that point yet?
Terji: Not yet. Hes a plumber. (To Gunnar)
What do you do?
Terji: I’m a tattoo artist.
Awesome! What about you?
Gunnar: He used to work in a fish factory.
Kari: Yeah I used to drive forklifts.
Wow. A musician and a driver, much more dexterity then me, clearly. Well we are an American magazine and we haven’t had too much information from you guys, so if you had to sum up Tyr in a few sentence what would you want our readers to know?
Gunnar: We are extremely good!
Kari: Really, really go buy our albums, you are going to love it you won’t regret one moment of it.
Terji:Everyone should know that if you see our bass player to walk in the other direction because you won’t get rid of him.
Kari: And that we make music that we like and hopefully other people will like it too! It’s important that we like it.
Gunnar: Epic and Melodic!
Tell me one thing about Tyr that sets you guys apart from any other bands?
Kari: The clean vocals.
Gunnar: Yeah, we are very melodic and heavy.
Terji: Amazing guitar solos!
Gunnar: Better then any other band. And we have one good looking guy!
So you are going to break the hearts of American girls when you go back there?
Kari: No we aren’t going to do that!
Good ha! Well how does it feel to be on this Metalheim Festival here in Finland?
Kari- For me its very good, because I haven’t been here in nine years.
Gunnar- Maybe we are not so spiritual. We don’t think that much about it.
Terji: Yeah we are just there and then we play and then we leave.
Right, fair enough. So whats the craziest thing that’s ever happened on tour?
Gunnar: I guess Germany! The cops in Germany.
Kari: Ah in the bus from Holland. They thought you were a terrorist!
Gunnar: No they thought that we were-
Terji: Yeah they thought we were robbers!
Gunnar: There had been robbers.
Terji- In the electronics stores. And we were in the back of our van using laptops.
Gunnar: When I opened the door and he just had a gun. I had my passport ready.
Terji: Then we went out and were searched.
Kari: Then they were crying a little bit!
Terji: yeah afterwards.
Kari: Gunnar sharted.
Terji: But that’s normal!
Ha, you guys sound like interesting people to tour with! So when you’ve been in States, what would you say is the best or worst part of it? What stands out?
Terji: The backstages! There are no showers or anything, if there even is a backstage.
Kari: Yeah but the crowds are fantastic!
Gunnar: It’s my personal favorite place to tour.
Really, why is that?
Gunnar: Just the people! They are fun.
Do you see yourselves going to States in the future?
Terji: Yes, we have to or our manager is fired.
Gunnar: Take good notice of that Dave!
Kari: We have to go and promote the new album.
Would you do another tour like Paganfest?
Terji: Ah we are trying to go away from that. Because we want out of this Viking thing.
Gunnar: Or to tone it down a bit. We would like to tour with bands that also use these clean vocals.
Terji: Yeah we have something in mind, we can’t name any names but its more power metal.
Now if you could tour with anyone, who would it be?
Gunnar: Dream Theatre!
That would be amazing!
Kari: That’d be great.
Gunnar: Black Sabbath?
Ha. Fantastic idea! Well any last words for us?
Terji: Buy our album!
Gunnar: (whispers into my voice recorder) buy it, buy our album… Buy it!
Terji: Ha! And remember to walk the other way if you see our bass player.
Kari: Yes walk the other way, cross the street- Don’t make eye contact it’s very important!
Rachel Roth has studied classical music and folk music at the University level, and enjoys studying Folklore in her spare time. She is an avid metal fan lucky enough to be living in Helsinki, Finland, where she now studies social work. Currently, she has expanded her love of music to include photography and freelance writing. You can see more of her photography here.
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