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24/11/2006 – Interview with TÝR

When they were in Belgium on the 24th of november, I had the chance to ask some questions to the Faroese Folk/Heavy Metallers TÝR. Since I wasn't the only one, Basil from Keys And Chords (website) decided to to the interview together and thus save time. Since I don't have any transcribing software yet, I had to typ it all out and this is of course time-consuming. So based on this and the dailogish way of interviewing, I decided to drop the question-answer procedure and go for a text-approach, while quoting when necessary.

TÝR are signed to the Austrian label Napalm Records, where you'll also find bands like DRACONIAN, AHAB, LEAVES' EYES, BATTLELORE, IRON FIRE, FAIRYLAND and many more. In March the band's critically acclaimed album "Eric The Red" was re-released. The successor, "Ragnarok", followed half a year later. You can read my comments on "Eric The Red" at this location and on "Ragnarok" at this location.

Before touring with Sweden's biggest Viking band AMON AMARTH, the Faroese warriors hit the road with the German band DIE APOKALYPTISCHEN REITERS, of which they were very pleased. The tour with AMON AMARTH and WINTERSUN wasn't exactly a matter of the different labels getting together and discuss the options. TÝR also had never heard of AMON AMARTH and were very flattered and honoured when the Swedes asked them to join the band on their European quest. Finnish Viking/Melodic Death band WINTERSUN was added to complete the package. Taking the dates with DIE APOKALYPTISCHEN REITERS into account, this is the band's first big tour and it hopefully won't be their last.

As I said in the report of the concert I was just in time to see the band at work and three songs of WINTERSUN before going downstairs and meet the Faroese musicians. Nothing luxurious backstage, just standard 'rooms', all in a basic setting. And isolating the music on stage is not really applicable, so interviewing a band isn't that easy if you want to avoid extra sounds. But it all went pretty well.

Frontman/guitarist Heri Joensen of course delivered the most replies, although the others occasionally added extra comments or their own opinions.

Tyr logo

The dressing room for the guys was quite small and the isolation was very basic, thus letting stage sounds come through very easily, but we understood each other perfectly for the largest part. TÝR released their new album some months ago and Basil (from was curious about the band's way of working, thought that it was pretty unusual to have two releases in one year. Said Heri: ""Eric The Red" was released in 2003, on Tutl Records. Now it's been re-released via Napalm. So we're very productive in terms of that." Although it's a bit soon to talk about a third album, Heri did inform us that so far there are only sketches ready, nothing concrete yet.

Singing in other-than-English languages is also a typical characteristic of the band's music. Naturally the Faroese is present, but also Danish and Irish. The addition of these languages seems to add more quality to the songs and this wasn't just Basil's opinion, as Heri confirmed this had been said before. Singing in a different language is one thing, but I was also curious about the reason behind this decision. Said Heri: "The melodies we use are very traditional. It's also more real to sing it in Faroese. It's important that we do that to keep our own identity. But we think it's also important to sing in English, since not a lot of people understand Faroese, they wouldn't know what we're saying/singing."

Tim: And that's also one of the big advantages of the booklets as the translations are added.

Heri: That's true, but a lot of people download the album...

Tyr bandTim: Now that you're mentioning it, what do you think about downloading?

Terji: I love it. :-)

Heri: People should pay for it, otherwise it's stealing.

Basil: How about this: I download a lot and if I like the albums, I'll buy them.

Terji: Same thing here.

Basil: But indeed it's stealing, in a way, yet on the other hand you can discover new bands.

Heri: I'm sure some people will download the album and NOT buy it afterwards. We get a lot of requests to translate the various texts because they don't know all the other things, so that's how I see they don't have the album. Because if they have the album, they have the translation.

Tim: So for both albums, and probably for "How Far To Asgaard" as well, you chose to work with Jacob Hansen. Why did you choose him and what influence did he have on the band and the music?

Heri, assisted by Terji: We didn't know him at first. We chose the cheapest way. It was through Intromental Mangement, they recommended him. We were satisfied with the first album, so we did it again.

Tim: I guess you'll be using him again for the next album?

Heri: If we can not find someone better, hehe. :-)

Tim: Do you have other producers in mind?

Heri: Jacob didn't produce, he worked as an engineer. He's an excellent technician. We produce the albums ourselves. But we're gonna look at the options. You should always explore. So we're going to look for studios and stuff, but we haven't decided anything yet.

Tim: Let's talk about the label, Napalm Records. You're signed with them since...

Heri: January.

Tim: How's it going so far and why were they the best label to choose?

Gunnar: They had the best offer. *laughs*

Tim: I see. :-) Were there any other labels that showed interest?

Heri: Yes, absolutely. Roadrunner and Spinefarm, the Scandinavian label.

-- (talk about labels, which ones would be good for TÝR, should they ever leave Napalm Records) --

Tim: Going back to the new album, "Ragnarok". What's the theme? Is it about the Christian invasion and converting the people?

Heri: it's not really much about christianity. It's about the end of the world. There's only one song about Christianity and it's on the limited edition.

Ragnarok coverTim: it seems that, if I read it correctly, Christianity is the biggest religion on the Faroese islands and isn't "Ragnarok" a kind of rebellion for standing up for the older beliefs and fighting back.

Gunnar/Heri: It's only one song, the others aren't based on religion. Yeah, you can call it a rebellion against Christianity, but we're not DEICIDE, hahaha. Our beliefs are Pagan and I'm against Christianity, but I don't want to do what happened in Norway.

Tim: In an interview with the French magazine Metallian, you said that there's practically no metal scene on the faroese islands. Is TÝR the only band or are there others as well?

Heri: There are other bands, but they're not really... There are no metal releases, really. But what I meant was, there's not a metalscene, although there is a music scene and metal forms a small part of it. There's not a concentrated metal scene. There are 4 or 5 other metalbands, but without any significance. There are no releases internationally or anything. It's just us.

Tyr bandTim: Since you're with Napalm Records, maybe you can suggest some bands form them to sign.

Heri: I've already done that, but no luck yet. They try to sound like any other American or British band and nobody wants that.

-- (talk about how TÝR sounds different, different styles of singing with Heri trying some grunts) --

Basil: On stage you said you've got a first album. Was it ever released and where can it be purchased?

Heri: "How Far To Asgaard"? You can order it from Tutl Records. They just reprinted it. but they don't have a big promotion or distribution setup.

Tim: Napalm Records wasn't very eager to re-release that one as well or ...?

Heri: No, but also because the band had another singer and the quality is not so fantastic. It has a very poor production.

Tim: Despite the re-release by Tutl Records, could you re-record some songs and then put them on the next album?

Heri/Gunnar: That's something we won't reveal. You'll have to wait, hahaha.

Tim: Napalm wanted to add two tracks on the re-release of "Eric The Red". What about "Ragnarok"? Who chose those two bonus tracks?

Heri: They were were planned for the album, but there was so much music, they took off two songs for the limited edition.

Tim: Does this mean you already have enough material for a third and possible a fourth album?

Heri: We don't have any songs lying there, that we don't use. Everything is on the albums. We don't produce 30 songs and then release 10 per CD.

Basil: Do you already have ideas ready for the next album? Is it going to be slower, faster...?

Heri: Maybe less progressive, maybe more like "Eric The Red" in song structures.

Tim: More to the point?

Heri: Yes, maybe. There's a lot of progression on "Ragnarok". It will probably be our most progressive album for a long time.

Tim: When you're writing songs, how do you start? Do you start with the music, then the lyrics?

Heri: Music comes first, yes.

Kári: Heri does something that's really bad and the other three make it better. *laughs*

Basil: Are the songs mostly fiction, myths or reality-based?

Heri: The songs are myths in general and then some reality stuff. First of all it's about myths, but with any contemporary subject you can think of: religion, politics, philosophy, ...

Tim: Heri, since you occupy two positions in the band, which do you prefer?

Heri: I don't know. I like best the songwriting, really. ;-) I like the guitar playing best, since I was a guitar player before I was a singer.

-- (talk about:

1) relaxing/spending-time-when-not-active on tour, which means they don't anything except the usual reading, internet, interviews and... working out. This last concerns Heri, who - as he said - runs around the bus and possibly a bit further ;-). Other than that it's going from one place to the other. The next place they had to go to after Hof Ter Lo was De Bosuil in Weert, The Netherlands. Of course, pronouncing the name and town was abit hard for the guys and we had fun on going for the right way of pronouncing them. :-)

2) growing up with Metal. It seems one really was dependent on (mainly) magazines as it was hard to obtain CDs. But the band's heroes are DIO, IRON MAIDEN, METALLICA, and others. Terji likes SLAYER a lot, Heri hates them "with a vengeance". :-)) --

After a couple more Faroese related questions, it seems TÝR is one of the main sources if you want to learn the language, hahaha. After two times twenty minutes - with a break in between because the Faroese Metallers helped carrying WINTERSUN's gear off stage - it was time to go and enjoy AMON AMARTH's performance.

For me personally it was great having this kind of 'chat' with the band, although things would have been better sitting comfortably with a beer and just talk about music and stuff. Until next time, guys.

Tyr and me

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