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TYR: We are not deliberately in the Viking Folk Metal scene

Interview with Heri Joensen (vocals) of Tyr by Danny in 2009

Týr is a band from the Faroe Islands which plays a combination of heavy metal and folk music, with strong progressive metal elements, or in a nutshell, Viking metal. Their subject matter revolves almost entirely around old Nordic lore, mythology, and history. They signed a worldwide deal with Austria's Napalm Records in early 2006, while signed to the Faroese record label Tutl. They performed at the Ragnarök Festival in 2007 and 2008. They just released their new album “By The Light of the Northern Star” and I asked singer Heri a few questions.

As you tour a lot: where are you at the moment when writing this and how do you do?
Heri Joensen: I am in Niederoeblarn, getting ready for the Next Generation Open Air. And I’m presently lying on the bed of my hotel room answering your interview and listen to my band mates acting like five year olds next I’m doing absolutely fantastically well! Thanks for asking.

Tyr is from the Faroe Islands. Are there other bands in your region? Or more specific more metal bands?
HJ: There is one other metal band doing some touring, they’re called "Sic". There are more metal bands, but to my knowledge none of them is doing international touring.

Wasn’t it hard in the beginning to get a connection with the metal world abroad when living on an isolated island?
HJ: Very hard! We had to do a lot of work to achieve that. We had to send a lot of demos and requests! But in time the international metal world was contacting us, so the work paid off very well!

What are the characteristics of the Faroe Islands if you would have to describe it to foreign people?
HJ: Windy, rainy, fishy, sheepy, barren and cold! In spite of that negative sounding description, it really is quite a nice place!

Your previous albums were more progressive, while the new one comes closer to the other Viking Metal bands. Is there a reason for this change?
HJ: Yes, the reception to the last album "Land" wasn’t nearly what we expected; "Ragnarok" was deliberately a very progressive album. We got good reviews for it, but it wasn’t very accessible to the general audience. With "Land" we wanted to make something more accessible, but most reviewers thought it was even more complicated, so with this album we tried another kind of accessibility and i think it worked this time.

Why do you mostly write some lyrics in your own language?
HJ: No, almost all lyrics that I write are in English. I somehow find in a lot easier to write in English, and I wish I were able to use more Faeroese.

You don’t use any traditional instruments (accordion, lute,…) like other Viking metal bands do? Is that on purpose? Any plans in that direction?
HJ: We set out to play heavy metal! We are not deliberately in the Viking Folk Metal scene. We just play what we like and we have a standard heavy metal line up, so that’s it.

Tróndur í Gøtu is often mentioned in your lyrics. Is he a national hero?
HJ: He is the first mentioned national hero. He was against Norwegian supremacy and the introduction of Christianity. In the sagas he is the bad guy, but more recent national romanticism has made him the good guy.

Was signing with Napalm Records a big change for the band?
HJ: Yes! Probably the biggest change so far. It got us an incredible amount of exposure and generally our cooperation is very good.

Who did the artwork on your new album?
Gyula Havancsák, a Hungarian guy, who had already done some work for Napalm. So they put us in contact with him.

You have travelled a lot in the meantime. What were the things that struck you most when bumping upon other cultures?
HJ: The size of the metal community in Germany! It’s almost unimaginable for people living in the Faeroes. I think there are far more Metalheads in Germany than people living in the Faeroes.

What are the plans for the near future?
HJ: Touring, it’s all in the works, so no specific dates at present!

Geplaatst door danny op donderdag 03 september 2009 - 23:59:14
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