Alestorm, and Tyr: eFestivals sets sail once more

Hammerfest 2009 interview

published: Fri 1st May 2009

Alestorm Tyr Interview

Friday 24th to Saturday 25th April 2009
Pontins Holiday Camp in Prestatyn, North Wales, Wales MAP
from £85 per head, based on a group of seven people sharing
last updated: Wed 11th Mar 2009

Having interviewed Alestorm's Dani Evans at last year's second-ever Hard Rock Hell event, eFestivals was delighted to catch up with Dani for another chat, this time joined by Heri Joensen, frontman for Faroese pagan metallers Tyr, once again in the confines of an adventure playground. Sounds weird? You have no idea...

Alestorm Tyr Interview

Hey guys! Hungover?
Dani: Aye I am.

Heri: No I didn't drink last night. I have to look after my voice!

Dani, this is your second time here. What brought you back?
Dani: The money! Playing for the fans, and the money *laughs*. No, I mean it's a unique festival, it's just like "What's going on here? We’re at a holiday park." We played here in December [at Hard Rock Hell] and it was just something that stuck in our minds. So yeah, it was nice to come back. Everything's beginning to sink in about the very very rapid rise of my band, and I'm still sort of wondering around going "Wow...I'm in a band!", you know.

So it's still actually a bit surreal for you that Alestorm have come this far?
Dani: Yeah yeah, definitely. We've come from nothing to supporting Turisas to playing our own gigs and going out to the States.

Heri, this is your first time at Pontin's. Thoughts?
Heri: I love it. Lovely surroundings, I went jogging this morning along the beach. It's a lovely place, I love it. I've seen something like this in Poland, in a sports hall I think. It's called Metal Mania, it's all indoors with three stages, a bit bigger than this. Is this better? Yes it is! *laughs*

You two are more than familiar with each other now...
Dani: Yeah we did the US tour together. We're like brothers!

Heri: They were quite good to us over there.

Dani: The shows were quite packed. I remember the San Francisco show was just ludicrously packed. San Francisco was packed beyond comparison – there were still about 120 people queuing outside when it sold out.

Heri: It went over expectation.

Dani: We're going back in November, so we're really looking forward to that. We had some quite good venues. Canada was amazing. Texas, California...

Heri: I'd say the smallest venues were around 150, and the bigger ones were about 800.

Dani: Montreal was a thousand! That one nearly sold out, it was absolutely packed. A lot of people knew the songs, so it was good to see that the distribution of music has actually been going places. It was a great tour and we're looking forward to doing it again.

Has the novelty of people turning up dressed as pirates worn off yet?
Dani: Yeah, kinda. It's like "You're in a pirate suit, good for you! You're gonna get beaten up on the way home!" *laughs* No, I mean it comes with part of the course really, we have to expect that stuff when we're playing in a dicky folk metal album.

You're both about to release new albums, how have these ones been different for you both?
Dani: We had the same producer and the same studio, the only real difference was that we had a brass section, violins, bagpipes in the studio. We had a full orchestra on this, so it's properly recorded this time. It was surreal, I remember waking up one day and seeing a bunch of guys with trombones walking in and thinking "What the hell is going on?!" There were two or three days recording that, and there are these guys playing your songs, and you can recognise them but it's just weird. They did it as a deal with our producer because they wanted their album produced. So it worked out really well for us, we were very happy and the final product exceeded all our expectations. It was just amazing.

Heri: Well we had no orchestra, no stuff like that. We didn't use a producer, we never have, we produced everything ourselves. All the music is completely finished before we go into the studio. It is me and our drummer who will listen to things and turn things around. This time it was very relaxing, as relaxing as recording could ever be. There was no pressure really, we recorded in the Faroes, it was mastered in Finland, it was quite straightforward, you know? I wouldn't want anyone to come and...erm...

Dani: Twiddle your knobs?

Heri: Haha, yes, twiddle with my knobs and tinker with my songs! I modestly find myself a good songwriter, so I like to do it all myself. I have had one experience working with a producer and that went completely to shit. I find producing as part of the songwriting, and I'm good at that shit!

This is the first time eFestivals has covered Tỳr, would you like to explain to our readers what it is you guys do?
Heri: Our music is based on Scandinavian traditional melodies. All the songwriting starts with traditional melodies, and then everything is put on top which gives it that progressive sound. It's not intended to be progressive at all, it's just come that way from the folk melodies and time signatures. Besides that we're influenced by very standard metal bands, from the NWOBHM to Metallica, Pantera and all that.

On the text side, I write about Nordic mythology and Nordic history, but always with parallels to the present, so that I think I'm always making some relevant points about present day issues. A large part of our text are traditional as well, so I haven't written them. Faroese mostly, but some Danish, some Norwegian and Icelandic as well. I pick them either for the melody they have or the content of the song. It's hard not to notice [our history] when you grow up in the Faroes.

Why do you think the whole Pagan/Viking thing is taking off?
Heri: I hope it's because that religion and Christianity in particular is bullshit. I make a very strong point about what I think about religion, which is mostly negative.

Dani: People today have the ability to be whatever they want, and music today is very much a big part of that. In the past five years or so, bands have been coming out all over the world that have got Pagan roots, and I think it's becoming a big thing these days. I think that people don't only just like the music, but like the ideas as well. People having the ability to open their eyes is a very very good thing.

Can we expect serious lyrical themes to seep their way into Alestorm any time soon?
Dani: I don't think it would work with us. We are a dicky folk band, a bit of fun and a bit of drinking music. I think introducing seriousness to the music would kill it, frankly. We don't take ourselves too seriously, we go out and have a lot of fun. We had a lot of fun with the Tỳr guys as well, two different styles of music but a lot of fun. We've been on a bus together for two months!

We look forward to the UK tour! Cheers guys.
interview by: Merlin Alderslade

Friday 24th to Saturday 25th April 2009
Pontins Holiday Camp in Prestatyn, North Wales, Wales MAP
from £85 per head, based on a group of seven people sharing
last updated: Wed 11th Mar 2009

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