SÓLSTAFIR: Icelandic Soul Music

SolstafirThe APESHIT goons have raved about the post-apocalytic cowboys from Reykjavík, Iceland for a few years now. Their last two studio albums, Svartir Sandar (2011) and Ótta (2014), are epic pieces of atmospheric soul. If there was ever a band to rightfully take on the mantle of FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM while also leading the Icelandic metal scene, SÓLSTAFIR are the chosen ones.

We finally got in touch with vocalist/guitarist Aðalbjörn Tryggvason during their recent (mostly sold out) European tour to talk about their volcanic rise in the scene.

APESHIT: How is your European tour going? Sounds like it’s been amazing.

Aðalbjörn: Going great. We’re been covering some new grounds, in UK we did Milton Keynes, Bristol, Brighton, Sheffield, along with Manchester which we had done before. All shows were crowded, and took us by surprise. Kinda weird going into England and not only doing London like usual. And now we’re in France, and so far it’s been sold out every day. Pretty mind-blowing to be honest.

APESHIT: Is it just us or has the popularity of SÓLSTAFIR grown a lot since the Svartir Sandar?

Aðalbjörn: It has for sure, it sold better then any of our previous albums and we reached a lot of new audience with it.

APESHIT: Speaking of popular, the video for “Fjara” has been watching almost 1 million times online. This is insane for an underground metal/rock band in this day and age. What do you attribute to its success?

Aðalbjörn: It’s more like 3 million, cause it’s on two youtube accounts. Yeah, it’s pretty amazing. Well we did decide we were going for the classics, regarding where to shoot the video, so the beautiful landscapes, seen thru the eye of director Bowen Staines helps a lot. It’s a good song, that’s played a big part too, nice sad mysterious story, with a beautiful girl, dragging a coffin. What is there not to like?

APESHIT: Congrats on Ótta! It’s fuckin amazing. How did you go about writing it after all of the critical acclaim for Svartir Sandar?

Aðalbjörn: Thanks. Well it’s not like we were METALLICA trying to follow up the success of the Black Album. So we had our mindset pretty decent about that. We just met up every day for 3 months and wrote and wrote. Having no idea what the outcome would be. One day it’s only ideas, then some skeletons, later on there is some meat on the bones, and 3 months later it has a hat, boots and a smoking 6 shooter!

APESHIT: Have there been any bad reviews of Ótta? It seems that the reaction is unanimously very positive.

Aðalbjörn: I love reading bad reviews, don’t think I’ve seen one for Ótta though. I mean, it’s a good album, and in worst case it’s a decent album. So if someone would say it’s a terrible utter crap album, I’d love to read that review, as long as it wasn’t written by a 10 year old.

APESHIT: Even though you guys sing in Icelandic, it’s very easy to feel the meanings of your songs without knowing the language. Will you guys pull an ENSLAVED and eventually write lyrics in English?

Aðalbjörn: We don’t know. Maybe, maybe not…Too soon to tell!

APESHIT: The big news for next year is that you guys will perform your unique take of the instrumental film score of the cult-classic Viking movie, Hrafninn Flýgur (When The Raven Flies) for it’s 13th anniversary at Roadburn 2015. Can you tell us more about this project?

Aðalbjörn: We all grew up with this movie as kids, so when we got the call from Reykjavík International Film Festival, if we wanted to perform our own music along with it, it didn’t take along time for us to say yes. So we basically took all the music out of it, and left some of the classic dialog, and edited our own songs into the gaps. It’s about 115 min, so there is a lot of material there. We got a huge screen into our rehearsal space and spent a month building this score. And having Hrafn Gunnlaugsson the director there in the 1st row was pretty stressful, but he loved it, and said he was very flattered about all this.

APESHIT: Also performing at Roadburn 2015 is FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM. Is it safe to say that they have been a big influence on SÓLSTAFIR? A tour with you guys together sounds like a dream come true.

Aðalbjörn: Sure is, not many bands have influenced us more then them. So yes, we’re huge fans, and it’s still weird seeing the logo of our little band next to theirs on the Roadburn poster. Already nervous about being starstruck if I bump into Carl McCoy [FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM vocalist].

APESHIT: Can you tell us about the early days of the band? What were the gigs like? What was the metal scene in Iceland like back then?

Aðalbjörn: Hardly any gigs, there was a metal scene in Iceland from ’90-’93, then it died, and we formed SÓLSTAFIR in ’95, and didn’t even play live until ’99. So we were just in the garage, ripping off DARKTHRONE, drinking moonshine at weekends.

APESHIT: What bands from Iceland should the rest of the world know about?


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