þriðjudagur, apríl 24, 2007

Interview with Minus (2004) - Performers of the Song of the 6. Week

Guitarist with Icelandic rockers Mínus (pronounced "Meenush") Frosti, has an informal chat with Gavin Miller about touring, singing songs in English and why Iceland is the hip place to be nowadays...

July 2004

So how are you guys, where are you at the moment?
We are very well, and we are somewhere in London, just getting out of some pizza place and we're going to BBC Maida Vale to record some tracks for a radio session.

Are you guys looking forward to your tour coming up next week?
Yeah! Absolutely. Should be good! Yeah, as always we like touring in the UK and it's one of the most pleasant things we do.

You're supporting Metallica in Reykjavik, that must be pretty exciting for you?!
Yeah, we're really excited about that, looking forward to it. It's the day after tomorrow (Sunday 4th July) so yeah, it's basically just surreal to think that we're gonna support Metallica in front of an 18,000 capacity venue which has all sold out, so yeah, it's gonna be a big day for us on Sunday.

I think the first thing that drew me to you was the fact that you're Icelandic, because I'm a big fan of bands like Sigur Rós, Múm and Björk and people like that...
Me too, I'm a fan as well.

...does the fact that they're getting quite a bit of attention and going pretty big now, does that make you proud? Is there a tight musical community in Iceland?
Yeah, I would say so, yeah. But then of course there's a lot of shitty bands over there, which I wouldn't associate myself with! But yeah, I'm really proud of Sigur Rós and Björk especially, absolutely. And her old band, which Björk was in before she became solo, The Sugarcubes - that's like an Icelandic, er... a legendary band in our country.

You sound really different to those other Icelandic bands, so who would you say are your biggest influences?
I guess it would be heavy rock and roll in general- that's our biggest influence in music I think. Although we listen to all kinds of music, but I mean AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Guns & Roses, stuff like that. And then there is The Kinks and then you have all kinds of punk rock music and hardcore stuff, you know, stuff like that, but we take influences from everything.

How do Mínus write songs? Is it all together as a jam session, or does someone come with a guitar riff or a vocal line, etc?
Almost always the guitar riffs are written first, and when the guitar riffs are ready, we put some drums beneath it and some vocals on top of it and make a nice layer out of it in the rehearsal space. Then the riffs can get done at my house, and then I bring them to the rehearsal space, or the riffs just come up in rehearsals.

Is it difficult to translate lyrics or song titles from Icelandic into English?
Yeah, that's always difficult, but Krummi (the lead singer of Mínus) doesn't translate them, he writes them in English, so it's not like The Sugarcubes in the old days who always wrote their lyrics in Icelandic and then translated them in to English. I think that's really hard to do, but Krummi just writes them in English, because it's natural for him and he finds it comfortable to do that.

How did Mínus first get together?
Mínus came together when we were all in two separate bands, and we were sharing a rehearsal space. This was before some of us had a license to drink you know, we weren't old enough to go to the bar and stuff, so we hung out a lot at the rehearsal space. So Mínus kind of came together as the funny side project, the joke side project between our other two bands. Then we won a battle of the bands contest, and so we decided to drop the other bands and focus on Mínus.

Why did you decide to name your new album after Haldór Laxness, the author?
Because he is a legendary, iconic kinda guy in Iceland, he's our only Noble Prize winner (he won the literature prize in 1955), and it's just a little tribute to him and also it's just a really good name for a rock album! It just sounds cool!

When you record in a studio, is it hard to translate that energy and passion that you have live into a recording atmosphere?
Yeah, when you're in a studio, you have to do things over and over and over again, and that can be really frustrating and hard. Like when the band's just about to give up and the producer keeps pushing you and saying "you have to do this one more time, do it better" and you're almost like "fuck you, man! it's good enough!", but yeah it's hard, but it's a lot of fun and you get a lot of experience out of it. It's a good thing.

What can we expect from the future? Are you working on new material?
Yeah, we are working on new material now, and hopefully when we get some time off from touring, we're gonna lay some tracks down in August/ September like demos and then shortly after that, we're gonna enter the studio and do a proper album, which should be out hopefully in January/ February 2005.

One final question - I'm actually going to Reykjavik in a few weeks time, is there anywhere you recommend I see?
You're going to Reykjavik?!
Oh wow, yeah... er.. well there's this street called Laugavegi which is the main street, and there's some cool clubs and bars there, one is Bar Eleven, and oh, I strongly recommend you check out a clothing designer shop called 'Dead', it's a friend of ours who has his own line of T-shirts and jackets and stuff, you gotta see it, it's one of the hottest things in Reykjavik now!

Then there's of course, if you wanna see something beautiful, you can do the Golden Triangle is it called? (It's the Golden Circle) you can see the greatest waterfall in Iceland called Gullfoss and the Geysirs and you can get a bus that goes to all these locations in one day, it's pretty cool!

(at this point, Frosti starts asking me questions..)

Frosti: So what are you doing in Iceland? how did you get that idea?
: Well, when I got into Björk and The Sugarcubes, Múm, Sigur Rós and yourselves obviously, I thought "what country can spawn all this really great and really different music?" so I did some research and thought "this country looks great, I'm gonna go check it out".

That's good, so it works! The music is representing the country well! That's good, brilliant!
That's cool man, I hope you have a good time over there!

After some more pleasantries, we end the conversation there. Mínus' latest album 'Haldór Laxness' is out now, and the single 'The Long Face' is released on the 19th July (2004).


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