On the promo sheet I have in my hands you are described as the „Sigur Ros of Metal“. What do you think of this comparison?
Jón: Well, someone has made this description, so I suppose there might be a few parallels. It is definitely flattering, since Sigur Rós is a very talented band with a solid concept making beautiful, heart-wrenching music. We also share similarities in language and expression, and in our more serene and ‘pretty’ moments, I can certainly accept the comparison. Others might disagree, though. That’s how it is with music.
Last year you won the „Wacken Metal Battle“. Did this have any effect on your popularity?
Jón: It’s difficult to say. Of course it did result in some exposure, especially after we had declined the record deal from Nuclear Blast. Also, playing at a huge festival in front of thousands of metalheads was a big event for an upcoming band. But in terms of popularity, we didn’t notice a big jump. It has always been slowly and steadily growing.
Your debut EP “Vilst er síðsta fet” got many very good reviews (as far as I can see it). Did you have any pressure writing a as good full length debut?
Jón: The pressure was probably mostly from ourselves. We were quite pleased with the EP, so there were no obvious choices to make with writing new material. We just knew it had to be better somehow.
Typically, the more you write, the more skill you build as a songwriter, subconsciously, and I think that was the case for us. We didn’t seek out to do anything specifically different from “Vilst er síðsta fet”, but we had different circumstances this time around and the songs did – in our opinion – come out stronger than anything we’ve done so far.
Due to the fact, that all your lyrics are Faroese, can you tell me what you are singing about? Does “Evst” have a lyrical concept or something?
Jón: There is a general concept running throughout both “Vilst er síðsta fet” and “Evst”. It is centered on a man, as he goes through various stages of his life in connection with the Faroese nature, culture and myths. Whereas “Vilst...” dealt with the death of this man, “Evst” describes the events leading up to his death.
His son is lost as a storm hits them during a mountain walk, and the story follows the man on his journey to locate the boy. In his search he comes across the gentle but mysterious Huldur, who agree to help him and give him shelter in their home beneath the mountains. This, however, is no place for men, and slowly he loses his sense of reality and of what is memory and what is in the present.
Your album gains a lot of its power out of the dense, mystical atmosphere. Was this a goal of yours?
Jón: Yes. We draw inspiration from mystical Faroese lore and eerie superstition, and it was important for us to create that feeling not only lyrically but also sonically. A lot of the dense and spectral feeling is evoked by working with keyboard arrangements. It is quite typical for metalheads to shun keyboards in metal music, but in our case those arrangements are crucial for what we try to achieve.
On element that supports this atmosphere is the great “open” production of the record. Can you tell me something about the production process? What did you aim for?
Theodor: Our songwriting process is usually quite long and has changed a bit through the last couple of years. We don't have one designated songwriter, everybody is allowed to come with ideas, but it turns out that it's usually me and John coming up with most of the basic songwriting. John came up with most of the stuff on “Vilst er síðsta fet” and the songs before that while I came up with most of the ideas for “Evst”. Most of the time the guys write their own parts, so it's very much a collaborative effort.
For the album “Evst” the songwriting usually started with me coming up with a few riffs which I'd then record an instrumental demo of. After the demo was done we'd start working on the song in our rehearsal space. When I record a demo many of the core ideas for the song are usually already there, but the songs are still very, very basic. They then evolve into proper songs in the rehearsal room when the other guys come in and add their input. I'm usually not that interested in spending time evolving rhythmic patterns, I prefer playing around with harmony. So the rhythmic aspect usually changes quite a bit when Remi, John and Jenus get to add their input.
After the song structure and arrangement is done we usually record another demo of the song and send it to Jón who then starts working on the vocal arrangement and lyrics. When Jón has written his vocal lines we'll usually record a demo or two and try all kinds of stuff before we settle on the final vocal arrangement for the song.
We like having some time to digest the music before we record it, and we constantly add stuff until the song is finally recorded. I'd say that no Hamferð song is really done before it has been recorded for release.
In the end of November you will play two gigs here in Germany together with Corvus Corax. Have you heard some songs of this band? Do you think your music fits to theirs?
Jón: That is a good question. We have heard their music, and we do seem to inhabit two very different musical realms. As far as we see it, it is an opportunity to create a very diverse show, where you are able to service two of man’s most basic desires: To immerse oneself in pure pain and sorrow and to join a medieval party rife with mead and fair maidens!
Thanks for answering my questions! The last words are yours!
Theodor & Jón: Thank you for asking good questions, and to our deutsche listeners: Hope to see you soon!