Not many bands can claim they are from the Faeroe Islands...in fact, it's doubtful that many fans can name any bands from the Faeroes either, save for perhaps one-TYR. The bands recent signing to Napalm Records has prompted them to re-release their signature album from 2003, Eric the Red. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo caught up with TYR member Heri to talk about the album, the bands sound, and their future.
Read on for the ful interview!
Sea of Tranquility: What led the band to sign with Napalm Records, and subsequently re-release Eric the Red?
Heri: Napalm Records contacted us a year and a half ago. I don't know how they had heard of us. The first thing they wanted to do was to re-release Eric the Red. We were in negotiations from then and until January this year. By the time we signed with them they still wanted to re-release ETR.
SoT: The Faeroe Islands is not a place you normally hear about metal music. Can you talk a little bit about your homeland, the music scene there, and how TYR came together?
Heri: The music scene in the Faeroes is not very big but it is very intense and has a relatively high level. The best thing about it is that it is too small to be fragmented into scenes of different styles. Everybody plays everywhere. But we met in Copenhagen actually. Kári, Gunnar and I had all played together before in the Faeroes before we moved to Denmark independently of each other. We started to jam with no real goal but that soon changed and over the years we have earned the reputation as "the hardest working Faeroese band".
SoT: Half of the songs on Eric the Red are sung in England, the other half in your native language. Was there ever any thought to either do all the vocals in one language or the other? How will you handle this on future albums?
Heri: Some people, not only in the Faeroes, have suggested that we should only sing in Faeroese. We are in two minds about that, and I sometimes wonder whether we should sing in Faeroese only? When we did 'How far to Asgaard' we only had one Faeroese track, 'Ormurin Langi' and that was the track that did best by far, not only in the Faeroes but also in Iceland, where they don't understand Faeroese, and elsewhere. So that goes to show that it isn't necessary to sing in English, and people can actually like a song they don't understand a word of. On 'Eric the Red' we have three Faeroese songs, one mixed Faeroese and English, one Danish and the rest in English, but this time around some of the English texted songs did just as well as the non-English songs. So, on the upcoming album there will be Faeroese and English lyrics, maybe with some surprise language thrown in here and there, who knows what we'll think of. We won't go to Faeroese exclusively just yet, maybe someday.
SoT: The tone of the album has a very folky, sing along quality, although it is definitely a metal album. Does the band listen to or are you influenced by folk music, or even symphonic progressive rock music, seeing as elements of those genres seem to spill into your sound a little?
Heri: One of our great inspirations is Dream Theater, not that we try to sound like them, but they demonstrate very effectively that there are no musical limits but those in your mind. We are definitely a progressive band. Apart from Dream Theater we listen to Metallica, Saga, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple, Dio, Rainbow, In Flames, System of a Down, Mozart, Vivaldi, Bach, The Dubliners and all sorts of folk collections and so on.
SoT: The band has been labeled at times "Viking Metal"-how do you feel about that?
Heri: We have no problem with that, but people shouldn't expect us to feel loyalty towards a style. It has often been said that we do not sound like the average Viking Metal band, and the last thing we would do is to find out how common Viking Metal sounds and try to copy that. Call us Viking, call us Folk, call us whatever, …but accept what we are.
SoT: The music on Eric the Red is very heavy at times, but always melodic. How hard is it to write songs that are catchy, yet still contain plenty of heavy riffs and instrumental parts to please the metal audiences?
Heri: It is not hard at all. First you find a melody, preferably as old as possible, adapt it to what you want to use it for, then you add the rest layer by layer, and if you like to challenge yourself it comes without any difficulty. Primarily we write the music to ourselves. The rest is just a bonus, but a very good bonus, I might add.
SoT: Is the band currently working on new material for their next album, and if so how is that going?
Heri: We are almost done. The band are going into studio at the end of May and we are staying in studio for four weeks. We are confident that this will be our best album so far. The style is the same, only better.
SoT: Are there any plans to do any touring in the near future?
Heri: Yes there are. L!sten Up Management has taken over our international booking and they have some dates lined up for us already. The information has not been made public yet so I cannot tell you when and where yet.
SoT: The cover artwork on the CD is stunning, yet different from the original release of the album. Can you talk a little bit about who did the artwork for you?
Heri: Jan Yrlund at Darkgrove did the artwork. I think Napalm Records uses him regularly. We are very impressed with his work, and I told him when I saw the finished artworl, "man, that is seriously good artwork!" It is based very loosely on the original cover, but it is a zillion times better. We should have had something like that all along.
(Click here to read our review of the CD Eric the Red)