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Týr - Unite Metal! (Heri Joensen) - Online Mar. 2004

As a beginning, could you tell us a bit about the history of TÝR?


We started in Copenhagen in '98. We had great fun and we jammed for two years with some interruptions before we started playing concerts in the local area in '00. Things really started for us in 2001 when we participated in the Faeroese music competition "Prix Fřroyar" and we were an overnight local sensation. We also won an annual Danish music contest, but that didn't really trigger anything. So we decided to record our first full length album and here we are.


"Erik The Red" has been recorded and produced in Denmark, with Jacob Hansen, how did the recordings go?


The recordings went absolutely beyond all our expectations. We recorded and mixed the whole thing in 18 days. When we were done we had one hour to spare. Looking back and comparing with our other visits to studios we were very well prepared and worked very efficiently, mostly thanks to Jacob Hansen. He is very professional and efficient and a very nice guy to top it all.


Are there any recording studios at all on the Faroe Islands?


Yes, there are several, and some of them have very high standards. There are unfortunately none that specialize in Metal of any kind.


It seems to me as if you used more traditional Faeringar songs on "Erik The Red" compared to "How Far To Asgaard?". Is that a coincidence?


No. To our surprise and relief "Ormurin Langi" was very well received by people who do not understand a word of Faeroese. It went to show that the language is no barrier in music, so we threw in a few more Faeroese traditionals.


When you transfer a traditional Folk song into a Metal song, how do you approach the original? Are there certain concessions you make or are you careful to keep the original spirit?


The melody is holy, both tone and rhythm, and everything else is adapted. Some times the traditional melodies are not so apparent, maybe the bass or one of the guitars play an old melody and the rest is arranged to that. You can't say that we are entirely true to the original spirit. I we were we'd be bards or minstrels. No, we are a Metal band and Metal is what we play.


With "The Wild Rover" you also use an Irish Folk song, how come that you chose this one?


The basic idea to play it was Pól Arni's, the first singer. He used to sing it spontaneously at some concerts in the Faeroes and it was very popular. So we made an arrangement of it to this album.


After your first album "How Far To Asgaard" you changed the singer. What happened to Pól Arni Holm?


We all lived in Denmark at that point and he moved to the Faeroes. He then got a carpenter job and it could not be combined with a carrier in an advancing Metal band. He now sings in a local Rock band.


If you had one sentence to convince somebody of TÝR and to buy "Erik The Red", what would you say?


I'd say, "This is Viking Folk Doom Progressive Power Ethnic Epic Black Gothic Metal from the end of the world like you never heard it before." That has to appeal to somebody's curiosity.


You are signed to Tútl Records, what kind of label are they?


Tutl is a non-profit label, run by the legendary Dane, Kristian Blak, who put the freedom of the musician above all else. They started as a jazz label in the seventies and have developed over time to an all round label.


What are your influences and inspirations both musically as lyrically?


The first Metal band I listened to was MÖTLEY CRÜE. They introduced me to Rock music. Through my teens I was very much into the British Rock and Metal scene. IRON MAIDEN, BLACK SABBATH, DEEP PURPLE, DIO (I know he's American), PINK FLOYD and URIAH HEEP. The second band to really mean anything to me was DREAM THEATER. When I was introduced to their albums "Awake" and "Images And Words" the walls of my musical universe collapsed and I thought, "There are no limits". Lately I've discovered bands such as American SAVATAGE, German BLIND GUARDIAN, Norwegian LUMSK and Finnish MOONSORROW. Quite beside all that stand Faeroese and Scandinavian folk music. As the above-mentioned bands may inspire our sound our tonality and feel comes from local folk music. Lyrically I draw on local ancient legend, but make no mistake, I still write about very contemporary matters.


Your music sounds very heartfelt and passionate, not contrived in any way. How does a TÝR song take shape?


I find a melody, add bass line, find out what feel and expression I want from the song and work towards that with guitars and rhythm, repeating themes and variations, think about what message I want in the lyrics and write them accordingly. We arrange and produce everything together.


On your homepage you offer three video clips, one of which has been shot on a Viking festival in Poland, one in Iceland and one on the Faroe Islands. Could you tell us a bit more about how these clips were realised?


We have exploited our opportunities to the fullest extent. When we were in Iceland for the first time we met the Icelander Ingólfur Júlíusson, who has great passion about videos. He has now become our dear friend. He offered us to make the first video to “Ormurin Langi”. Subsequently he made the other two as well. We were offered a cheap helicopter ride and so did the next video, “Hail To The Hammer”. The third one, “Regin Smiđur”, at the Viking festival was a giveaway.


Which goals do you have for TÝR as a band?


First I want me and my bandmates to make a living of this band, that is, not have to do anything else to make ends meet. It takes a lot of the energy out of the band to constantly have to worry about how to pay next month's bills. Then I would like to have the circumstances to keep developing our musical and song writing skills, and then I want to circumtour the globe. When I'm old I want to be able to look back upon my life with pride.


What is TÝR for you? Just a band to play music or is it more?


TÝR is my way of life. I make the music I love and I have travelled Europe to play my music to people I would under no other circumstances have met. And I have great bandmates to share the experience with. What more could you ask of life.


Your name TÝR is taken from the Nordic war god TÝR. What made you chose this name? Does it also have a deeper meaning for you?


What fascinates me about the Old Norse god Týr is his personal sacrifice for the sake of common good. In the tale of the Chaining of Fenrir the Wolf he sacrificed his right hand so that the wolf may me tied down to the end of the world, a curious task to be undertaken by a God of Warfare, and a very positive message to send to the world. BLACK SABBATH and their album of the same name also led us to this name.


You have toured a lot, also in many different countries, something that many bands from Metal wise better known bands are not doing. How come that you are so active and which countries have you been to so far?


We put a lot of energy into arranging our tours and to visit as many places as possible. We owe the success of this to our manager Sigrid J. Dalsgaard. To this date we have played in Iceland, The Faeroes, Denmark, Norway, Latvia, Russia and Poland. This summer Germany will be added to our list. We will probably also visit Ĺland, Sweden and Finland before too long. One of my dreams is to play in America.


And how could we envision a TÝR live show?


We are told that we have a lot of live energy, more than on our albums. We try to freak out a bit and Gunnar usually behaves like a maniac. I try to keep good contact to the audience and tell the story of the relevant song to them. Some passages are very demanding and we have to concentrate. Maybe these passages are more interesting to listen to than to see us play.


The Faroe Islands are one of the spots on this planet, where you would not really expect a Metal band from. How do people normally react when they hear that you are from there?


All reviewers of our albums have mentioned the fact that we are from the Faeroes. Some even call it Denmark and that pisses me off. Politically it is but ethnically it is most definitely not. It is a plus for us because it catches people's attention. If we were from the US, the UK or Germany it would not be news of any kind because those countries are filled with famous Metal bands.


And the other way around, how do the Faeringars react to you as a Metal band?


Many young people know us here and most people have heard of us, but we are not really that popular. We are more known here for being known abroad.


How do you get Metal CDs on the Faroe Islands? Are there shops that carry those or do you have to order them?


There are shops but none that specialize in Metal of any kind. They carry all mainstream music and the most popular Metal bands. If you want something special you'll have to order it.


In your songs you use a lot of traditional Faroe Folk songs and also Nordic myths. Do you feel a connection to your ancestry and history?


My soul is anchored in the history of the Faeroes and Scandinavia, what more can I say.


You are the only Metal band from the Faroe Islands. What other music is normally made there?


All kind of music is made here. We have some very good Folk Jazz bands like ENEKK and YGGDRASIL, some famous contemporary composers like Sunleif Rasmussen, Punk like 200 and MAKREL, Country like REGIN Í LÍĐ, Metal like HATESPEECH and TÝR, Singer/Songwriters like Teitur Lassen and Eivřr Pálsdóttir. You name it we got it.


TÝR have quite close connections to Denmark, you met there, you recorded there, what is your personal stance on Denmark, the country that the Faroe Islands technically belong to?


I have nothing against Danes or Denmark. They are hospitable and kind people in a very pleasant and beautiful country. What I don't like is the situation the Faeroes are in within the Danish Kingdom. We get half a billion DKK from Denmark every year. Why there is no simple explanation, but it is no mystery that the Danish government does not wish to loose any part of their kingdom. There would be more honour and dignity in being a fully incorporated part of Denmark than this "Dog on a leash" relationship. TÝR as a band has no stance on this matter, but let there be no doubt that I personally am fully and wholly in favour of Faeroese independence and sovereignty.


How strong is the national personality of the Faeringars?


It is fairly strong. Even those most opposed to Faeroese independence will tell you that we are not Danes. Ethnically we stand between the Icelanders and the Norwegian. The Icelanders are the people we have most in common with.


How big is the Danish influence on the Faroe Islands?


We have a lot of Danish National Television and almost all films on National Faeroese TV as well as the cinema have Danish subtitles. Danish language is compulsory at school and everybody understands and speaks Danish. As a natural consequence there are a lot of Danish loan words in the Faeroese language. Most who go abroad to study, including myself, go to Denmark because there we have the same rights in the educational system as native Danes.


I have heard quite a few stories about the Faroe Islands and heard that job wise it is very hard there, that many people move away. How is the situation on the islands and what do the members of TÝR to earn your daily living?


That was in the early nineties. In '92 - '94 we had a serious economic crisis and more than 10% of the population emigrated. Today we are doing better than ever and there is no shortage of work. I teach guitar five hours a day five days a week. Kári moved back to the Faeroes in December and has not yet established himself as a working citizen. Gunnar still lives in Denmark. He is a diving instructor and also has some work on the side in constructions. Terji operates his father's heavy machinery.


To end this interview, I have my traditional last question: What is your favourite question about TÝR that you have never been asked yet, but would finally like to answer?


Jeez, I don't know. Your questions are very deep and elaborate. What more is there to say? No wait, I got it. Nobody ever asked me what the musical mission of TÝR is. Our musical mission is to break down the walls that are erected between all the kinds of Metal that have arisen over the years. Power-, Doom-, Black-, Progressive-, Gothic-, Viking-, Folk-, Ethnic- and Epic Metal. Walls and labels do nothing but fill people with prejudice. Away with the walls and label it all Metal.

Unite Metal!



2000: Týr Demo (Demo, Self-production)

2002: How Far To Asgaard? (CD, Tútl)

2002: Ólavur Riddararós (EP, Tútl)

2003: Eric The Red (CD, Tútl)

Alexander Melzer

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