– Hello, lots of thanks for answering our interview. How is everything going into the TÝR’s camp right now?
HJ: Things look really good actually, on all fronts at the same time, which is a first for us.
– You have just released your latest album, entitled «Valkyrja». What are your expectations on this new effort? And how is its feedback being son far?
HJ: The feedback has been the best we’ve ever experienced, by far. If things keep up like this it will be a big step forwards for us, and of course that’s what we hope and wish for.
– I guess you may be tired of answering to what’s the concept behind this album so, instead of asking you that, as anyone can find the info on the Internet, I would like you to tell us how does this mythological concept applies to real life.
HJ: I think the relationship issues most people will be able to identify with. Having something and realising that you actually want something different, and then going for it. It may even apply to things not related to relationships.
– And where do you take inspiration from to create your lyrics?
HJ: Everywhere I can really. Personal experience, international news, fiction, mythology, poetry. I try to avoid being inspired by, or rather stealing from, other metal. Because I find metal that’s only inspired by other metal is a bit dull.
– After giving the record some spins I could say most tracks have adopted a really heavy and thick sound. Was this something you were striving for or does it have anything to do with the mixing/production process you had?
HJ: I think it’s a mix between Jacob’s ever advancing mixing abilities, and our songwriting. I think all bands like us try to get a thick and heavy sound, and it’s smart to keep that in mind also while writing the music. And I like to think we got a bit better at that too.
– On the other hand, on «Valkyrja» we can find some of your catchiest and grooviest songs to date. Was this something you were aiming for or do you just let things flow naturally?
HJ: Thanks, I’m very glad you like the songs. I always try to improve my songwriting skills, as I’m sure the other band members also to, so progress is what we want to see and what we aim for. But having said that I still like to do what comes naturally, to a certain extend. Our songs may be streamlined and edited a lot, but the basic songwriting is still what comes naturally.
– Talking about such; how was the songwriting process for the album? Do you always work on a similar way?
HJ: We’ve worked in a similar way since day one. The process for this album was no different. We record or write down our ideas and send them between us. Most of the ideas were around, in their basic form, very early in the process, but I guess most of the work is done quite late, once the deadline is looming over us.
– You have always have a really diverse sound, but this new opus feels to me even more diverse and dynamic. There are fast songs that seem to be influenced by Power Metal, as the opening track, «Blood of Heroes», then there elements from Thrash Metal, Prog Rock… Even really traditional Rock/Heavy riffs and solos. Do you keep broading and adding new influences to your music?
HJ: The increased variation this time is probably because Terji had more ideas for this one than usual, but I try to give each song its distinction, and the first criteria by which I judge our songs is whether or not I think they are good. What style it sounds like is pretty close to irrelevant to me.
– All this about «Valkyrja» being said; how could you describe it in just 3 words?
HJ: Epic powerful metal.
– The fourth song on the CD, «The Lay of our Love», is a duet with Liv Kristine. How did everything arise?
HJ: A year ago I was at Wacken Open Air performing guest vocals for Leaves’ Eyes, Liv’s band. I’ve known the people in that band for some time and we’ve become very good friends. Liv very graciously offered to sing guest vocals on our album in return, so it happened. I’ve wanted to use female guest vocals, first time on Ragnarok, but it never happened. I’m glad we finally got to it.
– And are there any other artists you would like to work with?
HJ: Yes, plenty. Would be pointless to list them here.
– The promo copy we got doesn’t feature these songs, but as bonus you’ve included on the album covers for PANTERA’s «Cemetery Gates» and IRON MAIDEN’s «Where Eagles Dare». Why did you choose these tunes to cover? And what changes have you done to them?
HJ: Many years ago we decided to cover the favourite song of each band member. On the last album, The Lay Of Thrym, we had two covers, and on Valkyrja are the other two. Where Eagles Dare by Iron Maidn is Gunnar’s favourite song and Cemetery Gates by Pantera is Terji’s favourite song. We haven’t changed much, except the solos only a bit, and added some harmonies here and there in the vocal and the guitar.
– If you had to pick three songs to cover; which ones would you choose?
HJ: I already covered my favourite song, I by Black Sabbath. In addition to that I’d say Painkiller by Judas Priest, Heaven And Hell by Black Sabbath and Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne.
– Kári had to leave the band due to a back injury, and on the album George Kollias took drumming duties. How did everything do with him? And how’s right now the situation for a new drummer? Are you still looking for one?
HJ: We’re still looking for a drummer. Amon is with us at the moment so of course he’s one to consider permanently for the position. We’ve also had a finnish guy called Valtteri Varynen for two shows this summer. Things went absolutely splendidly with George in studio. He’s a very tasteful musician and I think he provided precisely the drums that our sound needs, nothing more nothing less. He’s a very friendly and down-to-earth guy and things were very easy and straight forward.
– This has also been your debut with Metal Blade Records. How is the balance you can do at this point of your cooperation with them?
HJ: The release of our album has gotten very much attention, I think much more than our previous albums, and I think it’s partly due to us being on a bigger label now. They are very well connected and we hope they will give us access to some places we haven’t had access to before.
– You are hailing from the Faroe Islands. Is it easy hailing from there and playing Metal? Or being close to Denmark in geographical terms can help?
HJ: Yes, it is actually. The one downside I can think of is the cost of traveling to and from the mainland. In the Faeroes we have relatively peaceful circumstances, good historic inspiration and a very rich folk tradition to base our music on.
– And finally, what are your near-future plans?
HJ: We are currently on tour with Finntroll all over Europe. We have about three weeks to go. After that we have one or two shows left this year. Then it’s on to the US and Canada first thing next year. That and more tours and festivals, throughout all of next year. Busy buys 🙂
– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
HJ: Please buy our new album and please come to our shows when we play somewhere near you. We’ll put on a great show and we’ll all have a great time, I promise 🙂