I love Reykjavík! the band nearly as much as I love Reykjavík the city. They are one of those bands who I merrily seek out time after time at Iceland Airwaves. Their live shows are the stuff of Airwaves legend, and you really need to check them out, as it really does need to be seen to be believed. Last year's highlights included passing round vodka to anyone who appeared to know any lyrics, and playing one song, particularly terrifyingly, in almost complete darkness. I'm still not sure whether this was on purpose or not.
Previously they have played Iceland Airwaves gigs in a cupboard - chairs were damaged. On top of some chairs - chairs were damaged. With a trio of choreographed dancing girls (which you can see here) - no idea if any chairs were damaged, but it's definitely possible. They do generally go by the motto, "no audience member left untouched" but be assured that's a good and friendly thing.
And most of them aren't even from Reykjavík - it's all THAT crazy.Hellbound Heart by Reykjavík!
I interviewed, or at least I tried to interview, their fresh-faced guitarist Haukur. It didn't entirely go to plan... (just for the avoidance of doubt, my words remain in bold throughout!)
Hello Reykjavík!, where are you and what are you doing?
Hello Mark Ollard! We see it's time for our annual interview! This is very exciting for us, as we love getting interviewed and we are fans of your Iceblah and what you've been doing with it for the longest time now. Sometimes, we feel like we should be the ones interviewing you. Maybe we'll do just that, right now. Seeing as whoever is answering this on behalf of the band probably used to be some sort of journalist. Here's a question:
Hello, Mark Ollard! You've been following the Icelandic scene for a long while now. Is there a band or musician who is no longer performing regularly (or at all) that you find yourself particularly missing?
Yes, of course, loads of them. In fact I'm already panicking that if I start listing them I will leave someone great out and then I'll feel guilty forever. But let's do it, off the top of my head I would like to see a reunion gig featuring Jakobínarína, Skátar, Trabant and headlined by the mighty, mighty Rúnk - the band that pretty much got me into this mess in the first place. That would be fun right? I also am wondering where are Jeff Who these days? and what ever happened to Jan Mayen? Are they STILL working on a new album? They were fun.
Well, that makes a lot of sense, of course. You are probably right! But even though a lot of the bands and musicians that were part of the scene when you first started following it have moved to greener pastures (to that big ol' farmhouse in the sky), the scene itself retains the same sort of spirit and attitude that led you to embrace it in the past, right?
The attitude and spirit has hardly changed at all. Even though every year certain things are different, some venues have closed, beer prices have mutated, record shops have moved on or bands have given up, but the feel of that week in Reykjavík remains pretty much constant. Harpa is an extreme example, I know it was a controversial project and for such a controversial and 'perfect' building to somehow manage to play an authentic part in Iceland Airwaves was a big ask, but it really delivered last year, the festival was different yet felt much the same. It's the same for bands too - every time there a whole bunch of bands with kids that look even younger or a whole bunch of new bands where you can spend the first song working out which 15 other bands these guys are members of.
What are you up to these days anyway? Through your site, we get a pretty clear idea of what's going on in Icelandic music and with bands that you favour, but we never really hear about your personal life. What's with that? For instance: following your Twitter we have ascertained that you make semi-frequent trips to Philly, most people never go to Philly at all! Why is that?
I go to Philadelphia because my wife has family there and I love the city and I love the American sports, especially Ice Hockey. I just like stuff that starts with i.c.e. I suppose. If you pay close attention to my twitter account, you will see that I have a little baby boy, an amazing wife and I work at Penguin Books, between these things and the Iceland thing, that's pretty much my personal life solved.
Also, here's an interesting question: do you ever interview bands/musicians for your site that you do not like? All in service of the idea of Icelandic music? Or do you refrain from doing that? Why or why not?
I'm doing it right now! HAHAHAHAHA.
No, obviously that's not true. If I don't like some music I won't talk about it at all. I'm completely independent, by which I mean that this blog is a hobby so I'm not going to spend my spare time writing stuff about bands I don't like, I don't see the point.
Who are you most looking forward to seeing at Iceland Airwaves 2012? Did you know that local rock band Reykjavík! is planning to play a set spanning their entire catalogue, heavy on old faves that haven't been heard in the live setting for a while?
Well, I think I will have to check out the band Reykjavík! as a big priority, I am looking forward to hearing those old classics. For the festival I have my established list of must-see bands that would include FM Belfast, Retro Stefson, HAM, Mugison, Ghostigital and Þórir Georg and then a few newer ones I'm keen to take a look at like Kiriyama Family, Retrobot and especially Legend. And then there will be the ones I haven't even thought of yet that I go home in love with, last year that was Sóley.
Did you furthermore know that they will be playing only ONE set at Airwaves this year? WTF is up with that?
Only one? What's wrong with you guys? Are you getting old or something?
Right, I'm regaining control of this so-called interview now, you're on...
You've just been in Japan - how was that? Did you love it? Did they love you?
Yes! We are back from Japan! We spent a week there along with Lazyblood, putting on THE TICKLING DEATH MACHINE for an art festival called THE KYOTO EXPERIMENT, collaborating with like fifteen Japanese volunteers for the show. It was amazing. Japan is amazing. They really did profess a big affinity for us, love even, but they surely didn't come close to loving us as much as we loved them and the entirety of Japan.
In fact, a couple of us - guitarist Gummi and myself, Haukur, his nephew - had decided to stay an extra two weeks in the Japan, as we had been fantasizing about going there since we were tweens. It was amazing. Go there. It still is amazing. Go there.
Also, here is another clip from Tickling Death Machine. Hopefully, we'll have some video from Kyoto ready soon. You really haven't lived until you've been joined on stage by 15 long-haired and headbanging Japanese girls. You really haven't. We also met a Japanese hXc band called Cycropsu. They were awesome.
Also, at some department store we wandered into, we saw this video by this all girl Japanese post-something band. It's like a Japanese, female version of kimono. Which is just as awesome as it sounds.
Japan is like a big bomb of perspective. Go there.
OK, so you like Japan. Back in the good old UK, we just hosted the Olympics, did you like it? What would Reykjavik! win a gold medal at?
We loved your Olympics, although we were secretly disappointed that the Rothschild/Illuminati/Freemason conspiracy to enslave mankind and instill a New World Order wasn't unleashed during the spectacle. We will probably win an Olympic gold for ping pong at some point. We are always practicing.
I'm very sad that the old NASA venue is gone. You guys played at NASA a lot of times, what's your favourite memory?
Oh wow, that's hard to pick. Seriously. So many fun times at NASA, even though the club itself was at times kind of douchey and anyone who tells you differently probably never had to pay 500 ISK for a bottled water or whatnot. It was a big and exciting space ad thinking about it now I sort of understand that it was a huge and even formative place for the majority of my twenties. Damn you, Ollard, getting me all weepy-eyed.
SO MANY MEMORIES. One is about when we opened up for Blonde Redhead and they insisted on a separate dressing room, and then we were accidentally put in their dressing room (because they were in our dressing room, it turned out, because of whatever, they are kind of a needy band, Blonde Redhead), and we couldn't believe our luck having such a big and fancy rider with fresh fruit and various types of booze and stuff (mind you, we thought we were situated in the 'support dressing room' and were pretty stunned that since we got such an awesome deal, being in a mid-level alt. band must entail untold riches and luxuries.)
So we went ahead consuming EVERYTHING. And throwing it around. And generally acting like drunk and excited boys (or assholes, if you will). Then, when the guacamole was all over everything and the last grape had been snorted, some dude came down and informed us of the mistake. We got embarrassed and tried to clean up a little. Then we came to the dressing room that had been intended for us and were confronted by an empty bag of Doritos, an ashtray and some bottled water.
So anyway, that's not the favourite memory, but it's a nice memory nonetheless. That bottled water was AMAZING.
You have a song called "INTERNET"? What is the best thing on the whole internet?
Well. It's definitely not our website www.reykjaviktheband.com. It has been hijacked by some sort of Chinese cosmetics manufacturer we think. WEIRD.
Why should people come and see your show at Airwaves?
Do it for the kids!
In your wildest dreams, who would you most love to see in the front row of one of your shows?
Man, I wouldn't mind seeing Mark Ollard and Paul Sullivan there.
Hoping to boost your female audience?
Also, I would personally get a great big kick out of playing for Bob Mould. I saw him earlier this year and he effing blew me away and I would love to attempt a return of the favour.
What other stuff are you hoping to catch at Airwaves this year?
Is 'chlamydia' an amusing answer? I'll go with that.
Yes, it is hilarious. Aside for seeing your show and reading Grapevine, what are your best tips for Airwaves virgins?
Take two aspirin, drink lots of water and call me in the morning if the problem persists.
You can get Haukur's number from me, should you need to call him about chlamydia or anything else. Otherwise you can see him at the ONE AND ONLY Reykjavik! show of Iceland Airwaves 2012 at 01:20am on Friday night at Þýski barinn / Deutsche bar. Except there may be another show, you never know.
I should also say that he is the boss or something of the wonderful English language newspaper The Reykjavik Grapevine - a copy is essential for a good time in town, and their Iceland Airwaves special minisite is brilliant and will be updated with reviews of every single show (!) and if you don't have their AMAZING BUMPER FREE DOWNLOAD of 65 songs then go here now.