DATE OF INTERVIEW:
21st November 2016
ŢRÁINN ÁRNI BALDVINSSON
Icelandic metallers Skálmöld delivered a mightily impressive follow-up to 2014's 'Međ Vćttum' earlier this year, with what is arguably their strongest work to date. With 'Vögguvísur Yggdrasils', they once again turned to Norse Mythology for lyrical and thematic inspiration, and have crafted narratives around the nine worlds, with each of these reflected in the titles of the album's nine tracks. One of the band's three guitarists answered a few questions for Metal Discovery about this new album, what lies ahead for Skálmöld in 2017, and frontman Björgvin Sigurđsson's “blarghbarghharghh …” moment during the band's last tour...
METAL DISCOVERY: ‘Vögguvísur Yggdrasils’ is a very powerful entry in your discography! Can you share how the recording process has evolved from album to album?
ŢRÁINN: Yes, for this album we had recorded very good sounding demos and, when we entered the studio and we were so well prepared, we knew what we wanted and we knew how to get what we wanted. Then the producer came in with some great input, of course. We are getting better at what we are doing, I sometimes wonder how we managed to record the first two albums; they sound strange today but I love them, of course, but the new one is our best… by far IMO.
(Ţráinn Árni Baldvinsson on perceptions of Skálmöld's music)
"We don´t consider us to be folk metal, we are heavy metal, we just want to be Iron Maiden!"
Skálmöld - promo shot, 2016
Interview by Joshua Jaeger
Photograph copyright © 2016 - Heiđar Kristjánsson
Skálmöld Official Website:
Thanks to Andy Turner for arranging the interview
Skálmöld Official Facebook:
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MD: What would be the one thing you believe this release has over your past albums; what are you most proud of, in terms of lyrics, production, guitars, vocals, etc.?
ŢRÁINN: The production is awesome and the songs are so well worked out. Being prepared pays off, you know – I can honestly say that this is my fave Skálmöld album. I like the guitar work on the album, I worked really hard on getting the notes right and the solos melodic.
MD: What was your biggest challenge this time around, either during the writing or recording processes?
ŢRÁINN: I had to come up with some solo work and try to avoid repeating myself. The solos are very natural. I think. I like to write 60% and then improvise the rest because when I play the songs live I need to be able to play “in the moment” – I have to be able to play the way I feel at any given moment.
MD: Are there any specific Viking traditions that you are following in your lyrics for the new album?
ŢRÁINN: No, the story is number one and most important. We follow the same rules as usual. Traditional is the key word here.
MD: Do you feel that people generally underestimate how talented Vikings were at song writing/poetry?
ŢRÁINN: I think that, today, more people have the opportunity to hear the traditional music that we can somehow trace back to the Vikings. We have so many bands now that play ancient types of music with all kinds of instruments – I think music was very important with the Vikings and that goes for most civilizations. Nobody underestimates Vikings … do they?
MD: There are sources online that state you initially intended to use a lot of traditional folk instruments for recording. Is this accurate?
ŢRÁINN: Not for this album, but when we started the band we wanted to include flutes, mandolin and some other old kinda instruments, but after 23 minutes of the very first rehearsal we decided to have three guitars instead. Thank the gods for that!
MD: Do you still find that you’re embracing a lot of folk traditions in your songs, or have you evolved more away from such traditions?
ŢRÁINN: I think it´s a very important part of our music and because we, the members of the band, are so different it works. We don’t have to think too much about it. We bring this to the table. It was only for our third album, ‘Međ Vćttum’ that we decided that ‘Međ Vćttum’ had to be more metal than ‘Börn Loka’, which is our second album. For this album we just wrote music we like; wrote a lot of riffs and songs and then chose what would work on an album. We don´t consider us to be folk metal, we are heavy metal, we just want to be Iron Maiden!
MD: You have a very positive history with Napalm Records for past releases. How did you originally get signed to the label?
ŢRÁINN: Our first album was released by the TUTL label in the Faroe Islands. They forwarded our album to Napalm Records. We are happy at Napalm!
MD: You have March 2017 tour dates coming up with Epica. Can you share more about the tour and how you came to land a support slot on the tour?
ŢRÁINN: I honestly don’t know how we ended up with that slot but we´ve had offers from them before. Our booking agent at Dragon Productions is doing a pretty good job, I think! We are all really looking forward to this tour with Epica – Scandinavia, here we come!
MD: Do you have any wild or bizarre stories you’d like to share from your most recent tours in 2016? Any comical Spinal Tap moments while on the road?
ŢRÁINN: There are always Spinal Tap moments on tour and, believe me, we have had our difficulties finding our way to the stage!!! Björgvin, our singer, froze at one of our shows on the last tour and could not remember where we were – he managed to scream “blarghbarghharghh …” and everybody in the crowd was really happy he said the city´s name… he was way off but nobody noticed.
MD: Apart from the Epica shows, what else lies ahead for the band in 2017?
ŢRÁINN: We have some festivals coming up and then… a surprise in October, I hope!