DATE OF INTERVIEW:
18th February 2012
HERI JOENSEN; KÁRI STREYMOY
METAL DISCOVERY: You had the ‘Shadow of the Swastika’ track on the new album, of course, which was in reaction to some people’s totally ridiculous accusations of fascism against the band. Did those misinterpretations take you completely by surprise?
HERI: Yeah, that came out of thin air. It was based on the ‘Ragnarok’ album that they thought we were Nazis because there’s runes in our logo and we sing about leaders, führers, and followers, and that was enough for some people to call us Nazis! And, for me, that came out of thin air.
(Heri Joensen on the importance of mythology for him)
"Mythology can be a nation-dividing phenomenon, like language can be. So even though one is completely atheist, like I am, I find mythology very important and have a deep interest in it."
Heri Joensen and Kári Streymoy in their dressing room, Fibbers, York, UK, 18th February 2012
Photograph copyright © 2012 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Týr Official Website:
How Far to Asgaard (2002)
Thanks to Andy Turner for arranging the interview
Eric the Red (2003)
Týr Official MySpace:
Týr Official Facebook:
By the Light of the Northern Star (2009)
The Lay of Thrym (2011)
KÁRI: Yeah, and we made a statement that went on the internet but they don’t care what you make a statement about, they will still call you a Nazi.
MD: That’s terrible.
HERI: They really hadn’t done any research. We tried to call them, write to them, but they had no interest in talking to us. The annoying thing is that these people have a really good network of access to the media and they really caught the attention of most people. I think it’s the most common question of journalists ever since!
MD: So do you think the kind of people who made those accusations are exposing their own prejudices?
HERI: Definitely; extreme left-wing people who will shoot first and ask questions later.
MD: Exactly, I think it’s far more telling about them than what they’re saying about you because what they’re accusing you of is total crap anyway.
HERI: Yeah, exactly, definitely.
MD: Politics and current affairs have influenced lyrics on the new album and the way you use Nordic mythology to reflect those but do you believe the contrary is possible, that music and art can effect politics and people’s beliefs? Like have you ever had any feedback from fans to suggest that?
HERI: Well, speaking of the swastika song, I met a friend of mine from Canada and I didn’t know but he told me he was Jewish, and he wanted to thank me for writing the swastika song. He told me the first time he went to Germany, he told people he was Jewish and the first thing people said to him was, “oh, I’m sorry”! [laughs] So he said: “What the hell are you sorry about? I mean, it’s seventy years ago. You haven’t done anything!” But about the political issues, no, I don’t think we’re gonna change anything.
MD: But it’d be cool if you could.
HERI: It would be and if one could provide an answer for the people it’d be fantastic, which would be the coolest thing to do but, so far, it hasn’t happened yet I think.
MD: Do you believe any lessons can be learned in the contemporary world from looking back at Nordic folklore?
HERI: Not really. The mythology and history is from a time when standards were a bit lower than today’s so politically, and philosophically, I really don’t think there’s much to be learned…we’re quite far away from that.
MD: So it’s more a case of just observing that part of history for you?
MD: Do you regard Norse Paganism and folklore as an important part of your own heritage?
HERI: Oh yes, definitely, definitely. I find it very important. Mythology can be a nation-dividing phenomenon, like language can be. So even though one is completely atheist, like I am, I find mythology very important and have a deep interest in it.
MD: You covered Sabbath’s ‘I’ and Rainbow’s ‘Stargazer’ for bonus tracks on the new album – were those supposed to be little tributes to Ronnie James?
KÁRI: No, this was decided way before we knew he was ill that we wanted to do our favourite song, and next time we’ll do their favourite song. And then Dio died.
MD: So it was a coincidence.
MD: Ah right, because, when he died, everybody that year seemed to cover a Dio-related song as a tribute.
KÁRI: Yes, but we wanted to do that way before then.
MD: [To Heri] In an old interview I read, you said that ‘Dehumanizer’, which ‘I’ is from of course, is one of your favourite all-time albums. Does that remain the case to this day?
MD: What is it about that album you like so much?
HERI: I don’t know, it’s so extremely heavy and the musicianship is just absolutely fantastic – Dio, Iommi and Appice on drums – it’s just the heaviest combination you could ever imagine. And the songwriting is just outstanding. It took me a long time to really get into that album but, once I did, whenever I turn it on, I just go apeshit!
MD: In just about every interview I’ve read with you, journos always seem to ask a Faroe Islands related question – do you sometimes wish there were more successful metal bands from your homeland so it becomes less of a novelty?
HERI: I think just being from the Faroes in the first place automatically got us a lot of attention to begin with and I think it still does.
MD: So you still regard that sort of attention as a positive thing for the band?
KÁRI: The only downside is it’s quite expensive with all the travelling!
MD: Okay, my final question, what would you want Týr to be best remembered for in the annals of metal history long after you’ve ceased making music? Say in fifty years’ time when people are digging out old Týr albums and listening to your stuff.
KÁRI: How fantastic and beautiful my bald head is!
MD: Marvellous! [To Heri]…How about yourself?
HERI: I hope we contributed something to the music scene in general. I hope we added something new and other bands pick that up and it’ll carry on many years from now. I hope at least. Maybe there will be a Týr cover band somewhere!
MD: Hopefully! Okay, well thank you so much for your time.