Hamferð interview (10/2019)
|With:||Theodor Kapnas, Jón Aldará|
|Conducted by:||RaduP (in person)|
The Omnium Gatherum / Hamferð / Heidra package was indeed the most packed I've seen a venue in my city be for a long while and it was beyond my expectations too. But it was clear from the start that this was a big event and I had to get on it. I had already interviewed Omnium Gatherum fairly recently (my first interview actually) so the obvious choice was Hamferð, a band that a lot of my friends really hyped when I missed their performance in 2016, that I really liked when I did see them in 2017, and whose latest album I really liked. So we scheduled our interview for 6PM.
Obviously my train had to have a delay, so I arrived a bit closer to 7, they were already out in town to eat, but they invited me to join them. So I accompanied Markus and Joonas of Omnium Gatherum as they were killing time, showing them around the city center towards the restaurant that was fortunately in walking range. We did arrive and the band had ordered more food than they could handle, so I was invited to help with the extra polenta. The interview was a bit hindered by me not knowing at the time which member was which, and the constant Romanian folk music in the background. Once it was done, I had to run home too to get my camera so I could snatch some pics.
Note: The interview was done with the entire band present, but it would be absolutely impossible for me to properly credit each line to its proper member, so I attributed them all to just Hamferð. Sorry for the impending miss-attribution.
The tour, but only part of it actually had Hamferð on it
Radu: You're from the Faroe Islands, right?
Radu: When you were teens, how often did you get the chance to see live shows when you lived there?
Hamferð: Local or like international?
Hamferð: The music scene is pretty rich in the Faroes, but not that much metal. In the last couple of years there's stuff all the time, but when we grew up it wasn't as active. Sure, there were shows now and then, but almost no metal.
Radu: But now you got your fair share of it.
Hamferð: Still not much metal at the moment, but shows all the time.
Radu: I saw that there was a festival this year and Dee Snider from Twisted Sister came there.
Hamferð: Yeah. *laughs*
Radu: I suppose that now that you're touring, you got to see a lot of festivals around the world and can get the fix that you didn't get as a child.
Hamferð: Yeah, definitely.
Radu: How jealous are you of Iceland?
Hamferð: Not jealous. We're better than Iceland. *laughs* Iceland is just... expensive, and slightly uglier than the Faroes. *laughter ensures*
Radu: Well I have yet to read any articles about how great the Faroese black metal scene is.
Hamferð: They've got good black metal, that's true. Iceland is really like noise. The noisier it gets, the less harmonic and the fewer tones it has, the more popular it gets.
Radu: Well then I can't wait to hear the Faroese harsh noise scene.
How's the tour so far?
Hamferð: It's pretty good, we're having a lot of fun. The other bands on the tour are really really nice guys. Good musicians as well so everything's been really easy.
Radu: So they don't eat your food on the bus and stuff like that.
Hamferð: No, we get along really well, There's a great atmosphere on the bus. Everyone's really helpful with the changeovers and stuff.
Radu: You've been to Romania quite a few times before, both times at the same festival, and I did manage to catch you one of those times. I find it weird that you've played in Romania so often but you haven't played in the UK yet.
Hamferð: That is weird, yeah. We were supposed to play in the UK once a few years ago, but that show got cancelled because there was no presale at all.
Radu: That sucks.
Hamferð: I don't know, somehow we never got invited there and it falls a little bit outside the usual touring circuit. So when you drive around Europe we never get over there.
Radu: I suppose it's a bit harder to drive through the sea.
Hamferð: Yeah, I mean, you can take the train through the Channel Tunnel. I don't know. For some reason we haven't been invited yet.
Radu: But you're going to Spain.
Radu: But not the UK. You can just take the boat from the Faroes anyway.
Hamferð: Or you can fly. We've taken a boat a long time ago, we don't do that anymore. It takes 36 hours. The first tour we ever did, we were 52 hours delayed home because of the ferry.
Radu: Oh shit. Well you could just play the gig on the boat.
Hamferð: Yeah. *laughs*
Radu: But this is your first time in Romania with a tour gig instead of a festival. How is the experience any different?
Hamferð: We haven't played yet, so we don't know yet. We've always had great experiences in Romania so far. Lovely people. Great accommodation.
Radu: *pointing at polenta* Lovely food.
Hamferð: Absolutely. A lot of food. We expected nothing less tonight.
Radu: You're coming to Romania again for Metal Gates Festival, right?
Radu: And you have a collaboration with Costin Chioreanu with live painting.
Radu: What can you tell us about it?
Hamferð: It was Costin's idea actually. I think he's done it before with some other artists that he's worked with. He does a live painting during our concert. Since we've known him and he did the artwork for our last album, we've worked very well together. He understands our music quite well and identifies with it quite strongly and gets strong visual inspiration from the music. So it would be interesting to see what he comes up with during the set.
Radu: Let's hope the program doesn't crash.
Hamferð: Why would the program crash, I think he's gonna paint on canvas.
Radu: Ok, so he's actually gonna paint.
Hamferð: Yeah, he's actually gonna paint, there's no computer program involved.
Radu: That's really great, I'm really hyped about it.
But you played live during the sun eclipse. How are you ever gonna beat that?
Hamferð: We have to play on the moon I guess. I don't think we can do anything to beat it but we can do other stuff that is also cool.
Radu: Like what, playing on the boat?
Hamferð: *laughs* We've done some pretty weird cool venues. We played in this big sea cave called Klæmintsgjógv to which you can only get by boat. We played in a cathedral. We have a few ideas.
Radu: Play underwater?
Hamferð: Maybe. Actually you might not be so wrong.
Radu: Play on a plane?
Hamferð: I don't know about that. Our local airline, Atlantic Airlines, which we always fly with on the Faroes, they had a year or two when whenever some famous pop musician was on the plane they would have a random performance over the intercom. Thankfully I've never been on those flights.
Radu: Your albums seem to follow a singular narrative. Can you tell us more about that?
Hamferð: Well yeah. *pause* Where do I start?
Radu: At the end apparently.
Hamferð: Well yes. You seem to notice. It started out with our first album in 2010. It was more like an EP, but it was a long EP. It had themes of death and reconciling or not reconciling with yourself, your actions and so forth, while facing death. It was a bit unspecified, it wasn't really a story, but it felt like an ending to something. So in the second album I decided to explore what kind of events led to this man's facing of death and his difficulties. So the second album because some kind of a proper story of a father losing his son in the mountains. But there was some backstory behind that as well. Already when that story started there was something, some difficulties, as he only had his son left. So I said "Ok, let's try to backtrack one more time." so it's a pre-prequel. And that was our third album that we released last year which further investigated his family life. He and his wife lost one of their sons to disease, which kind of sparked...
Radu: A fear?
Hamferð: Well, yes, but more like a sorrow that was very difficult to work through. And the two of them, the father and the mother, could not really reconcile each other, they didn't have the same way of dealing with grief, especially the man couldn't support the woman, so they drifted apart. And in all of these stories, we have infused Faroese folklore. So in this new album the woman sneaks away from the man, away from the home, to go on her own and she meets this supernatural being called Nykur, who can transform itself into desirable forms and she is kinda drawn to him and he consults her. So that's more of less kind of the intro to it and then comes the conflict when the man finds out that the woman is seeing this other person.
Radu: So there's a lot of Faroese cultural influence inside the albums as well.
Hamferð: Both cultural and historical and also natural in regards to landscape and weather.
Radu: How much of it would you say is part of the Faroese heritage and how much is personal?
Hamferð: I think it's very difficult to separate the two. All of it is quite personal in a way. The actual story itself is kind of a framework, it's not personal in that way.
Radu: Yeah, you haven't lost two children.
Hamferð: I haven't lost a child. I haven't had a wife. But of course, you always infuse your personal emotions and your way of looking at thing into your work, so the main character is part of me as well.
Radu: You obviously dealt with grief as well, just not in the exact same way.
Hamferð: Who hasn't.
Radu: It made a lot of sense to sing these in Faroese, but do you think it was a good decision to be artistically consistent in a language that most people don't understand?
Hamferð: Yeah, definitely. These three albums that we've released so far, and also a short live EP that we've done recently, they kind of encapsulated what Hamferð is really about. The music that we have made and the stories that we have made have formed Hamferð so it's difficult to move away from that too drastically. The language is a huge part of our expression, so I don't see us moving away from that.
Radu: But a lot of people, including me, would not have gotten the story without understanding the language. But anyway, it's metal, who cares about the lyrics.
Hamferð: I speak the language and I wouldn't have understood the story if Jon hadn't told me.
Hamferð: These stories act more like frameworks for the emotions.
Radu: They're vessels.
Hamferð: Yes, vessels. Because the lyrics are very poetic and it's not like it's a description of every thing happening.
Radu: So it's not like prose, it's poetry.
Hamferð: It's poetry. The prose is just there to provide the framework. But it's good to have these stories out there. One thing we might consider in the future is to have translations with the album.
Radu: Like Insomnium did with Winter's Gate, where they had a booklet with the entire story in Finnish and in English.
Hamferð: Yes, that was the short story by Nilo. He already has the whole story written in advance.
Radu: It's pretty hard translating into English, especially poetry, a lot of the words lose a bit of their meaning in the translation.
Hamferð: Yeah, exactly. I don't think we'll do that exactly, but if we do something with a concept, we'll do something like a wrap-up.
Radu: So now that you finished this trilogy of albums, what's next? Are you gonna do a new story or gonna be looking for a more song-focused album?
Hamferð: There's a lot of ways to do it, I think what we want to do now is a song focused album but with a connecting theme. Maybe not a narrative, like a chronological narrative, but have some kind of event that binds people together. We've been thinking a lot about something from a hundred years ago in our keyboardist's home town which was a big tragedy there so we might build something around that.
Radu: You've been doing song-based albums with Barren Earth anyway.
Hamferð: Yeah, exactly. Those are more like concept instead of story.
Radu: But there's been a concept for the last album as well.
Hamferð: Yeah, it more of a different personal kind of a... *regarding the upbeat folk music in the background* very good background music!
Radu: Yeah, it's full of grief and sorrow.
Hamferð: *laughs* Yeah, it wasn't a story, but the first Barren Earth album that I did was actually kind of built like a story, but the last one was just a concept around personal entrapment, feeling trapped in your emotions.
Radu: How did it feel moving from your own band in Hamferð to a band that already had some sort of legacy?
Hamferð: Oh yeah, it was very different. But I was given total freedom.
Radu: That seemed to have worked out well.
Hamferð: Yeah, I think so. The other guys are happy with what I've done, I think. I can't ask for more.
Radu: So have you started working on a new record in that case, like actually writing and recording?
Hamferð: With Barren Earth you mean?
Radu: No, but yeah Barren Earth too then, but I've been asking about Hamferð.
Hamferð: With Barren Earth nothing yet.
Hamferð: We have started pitching some ideas but we haven't written any finished songs. We started experimenting a bit, we're pretty much still in the idea stage of what we wanna do with the next record. We know we wanna make it more song based, but we'd be lying if we said we knew exactly which direction we'd be going in. We have some ideas here and there and we are piecing them together. Because with the last record we completed the trilogy of records and we don't want to start another similar one. We want to move forward not make the same album twice and that always takes a lot of work.
Radu: Conceptually, but sound-wise have you made any changes?
Hamferð: Like I said, not much is written yet. It will definitely have our signature sound, that's inevitable.
Radu: So it's not gonna be thrash metal.
Hamferð: No. We have some material that is quite in the vein of what we've done before, but I think we're all interested in exploring new ways to do it.
Radu: Like you said, not doing the same album twice.
Hamferð: Yeah, exactly, and you never know how it's gonna sound in the end. So far it's so early.
Radu: And now that we're hearing this really grief-stricken music [in reference to the jaunty music echoing in the background], I always say with bands that are from the north, from Finland and from Iceland and from the Faroes, there's always a certain sorrow and melancholy in the songs, and it seems to be tied with the culture and the landscape that is there, and compared to Romania - we have our sad songs as well, but, as you can hear, we also have a happy cemetery where the crosses are colored and they're full of happy things about death, so there seems to be a cultural divide in how people see death.
Hamferð: That's maybe related to Dia de los Muertos, in Mexico, where they celebrate the dead, celebrate death as a positive thing.
Radu: Yes, we have our celebrations of death as well. It's in early November and you go to the grave, you drink for the dead, obviously - obviously there's a lot of drinking involved with that.
Hamferð: Yeah. No, we don't celebrate death in any way.
The Faroes, it's a very small society and it's historically been very isolated into small communities, so -
Radu: I suppose death strikes harder when there's less people there.
Hamferð: Yeah. I think, also, still nowadays it's such a small country that you live - life and death is a part of society in a different way from when you get to bigger places. If there's some accident, if a boat sinks or there's a traffic accident or something -
Radu: You most likely know someone there.
Hamferð: You either know the person or you know someone who knew the person really well.
Radu: As opposed to a big city where someone dies and you have nothing in common with them.
Hamferð: Yeah. Obituaries are also read on the radio every day, whenever somebody dies. When somebody dies and they're close to your town, people will put a flag half up and such, just like a memory, so it's all…
Historically, there's so many tragic events of a fishing boat sinking with all the men from a village, or stuff like that, which has obviously had a huge impact on whole societies.
Radu: Okay. Speaking of this, I'm reminded that I've been to an island in Greece recently, in Corfu, and I've heard stories that during the Ottoman raids the aristocrats and the higher class could hide in the fortresses but all of the population that couldn't was razed by the Ottomans, so the entire island had its population killed.
Hamferð: Shit. That's pretty fucked up.
Radu: That's pretty fucked up. Fucked me up as well.
Hamferð: There's probably no celebration of death around that time.
Radu: Probably not.
You've had a new release this year as well, with two live versions of some old songs. Can you tell us more about that?
Hamferð: The one song on it, which has the title "Ódn," is the first song the band ever wrote.
Radu: Yes, it's from your demo, right?
Hamferð: It wasn't even on the demo. Or - yeah, it was on the demo, yeah.
Radu: I've done my research.
Hamferð: *laughs* It was on the demo, yeah. You know better than me. *laughs* But that song was basically written for a band competition, global battle of the bands, and John, our other guitarist, who isn't on this tour, got a few of the guys together, made this eight-minute-long song, and we've always enjoyed playing it live, so even if we haven't released it - we've never really felt that it's worked on any of the studio albums that we've done, and we've tried making studio recordings of it before, which hasn't really worked either, because it's very much a live song. It depends a lot on the tempo being able to fluctuate a little bit and the way we play it together.
Radu: So now you've given it some nice closure.
Hamferð: But now, yeah, we still play it every set. We've always enjoyed playing it, audiences have always enjoyed it… And then for our last release show in the Faroes, we got the show professionally filmed and multi-tracked and we thought the recording of the song was really nice, so we thought, now we finally have a good recording which represents the song the way it was supposed to be, and since we have it, of course, we should release it.
Radu: Are you going to release the entire thing, the entire concert?
Hamferð: Not sure. Not sure about doing it.
Radu: Are live albums even feasible anymore?
Radu: I know a lot of people don't really watch those things anymore.
Hamferð: No… I mean, we could put it up on YouTube. There are a few songs of it which has been put up online and it might be on some bonus discs for some future limited edition of something…
Radu: Yeah, that probably works a lot better.
Radu: For when you're gonna get to 10th anniversaries and you have to reissue the albums with live material.
And the other song is the one you played during the eclipse, right?
Radu: Can you tell us a bit more about that? How did that happen?
Hamferð: We were contacted by this Austrian/Serbian couple who were doing a documentary about the eclipse in the Faroes, and they had done some eclipse documentaries before and tried to find some alternative angle to it. So they wanted to make a documentary about how it affects local artists, so they just sent an e-mail and asked if they could film us in our rehearsal space for a few minutes. We said sure, no problem, and then I think we went for a cup of coffee or a beer or something and started talking, and then suddenly got this idea: we should play during it.
For the first couple days, we thought it was too crazy, that can't work. But then the closer it came, the more we started thinking, "Well, what if it works? It's worth a try." So we tried. And it worked. *laughs*
Radu: And it was all worth it?
Hamferð: Oh yeah, definitely.
Radu: But you can't really see shit halfway through. *laughs*
Hamferð: I mean, it wasn't that dark. That's the camera, which cheats a little bit. It didn't go pitch black.
Radu: Okay, so it lied.
Hamferð: It didn't really, I mean… that's the way cameras work, it has the light setting and either it gets lighter or it gets darker…
Radu: Oh, I know that. I'm trying to take, like, concert photography, and whenever there aren't any good lights at the show, I can't even take a fucking pic. The camera doesn't even click on it!
Okay. What are your favorite Candlemass albums?
Hamferð 1: Self-titled.
Hamferð 2: Self-titled?
Hamferð 1: Yeah. The album Candlemass.
Radu: The one with - the reunion with Messiah.
Hamferð 1: Yeah. "Black Dwarf" and all that. "Witches."
Hamferð 3: Mine is probably a tie between the first one and the second one, I think.
Hamferð 4: I don't listen to them.
Hamferð: I think we're probably the only two people who listen to Candlemass in the band.
Hamferð: We're not very doomy guys, generally.
Radu: You could have fooled me.
Hamferð: *collective laughter* Only me, the keyboardist, and the other guitarist are the ones who listen the most to it, I think.
Radu: Okay. So what other art forms besides music would you say you're most interested in?
Hamferð 1: Movies. *laughs*
Hamferð 2: Yeah, movies.
Hamferð 1: At least those guys. Very, very big movies.
Hamferð 2: Yeah, we love movies. We especially love… what's a kind of…
Hamferð 3: Campy horror movies. Good B-movies. We collect, like, Blu-rays of obscure movies -
Radu: Oh, metalheads liking horror movies! I've never heard that one before.
Different Hamferð guy: Yeah, I'm a big sci-fi guy.
Radu: Have you seen Ad Astra?
Hamferð: No, not that one, no.
Radu: You really should.
Hamferð: I guess, yeah. Ad Astra is with Brad Pitt, right?
Radu: Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones.
Hamferð: It's kind of… yeah. The newer science fiction, it's kind of hit-and-miss, I think, a lot of it get a little bit… I don't know what it is, why I don't really like them so much.
Maybe I like a bit more far-out-there kind of crazy sci-fi.
Radu: Yeah, it's not really that much of a sci-fi movie. It's really…
Hamferð 1: Yeah, no, it's got a sci-fi setting, but it's more like a -
Hamferð 2: More sci and less fi.
Radu: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Hamferð 3: More grounded.
Hamferð 1: Yeah, I like grounded.
Radu: It's more personal, but this is why I think you might like it -
Hamferð 1: Yeah, I might actually like it; I have no idea.
Radu: It's really visually stunning and this is why I say you should see it in the cinema and not at home. It's not the same experience.
Hamferð: Exactly, yeah.
Radu: I don't really watch a lot of movies, but the latest sci-fi movie that I really liked was the new Blade Runner. [Editor's note: movie of the year 2017]
Hamferð 1: Yeah, that's amazing. He loved that one [probably pointing to somebody].
Radu: I fucking hate that it flopped.
Hamferð 1: Yeah? It flopped, really?
Radu: Kind of. I mean, it was underwhelming for the box office, but I see it referenced so often, so it's probably going to be like a real cult classic; everywhere I see there's people quoting it and putting that shot of Ryan Reynolds when he's really angry…
Hamferð 2: It's fitting, though, for the new Blade Runner to flop, because the first one did as well.
Radu: Oh, yeah. When they do a third one, it's gonna flop as well.
Hamferð 2: So it's going to be a cult classic.
Hamferð 1: It's hardly a… I don't think it can qualify as a "cult classic," really, because it's such a big-budget movie, but yeah, it will definitely pick up better.
Hamferð 2: All of his movies are great, Denis Villeneuve.
Hamferð 1: Yeah.
Hamferð 2: He also made Arrival and Sicario and Enemy and Prisoners…
Radu: Villeneuve, right?
Hamferð 1: Villeneuve, yeah, yeah. Arrival is fantastic.
Radu: And he's doing the new Dune, too.
Hamferð 2: Yes, exactly.
Hamferð 1: That's the kind of sci-fi I like. Maybe it's more like the adventurous type that I like.
Radu: I suppose I should read the books, too.
Hamferð 1: Oh yeah.
Radu: A lot of people only reference the first book. There are six of them, right?
Hamferð: I haven't read any of them.
Different Hamferð: Yeah, yeah, and our other guitarist is a really big Dune fan and has read all the books, but he is not here.
Radu: Okay, because I have been meaning maybe to get into them, but I'm not so sure I'd stop on the first book. How far in should I go, because they're really fucking long?
Hamferð: Yeah, that is true. That depends completely on your own… I mean, there will always be people who think there's no point or that the sequel stories are just, you know, worse quality…
Radu: Because I've seen a lot of people that say that the meat of the entire series is further in the books. The first book is like -
Radu: More setup and more straightforward with the hero being the hero, and the further you go it's like, "Hey, the heroes aren't actually the heroes! You really shouldn't look forward to heroic figures and say, 'Ah, they're spotless.'"
Hamferð: Yeah, that's a very good way of thinking about it.
Radu: Okay. If you could get any living director to direct a video for Hamferð, who would it be?
Hamferð: Denis Villeneuve. *collective laughter*
Different Hamferð: Ingmar Bergman.
Other Hamferð: Is he living?
Different Hamferð: Living? Oh, no. I thought you said dead or living. Uh… Guillermo Del Toro, Guillermo Del Toro would be nice. With all the shadows and stuff.
More Hamferð: Yeah, it's really difficult to say.
Different Hamferð: David Lynch. [Editor's note: ]
Other Hamferð: Yeah, maybe David Lynch would be the ultimate.
Radu: Everybody answers Lynch on this one, honestly.
Different Hamferð: Yeah, but Guillermo Del Toro, Denis Villeneuve… Uwe Boll.
*then everybody collapses into a brief paroxysm of laughter*
Radu: JJ Abrams.
Hamferð: Yeah, Tommy Wiseau.
And for a fast song, maybe Michael Bay.
You know, a lot of good ones out there.
Radu: And obviously have the same team that edited Suicide Squad edit it as well.
Hamferð: Oh yeah, of course.
Radu: So it's only going to look like an entire trailer.
Hamferð: So maybe we should have Zack Snyder do, like, all of our songs next time.
I think directed by Tommy Wiseau, color-graded by Zack Snyder, and edited by David Lynch.
Radu: Lights by JJ Abrams.
Hamferð: Yeah, yeah, lens flare everywhere. That's your answer.
Hamferð 2.0: Special effects by Michael Bay.
Hamferð: Yeah, there you go. And makeup by whoever makes Guillermo Del Toro movies. Perfect. Flawless video.
Hamferð: $10 million for a four-minute video.
Radu: Okay, these are all the questions. Thank you very much.
Hamferð collectively: Thank you.
Thanks to SSUS for helping transcribe this mess and for his uncalled for but appreciated nonetheless editor notes, except the ones where he disrespects master Lynch.
||Posted on 14.10.2019 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.|
Comments: 7 Visited by: 57 users
Hits total: 1923 | This month: 19