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Katla. interview (12/2020)

With: Guðmundur Óli Pálmason
Conducted by: RaduP (skype)
Published: 13.12.2020

Band profile:


This is PART 2 of the interview. You can find the first part here.

GOP: Do you remember when bands actually used to tour, before COVID? (laughs ruefully)

Radu: Good times. [Ed: They were, so they were.]

GOP: Yeah, good times. Do you remember there were quite a few bands reporting that when they were going to the US, that they had to approve the US Customs Office, or Border Control or whatever you call that, that they would have total access to their Facebook and e-mail accounts? So they were already doing this; they were already skimming through, looking for, "Oh, did you say anything bad about the US? Then you're not allowed to come into the US".

Radu: Yeah, the US has this entire visa program that's kind of [Ed: SHIT] yeah, not good.

GOP: There was some band, some Swedish band, that one of their members was not allowed into the US because he had posted something on Facebook, something bad about the US. I think - for example, because I criticize the US a lot, personally, and the UK -

Radu: And who doesn't? [Ed: Tell me about it.]

GOP: Well, some people are vocal about it and some people are not. I tend to be quite vocal about things that I think are wrong, and I'm not sure I'd be allowed into the US if I would want to go there now. Honestly, I'm not sure.

Radu: I mean, who in their right mind would want to go to the US anyway? What if you get shot?

[Ed: That's not fair. You wouldn't get shot. Well, okay, maybe you would, but only if you were at a school, a movie theater, a shopping mall, a church, a synagogue, a post office, a newspaper office, a bank, a concert hall, a factory, a restaurant, a supermarket, a hotel, an airport, a courthouse, a nightclub, a hospital, a public library, a gas station, a brewery, a military base, a bar, a block party, an art festival, a garlic festival, a music festival, a jewelry store, a Waffle House, a Walmart, YouTube headquarters, a facility for retired veterans, a Congressional baseball game, a video game tournament, a loading dock, a municipal building, a Constitutionally protected protest, the Washington Navy Yard, your place of employment, your spouse's place of employment, your child's school, your neighbor's house, your friend's house, or your own house, or just driving down the highway or standing on the street somewhere.

And even if you did get shot, you could walk right into any hospital and partake of our world-class emergency care, as long as you had roughly $900,000 in loose cash on your person and didn't mind waiting three hours to be examined.]

GOP: Yeah, yeah but let's be fair, because I've been to the US and I have a lot of good US friends. The US is not just the bad things you see in media. The US is also a wonderful place in many, many aspects, and Americans are wonderful people in many aspects. [Ed: Hi.] But it's just so divided. You also have this absolute fucking scum; you have these racists, these totally bigoted people, science-deniers, but then on the other aspect, you also have a lot of great people It's a very complicated situation over there right now, I would say, but I think we have to be fair and not put them all in the bad basket.

Radu: Well, speak for yourself. I do.

GOP: (laughs)

[Ed: It is exhausting being an American, especially when you work with Europeans all day.]

Radu: So what do you think about the Icelandic scene having exploded in the past 10 years?

GOP: I don't think much about it, to be honest. I used to think more about it, and, to be honest, when I - because I told you, I basically always ran the social media of my bands, and when my previous band was starting to become big, we were the only Icelandic metal band that were getting international recognition, and I always used that to try to promote other Icelandic bands. I did that in interviews and I did it by posting their songs and stuff on social media. Then when I was no longer conceived as being someone that was important to the scene, most of these people disappeared, if you know what I mean, except for a handful of friends that were real friends but who happened to be in bands, so when we started Katla. and Katla. was just a tiny little band - I mean, we're still small, but we were tiny back then - I didn't feel any of that support back. So not that - I'm not saying that it has to happen, but it just made me realize why am I wasting my time? Now I just concentrate on trying to promote my own stuff and Einar's stuff. Other than that, I really don't care. It's not that I have anything against them; I just don't care. It just doesn't affect me. There are some good bands, but overall, you know Like, if you want to check out one good Icelandic band, I would mention Andavald.

Radu: Yeah, they're great. I think I reviewed their last album.

GOP: Yeah, it's a great album. [Ed: It is.] I think they have something kind of unique that - most of the Icelandic bands are good, I think, they're doing good things, but not all of them are doing anything new or unique.

Radu: Most of them are just doing Deathspell Omega.

GOP: Yeah, yeah, that's kind of my feeling as well. I don't know why Deathspell Omega has become the Icelandic sound, to be honest; I don't understand it -

Radu: (incredulous) Because it's awesome?

GOP: (audibly shrugging) Yeeeaaaahhhhhh, I mean it's an okay band, but I don't see why all the Icelandic bands kind of needed to copy that.

Radu: I will have to ask them separately.

GOP: To be honest, I kind of miss - I would like to hear something Icelandic about these bands. I think [choking sound] have pretty much kind of an Icelandic sound to them -

Radu: Who?

GOP: [choking sound] It's - you'll know what band I'm talking about when you see the spelling. It's pronounced [choking sound]. "A" -

Radu: Ah, ah, yeah, yeah, yeah, okay.

[Ed: No, dammit, don't interrupt him when he was about to spell the name.

Okay, I'll tell you that the band is Auðn.]

Radu: They just released an album this year?

GOP: Yeah, yeah.

Radu: They're indeed different because they came from the same scene but they sound completely different to Svartidauði or the other ones.

GOP: Yeah, exactly, that's what I'm saying. I think they have kind of their own sound, they have kind of Icelandic aspects to their sound, but bands like - okay, I don't want to mention names. You know what bands I'm talking about. I don't think there's anything Icelandic about their sound, especially when most of them sing in English. I'm not saying -

Radu: Does it have to be?

GOP: No, that's what I'm saying. I'm not saying that it has to be in Icelandic, I'm not saying it has to "sound" Icelandic, but I'm just speaking from my own personal taste that I would personally like to hear something like that.

Radu: Most of them had a pattern that they took a lot of time between their first album, which was really Deathspell Omega-influenced, and then their second album, most of them came in 2018 or 2019 - like Svartidauði and Carpe Noctem, all of these bands followed this pattern - and their second album was more melodic and riffy, something like that. It's kind of crazy that all of these Icelandic bands are following kind of a pattern.

GOP: Yeah, yeah, and like I say, I don't know why exactly it became this pattern, why exactly it was Deathspell Omega instead of something else, but maybe these guys just really like Deathspell Omega. Nothing wrong with that, but it's not my cup of tea.

Radu: Out of all these Icelandic bands, I'm just waiting for a new Wormlust album.

GOP: Yeah, that's another band that definitely has its own style. Hafsteinn, the guy behind the band, he's I don't know if you know him, but if you do, you'll understand why he has his own sound. He's a unique person. [Ed: Perhaps better known by us folks as H.V. Lyngdal, and also responsible for half the Icelandic MSA nominees in the last five years.]

Radu: How am I supposed to know him? I don't live in Iceland.

GOP: (laughs) I mean, maybe you know him the through internet or whatever. [Ed: Radu, how do you know me?]

Radu: Yeah, a friend of mine interviewed him, but other than that interview, I think that's just about it. He does seem like quite an esoteric character.

GOP: Yeah I've known him for a very long time. He was in Momentum - you know that, though. We go back to Momentum; he was the first singer in Momentum. He's just he thinks outside the box, I guess, and he also moves outside the box, so therefore his music is -

Radu: And this is why Andavald are signed to his label. [Ed: Where is the label in relation to the box?]

GOP: Yeah, I didn't even know, okay, I didn't even pay attention to who was releasing them, even though I have their LP.

Radu: Okay.

GOP: But I love when bands do something original and something that is just uniquely "them". Of course I can understand that not every band can just make up their own sound, and I'm not saying - like, obviously there's always influences from something else, but I prefer bands that have their own sound. Why would I listen to a band that sounds like a copy of something else?

Radu: Yeah, understandable. Only if they do it better.

GOP: Yeah, but if it's a copy, then usually they don't do it better. I can't remember one single band that is copying something but being better than the original.

Radu: Yeah, nothing comes to mind right now, but I'm sure there's gotta be one.

[Ed: I was going to do something with this, but nah You guys can make your own jokes.]

GOP: That's exactly what I was saying with art and photography: don't try to do something that other people do better than you. Just do something that other people cannot do. Therefore you will be the best at what you do.

Radu: So now to the final point. [Ed: Oh, no it isn't.] This is probably the most controversial subject of it, and you probably can anticipate what I'm gonna ask about. What is the court situation right now with Sólstafir?

GOP: I'm not personally involved in it anymore. The last time is that - now, I'm gonna have to explain some technical aspects for you to understand this.

Radu: You had a company, Svalbard, and that company was you and Addi [Aðalbjörn Tryggvason], and then this company was the one that sued Sólstafir and it kicked out Addi because of misconduct and it was a technicality that it needed more than 50% for it to be published. Something like this, from my understanding, right?

GOP: Yeah. That part is over, but do you know what it is when a company is liquidated?

Radu: So it filed for bankruptcy?

GOP: It filed for bankruptcy, but more than that, there is a liquidator. There is a person that is called the liquidator. [Ed: Like the Judas Priest song?] Basically, he's a lawyer, he doesn't work for the company, nor does he work for me or anyone else related to the company -

Radu: Okay, so he's a complete third party.

GOP: Yeah, yeah, third party. He's appointed and his sole job is to find assets in the company for the company to sell and pay its debts, so because the company owes people, because Addi put it into debt - he did that on purpose, basically It's also important to know, if we're gonna talk about this, that it was actually Aðalbjörn that asked for Svalbard to be liquidated. He asked for -

Radu: Yeah, I remember that.

GOP: He did that to try to throw out the court case. So what I'm getting at is that the last I knew is that the liquidator is trying to get the copyright of the name for the company to sell it, so basically that means merchandise and everything like that, because the company owes the bank and other people. This is still at the Icelandic patent office; it's been stuck there for a long time. The last thing that they ruled is that Aðalbjörn cannot get the patent for the name.

Radu: That's at least a good thing.

GOP: Yeah, but it's just a very small victory in a thing that's just totally fucked up from beginning to end, because, first of all, this should never have been thrown out of court. For people that might have read his interpretation of this being thrown out of court, he interpreted in a way that he says he did nothing wrong. That's not the case. The case is that the court never looked into anything; they just threw it out.

Radu: Because of a technicality.

GOP: Yeah. And the technicality even was just their interpretation of a word - like you say, "minority", "majority", or "50%". They decided that, because there were just the two of us in the company, I am not a majority. That's the only thing they decided. But of course I am also not the minority; I am 50%. It's a technicality based on interpretation of a word. That's all it is. So for him, it's not a vindication or indication of his innocence. It's important for people to understand that.

Radu: What do you think the best-case scenario can be right now?

GOP: The best-case scenario is simply that the liquidator keeps on with his work, which has nothing to do with me.

Radu: Okay.

GOP: I am no longer involved in the whole thing, personally, I have no personal invested interests, so I think this is also important for people to understand: the liquidator would not be trying if he thought that everything within the company had been done okay. Obviously he knows, he sees that merchandise, for example - we're talking about thousands of dollars' worth of merchandise disappeared. Now, of course, it didn't disappear - it was sold - but where did the profit go? The company paid for it to be manufactured, but it didn't even get the return, it didn't even get the cost returned, and obviously it did not get the profit either. So where did it go to?

Radu: Obviously drugs and booze.

GOP: Yeah, it's kind of obvious where it went. I'm not gonna say it out loud, but it's quite obvious where it went.

Radu: I'm not gonna try to pull your tongue to say something you don't want to say, because I'm sure that there's a lot that has been unsaid and maybe it could fuck some people over.

GOP: Well, I can tell you that the reason I have not told the whole story, and I mean the whole story from beginning to end, is not to protect myself. I have nothing to hide, personally. But there are other people involved that did not ask to be involved in the whole story, if you know what I mean, and I'm not talking about the band, either.

Radu: Yeah, something like friends or girlfriends or something like that. I can understand.

GOP: Yeah. But I can tell you that if I would tell the whole story, and the whole fucking story, it would not be in the benefit of the band as it is now if I would do that, so in a way I am sheltering them, but I'm not sheltering them because I want to shelter them. Basically they crawl under the same shelter that I am sheltering other people, so I think I'll just leave it at that. I think it's more important for me to be fair towards the other people, even if it means that they can crawl under that shelter, but you know.

Radu: Yeah, understandable. You haven't spoken to Addi since then, right?

GOP: Yeah, that's right. I have not spoken to him. I have nothing to say to him. He's contacted me once, and that was because that's when the liquidator was putting him up against the wall and he was in a bad position where he found out that he could not get the copyright of the logo and all that for himself, and he contacted me, but that was out of his own desperation, it was not because he wanted to make anything right, and he was asking me if we could sort this out without lawyers, and I just simply reminded him that he was the one that -

Radu: Wanted to lawyer up.

GOP: Yeah, that was literally his words, and I told him that if he wants to do something right then start by paying me what the band owes me. That's 20 years of work in there, and there's merchandise and there's money in the merchandise and stuff like that which he pocketed, so if you want to make things right, do it in actions, don't do it in words. He's been saying in a couple of interviews that, "Yeah, sometimes I think about Gummi and I miss him, blah blah blah", and it's just words. Words have no meaning when they are totally the opposite of actions. Actions speak louder than words, especially when the actions contradict the words. I see it as his PR stunt, really. He's trying to paint himself as some kind of a good guy in the whole situation, and he also tries to paint it in a way that - he says that there was a lot of trouble in the band, which was right. That's totally right. But what he doesn't say is that - he tries to paint the picture that I was the problem, which - that isn't right.

Radu: Okay, but to play a bit of devil's advocate here [Ed: Oh, geez, Radu, no], why do you think it was you out of all people who was kicked out of the band?

GOP: Because there was just me and him. You've got to take the other two out of the equation. They have no stake in anything, which is quite obvious by the fact that they weren't even part of the company. It was me and him. It has to do with, amongst other things, it has to do with the power struggle within the band and there were some problems with cooperation at the time, but it came about because of changes in his personality. He's quite vocal about his drug abuse now, but he didn't mention it back then, so I'm not saying anything that people don't already know, but he was abusing cocaine every single day and it changes people. Cocaine is the most disgusting drug that you will ever find because it changes people permanently.

Radu: Well, other than methamphetamine, obviously. [Ed: And let's not forget memes.]

GOP: Yeah, that does count obviously as well, but I think if you use - I don't know too much about methamphetamine, to be honest [Ed: Watch Breaking Bad], but I think if you stop using it then usually you can somewhat return back to normal. The thing with cocaine is that it changes your personality, it changes your behavior, and these behavioral changes, they often continue after you stop using it. Now, he hasn't been using it for some years now - I don't know about his personality today, I haven't known him for five years now - but five years ago, he still had all the personal traits of a cocaine addict. A lot of that is - most of it is negative personal traits. For example, explosions of anger and not being able to take any kind of criticism or just the fact that I would disagree with him and it would result in him exploding with anger, and everybody that knows the both of us has seen this side of him. I can tell you one thing, and I can tell you this for sure, that all of our mutual friends, if they took a side - not all of them did, but if they took a side - all of them took a side with me. None of them took a side with him. That should tell you something. I can say this with absolute certainty. If I'm wrong, then somebody can step forward and say, "No, I took a side with Aðalbjörn", but I don't think - not a single mutual friend took his side.

Radu: Do you ever miss him? [Ed: This is getting out of my depth here]

GOP: No. I honestly don't, because he wasn't the person that I knew for many years. When we started the band, he was a totally different person then. When he started using cocaine, he changed, and that's the person that I knew for about 10 years. He became worse and worse, but, no, I don't miss a person like that. Why would I?

Radu: Yeah.

GOP: Especially because you could also ask me if I would forgive him. No. Why would I, as long as there is no real admittance from him that he did wrong and there is no real regret from his side? As I say, there are words, but his words contradict his actions. It has no meaning to me; when he says in an interview that he misses me, it has no meaning to me whatsoever. It's simply a lie.

Radu: How has this made you feel about the Sólstafir music that you've made?

GOP: I simply haven't listened to it for five years. I have not heard a Sólstafir song for five years, and I'm going to keep it that way. I think I'm more indifferent about it now than I was back then, obviously; I think of the music as like a friend that you lost contact with, and it hurts to begin with, but then I learn to live without it and it doesn't matter. There has been this [Ed: At this point, the audio becomes briefly indistinct.] There's a skateboarder that I really, really like called Rodney Mullen. I don't know if you know anything about skating -

Radu: Yeah, and he threw all of his trophies away, right?

GOP: Exactly. And people asked him why - because this guy invented street skating as we know it, and back in the days there used to be skateboarding competitions and he won all of them, and then he was forced to stop skating because of his injury and he threw all his trophies away, and people asked him, "Why'd you throw all your trophies away?" and he said, "Because that's not the person I am; that's the person I was". When I heard him say that, I was like, "wow". That's so profoundly deep in its simplicity; that's something we all should do. [Ed: Another brief indistinct passage.] The music of Sólstafir is obviously made me the person I am today, the musician I am today, but at the same time, I look back on all of that as something that I won't repeat or that I won't relisten to today. It has no bearing on what I do today, and it specifically has no bearing on me as a person today. That was something that was very difficult, to be honest; I think the most difficult part of all of this was I based my whole personality on this band, for better or for worse, so I wasn't just some person, I was that person from that band. I was that for years. Literally overnight -

Radu: You had to become another person.

GOP: Yeah. Literally over one night I was nobody, and I don't mean nobody from a perspective of success, but I mean in essence I was nobody. I as a person did not exist anymore. It's weird to say it, but we say it was, like, a good thing, in a way.

[Ed: The audio quality had dipped in the preceding few minutes, and around this point it became quite difficult to understand all of what was being said. Fortunately, Radu halted the conversation to remark on this fact and we were given a brief recap of some of this content, so rather than attempt to continue transcribing, I'll just skip to the part where they summarize what they had just talked about.]

GOP: I was saying that I think that I've risen above this whole thing despite what happened. Not because - because he said, one of the things that he said to justify himself, he was saying, "In the long run, this is going to be better for you, blah blah blah", he used that to justify his actions, but I don't think it has turned out better for me because, but rather in spite of everything. I was just stronger than that, I was able to rise above it, and this might sound as me being boastful and I just have to pat myself on the back and admit that, yeah, I did rise above it, and I don't think many people would have risen above it in the way that I did. I think I handled the whole situation in as good a manner as possible, and I think there are very, very few people who can understand what it means to have your life's work stolen from you literally overnight, not enjoying any benefits of 20 years of work - and I mean that in monetary benefits, I mean that in just being proud of your work, just being a part of your work. It was all taken away and at the end, though, I decided I'm not going to let that dictate the person that I am going to be for the rest of my life, so I just went on and I did something else. It was difficult. I had years and years afterwards that were very, very difficult, and it ruined other parts of my personal life as a result, but today I can say for sure that I have risen above it and it doesn't affect me anymore in a way.

Radu: That's really good. Kind of sad that you're no longer listening to Sólstafir; they were a pretty good band back in the day.

GOP: Yeah, but I don't need to listen to it. I was a part of making it, I was a big part of making it.

Radu: Just admit that you don't want to hear his vocals again. [Ed: This is getting into aggressive talk show host territory.]

GOP: Oh, that's a part of it, definitely. I don't like the sound of his voice. I'll be totally honest about that, but

Radu: If you really can send me the masters without his voice, I can find somebody else to sing over them. [Ed: To be honest, I like Sólstafir, but yeah, he's not exactly a great singer. I'll sing over them and probably do a better job. I'll even do it in Icelandic.]

GOP: If I had them, I would, but it's more than that. It's also, ask yourself, what is pride without joy? Can I be proud of these works? Yeah, I can be proud of having done that, but I don't take pride in it, if you know what I mean.

Radu: Yeah, I don't find joy in -

GOP: Because pride without joy is nothing. That's just boosting. It's not honest, it's not sincere, so I have no pride in these songs anymore. They don't give me anything, so that's why I don't listen to them. Why would I listen to music that doesn't give me anything? [Ed: Clearly you've never had to write album reviews for a metal webzine.]

Radu: I don't know, "Ghost Of Light" is a real banger. [Ed: Next up on Late Night With Radu, we force musicians to listen to songs by bands they were kicked out of.]

GOP: It's a good song. There's quite a lot of good songs there, but I don't connect to them anymore. I listen to music that I connect to, so this is not just - it's hard to explain. It has to do with me as a listener, not me as an artist. As a listener, this doesn't give me anything anymore, so why would I listen to it?

Radu: Yeah, that's really understandable. So another kind of technicality: let's say I go out and I buy a Sólstafir record. Do you get any of the royalties for it?

GOP: If you buy it from Season of Mist, then yes. And I want to be clear on this, that Season of Mist have handled things basically perfectly from their perspective. I have nothing to complain about from them. But if you buy Sólstafir merchandise, however, even some of the t-shirts that I designed personally, I don't get anything from that. That's what I mean when I say that the band owes me money. If you buy CDs or albums from them in their concerts, then no, I don't get anything from that. Only if you buy it from the label or from distributors that buy it from the label. [Ed: Guess I'm safe, then. Thanks, Season of Mist.]

Radu: Okay. That's at least good, that if I'm going to buy something from Sólstafir, I'm gonna make sure that I'll take it from the label instead.

GOP: Yeah, at least, like I say, I gotta hand it to Season of Mist that they handled this in the right way.

Radu: Well, they could have dropped the band.

GOP: I don't see why they would do that, though.

Radu: Well, yeah, they're making money off of them right now. The band has completely blocked everyone who is criticizing them from their Facebook page, so if you go on there, it's completely spotless. There's no reason why you would sign off a band like this. I think their newest album's probably gonna fare better financially than yours. They're still the big name and you're not.

GOP: Yeah, but it's funny that you mention that they block people - I mean, they blocked me on the very same Facebook page that I myself created. They didn't make it; I made it personally. They blocked me there. They threw me out overnight when I was sleeping and they blocked me from it, even though I didn't say anything. I didn't criticize them or anything. They just I can't comment on anything there. And yeah, I remember back in the days when this happened that people were just asking questions and then they were blocked and thrown out of their page. I think that just goes to show that they have something to hide. You don't block people if you don't have anything to hide.

Radu: And this goes back to the censorship debate. [Ed: Does it?]

GOP: Yeah, pretty much. Censorship is always because you have something to hide.

Radu: Yeah. Okay, so I think this finishes all of our questions, thankfully, since we have almost two hours of interview time. [Ed: GUH, I KNOW]

GOP: (laughs) Yeah

Radu: So the last real important question is do you think people from the Faroe Islands are jealous of you for being independent from Denmark?

GOP: Yeah. I don't know, they seem to have a good relationship with Denmark for the most part -

Radu: Do you?

GOP: We do now. [Ed: No, do you personally have a good relationship with Denmark?] All the Nordic countries have good relationships now, but we did not back in the days, especially when Denmark took over. [Ed: I'll never forgive those bastards for defeating Osberht of Northumbria]. They treated us worse than the shit under their shoes, basically, but of course in the modern age it has changed and we have good political relationships with all the Nordic countries, including Denmark.

Radu: That's good. Even though they speak really weirdly?

GOP: I hate their language! You know, we have to learn Danish in Iceland. It's mandatory in schools. [Ed: Those poor kids.] Icelandic is our first language, obviously. When I was a kid, Danish was the second language we would learn and English third. They switched it now, but we still have to learn Danish and everybody in Iceland hates it because we know that we're never going to use it and, furthermore, it sounds like you have a big fucking dildo stuck in your throat, so it's a fucking horrible language.

Radu: Okay. The very, very last question [Ed: *grunt*] is what is the worst representation of Vikings you've ever seen in media?

GOP: Probably the show Vikings.

Radu: Okay.

[Ed: Fun fact time: I took an Anglo-Saxon/Viking history class with a professor who served as a historical advisor on that show. He described the typical process as him being asked to inspect some aspect of an episode, explaining why it was inaccurate or anachronistic, and then being told, "Okay, but it's cooler if we do it this way."]

GOP: There's so many misconceptions about Vikings. After 200 years, we finally got it through people's head that the Vikings did not have horns on their helmet. [Ed: I hate to break it to you, but I think that's still a problem.] Okay, so finally we've got that through, but now in the modern age Vikings are dressed like a gothic metal band from Germany. Everybody's wearing black leather. That's not how Vikings look like. If you were a rich Viking chieftain back in the days, you'd wear colorful silk and stuff like that because that was a sign of wealth. First off, I mean, if we're gonna talk about this a little bit [Ed: Oh, yes, we are.], I can tell you that even the word "Viking" - these people did not refer to themselves as "Vikings". That's a modern thing.

Radu: I think Viking was more like an occupation rather than an ethnicity.

GOP: Yeah, it was something that you did. You went on a viking, like you go on a journey. You went on a viking. You would do that temporarily. These were just warriors, but most people in those days obviously were just farmers and fishermen and merchants and stuff like that, and as for the Nordic people of the Middle Ages, early Middle Ages, if we should give them credit for anything, we should give them credit for being amazing explorers, builders of the best ships that the world had ever seen at that point in time, and great merchants, traders. Basically they sailed all over Europe, they sailed trading fish and bear skin against silk and spices and stuff like that. Their cultural impact was so much greater than the stories that we hear about warfare today. I think we in the modern age, we get Vikings totally wrong. [Ed: Preach, Gummi. Let's not forget that they founded Russia, discovered North America, and settled or conquered everywhere from Ireland to Italy.]

Radu: Yeah, like Vikings founded Russia through Rurik, and southern Italy when the Normans conquered it, and Normandy, and by extension England. [Ed: Hey, I just said that.]

GOP: Right. And then they were driven out of England by the Normans, which were also Scandinavian by origin, so it's quite funny. Funny to mention as well that England was ruled by Norwegian kings in the Viking age up until 1066, when the Normans drove them out, but the Normans, on the other hand, that came from Scandinavia conquered what is now Normandy. When they did, they took up the language of the locals, so they started to speak basically what is French, but the Vikings in England, they spoke Norse, which is basically the same as modern-day Icelandic. So had the Normans not driven the Vikings out of England, we would be conducting this interview in Icelandic now.

Radu: Oh, I would love that. [Ed: I wouldn't. I don't speak Icelandic.]

GOP: (laughs)

Radu: What I did love about hearing about the Norse conquests of the Saxons is that they [Saxons] were afraid that their women would leave them for Vikings because they [Vikings] were combing their hair and they were washing more often.

GOP: Exactly. It's another great misconception that we have about the Vikings, like you watch a show like Vikings and they're dressed in black, dirty leather and they're dirty and they have patterns on their head and stuff like that. I'm sure some of them did. I'm sure there's always been punks everywhere - I mean "punks" as in the way that they look, they had this feist, this spirit - but most of them didn't look like that. There's just so many misconceptions about Vikings in general. And another misconception is that the Vikings were all pagans, that they all worshipped Odin. Most people don't even think about the other Nordic gods; they only just think about Odin. How many Nordic gods were there? I would have to count them, literally; there were so many more than just Odin. But my point is that some Vikings started to become Christian probably as early as the 800s, so there were Christian Vikings as well. Especially in the 900s, almost all of them, except the Icelandic ones, were Christian.

Radu: Okay. I think we'd better just close the interview as soon as possible, because my editor is going to kill me. [Ed: Radu is a dead man.]

GOP: (laughs) I feel sorry for the guy. [Ed: Thanks, bud.]

Radu: Yeah, well I'm gonna try to see if I can chip in and do at least half of it. [Ed: To his credit, Radu did repeatedly offer, but I turned him down so I could exercise complete creative control over.] So anyway, thanks once again, and thanks for twice in a row making a better album than Sólstafir did, even though I'm absolutely certain you synchronized your release dates.

GOP: No, I can tell you actually - I've been asked about this - no, it's a total coincidence. We had no idea that they were making an album, and also it's not up to us, it's up to the labels when the albums are released, and also, when we are making music, especially Einar is not writing in the context of what Sólstafir does and does not - it just doesn't even enter our minds.

Radu: Okay. Well, let's hope it doesn't happen a third time.

GOP: I hope so, too, because I don't mind the comparison, but I know that it's starting to get on Einar's nerves, because he has nothing to do with Sólstafir and he writes more of the music than I do, so it is kind of unfair to him that people are -

Radu: That you're being compared.

GOP: Yeah, yeah.

Radu: Katla. is seen more like the new band of the ex-Sólstafir drummer than the new band of that guy from Fortíð.

GOP: Yeah, and if people should compare it to anything, they should compare it to Potentiam, because both of us were in Potentiam.

Radu: Yeah, but nobody knows Potentiam. But they really should.

GOP: Yeah.

Radu: Okay. So thanks once again. Do you have any last words to say for our readers? If they make it this far? [Ed: I am dead]

GOP: I've spoken quite a lot, so I've probably said everything I need to say. [Ed: Thank you.]

Radu: Okay. "Varg Vikernes".

GOP: Yeah, that's the last word. No, no, [something that I don't understand]

Radu: [Says a different thing]

GOP: [Repeats it again; evidently there is some sort of joke I'm not in on.]

[Ed: And then it just abruptly ends. I guess that's it. Cool.]

Once again massive thanks to SSUS for doing the impossible and transcribing a nearly 2 hours-long interview, and without whose snarky comments, it would be unreadable.

Posted on 13.12.2020 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.


Comments: 14   Visited by: 100 users
13.12.2020 - 10:45
It took me almost an hour to read this mammoth-sized interview, I cannot even imagine how long it took our beloved editor to transcribe it. Radu, you outdid yourself, very interesting conversation. I often think you are pushing your luck at times with the provocative questions and the roasting but it's these things that make the interviews so out-of-the-box and fun to read, and you seem to get away with it every time so props to you. Kevin's remarks are once again pure gold.

I like his answers, he sounds like a very cool guy. I'd love to have him as a tour guide whenever my dream to visit Iceland becomes reality, it would be awesome. I did not really follow all the Solstafir drama but the split was actually good for him just like Aðalbjörn told him it would be. I still prefer Solstafir but Katla. is also a great band with two really good albums.
13.12.2020 - 10:51
Written by nikarg on 13.12.2020 at 10:45

It took me almost an hour to read this mammoth-sized interview, I cannot even imagine how long it took our beloved editor to transcribe it. Radu, you outdid yourself, very interesting conversation. I often think you are pushing your luck at times with the provocative questions and the roasting but it's these things that make the interviews so out-of-the-box and fun to read, and you seem to get away with it every time so props to you. Kevin's remarks are once again pure gold.

I like his answers, he sounds like a very cool guy. I'd love to have him as a tour guide whenever my dream to visit Iceland becomes reality, it would be awesome. I did not really follow all the Solstafir drama but the split was actually good for him just like Aðalbjörn told him it would be. I still prefer Solstafir but Katla. is also a great band with two really good albums.

Part of me feels sorry for Kevin, but we both agree this interview wouldn't be nearly as entertaining without him.

I keep waiting for the moment I say something I shouldn't have and the interviewee just quits. I guess I have to interview Dagon for that.

I doubt Katla is as commercially successful as Solstafir currently is, so from some point of view it would've been better for him if the split didn't happen, but I guess living for the past years without the drama might be the better alternative. As much as I like everything Solstafir and Katla did since, Masterpiece Of Bitterness just can't be equaled.
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
13.12.2020 - 11:01
Written by RaduP on 13.12.2020 at 10:51

I guess I have to interview Dagon for that.

Man, I'd love to read that.
13.12.2020 - 19:37
Written by nikarg on 13.12.2020 at 10:45

It took me almost an hour to read this mammoth-sized interview, I cannot even imagine how long it took our beloved editor to transcribe it. Radu, you outdid yourself, very interesting conversation. I often think you are pushing your luck at times with the provocative questions and the roasting but it's these things that make the interviews so out-of-the-box and fun to read, and you seem to get away with it every time so props to you. Kevin's remarks are once again pure gold.

Sometimes when I'm transcribing one of these I hear Radu ask some suddenly incendiary question and I pause the recording for a second so I can put my face in my hands and go, "Whyyyyyyyyy?" Then I just cross my fingers and hope that the rest of the interview isn't extremely uncomfortable. But you're right, he does seem to have gotten away with it each time. And if he ever doesn't come away unscathed, I'm sure we'll learn about it through some other internet news outlet.

This one was definitely the most ambitious transcription effort I've had to undertake for this site, but the upside of that was that they were able to get fairly deep into some of these subjects and really discuss some ideas. I do think it turned out to be one of Radu's/MS's best interviews for that reason. From now on, though, I'm limiting his interviews to 15 minutes.
"Earth is small and I hate it" - Lum Invader

I'm the Agent of Steel.
13.12.2020 - 20:32
i c deaf people
Truly an excellent interview.
It would be interesting to read the other side of the story (if there even is one) someday, because the combination of this article, Gummi's blog and the founding history of his former band leaves hardly any room for potential misinterpretation regarding his involuntary departure from Sólstafir.
signatures = SPAM
13.12.2020 - 20:39
Written by Starvynth on 13.12.2020 at 20:32

Truly an excellent interview.
It would be interesting to read the other side of the story (if there even is one) someday, because the combination of this article, Gummi's blog and the founding history of his former band leaves hardly any room for potential misinterpretation regarding his involuntary departure from Sólstafir.

I'm open to the idea of interviewing Addi. But poor SSUS would have to transcribe another two hours. And honestly I feel like I still have questions enough for two more hours.
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
13.12.2020 - 20:49
Troy Killjoy
Written by ScreamingSteelUS on 13.12.2020 at 19:37

From now on, though, I'm limiting his interviews to 15 minutes.

You have no power here.

Radu, make it 3 hours next time.
"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something."
13.12.2020 - 20:53
Written by Troy Killjoy on 13.12.2020 at 20:49

Radu, make it 3 hours next time.

Something tells me I'd have to transcribe myself.

But I'll probably just post the audio version and say fuck it.

I might still do that
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
14.12.2020 - 14:42

Excellent interview, took a while but very much worth it. Some great insight into how he see's his own artistic work, although being honest lots of the photography bits went right over my head!

And awesome editing, made me laugh out loud on numerous occasions , which is needed right now. Thanks all for your efforts on this and the other interviews over the last year.
16.12.2020 - 15:31
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
This is Skype int, why you can not record it and upload audio filé as Barry did
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
16.12.2020 - 16:07
Written by Bad English on 16.12.2020 at 15:31

This is Skype int, why you can not record it and upload audio filé as Barry did

I wouldn't mind it, but we still haven't decided how to do it if we do it.
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
19.12.2020 - 00:06

Not a big fan of either of these 2 bands, but for some reason I kept reading, through the good, the bad and the cringe, to the very end. Good job
23.12.2020 - 08:45

Had to read this on a span of 3 days, this was a long interview. But Katla's latest is my AOTY therefore I had to read it. I didn't know the beef between Katla and Solstafir. So that was a great info overload for me.

SSUS' humour is legendary. You may think of writing professionally.
Leeches everywhere.
23.01.2021 - 04:49

This was a lengthy read but also a very interesting (and rather sad) first hand insight into Sólstafir, so thanks for uploading!

I first became hooked on their music when Otta came out (which as we all know turned out to be GOP's last release with the band). However the drop in songwriting quality on their subsequent two albums (along with the comparatively bland production) has been very noticeable - so I can't help think that GOP was by no means just the drummer of the band, but was also a key contributor to their unique songwriting and atmospheric sound.

I have also enjoyed both of Katla.'s albums, both of which have that atmosphere and emotion that again was sorely lacking on Sólstafir's last two.

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