Týr has toured heavily for their latest release, Valkyrja (Metal Blade) a grandiose record that nicely showcases their brand of Viking/Folk Metal. Complimenting the strong performances and evolved sound is a different lyrical take on their usual subject matter, showing how powerful and influential the women were over the men. At their Atlanta, GA stop on the Halo of Blood tour, bassist Gunnar H. Thomsen and guitarist Terji Skibenæs were kind enough to grant Ghost Cult an interview before their set, chatting with senior editor Lynn Jordan.
It’s been one month into the tour; how is it going so far?
Gunnar H. Thomsen: Very good!
Terji Skibenæs: Everything smoothly, so far, yeah.
What has been your favorite place so far?
TS: It’s always L.A. for me
Hopefully you’ll like Atlanta.
TS: We like Atlanta too. We’ve been here many times before.
GC: Good! We love our Metal down here.
As the opener, is it difficult putting together a set list?
GHT: It’s not that tough, the tough thing is we have to leave so many things out.
What song did you have to leave out that you really wanted to squeeze in?
GHT: Many (laughs). We know there are a lot of songs that people want to hear, especially the songs with a lot of the choir stuff in it.
That is hard to duplicate live.
TS: But we get a good response for being the first band.
Have there been a lot of people yelling for songs during your set?
TS: Yeah, they’re screaming about it every day, wanting a longer set, but we can’t, of course.
So how is the new material going over?
GHT: It’s going down very well with the audience. Really really well.
So there isn’t a lot of, “Yay, that’s okay now play an old song”?
TS: No, we only play two old songs, the rest is from the new album.
I love the new record, so I don’t have a problem with that.
GHT: We haven’t had any negative response for playing the new stuff. Only thing, is, again, is they wish it were longer.
Since you’ve been getting such a positive response, will you be back in the States any time soon?’
TS/GHT: Oh, yes!
As part of a festival or on your own?
GHT: We are going to do a few festivals.
TS: In Europe, not in the U.S. Are there any festivals here?
(laughs) Europe has the best festivals. What is the biggest festival your going to play?
TS: The next big one is probably Copenhell in Denmark.
Cool, so that’s like a homecoming show.
The new songs have a very triumphant and upbeat quality to them. What do you attribute that to? Did you let the storyline set the mood or did you already have that kind of energy going into the writing process?
GHT: It’s really always whatever we come up with.
TS: Yeah, Someone will come up with a riff, then when we’re done, Heri writes the lyrics.
Do you think this record is a a culmination of the sound you’ve been seeking over the last couple of records?
GHT: Yeah, definitely, definitely.
TS: The style we heading in now, yeah.
GHT: It has turned into something that we all really like. It’s more interesting for the audience.
How did the concept for the new record come about?
TS: Well, we’re always writing about Viking men…
GHT: So, we thought a little bit of sex.
TS: A bit more of that!
How did the track “The Lay of Our Love” with Liv Christine come about? Did you have her in mind?
GHT: Heri met her at a festival…
TS: …And he was invited to sing a song with them at the festival.
GHT: She wanted to do the same thing with us, do a song on the record. We already had the song, so it was an obvious choice.
That’s great considering the concept of the record.
You guys did a high production CGI video. What was the experience like, and would you do it again?
GHT: I LOVED it.
TS: I love it. I will never do outdoor again. I hate that. We all do.
GHT: It was really easy.
TS: A lot of people doing everything, makeup….(laughs)
Do you have an idea for the next video or what song it will be?
GHT: Fire! Fire! More Metal!
TS: Yes, so people won’t think we’ve gone soft with this latest video.
Any new songs?
GHT: Pretty soon we’re going to start working on the new record.
TS: We have to start getting new material. But it always takes time.
GHT: It won’t get recorded until next year.
Do you find it more challenging doing covers of popular songs like ‘Where Eagles Dare’ or ‘Cemetery Gates’ rather than something more obscure?
GHT: No, for us, this was something that we decided a long time ago that we were gonna do. The record companies always want a bonus track, so we decided to take a favorite song from each person in the band. So we each picked one…that’s the way it came along, so it’s not really challenging, it was pretty straightforward.
TS: Yeah, we just record it.
GHT: We just focus on doing our best, and not try to imitate it too much, I guess.
When you guys are not touring or making music, what are your hobbies or interests?
GHT: Diving, I worked as a plumber.
TS: I’m a tattoo artist. That’s pretty much all I do.
How do you book folks with your schedule? Do you go to people or do they come to you? Do you have a shop?
TS: People write me, email…they to come to me, to Faroe Islands. From Denmark, Finland…
GHT: Sometimes he will have it on tour.
TS: Yeah, but it doesn’t work when you’re the first band, you don’t have the space, and it has to be clean.
Is there a music scene on the Faroe Islands, and are there any bands we should check out?
TS: There’s a cool Metal band call Hanferd.
Since Gunnar you’re in Denmark, how did you guys rehearse for the tour.
GHT: We don’t rehearse. We just practice at home. And we send files when we’re making the songs, we just record them on Protools, or whatever and write down the tablature and send an email to the next guy.
So what about preparing for a tour?
TS: We rehearsed a few days before in order to get it together, that’s all. (GHT) lives in Denmark, so he doesn’t come.
GHT: I do my best (laughs). It’s something we have to do, but it’s not easy. I didn’t realize it was that far from the Islands to the mainland.