First of all: Congratulations for "Eric The Supreme" ! Thanks.
The usual entrée: Could you please pass us some information about Tır and the band's history? We got together, just some old friends from the Faeroes, in Copenhagen in ?98 and started to jam. We had all played together during the nineties in other bands in the Faeroes. Our first big live performance with Tır was not until we signed up for the Prix Føroyar competition 2001 and with that we got very much notice in the Faeroes. After that we decided that it would be a good idea to record and release our material. It turned out as our debut album ?How Far To Asgaard? and it was released in January 2002. Eventually our Faeroese popularity spread to Iceland and we visited Iceland for the first time in the spring of 2002. We did some touring around Scandinavia, the Baltics and the North Atlantic, had some line-up issues, arranged material and released it in June 2003 as our second album, ?Eric The Red?. We toured some more in the above-mentioned regions and Russia as well ?and here we are.
Besides the music, the band?s origin is interesting as well. The Faroe Islands have a population of around 50,000. Is there ? at least in Tórshavn or Klaksvík ? something like a metal scene ? There are many places to play compared to the size of the country. It is fairly easy to get a gig and a lot of people do a lot of hard work to improve the musicians? circumstances here who aren?t always rosy. Besides us there are a few Heavy Metal bands of different sorts with varying levels of activity filling the Metal Scene.
Well, you all live in Denmark, but Tır is described as a Faroese band?. Correction: We all lived in Denmark. I moved back to the Faeroes last September and Kári (drums) joined me in December. Terji (guitar) was never in Denmark. Only Gunnar (bass) remains a citizen of Copenhagen. This may sound problematic, but to tell you the truth we have not all lived in the same country since December 2001 when Terji joined the band.
As you are all born in Tórshavn or Klaksvík : When and how did you discover Heavy Metal? Personally I started with Motley Crüe sometime in my early teens. My brother had the albums "Girls, Girls Girls" and "Theatre of Pain" and I memorized all the guitars including solos. I soon after began listening to Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath. Kári started listening to Rainbow and Dio at an early age. Gunnar was sold to the video of Iron Maiden?s ?The Number of the Beast? when he was only thirteen. Terji began with Ozzy Osborne. There is a lot of heavy metal around in the Faeroes and it is not hard to come by.
What was the incident you said: "OK, let?s make metal?" We just got together and played the music we like. The style came without further ado and it went without saying that we were going to play metal.
As I heard the bandname first, I thought of a Black Sabbath Album. As you sound completely different, you have to explain me the source / origin of the name. We knew we wanted a name from Norse Mythology and we sought far and wide for some time until the Black Sabbath album led us on to the name, and also almost put us off again. We didn?t want to be connected to much to Black Sabbath. Tır, the god of warfare, was the bravest of the gods and in time he proved a most unselfish and benevolent god. Not very warlike at all, and I think that is a good message to send to this troubled world and a good reason for picking the name.
On your homepage I saw you ended among the best band of Prix Føroyar. What is the Prix Føroyar? And what is the meaning of being successful as the only metal band there? Prix Føroyar is a biannual competition with around forty bands of all styles and genres. The Faeroese Nordic House arranges it. The late Peter Turtschaninov from Finland, rest his soul, who was the director in the early nineties arranged the first competitions in ?95. Gunnar and I participated in the first finals with another band that we had at that time. The arrangers have succeeded in drawing great attention from the other Nordic countries to this competition and it is a window exhibiting the best of Faeroese music to our neighbouring nations, so whether you are a reggae band or a heavy metal band it is a great opportunity.
Let us talk a bit about your new release: I guess you are very satisfied with the result of ?Eric The Red?. Did you ever expect that amazing reactions. So far I read only enthusiastic reviews. We were fairly satisfied with the results after the recordings but we hadn?t expected anything like this. This is overwhelming. It seems the critics are trying to outdo each other with fair words and high grades. I hope this will pave our path onwards and make it less rugged and uphill than it has been.
You are dealing a lot with Nordic mythology. Who is ?Eric The Red? and why did you choose that album title? Eric The Red was the father of Leif "The Lucky? Ericsson, the first European in North America some five hundred years before Columbus. Eric was the first European who settled in Greenland. Leif was in the king?s service in Norway and there he converted to Christianity. When he came to Greenland he converted his mother. She in turn tried to convert her husband by sexual extortion, meaning she would not sleep with him unless he converted to Christianity, but he remained faithful to his old faith until his death. You have to admire such steadfastness.
Who did the artwork for the album? The artwork is done by Haukur ?the Hawk? Halldórsson, a great Icelandic artist. We first saw his paintings when we were in Iceland in April 2002. We visited Ásatrúarfélagiğ, the Pagan community, where Haukur is the custodian. We were very enthusiastic about his work. Our Icelandic arranger at that time got the idea to use one of Haukur?s paintings as background for a poster, but that never became relevant. When we began to plan the artwork and cover for "Eric The Red" it came up as a natural solution.
Could you please outline the lyrics on Eric the Red. E.g. the background of the traditional lyrics. Is there also a historical or literary background for your "own" lyrics? The traditional lyrics are about historical events. Regin Smiğur is about Sigfried the Dragonslayer about whom there are very many ballads in the Faeroes. They are all of such age that their origin is lost, but they have relations to the Icelandic sagas. Ólavur Riddararós is a ballad known around ethnic Scandinavia. Geographically Iceland and the Faeroes are not Scandinavia but ethnically I would argue that they are. The origin of Ólavur Riddararós is not known but it is definitely very old. Ramund hin Unge is a Danish ballad of like origin as the before mentioned. Our ?own? lyrics are written in the same spirit and sometimes about the same subjects. The Edge for instance is an old Faeroese tale, not sung about before to my knowledge, about four Faeroese men who wanted to make an uprising against the authorities, who were Norwegian at that time, and gain control of the Islands. I like to write about such events but I think it is a must to add a new angle and to have a message and a meaning even with no literal reference to the actual lyrics.
Speaking of tradition: Who came up with the idea to sing in Faroese? It was first tried with ?Ormurin Langi? on the first album. The arrangement was my idea. Kári predicted it was going to be a hit in the Faeroes. None of us had expected it to gain any popularity outside the Faeroes. When we got reviews from around Europe and the States we noticed that the reviewers were especially fond of ?Ormurin Langi?. It went to show that language is no barrier, at least in this case, and we could easily throw in a few more Faeroese lyrics.
I would describe ?Eric the Red? as a unique mixture of Epic metal, Progressive, Doom and medieval folklore. How you describe Tır?s style? I think you have a different attitude to the term ?Viking Metal? as you are real Vikings. We once tried to call it Progressive Ethnic Heavy Metal. I haven?t heard that term mentioned since. We are really lost in this inferno of labels and styles. We have been called Power, Doom, Viking, Epic, Ethnic, Progressive, Black, Folk, and Medieval Folklore Metal. Hence my slogan: ?Unite Metal!? Who better to Unite Metal than the band that plays all kinds of metal simultaneously! The most common term for us is Viking Doom. I don?t know, when we started we had never heard of such things as Viking or Doom Metal. If and when our popularity rises to such a level that our style is known by our name this label thing will go away and I for one will not miss it.
What is so fascinating about the ancient Viking?s life?
All the bands I know are describing glorious deeds of the Vikings?..
There is nothing more fascinating or glorious about the Viking?s life than there is about our lives today. What have made them fascinating to our eyes are the stories that their descendants wrote about them. Contrary to popular belief the Vikings were a rootless and pragmatic people. Under the term ?Vikings? comes, to be correct, only the pirate?ing, pillaging and looting part of the people who made up the North Germanic tribe and settled in Scandinavia. Most of them were farmers, fishers and merchants. They left a great many traces of themselves, but they failed to unite as a people before they were converted to Christianity and scattered far and wide. The Vikings that got the Normandy and settled there took only one generation to assimilate to the French population. When they invaded England in 1066 only one generation later they all spoke French. The Vikings that settled on the British Isles also assimilated very quickly. Fortunately there was noone to assimilate to in the Faeroes and Iceland. I think the very idea of the Vikings is heavily romanticized and far from the realities that they had to deal with.
Back to the music: Usually folkloristic influences appear among with traditional instruments. Actually you did not use traditional Faroese instruments. Can you tell me more about this feature? Yes, I can. There have never been any traditional Faeroese instruments. The traditional music is song exclusively accompanied by a simple dance. The melodies are not that complicated and the dance is unmistakably very simple but put together the two can be extremely complicated.
There?s also a traditional Irish track on ?Eric The Red??.
("The Wild Rover" - bei uns auch als "An der Nordseeküste bekannt" Yes. It is a very popular drinking ballad in the Faeroes as well. It is done in the spirit of Phil Lynnot of Thin Lizzy.
Which traditional music-bands are your influences and what are your influences in general concerning songwriting? Faeroese and Scandinavian traditional melodies are the very essence of the musical idea behind Tır. When it comes to arranging I am very interested in classical and jazz harmonics and arrangement techniques and how to apply them to heavy metal. The bands that have formed my heavy metal universe are Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dream Theater, Rainbow (with Ronnie James Dio), Dio, Blind Guardian and Savatage to mention but a few. On the traditional side my inspirations are the Dubliners, the Faeroese jazz folk group Enekk, Faeroese folk singer Hanus Johannesen, I listen to and play very much of J. S. Bach. I think Pink Floyd are probably the greatest band ever. During my school I had to memorize a lot of Charlie Parker, which I don?t regret. So, a lot of different inputs. No wonder our style is so hard to put a name on.
What are the major differences between your debut ?How Far To Asgaard? and ?Eric?? How come the style changed ? at least in my opinion ? that much. ?Asgaard? is also an extremely good album, but far away from easy listening pleasure? The main differences are that Pól Arni sings and I play all guitars on the "How Far To Asgaard". On "Eric The Red" Terji plays guitar along with me and I do all the lead vocals. Kári got his double pedals for "Eric The Red" and the tempo has gone up on average. When we recorded "How Far To Asgaard" I thought I knew exactly what I was doing. When I had had some time away from the music and heard it again I realized that it was much darker and heavier than I had imagined. With "Eric The Red" I had a pretty good idea how each individual song would turn out, but the over all impression of the album as a whole is much more coherent and has more direction than I had imagined. I suppose it takes an album or two before you are able to determine the final results from the original ideas.
You also released a single called "ÓLAVUR RIDDARARÓS". Why a single? We had a crisis at that point and we thought we were going to stall as a band if we didn?t get on with the show as soon as possible, Pól Arni Holm, the first singer, had just left the band and I hadn?t taken up singing at that time, so we wanted to move on as soon as possible and establish the fact that we were not on the way down.
You are going to perform at the Headbanger?s Open Air. Are there any further concerts planned for Germany? We will also be at Rocktown Open Air. We are constantly on the lookout for more concets and bookers, but it is heavy work and slow progress...
By the way: How are concerts on the sheep islands. How is the audience there? The concerts are great and more than you would imagine for so few people. There are about 10 festivals of some size during the year and small gigs can be planned and executed with relative ease and short notice. To top it all it pays quite well to play in the Faeroes when you have established a name for yourself. The audience is as diverse as anywhere. There are some hardcore fans, many generally content, a few who just come because other people do and one or two who stand infront of the stage shouting that we should play something they can dance to.
You're signed to Tutl records, a Faroese label. How can I figure out the work with a small local label? It is all about music. We have entirely free hands to do exactly what we want as long as our lyrics aren?t directly obscene. That is not so bad.
Who are the persons of Tır. What do you do for living? Kári Streymoy, drums, moved back to the Faeroes in December ?03, He teaches drums.
Gunnar Thomsen, bass, lives in Copenhagen, Denmark where he is a Diving Instructor,
Terji Skibenæs, guitar, operates his fathers heavy machinery.
And myself, Heri Joensen, moved back to the Faeroes in September ?03, and I sing and play guitar. I am an educate of D.A.R.K where I majored in guitar and music theory. For a living in teach guitar.
Are you interested in football?
(soccer for american readers :) ) No, none of us are. But when we beat Austria and things like that we cannot help but feel somewhat enthusiastic.
Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer all the questions and see you soon here in Germany.
The last words are for our Faroese Vikings! Unite Metal! (so we won?t have to bear other names than just Metal)