||INTERVIEW WITH SKALMOLD
Epic Studios, Norwich
Xander: OK so first I'm gonna try say the band name right? Is it "Skulmuld"?
Björnvin: mmm nope
Baldur: It's "Skawlmuuld"
X: Ah damn, having been in Denmark I thought I might have got that right
Baldur: Yeah there is similarities however your pronunciation was perfect in Danish!
X: Oh thanks! I get some kudos points back then, or were you just making me feel better.
Baldur: Oh well, it was both.
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X: Right so who am I speaking to and what do you do?
Baldur: My name is Baldur I play one fo the three guitars, and I scream when I can.
Björnvin: I am Björnvin, lead vocals and guitarist.
X; So you've come all the way from Iceland, that's great! Is this your first time in the UK?
Baldur: No, we played in the UK two years ago when we did the Heidenfest tour, but this is our first proper UK tour, with six dates here.
X: Enjoying it? And you've also caught a little bit of good weather too!
Björnvin: Yes we love it. And if we see the sun we're happy because we're from Iceland and it's snowing in Iceland at the minute, it's snowing a LOT!
X: Speaking of geological events, the volcano eruption a few years back caused major problems with air travel around the world, was it as bad on the island?
Baldur: Not so much no
Björnvin: It had more of an effect on the international airspace than us, you couldn't fly internationally we could get on a plane and fly internally.
Baldur: And apparently the wind was constantly blowing from the north so all the ash was blown away so we didn't suffer from it. We were the route but no problem for us.
Björnvin: Of course, closer to the volcano there ware a few problems.
Baldur: Yeah some of the towns, which people can't pronounce, were effected for a couple of years because of the ash, and a glacier was holding onto a lot of ash and so with the right weather it some ash clouds came up again.
Björnvin: So although international flights were cancelled, we could still fly, so an accidental big middle finger to Europe!
X: Another big event that happened in Icelandic was that the people overthrew the government, obviously you have a new one now?
Björnvin: Yup. Yup, which I am very proud of. But also I'm very disappointed because four months after we overthrew the government we had an election, and the people voted for the same government again! I use my right to vote and usually I don't get pissed about the results, but this is the first time in my life I have gotten pissed off about it.
Baldur: Yeah it's sort of history repeating itself, but if that's going to happen then you need to give it some time, give it four years to implement some change and see if it works.
X: But it only took the government like a week to start doing what they did before and walking in the same footsteps.
Baldur: But we are trying to work against it, no worries though we're not going to do the axe again, but this is sad, very sad.
X: Well lets hope it does work out better.
Björnvin: yes. But some nature laws that were set a few years ago are now being undone, so fuck em!
X: Has there been anything effecting the music industry?
Björnvin: Not so much, no.
Baldur: We don't have many limitations at home. With tourism the music industry has been getting bigger and bigger and quite fast but also they are closing down some nature zone to build hotels for the tourists, so we're in a trap, we have to figure this out somehow. Of course we love the tourism and we love that people want to come over and visit and experience. We have to find the balance.
Björnvin: The biggest effect with the music industry is that we don't get as many events with outside artists because the Icelandic Kroner is only worth half as much as it was and international artists want to get paid in Euros.
X: Ah yes because you had the banks collapse
Björnvin: Yes, so we don't get many big foreign artists visiting Iceland. But, historically, people say that when there is a crisis that the whole art world is in blossom.
X: Ah yes I guess there is a lot to write about!
Baldur: The music industry has never been bigger or better and now we have to find this balance of how we can bring it to the world and how can we bring the world to us as well.
Björnvin: And since the Kroner is only worth half as much as before, it's good for artists that go around the world because what they get paid in foreign currency is worth twice as much.
X: Ah so you guys are rich now! you're buying the drinks when you get back home!
Björnvin: Ha I wish, I wish.
X: I know very little about the band apart from that you're a folk metal band and obviously doing very well being signed to Napalm and playing Wacken and the Heidenfest tour, so here's your chance to tell us an interesting fact about the band...
Björnvin:Well, Baldur and the other guitarist, Þráinn, hadn't met before the first practice. it's quite interesting that we only played two shows before we were booked to play Wacken!
X: Two shows ever?
Baldur: Yeah and before we had finished recording our album.
X: Amazing, how did that happen?
Björnvin: Well we sent a demo of our album to the organisers and apparently they liked it!
X: Wow, you make it sound so simple!
Baldur: Yeah we were as surprised as everyone else. But it was an extremely good start.
X: So lets talk about your album, Börn Loka, (many attempts made at trying to get this one right)
Baldur: You have to put your tongue on your teeth with the 'n'. It's ok, it's not your fault!
Björnvin: I know what album you're talking about! (laughs)
X: Well it was released last October, which is actually a year ago now, how has that been received?
Baldur: Extremely well actually, back home we it went Gold, so really good!
Björnvin: Most of the reviews have been good and the feedback from the fans has been really positive.
a: Which is good, second album syndrome and all. We're really glad because we don't allow any compromises and we just do what we like to do and see if people like it.
Björnvin: In Iceland we have promoted the album really well but not so much in Europe.
Baldur: we've done a few festivals but this is the first tour. It has been fantastic and we love being with Tyr and Finntroll, the vibe and all the people are great. We're really lucky and we're going to finish off the album promotion back home in Iceland with a concert in November with the Iceland Symphonic Orchestra!
Björnvin: We're going to record that, and there were two planned shows and they sold out in a few days so we added a third show.
Baldur: So that's going to be fun, I'm looking forward to seeing this guy standing in front of a full orchestra!
X: Wow, that's impressive! Are you going to wear suits?
Björnvin: Nope, but we are going to have a 120 person choir!
X: Wowsa! So how has this come about then?
Baldur: We got a call and asked if we would like to do it and we said of course! Gunnar, our keyboard player, is a choir conductor and he's been working a lot in the classic part of music more than the rest of us, definitely, so it's going to be a fabulous show!
X: Fantastic, what is the attendance for each gig?
Björnvin: It's about 1,500 seats so we've got almost 2% of the Icelandic population attending our shows!
Baldur: Oh I hadn't thought of that, fucking hell! (laughs)
X: Is there a concept for the album?
Baldur: Well both albums are stories, the first album is a story of Baldur, this is a viking that lives in some kind of fantasy world, a mixture of Icelandic mythology and Tolkien. And the second album is a story about Hilmar and his sister, so both albums are kind of historical based. Of course, it makes a little more sense if you understand Icelandic but in the international version we have translated the lyrics into English so you can follow the story.
X: I've watched the video to Gleipnir (more useless attempts made at pronunciation), it's a really cool video!
Björnvin: It is! And I can say it is really good because we had nothing to do with it.
Baldur: Well, not Absolutely nothing. We met this terrific guy named Bowen Staines, ad he is just a brilliant guy. He is so good at what he does and he was so enthusiastic to this video. He asked us what we wanted with the video and we spoke back and forth, and he just took the motivation and went all in for the video.
Baldur: We all sat down for the idea of the video and got the basic outlines and he went and shot it and edited it and then gave it to us. And he did this almost all by himself with this tiny little camera, he's that good!
X: Sweet. So for those who have not seen you before, what can they expect from your live show?
Björnvin: A lot of energy
Baldur: And a lot of enjoyment of getting to do this! This is what we love to fucking do and we're not very good at hiding it!
X: You do have big smiles on stage!
Baldur: Yeah we do, to begin with people were judging us "You don't smile at a metal show!" but fuck those people, we like this.
Björnvin: When it stops being fun you should stop playing. We're just trying to enjoy this as much as we can whilst it last, cuz you never know!
X: Yeah the volcano could blow the whole island up!
Baldur: (laughs) Yeah and then we'd be stuck
Björnvin: or blown up!
Baldur: We're enjoying every fucking minute of it and hope everyone else does too.
Björnvin: We just give everything, all the energy we have in our bodies each and every show so I hope it shows.
Baldur: It might be a cliché