After the successful reissue of their Eric the Red album, Tyr comes back stronger and more mature than ever with their newest opus: Ragnarok.
First of all, I would like to know how you describe your musical direction. I see the label itself describes you as Viking metal and that's the feeling the cover arts and the music give me but I think it's a good idea to have your view since I know the biggest zine out there (with lots of readers) simply labeled you as "heavy metal" and I don't think it's either fair or right besides perhaps even preventing people to discover you if they don't enjoy the heavy metal stuff.
Heri Joensen: Reviewers have always had a hard time labeling us, and we have gotten used to the Viking Metal term. When I think about it, no term would fit better despite the fact that we don't sound like other Viking Metal bands. But I think you are right. Labels tend to bring up prejudice in people and it is easy to say, "I don't like this and that kind of Metal" but you really have no idea before you have heard it. When people come desperately to me and ask "What style do you play?" I guess the best answer is "Buy the album and find out for yourself". I would like our band to come to the point where the bands name is enough style description, like Metallica or Iron Maiden. Nobody cares what the name of their style is, you know it's them the minute you hear them.
Another characteristic in your music is a progressive edge. Are you for instance fan of old masters like Yes?
HJ: I have never listened to Yes. My favorite progressive band is Dream Theater. I also listened to Deep Purple in my youth, and they had some progressive elements. Apart from that there are some classical and jazzy influences in our music that may account for part of the progressive sound. Faeroese ballads are always in odd-time and in Metal that sounds progressive, so there are several progressive layers in our influences and songwriting process.
I was checking Napalm's videos recently and saw both of yours. I noticed a big difference between them especially in the singer's look. Military service or your own decision (if you don't mind answering this question)?
HJ: I trust you have noticed that it is not the same singer in both videos. When we shot "Hail To The Hammer" Pól Arni was still with us. The videos and their appearance is ours and the producers decision. We didn't really think about our appearance in the first video. The second video definitely had to be Viking since it was recorded at a Viking festival with a lot of Viking re-enactors. It looked great and the cameraman only needed get as much footage as possible and the rest was just a question of cutting.
I really like the guitar work and I noticed it takes a lot of place, which is fine with me, in the compositions. Is it basically with this instruments that the songs are being built on?
HJ: That is incorrect. The guitar figures are built on the frame of the bass line, the chord progressions and the vocal melody.
Are you guys self taught or have formal (classical) training?
HJ: I am a graduate of D.A.R.K., the alternative rhythmical conservatory of Copenhagen. I finished my studies in January 2003. Kári has had a year of schooling at the same place, but otherwise we are self taught.
How do you see the underground today?
HJ: The underground that we are part of is definitely on the way up. I hope it turns over the mainstream on the way to the top.
Do you think the underground musicians are given a fair treatment and get recognition they truly deserved?
HJ: Absolutely not. The underground is kept down by the manstream and the mainstream is not a music scene, it is a money machine which gathers the foulest money vultures and the worst music there is.
Any thoughts / frustrations regarding the mainstream/ commercial scene?
HJ: Not frustration, I just feel sorry for those poor bastards.
Do you like dealing with the Medias?
HJ: Yes, but I also like the fact that Napalm Records are handeling all the big issues. It takes a lot of weight of our shoulders compared to when we were on the old label in the Faeroes.
What do you think about religion and its impact in todays world?
HJ: Christianity is a parasite upon modern society. It is a base of much of the ignorance, prejudice and extreme conservatory thinking. To add to that, Christianity is probably the worst cultural vandal in modern history.
Finally, what's coming next for Tyr?
HJ: The upcoming tour with Amon Amarth, festivals next summer and, hopefully within a year of Ragnarok, another album.
Thank you for taking the time to let us know Tyr a little better.