Heri Joensen (vocals & guitar), Terji Skibenæs (guitar), Gunnar H. Thomsen (bass), Tadeusz Rieckmann (drums) – Friday 16 June
« Being proud of your own roots doesn’t mean you should look down on others » – Heri Joensen
Heri Joensen (vocals & guitar), Terji Skibenæs (guitar), Gunnar H. Thomsen (bass), Tadeusz Rieckmann (drums)
How the hell are you?
Heri: Wonderful! It doesn’t get better. The Hellfest experience has been wonderful, better than last time!
Tadeusz: And now you have a German drummer, so how can it get better? (laughter)
Gunnar: You’re German? I thought you were from somewhere else!
Tadeusz: Technically I’m from Hungary, but I’m an immigrant. It’s fucked up.
What is it like having a German drummer?
Gunnar: Same old same old, I guess! It’s a bit like having a Hungarian drummer! (laughter)
Heri: And you know what? He’s a fucking vegetarian!
Tadeusz: I have been since the 80s!
Heri: We’re going to feed him some meat later on!
Tadeusz: You can try but you won’t succeed.
What inspired you to become a vegetarian?
Tadeusz: It wasn’t an inspiration. My parents told me in 1988 there was no more meat and then we stopped eating meat.
That seems non-German!
Tadeusz: Actually it was very German because it was like “We have to stop!” and we did, y’know.
Part of what I love about Tyr is the fusion of prog and Viking metal and like eight other things. Where did that very unique combination of influences come from?
Heri: I liked Nordic folk music and British old school heavy metal like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest and of course Rainbow. Terji like more of the Metallica, Pantera stuff. Gunnar has a different preference, Deep Purple and black metal.
Tadeusz: He can’t sleep without black metal!
Heri: I tried to keep what I liked. The Viking thing is more ideological. It doesn’t have as much to do with music as much as the ideology. I don’t see the musical influence from the viking part. The viking part goes into the lyrics. I want to write the best music ever written ever and when it comes to the lyrics I have great respect for the ancient myths and I like to use Nordic mythology. That doesn’t mean I’m superstitious or a traditional pagan, I just like to use the imagery.
How do you separate the paganism and simply using it as an inspiration?
Heri: Well I don’t believe in it. I don’t believe Odin exists in person but its an ideology and I’ve liked the stories since I was a child. There’s no need for a specific separation. If people want to believe it literally they are making themselves look silly.
Don’t you value the archetypes?
Heri: Of course they have value but that doesn’t mean they exist in person. The archetypes have value but I don’t believe they really exist. I really don’t know a lot about modern day paganism though. I don’t get into that scene, I’m an atheist. If people want to believe it’s up to them.
Gunnar: We respect it.
Terji: We respect it as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.
One of the struggles of being a folk leaning metal band is the ties with the far right, obviously you’re not that but that link is there, how do you deal with that?
Heri: Exactly, this is a problem. So I wrote a song called “Shadow Of The Swastika”. If you read that and think we are your allies then you are fucking stupid.
Terji: You should be proud of where you come form but you should also stretch your hand out towards the other nations.
Heri: Being proud of your own roots doesn’t mean you should look down on others.
Gunnar: And not in the name of a god, just in the name of yourself.
To what extent do you as Faroese people feel different from other Scandinavian peoples?
Heri: Not really. When I go to Norway or Sweden we look like the people there and the language is only a little bit different. We just live out in the ocean.
Gunnar: We are very isolated.
Is that in terms of being Faroese or your town in particular?
Terji: The islands themselves are very isolated which is a little crazy.
So something I love about Tyr is that it’s sort of a fusion of Bathory and Rush… was that a goal setting out?
Terji: To be honest I don’t listen to either of those bands! The progressive side is probably Pink Floyd, the metal side is Pantera and Judas Priest and the folk side comes from the islands.
Heri: I couldn’t name a song from Bathory or Rush either!
Gunnar: I could, I love them!
What do you love so much about music?
Tadeusz: You can relieve your aggression in a safe and natural way.
Heri: It affects and dictates your emotions which is very important. It is the most effective non-medical way to change your emotions. That’s a powerful thing.
Gunnar: It’s a universal language.
Terji: When you’re hungover it’s the only thing that helps asides from more alcohol!
Interview: Matt Bacon.