Napalm Flesh: Týr Interview

Posted August 30, 2012 in

Týr travels many lands, proud of their own all the while.

 Get your Viking gear ready, the horned helmet your ale tankards—well not really. Just because The  Faeroe Island's  Týr sing a lot about Viking lore and history doesn't mean they shouldn't be taken seriously. With six full-length albums notched in their swords and no signs of slowing the momentum is only building. The band employs clean singing and big, fat helpings of majestic melodies. The point of it all, from my experience, is a journey-like experience—you listen and you go somewhere else.  Týr plays Salt Lake City as main support for Finnish folk metal band Korpiklaani with fellow openers Moonsorrow, Metsatoll and Visigoth at the Complex on Sept. 6. Napalm Flesh talked with singer/guitarist Heri Joensen—enjoy!


SLUG: There is probably going to be a few folks who have never heard Týr or remotely know what the band is all about. From your perspective, how would you describe what Týr is musically, lyrically and just as a band in general? 

Heri Joensen: We're a heavy metal band from Scandinavia, the Faeroes to be more precises. We base our music mainly on Scandinavian folk music and our lyrical universe is mostly historical Viking-oriented. But we approach it with a very modern attitude. We don't use any folk instruments, just a plain heavy meal lineup, and there's always a contemporary angle to our lyrics.
SLUG: Does the band still call the Faeroe Islands home, or when you’re "home" and not touring, where do you lay your head? 

Joensen: This band has been spread over two or three countries since the beginning. The band was formed in Copenhagen, Denmark, but we're all native Faeroese guys, so I guess you could say that the cultural home of the band is the Faeroes, but the home of each individual member may not be. We've lived in the Faeroes, Denmark and Germany. At the moment we're in Denmark and the Faeroes.

SLUG: I had to look up what the Islands actually look like—not a place that often gets talked about in geography classes or popular culture. It looks like a beautiful place. What was it like growing up there, culturally, socially, things like that?

Joensen: It was very nice and peaceful. I never saw a big city, or a big concert for that matter, until I was well into my twenties. It's very modern in a way, like any part of Scandinavia, but only on a much smaller scale. For example, I used to watch Headbangers Ball on MTV when I was a teen so I got all the modern metal of the day the same way as any young guy in the western world. But I also heard Faeroese traditional on the radio and at social events, so I feel like I got the best of both worlds. Now that I'm not so young anymore, I like my homeland better and better.


Unlike a lot of bands in the same genre realm as Týr—which insanely broad to begin with—Týr takes a more majestic upbeat approach to your metal. What is the bands main inspiration for songwriting and lyrical focus? 

 Joensen: Scandinavian folk music lies at the base of almost all our songs. It is worked through in a very modern way harmonically, and we try in spite of everything else just to be a basic heavy metal band, sound-wise. Our lyrical universe is mostly historical and mythological, centered around Viking history, but always with a modern angle as well.

SLUG: Has there ever been a thought to enter the more angry realm and used screamed vocals? 

Joensen: That has never been discussed in the band, and I don't think we’ll ever do that. 

SLUG: Has the band been working on any material for a follow-up to The Lay of Thyrm? 

Joensen: Yes, we're working on material at the moment. We have been for some time already, and it's coming along nicely.


Did you have any inclination when you released your first record 10 years ago that you would have the opportunity to take your music to countries all around the world? What has been the most satisfying part of getting to other places while touring?

Joensen: I guess we really hoped for it. It was the intention when we formed the band to become fully professional, and internationally recognized. If we really believed in it, I can't say. In a way, we probably did, but, more importantly, we hoped for it and we worked for it. The most satisfying thing is to play for hundreds and hundreds of people [whom] you have never seen before, who sing along to your songs and cheer you on—also to talk to them after the show and hear their appreciation for our music. That gives me a lot and it makes everything definitely worthwhile. Also the travel in itself, to see places you probably wouldn't ever get to see if you weren't in a band—I like that part, too.

SLUG: I think one of the great things about metal—and really it fits with any subgenre of it—is that bands have the ability to really focus on their roots and where they are from—basically be proud and showcase their heritage and the world opens itself with open arms to bands from any culture, and, in a way embraces the heritage of said bands roots and home despite the fans own roots and culture, which may come from something completely different. How has the reception from American audiences compared to European audiences?

Joensen: We're not such frequent guests in the US, so I guess that may account for the fact that the US crowd is on average more enthusiastic than, say, the average German crowd. We play very frequently in Germany, and so do a lot of other and bigger bands, so it feels like it takes more to impress them. Not to say that Americans are not critical, just that the obvious joy of seeing the band is definitely at a higher level.

SLUG: What can folks expect from your live show?

Joensen: We do our best to be in contact with the crowd and to entertain as best we can. We also try to represent the songs to the very best of our abilities. Basically, I guess we try our best to let nobody leave with the feeling that we didn't try our damnedest to get across the stage and to entertain, while at the same time representing our culture.
Týr travels many lands, proud of their own all the while.