November 17, 2011

Exclusive Band Horn: Sólstafir (Iceland)

Epic Rock 'n' Roll Times

SÓLSTAFIR rose from the darkest and coldest depths of the Northern Lights and make their way to the forefront of many epic bands. Their sounds are immaculate like the soundtrack of an unfolding movie or as Dani Couture states, “this album feels like the soundtrack of a movie that was never made.”

Earlier this year, a twist in the myth allowed for Sólstafir to sign with a new record label and the result was Svartir Sandar. The double release is impeccably breath-taking and it serves as a slight contrast to their prior releases. Nonetheless, the Svartir Sandar album resurrects Sólstafir as a mature band that is not afraid to show their hard work, ardour and priceless love for music.

Air Guitar has been fortunate to converse with Sólstafir’s, Gummi as he tells about how record labels are not all glitter and sparkle, what is happening in the Icelandic Metal music scene and that their music is not Viking Metal! 

Sólstafir has been a very busy and successful band since the humble beginnings in 1995. How has each band member progressed since then; in terms of character and musician?

We’re all going slowly insane!
Our lives have of course changed a lot since 1995. We were 16 when we formed the band and now we are in our 30’s. Two of us already have kids, which is life changing. We’ve gone through schools, different shitty jobs, lived in other countries etc...
Photo by Björn Árnason
Congratulations to Sólstafir for signing with Seasons of Mist (SOM); after being pushed against a brick wall from the previous labels. How did the band get signed to Seasons of Mist and how has it been working with them?

We asked to be released from the contract we had with Spine Farm because they totally ignored us despite all the good reviews we were getting. For instance, we started off out tour to support Köld in Helsinki (Spinefarm’s home base) and we had told them many months in advance that we would pick up copies of the album there to sell on the tour. When we came there they had only 50 copies, which sold out on the first 3 dates on a more than 30 date tour! At first they did not want to let us go, even if they had no interest in doing anything for us, and we certainly weren’t making any money for them since people couldn’t buy our albums anyway as they were nowhere available. But then they changed the label boss, and now it is run by a guy we know, and he’s a very cool guy and he agreed on letting us go, even though he wanted to try and fix up our relationship and give us a better deal. But for us it was just too late and we were already talking to a few labels, including SOM. But I’m sure he’s the right person to restore that label to its former glory AND they were the only label willing to sign us back in 2005!
Like I said we were negotiating with a few labels, but SOM offered the best deal by far. And even if they were probably the smallest label we were talking to they are always on the rise and just seemed like a perfect home for us.
With SOM things are totally different. We have had more communications with them now then we ever had with Spinefarm. And they are doing some promotion for us too, something that Spinefarm just didn’t do.
Svartir Sandar out on Season of Mist 
Cover painting by Kim Holm
In October 2011, the band released Svartir Sandar. How would the Band like to describe Svartir Sandar especially to a non-Icelandic speaking audience and how does the new release differ from the previous Sólstafir releases?

I guess you could describe it as something like epic rock’n’roll. Some like to call it Post Metal. We don’t really care what people call us, as long as they don’t call us fucking Viking Metal! [Lav: We would not dare!]
I don’t think Svartir Sandar is much different from Masterpiece of Bitterness and Köld. It’s kind of like a blend of those two. But we have of course kept on developing our music. We’ve never really written the same album or the same song twice.

In my opinion Svartir Sandar sounds marvellous with a dark underbelly – just as Dani Couture explained, “this album feels like the soundtrack of a movie that was never made.” That says a lot about the quality of Sólstafir’s work. What are the Band’s thoughts on this?

I really think that’s a big compliment. If our music inspires people to close their wyes and imagine some scenes from a movie never made, it means our music is really moving the soul.

Sólstafir will be playing at Inferno Festival, Pagan Festival and completing a Finnish tour in 2012! What are the Band’s expectations for the upcoming festival? What should the fans expect for the festivals?

We’ll also be playing at Roadburn, which will be awesome! We’ll do a two hour set there! Finland and Germany are always like a second home for us, and we can’t wait to go back there. We’re super excited to be touring with our good friend Mat and his new band Hexvessel in Finland!

However, Sólstafir has played around Europe many times before; can you tell me what the highlights for Sólstafir have been so far? Are there any favourite gigs that stand out?

I guess that would be Roskilde Festival. We got a 70 min playing time, at around 8 in the evening, prime time! The tent we played in was packed and it was one our best shows ever!
But we’ve had good gigs all over and met so many wonderful people and toured with people that will for ever after be our friends.
Photo by Ágúst Atlason
On that note, have there been any low lights for Sólstafir, so far? Are there any particular memories that should be forgotten?

The lows have been the years of countless struggle when it seems like no one gives a shit and we’re always on the verge of financial and mental bankruptcy. But somehow we have always pulled through and walked our own way, against the current.

What is Sólstafir’s take on the Icelandic Metal music scene? Is there a limited scene or is it the Artist who creates the scene? How does this affect the Band?

Today we have an okay metal scene, with some bands making waves in the international scene, such as Atrum (Black/Death), Beneath (Technical Death), Skálmöld (Viking Metal), Angist (Black/Death), Momentum (Psychedelic Post Metal), Brain Police (Stoner), Gone Postal (Blackened Death), Svartidauði (Black)  and Potentiam (Post Black). All those bands can be found on our Facebook site. 
But it hasn’t always been like that. We had a big death metal scene in the early 90’s but when we formed there was only one other metal band active in Iceland, Forgarður Helvítis.
photo by Rebekka Kolbeinsdottir
Do you have any last words?

Thank you for the support Lav!
[Lav: Thank you!]
Sólstafir can be found at Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Reverbnation Seasons Of Mist and the Official Sólstafir 

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