Thursday, February 9, 2012

SXSW 2012 Interview: Of Monsters and Men

It's hard to judge these things but without any sort of scientific evidence I would say that Of Monsters and Men have more buzz coming into SXSW than any other band I have or will feature here. They are already critical darlings and their debut LP, My Head is an Animal hasn't even been released worldwide yet. For now, those of who don't live in Iceland can listen to their brilliant and exuberant 4-track EP, Into the Woods. The full EP is available to listen to on Spotify or their Facebook BandPage and of course you can also purchase it on iTunes.

As a sign of the buzz for Of Monsters and Men in the United States, their state-side tour, which will follow their SXSW appearances is largely sold-out. They actually had to add a second date in Los Angeles and even that is on the verge of selling out. Check the band's tour post to find out if they're coming to your area.

Of Monsters and Men - Little Talks video via YouTube

I had the chance to send some questions to Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir from Of Monsters and Men, you can find the full interview below the break.

  • Did you have any other monikers before arriving at Of Monsters and Men
    For a moment we did. We were competing in Iceland's Músiktilraunir which is like a battle of the bands competition. We only decided to compete like an hour or two before they closed-off the application process. We didn't have a name and time was short so we pretty much decided on something and entered as Hachiko. We slept on it, realized our error and changed it to Of Monsters and Men
  • Are you fans of Steinbeck?  Or is the name simply an allusion/alliteration?  
    The name is kind of a spin-off of Of Mice And Men... what a weird sentence there. The main reason for the name is that we liked how it sounded. It sounds mystical and adventurous and our lyrics are often in that atmosphere. We are really taken by stories and the name seems to be very fitting to what we want to create with our music. 
  • What has been the most surreal experience in your music career(s) thus far?
    Probably people's reactions. We are always very pleasantly surprised when people in the crowd really get into it and start singing with the songs. It's always so nice when that happens here in Iceland but when you have a room full of people in a country that you have never been to singing their lungs out with our songs, that is a pretty surreal experience.
  • What are your expectations of the United States?  Are there places you want to see?  Foods you want to eat?  Etc.
    We are going on tour in March and we are so excited for all the places we are going to visit. Seattle and Philadelphia have been very kind to us and we are excited to be able to play for the people there. I think LA and Texas will be great too. I'm looking forward to seeing all the different landscape, I've heard it varies a lot so, like, driving through a desert will be cool. As with food, I think we'll at least try to avoid all the millions of McDonald's that we will pass. That might be our biggest challenge.
  • What is the most common misconception people have about Iceland?  What will you miss most about Iceland when you're on tour?
    I think one of the biggest misconception that I get asked about a lot is that in Iceland there is only music like Sigur Rós and Björk. Some people are surprised that music like ours would come out of Iceland. We have a very diverse music scene. We have a strong metal scene, a strong electro scene and everything in between. We will definitely miss our friends and family the most while we are on tour.
  • What do you most look forward to in 2012?
    I'm looking forward to releasing our album to the world and for touring. I'm excited to have my Dad come to our first show. He lives in Canada and hasn't gotten a chance to see us live but I still think he is our biggest fan! 
  • If you were on a desert island with one piece of music, one book and one film what would you choose?
    Speaking for myself, my new favorite album is Metals by Feist. I'd bring that one along, the book would be The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. It's such an insane and surreal world and I'm very fascinated by it. A movie? I'd choose the Lord Of The Rings trilogy 'cause it's good and really long so the chances of getting sick of it are a bit less, or is naming a trilogy cheating?
  • Feist - The Bad in Each Other video via YouTube
  • Did you ever have non-musical jobs or have you been playing music for most of your lives?
    We all had non-musical jobs. Between us we have had jobs like plumber, video store clerk, airport security, meat packing, kindergarten teacher, sewage cleaner, music teacher, cemetery groundskeeper just to name a few. Many of us played music on the side for a long time but being able to only do that is a very new and fun reality for us, we used to just play for beers. 
  • Using the band as a family metaphor, what roles do each of you play?  Who are the bratty children?  Who are the responsible parent types?
    This is a hard one :)

    Kiddi is most definitely the Dad, just because he worries and is ALWAYS fixing something! He likes to think about stuff like finance and stuff that the rest don't find appealing but that's a perfect thing. It's probably easy to list me as the Mom, as I'm the only girl in the group. Brynjar would be the baby, he's the youngest and he's got the baby face. Raggi is the 5 year old with too much energy for his own body. Arnar is the bratty teenager and Árni is the really pissed-off Grandpa, who complains about how the young people don't eat traditional Icelandic food anymore and then passes out drunk. 
  • If you could collaborate with any artist from any time period, who would you choose and what would you work on?
    This would be different for all of us because we like a lot of different things. Off the top of my head, we would debate amongst us if we should work with Alex Turner, Ray Charles, Justin Vernon, Tom Waits or we could form a super group! 

Alex Turner - Hiding Tonight via YouTube

So, there you have it folks. Keep your eyes on the usual resources to catch Of Monsters and Men at SXSW, they're going to be a hot ticket so don't show up 5 minutes before their set and expect to waltz in the venue without worries. In other words, PLAN AHEAD!