Interview with Terji Skibenæs
November 27th, 2016 – O2 Academy Islington, London
Interview by Torbjørn ‘Toby’ Jørstad
Photography by Graham Hilling
On the final date of their European tour supporting Norwegian symphonic metallers Sirenia, guitarist Terji Skribenæs of Týr was kind enough to talk to Metal-Rules about their upcoming album, the ongoing whaling controversy surrounding the band, and their experience touring with Sirenia, amongst other things.
Hello, nice to meet you! It’s been over three years since Valkyrja was released, and you’ve hinted progress on the new album on Facebook. Are you guys currently recording when you’re not on tour?
Well… Recording, no, not really. We’re still in a writing mode. For example, I have six songs on the album, Heri has six and Gunnar has two. Mine are pretty much finished, but Heri still needs to write lyrics and stuff like that.
How has the writing process been for you?
Easy [laughs]. We write songs separately and get together when they are finished.
Who writes the best songs?
Are we getting close to an announcement date? What about a name for the album?
I have no idea. Last year we said this year, but that’s not gonna happen now. I don’t know, I’m not supposed to say it.
Will this new album take Týr’s music in a new direction, or is it sort of sticking with the established sound?
It’s more or less like the Valkyrja album. We try to include some songs that are more like the first albums, slowed down.
Earlier this summer, you posted a picture of a spreadsheet on Facebook showing progress for new songs. The working title for one of the songs was ‘Aragorn’… is this hinting that we’ll see some Tolkien inspired lyrics from Týr?
“I don’t write the lyrics. But, Heri is a big fan of Tolkien, so probably.”
Also earlier this summer, there was a campaign to fund a Viking Musical called “Northern Gate”, based on your music and the Færeyinga Saga. As of yesterday the funding campaign had only reached about half of its goal. Have you guys heard from that at all lately, does it seem likely to happen?
We know the organizers, but I haven’t been following up on it.
If Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax are the big four of thrash metal, who are the big four of folk metal?
Us of course [laughs]. Finntroll, Korpiklaani, and Ensiferum.
Good choice. Say you were to bring along the ultimate folk metal lineup on tour, who would you bring with you?
“Well… we’ve done them all. We’d rather go on tour with someone different, like on this tour. There is a little more of a diverse audience then.”
Do you guys have any plan of releasing a live album in the near future?
No. Maybe. We never really talked about it.
So the one topic that has sort of dominated the Týr scene and especially this tour is the whole whaling controversy, with venues dropping you guys from the bill and protesters showing up before your show. Now that the tour is coming to an end, hopefully that whole thing will as well, do you have a comment or a final statement on this whole matter?
“I never killed a whale myself or anything, I never killed an animal. Heri hasn’t killed any whales either, he was just cutting up the meat. It’s all just bullshit, I mean, computer warriors you know. There have been some protests in Germany, and they [the protesters] just stood there with a megaphone shouting nonsense. I just walked past them waving, they don’t even recognize us, they don’t know who we are.”
I saw that Heri posted a picture on Facebook recently of his breakfast, with the caption “I sure hope the poor animals didn’t suffer.” Some passive aggressive mocking going on there?
[laughs] Yeah, that was from the venue we were banned from in Germany.
So you have Tadeusz Rieckmann filling in as a live drummer for you guys. How is he handling his position in the band?
Very good. He has done quite a few shows with us before also, I’m very, very happy with him.
Will he also be drumming on the new album?
We don’t know exactly who’s gonna drum yet. It will be with a session drummer, we have no plans of hiring a permanent drummer yet.
On this tour, I reckon since you guys and Sirenia play very different styles of metal, which probably attracts different audiences. Have all the symphonic metal fans been treating you well?
Yes. I mean aren’t they all coming out to see us anyways? [laughs]
Do you think a lot of people have come out to see you guys?
Absolutely yes, we noticed that.
How was the UK audience in Bristol yesterday treating you guys? What’s your overall experience of touring the UK?
Very good, that was a good show. It’s always good in the UK, we played here, what, two years ago with Finntroll and it was very good. We don’t have a favourite place in the UK the play, it always depends on the crowd reactions.
So imagine you’ve just finished playing say an hour long set and you get off stage. What beer or similar beverage would you most prefer to have waiting for you backstage?
Vodka [points to Smirnoff bottle]. I just drink whatever I find, right now it’s Tuborg. [Terji was sipping Tuborg throughout the interview]
Tonight’s the last show of the tour, are you guys gonna celebrate?
Yes. I haven’t thought that far ahead, but we’re probably going out.
What do you do to relax or blow off steam when you’re not on tour?
Masturbate in my bunk [laughs]. Nah, I usually just put on a film. Last one I saw was The Conjuring 2.
So it’s a pretty massive lineup on this tour with five bands in one night. Have you made some new friends of the guys in the other bands?
Yes. We’ll definitely work more with Unleash The Archers in the future, very nice guys. We’re planning on playing in Canada when the album is released, hopefully next year.
Are there any funny behind the scenes stories to share? That are appropriate?
[Heri enters. They speak in Faroese, trying to think of any appropriate stories to share.]
No [laughs]. We can’t think of anything that’s appropriate.
Is there anything you wanna add in the end?
Yes. Everybody should write to Heri Joensen on Facebook and bug him about finishing the album soon [laughs].
Thank you very much for your time, and good luck with the show!