Interview with Þorsteinn Árnason (Bass, Vocals)
Interview by: Jack Merry
Hey and thank you for your time. Please state your name and position in the band.
Steini, bass, and vocals!
You’re a relatively new band and only began in 2014. How did you guys all meet? Have you been in bands previously?
Sammi founded the band in 2014 and Dagur and I joined in 2017. Dagur and I knew each other before we joined Volcanova, we played a few gigs together with our previous bands, Dagur was in Churchhouse Creepers and I was in Oni. We’ve all been in different bands and played in different projects.
When did you first start getting into music and know you wanted to join a band? Growing up, who were your biggest influences in songwriting?
Music has been with me my whole life, I grew up listening to Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and all of the other old ones on vinyl in my living room. But I started playing guitar when I was twelve years old and started playing the bass when I was fourteen because the band needed a bass player, everyone wanted to play the guitar so I was kind of forced to play the bass. That’s how I started, just playing some covers of cheesy pop songs and the typical songs like “Paranoid” and “Smoke on the Water”.
Our most influences definitely come from bands like Black Sabbath, Mastodon, Clutch, Fu Manchu, Elder, and The Sword just to name a few.
You’re about to release your debut album, Radical Waves. What is the concept behind the album?
Radical Waves is all about taking the listener on a journey where two opposites, party, and death, meet in the middle to create a bliss of heaviness and grooviness.
- Where’s the Time?
- Super Duper Van
- I’m Off
- Stoneman Snowman
- Sushi Sam
- Got Game
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?
Weird, fun, and groovy!
Who does your artwork? Is there anyone you’d like to collaborate with, be it an artist/ photographer or producer? etc
A friend of ours who has the artist name “Skadvaldur” did the artwork. He is very talented and has done artwork for a lot of black and death metal bands, we would love to do some more collaboration. We have worked with a few talented photographers that we would love to do more work with. We have an eye on a few producers that we would love to work with in the future.
What is the procedure of producing a new album/EP? Do you have a set way of doing things?
We took a lot of time recording this album, almost a year. Our plan for the next one is to book some good studio and record it in a less amount of time and that’s probably the most common way of producing a new album.
You guys have toured extensively, winning over crowds the world over. What has been your favourite gig to date and why?
I think we would all agree that the one we played last year in Inverness, Scotland at The Tooth and Claw would have been one of the most memorable gigs we’ve ever played. We had been driving through the Scottish highlands through this amazing scenery and ended up in Inverness to play a very intense and fun gig, the crowd was so into it and you could feel the energy from them right up on the stage.
Do you have a favourite track from Radical Waves? And why is this song your favourite?
It’s always a lot of fun to play the “Super Duper Van” live, mostly because of the three-piece vocal harmonies in the chorus and usually, the crowd is very into it. But I think my favourite one is “M.O.O.D” due to its heaviness and intensity.
Could you name me one album that had the biggest impact on you during your formative years, and why?
I think it’s impossible to name only one album. It’s even hard to name just one band. If I could put every Black Sabbath, Clutch, Queens of the Stone Age, and The Sword songs (just to name a few bands) in one LP, that would probably be it.
What is the music scene like where you are based in Iceland?
It is pretty spectacular and very varied. We have loads of different bands here and the scene has a lot of different genres that do live shows together, so we have people coming to our shows that are into different genres and that’s amazing Most of the people in the scene are good friends or definitely at least know each other and many of them are in more than one or two bands.
What is it like touring? Do you all get on all of the time? Or do you have times when you need space from each other?
We are lucky enough to be good friends and we get along quite well on tour just as well as back at home. I guess time will tell how things will be for us in the future, I think that probably in every band comes a time when members need a little space from each other, whether it’s on tour or just back at home but as for now, things are great and we love working with each other and spend time together.
What are your views on bands who give away their music free on social media? Do you think this is a good beneficial marketing idea, or should fans be paying to purchase tracks?
Bands do what bands have to do to get the music out to the people. Fewer and fewer are willing to spend money on music these days and it’s probably the unavoidable evolution of the music industry and sometimes you get the feeling that social media and platforms like Spotify are the only way of putting your music out there, and it’s probably very common that people use these platforms to find out if they want to buy hard copies of your music, so it can be both good and bad. If your music is good and your fans are devoted, then you have nothing to worry about. Then, of course, you have to get out there and play, that’s definitely the best way to sell your music, so being a lazy artist will get you nowhere!
What is your writing/recording procedure like? Do you have a preferred way of doing things or a favourite studio/location?
There is probably no exact formula for that. Sometimes they come out of nowhere just from jamming on some riffs in the rehearsal room, sometimes one of us comes with a complete song and often one of us comes to rehearsal with some riffs from home, then we jam on them together and if we like what we’re hearing, we take it to the next stage of writing and that’s where composition comes in, where we all take part in, whether it’s coming up with new riffs or glueing together two or more riffs. Usually, the singing melody comes last, and sometimes we’ve been jamming on some songs for a long time before the singing is added. But when it’s added it’s usually just one of us that comes up with some melodies and then it’s usually up to that one to write lyrics but it can vary, sometimes we write the lyrics together. Most of our songs have been born in our rehearsal room which we call Helvíti (Hell) and that’s our safe space. So if we need to make good music, we go to hell.
What genres of music do you like to listen to personally? Any new bands that have caught your attention recently?
I listen to all kinds of everything, everything from folk music to electronic to death metal. But the genre I’ve listened to most is probably stoner rock, just re-discovered Greenleaf last year and I love them. Been getting more and more into some indie-electro-rock and most recently I’ve been getting into a band called Mini Mansions where Michael Schuman the bass player from Queens of the Stone Age is a member and it’s a great band. I just started listening to The Raconteurs last year and I’m hooked, love Jack White and all of his stuff, and Brendan Benson has also been doing some great stuff. But I could keep on counting bands and artists all day long so let’s just stop here.
What advice would you give someone wanting to start a band? Were you given any advice from other bands before starting out?
I think it’s usually just something that happens and comes quite naturally if that’s what you’re into. I think at least that is what happened when I started around 18 years ago (fuck I’m old) and of course, I got some advice from older and more experienced people who had been playing for a few years. I think what I’ve learned during this time is that no question is stupid, just ask every dumb question you can think of, how else are you going to know? And just get out there and play, lock yourself up in a rehearsal room or a garage or whatever with everyone you can think of, at least just enough people to form a band and experiment, learn by doing is the best way!
What do you guys like to do outside of music? Any hobbies?
Other than music (which takes up a lot of our time) we all like spending time with our friends and families. Dagur and Sammi also like beer, I finished drinking all of my beer two years ago.
With the global pandemic of Covid-19, how is Iceland coping with the virus? And how are Volcanova coping? How are you spending your time during this difficult period, and do you have any advice for those struggling with the lockdown?
Iceland has been coping well with the pandemic so far at least, we are opening the country again for some tourists and we will see what will happen after that. As for Volcanova, we were supposed to have our busiest summer so far but everything got cancelled, which is unfortunate but we still have most of the spots on for next year so we’re pretty glad about that and life goes on. The outbreak has influenced us in different ways, some of us have steady jobs, and so on although Dagur had to do some homeschooling for a month or so. But it has probably influenced our lives more than we realize but we just keep on writing new music and stay positive. We didn’t have a complete lockdown like in some other countries so we could go out and at least have band practice.
I had to be in isolation for a few days as I was waiting for a COVID test result and to keep me sane I just tried to keep routine, to wake up early, do some light exercise, read a lot and watch tv was basically what I did. But I guess it’s hard to compare a few days to two months of a complete lockdown.
Thank you for your time, is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
Support your local artist by showing up to their shows and buy their merch. Also, please buy “Radical Waves” if you like it. Love and respect from Volcanova.
Volcanova’s brand new studio album “Radical Waves” is due out 21st August 2020 on The Sign Records. Check out our review of the album HERE!
Samúel Ásgeirsson – Guitar, vocals
Þorsteinn Árnason – Bass, vocals
Dagur Atlason – Drums, vocals
Watch the video for lead single “Sushi Sam” below!