I was recently given the opportunity to speak to Georg, the bassist for Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Růs, who are now zig-zagging the roads of the United States in support of their 2005 release, Takk... (RMR review).
Georg: Well first of all, our intentions were, well, none. *laughs* The funny thing is that when we formed the band it was just to form the band and play the music. I think we played one or two years after we formed the band when we only played in our rehearsal space, we hadnít played any gigs and we never let anybody hear our music. We just played because we enjoyed it. Then at some point we decided to do ďone gigĒ with ten other bands in Iceland and we really enjoyed it. It sort of just went on from there. Definitely not *laughs* did we think we would make album of the century in Iceland. I sort of knew which album would be album of the century and it was definitely not ours. I think that album made like 5th. I found it completely bizarre, mostly because our album was one of the newest records on the list. A lot of these other records had much more time. I almost thought well, give it another ten years and then decide. It was definitely a surprise and a privilege.
RMR: You definitely deserve the award though, itís a great album.
Georg: Well, thank you! *laughs*
RMR: What inspires the melancholy sounds of your music and what do you listen to for musical inspiration?
Georg: I guess I could say that what inspires the melancholy in our music is a feeling of hope. I think this feeling is very strong with people. I think itís because of the darkness. Not the band, The Darkness but, the darkness in Iceland. Thereís almost no sunlight and people light a lot of candles during winter. Thereís melancholy in that, a spark of hope in that candle in a way. Iíll try not to sound too corny though.
I canít really say what our musical inspirations are. I could probably say personally for me what my musical influences are. When itís just the four of us in the band, itís very much about the four of us making music. We draw inspiration from each other.
RMR: You mentioned recently that your music is a message that you want to reach as many people as possible. I also read in an interview that ĎTakkí is basically a bunch of short fairy tales that arenít deep and meaningful. Are these fairy tales your message, or is it more confusing that that?
Georg: Well I think those two things go really well together. Every record that we make is different. Every time we make a record thereís a story line going through it. This time it was short fairy tales. There might be two songs that sort of connect together. There is a message, but itís for everyone on their own, to find out what that message is. We definitely want to reach as many people as we possibly can. Of course we want as many people as possible to hear our music because we feel that itís important. I think that most bands feel that way. There is a message, even though the fairy tales on the record arenít important, the message of the music itself is important.
RMR: Of course I donít understand the lyrics of the music necessarily because I only know English, but I think the message of the music can be felt through the music.
Georg: Yes, exactly.
RMR: America is a very materialistic place with a lot riding on the entertainment industry and the people that make it happen. When embarking on a world tour do you have to prepare yourselves for the U.S. or are there more challenging places?
Georg: Well no not really, we donít prepare ourselves for U.S. tours. Actually, U.S. Tours, most of the time, are easier than European tours. I guess itís materialistic in a way. The tour busses for example are much nicer. Also traveling in the U.S. you donít have to show your passport every 200 kilometers or so, and you have one currency.
It makes it easy, and I think we really enjoy touring the U.S. I think thereís a lot of negativity today towards the U.S., but I feel that we have 12 concerts and the people that we talk to are the people that donít get heard from America, if you know what I mean. European people, I donít think that they realize that what they see on T.V. is not what you get when you meet people from the U.S. People are very different from what people think about the U.S. We love it actually. I think itís a perfect place!
RMR: A lot of that negativity too, I think comes from people inside the U.S. I think that explains a lot of what you just said.
Georg: Thatís true. Absolutely.
RMR: Do you incorporate improvisation into your live shows, and what is your favorite city to perform in?
Georg: Yes, we do a little improvisation. Some of the songs are just structured for improvisation. They have a structure, but itís loose. Probably 30% of our music is that way.
RMR: Is there one that you enjoy playing most?
SR: Not really, no. There are many songs that I enjoy playing. Actually some of the improvised songs, when we get them right, are fantastic. Itís difficult to get them right every time, itís fallible I guess is the correct word. Theyíre not always that great but we try though.
SR: We definitely do have favorite cities. Dublin is probably one of the best places for us to play ever. We love to play in Portugal in Porto and Lisbon. In the states theyíre all so different but all quite good. I think we all love to play in New York and actually Portland, part of Oregon. I think itís fantastic. Just being there and walking around, itís a great place.
RMR: Sigur Ros is renowned for using their instruments in unique ways in obtaining beautiful tones, such as using bows on guitars. What assortment of effects do you find essential to your tone production both in the studio and live?
SR: Well obviously the bowed guitar is one of them. I donít know. Itís a tough question. I think when weíre playing itís very much about the music sounding organic. Also a bit timeless, I donít know how to describe it better than that. I think itís very important for us not to strive to get a certain sound. I think it should just sound a certain way or not, and if it doesnít then just skip it. I think our sound comes from just the four of us playing together and without one of us, or if we swapped one of us, youíd get a completely different sound.
Violin or Cello?
Boxers or briefs?
Iced tea or Long Island iced tea?
Haha, Iíd say Iced Tea?
Hackers or The Matrix?
Good choice! Pirates or Ninjas?
Pirates or Ninjas? Pirates I guess.
Fork or Spork?
Say that word? What was that?
*laughs* A spork is a spoon with claws on the end like a fork.
All right! *laughs* Sounds really interesting. I guess Iíll say spork!
Georg: Oh, this is going to take some thought. I would say ďSongs of Love and HateĒ Leonard Cohen, ďSiamese DreamĒ The Smashing Pumpkins. Iím trying to think very quickly. Iíd have to have 50 records with me. Actually, anything by Neal Young I guess.
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