Interview : Heri Joensen – Tyr – English

Tyr - Logo

Right after the Naheulband‘s show, I start for the theater, where I had the opportunity to met and talk with Heri Joensen. A bit distant at first, it’s peacefully that he sits in front of me on the bench we had.

Version Française ?

  • Could you introduce the band and yourself?

I’m Heri Joensen, I play guitar and sing in the band Tyr from the Faroe Island.

  • How do you feel being back in France? What do you think about french fans in general?

I’m glad to be back here. The last time I remember playing in France… I’m not really good at keeping track of these but I remember that was the tour with Sabaton. We played some very good venues and very good shows. I mean that I like it a lot, I have a very good impression, from bigger stages in France. We played some shows before, not so big, not really touring, maybe we played Hellfest and Motocultor and… some other festivals. In general I like it very much, we like the french people, they seems to like us fortunately, so it’s good (laughs) !

  • You play at Hellfest this year too !

Yes we will.

  • How does the musical creation process work in Tyr?

We sum up with ideas on a room and send them to each other. We work out the details of music, we decide of what is cool and what is not, what we gonna use and we have a lot of ideas come around when it’s time to make an album we just pick out what sounds like the best ideas and we work on those. I think that I make the most of the music, but everyone put their ideas and of course I like to use traditional melodies as the basis for our music. That is not the case with Gunnar (Thomsen, bass player, ndlr), the way he sees things, it’s a different approach of music but the most of this happen on internet, we don’t sit together very often. That’s how we do it.

  • The band is near from twenty years on the road, did you ever think about lasting this long?

Yeah, I mean… Yes, I really thought that we would do it for the rest of our lives and I’m a bit old now but I feel very healthy and I haven’t a grave done yet and I think we will be doing it until we drop.

  • Did you plan a special event to celebrate this birthday?

It’s not already twenty years now, we founded the band in 1998 I believe, so it’s been eighteen now… I never really think about that. Maybe I should.

  • Some bands do, some others not !

Yes, we should. I’ll keep that in mind.

Heri and Terji on stage

  • There was a cancellation on the last tour (with Sirenia & Unleash the Archers) because of your participation in whales hunting (called « Grindwaljagd »), how did you face the boycott of your band by some fans and their negative reaction?

Yeah, in Germany they call it Grindwaljagd. I think five shows were cancelled and I made a video statement… Two video statements actually to explain what’s going on. This « eco », let’s call them « eco-terrorists » have no sympathy for whales or any kind of wild life. All they want is money. Sometimes we were considered as antechrists by catholics. The demonstration that arrange them, they want to stop us from doing it because we spread non or pre-christian european culture. Some take pictures of whales to generate a relation with this kind of life. The people who participate in the campaign may really have sympathy for whales, I really don’t know. I can’t say for all of them but I really think that they came on the wrong place so what I did was a video explaining it and most of the shows were not cancelled. I feared that the whole tour was cancelled for us, but we got most of the shows back, and I recieve a massive amount of media attention for it. I think we can expect something like this when we play on a new tour, a kind of boycott, they will also give us a massive attention from the media and fail at their objectives.

  • Except the line-up, was there any changes, any evolution that you noticed between your first and last record?

On the first record, there’s still only Gunnar and I left, we had a different singer and a different drummer who was also a founder of the band. He (Kári Streymoy) played with us until before the last album and, the singer left after the first album and since I sing everything. Since the drummer left we’ve been a band without a permanent drummer, we have session drummers and tour drummers. Terji (Skibenæs, guitar player, ndlr) joined the band after the first album, I played all the guitars on the first album. We had different singers between there, and some different guitarists during this time, but we stayed stable on this line-up since the first album.

  • Why did you choose to focus on mythology in a time in which many people are just absorbed by modernity, technology, progress?

Well, I’ve always have an interest for mythology and history since I was ten years old. I love the subject and I want to ride about that and combine it to Heavy Metal for the simple reason that I like it. There’s still a sort of something logical on the combinaison, as other bands I never heard before do it, bands like… Bathory and… there is a british band…

  • Venom ?

Yeah, Venom ! And some polish bands also. I had never heard about them before we record the first album. There’s a lot of comparisons with those bands, so there is finally something logical to combine those things. It’s a concept that I like and I do it for the simple reason that I love mythology and I love Heavy Metal. Both can go together.

  • You said once that Tyr’s “musical mission [was] to break down the walls that are erected between all the kinds of Metal that have arisen over the years”. What do you think about it now? Do you think there is still some troubles and rivalry between fans from different genres?

(laughs) Yes. I’ve given up on that. I’ll never gonna break down those walls, it’s not possible. It bothers me a lot because it’s impossible to categorise a band. I realised that the labels come from generalists and record labels to classify things and most about to sell things. It’s really irrelevant for a musician : you make the music you like and you let someone else to give it a name. We tried to resist with only the word Heavy Metal, after calling it Rock ‘n’ Roll, from the album Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll (Rainbow – 1978, ndlr). Musicians are not able to name their own style of music, so leave those words but the good thing for musicians is that you can ignore it. If you do something nice and original, generalists will create a new name for it. So they can classify and record label could sell it. We all need that, we need generalists and we need record labels, so I just live with that and don’t fight against that anymore.

Heri on stage

  • What would be the best line-up ever that you would dream of going on tour with?

Hmm… (he’s thinking) I would like to go on tour with Metallica, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. And us to open ! People would say « why the hell are they here » of course but it would be awesome !

  • The last question : what was your last musical crush ? Any bands to recommend ?

I saw Powerwolf on live before we could go, that was the most impressive live show that I’ve seen in a long long time. (he’s thinking) Devin Townsend Project too, I would go on tour with them, I listened to them on the last tour with Sirenia. It’s not really a new band but it’s a very very impressive and cool band. I don’t really want to seek on new music by my own.

  • Any last words, in Danish or Faroese, to all of your fans?

Faroese, we speak faroese in the Faroe Island, Danish is a different language. You mean lasts words before I die ? Or to finish the interview ? (laughs)

  • No, just to finish the interview !

Yeah : “Túsund takk tyri at tit komu til konserting ! Vit síggjqst eina aðru ferð !”

  • What does it mean?

« Thanks for coming to the show, see you next time ! »

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