ROK had a chat with Rythmatik, the winning band of the Battle of the Bands for youngsters, better known as Músíktilraunir (Musical Experiments) competition. This competition is famous because a lot of the big names in the Icelandic music scene of the last decades competed and (often) win. This time a band from the Westfjords was chosen as the best promising band of 2015.
Hrafnkell Hugi Vernharðsson, Eggert Nielson, Pétur Óli Þorvaldsson & Valgeir Skorri Vernharðsson, please introduce yourself.
H: Hi, I’m Hrafnkell Hugi, a 19 years old student and occasional book seller. I play the guitar and sing.
V: I’m Valgeir, a 20 years old dropout and up until now a full-time pen salesman. I play the drums.
P: I’m Pétur Óli, a 20 years old student, I have just landed this sweet gig as a waiter at the best restaurant in the Westfjords. I play the bass.
E: I’m Eggert, 18 years old. I play rhythm guitar in Rythmatik, I go to school in Ísafjörður, and I work as a cook.
Where are you from and where do you live? Maybe your are studying in RVK?
V: Most of us come from this tiny fishing village called Suðureyri, where about 250 people live. Now we’re expecting a statue to be raised in our honor, or at least that someone bakes us a cake!
H: But it will have to be a large cake.
P: I´m from a small farm out side of Suðureyri, so coming to Suðureyri is like hitting the Big Apple!
E: I’m from Round Hill, Virginia, USA. I moved to Iceland four years ago and am currently living in Ísafjörður.
Hrafnkell Hugi and Valgeir Skorri are brothers! No trouble with these family ties?
H: No, I think it’s great to be in a band with my brother, we’ve really bonded through listening and playing music together. We used to be at each others throats constantly.
V: I can’t say that we were the greatest of friends at the time but we had our moments in between scuffles where Hrafnkell would usually win because he looked older, but I’ve often been mistaken for the younger one out of the two of us! It wasn’t until Hrafnkell finally came around and started showing music some real interest a few years back, that we decided to do something together and really bonded through that. I feel really lucky to share this with him.
When did you decide to make music together? Perhaps at school? Common friends? Otherwise?
E: Rythmatik were already a band before I joined, I had watched them play and after the show I asked Valli if I could play rhythm guitar.
P: Well, me and Valgeir started playing together long before Rythmatik started. Valgeir told me to be ready for practice after school, he didn’t explain anything and I had no idea what he was talking about, so naturally I showed up ready to practice at the football pitch. We were 12-13 at the time, and I did not play the bass, I thought that a bass and a guitar were the same thing. But I was in the band whether I liked it or not.
V: Yeah that’s pretty much how we do it in Suðureyri, I mean there weren’t that many options, and Pétur is just one of the most easy going and nicest persons to be around, plus he has been my best friend since we were in diapers. So it was just kind of a no brainer.
Have you been playing in other bands?
H: This is my first band, but the rest of the crew has played in loads of cool bands.
E: I was once in a band called Cutaways with my friends Slavyan and Egill.
P: Well my first band was Brot, a mix of Rage Against the Machine and Limp Bizkit. We were pretty good for 13 years olds. A few years later we started a band called Hótel Rotterdam, it was a lot of fun but we were terrible. We fooled around instead of practicing so we were out of sync and it sounded like bad punk. And then I was recruited in to Rythmatik we have a lot of fun but when we practice it’s time to work and work hard.
H: Yeah, I’d like to think that we have an excellent work ethic. When we are in the practice space we are there to practice, not to fool around.
V: Yeah, I was in Brot with Pétur and have almost always been in a band or two since then. I’ve always wanted to keep myself busy music wise so I’ve tried to be a part of anything that comes along, but that’s maybe not a good idea anymore.
You play indie rock: Could you name a few of your influences? Some favorite bands, artists or albums? Icelandic ones too perhaps?
H: I listen to a lot of Scottish stuff, Biffy Clyro, Frightened Rabbit, Big Country. They really know how to make great music.
V: Hrankell and me share a lot of influences in music so Rythmatik’s songs are usually aiming in that direction. Bands such as The Smiths, Biffy Clyro and Death Cab for Cutie, but I try to keep what I do on the drums simple and neat, I mean less is more, right? Icelandic bands are amazing and have been a part of my life since I was a kid, ‘Abbababb!’ by Dr. Gunni and friends is still one of my all time favorite albums! I’ve recently really gotten into Agent Fresco, also kimono is doing great things plus loads and loads of other bands old and new who are fantastic!
E: My favorite artist is Frank Ocean, his album ‘Channel Orange’ was a huge influence on me personally. My favorite Icelandic band is Moses Hightower because they’re so creative. My favorite song by them is ‘Háa C’.
Where do you find inspiration for the lyrics & melodies?
H: Melodies mostly come from messing around on the guitar, but the best lyrics are something that relate to your own life, it doesn’t have to be deep or anything, you can write great lyrics about your obsessive love of hot dogs just as long as it’s genuine.
Excited to perform at Iceland Airwaves ’15 in November? Maybe some extra concerts abroad, on tour in the (near) future, a record deal… Remember Of Monsters and Men (2010).
H: I don’t think that the full extent of all of this has hit us yet, I am at least still in a state of disbelief.
V: It’s still sinking in, I’m just realizing it again right now, and will probably realize it again in few minutes!
E: Extremely excited, we’ve been playing off-venue but now we have on-venue spot. It would be a dream to go as far as Of Monsters and Men did, I can’t even imagine what that would be like.
What are the future plans? To record an EP…?
H: Hopefully something like that, we won these studio hours in Sundlauginn Studio and we’d love to record and release some of our songs professionally, all we’ve got now are some demo recordings.
V: Yeah, that’s pretty much it recording and putting out music, I think?
E: We’re working on an EP at the moment so stay tuned.
To end with, some random non-musical questions…
-Your favorite place in Iceland?;
P: Can´t beat home, Staðardalur were I live, a valley hidden from the world. You need to drive a hellish road to enter but when you get there it´s beautiful, might be a little bit bias but that’s my answer
H: My bed
V: The man cave which is located in Hrafnkell’s bedroom.
E: My favorite place in Iceland has got to be my house.
-Your favorite Icelandic food?:
V: Grandma’s wheat clads
E: Icelandic hot dogs are the best in the world
- Your favorite Icelandic drink?:
E: Nothing beats Icelandic water!
All the best in the future! And do not forget to ROK on!
– Wim Van Hooste