A-5530172-1518278213-3536.pngDr ROK had an encounter with Johannes Thor Sandal, the drummer and vocalist of Golden Core, a Norwegian-Icelandic 2-piece band based in Oslo, Norway.

He is 15 years old, and the other band member Simen Jakobsen Harstad is 13.Golden Core is stylistically a band that plays a cross between different genres, mostly stoner metal and doom, noise and progressive metal. The band started playing together in the winter of 2014 and has since played numerous concerts in Norway, Denmark and Iceland.

Golden Core (2017)Hey Johannes Thor! Tell is about your duo with the name ‘Golden core’ please.

Golden Core started out as an instrumental band when we were 9 and 11 years old. Simen came up with the name, which is taken from a song (The Golden Core) by the Norwegian psychedelic rock band Motorpsycho we like a lot. In a way it is a very Norwegian band name, ha-ha.  Later when we started using vocals in our music we did write some songs in English before we tried out some lyrics in Old Norse/Icelandic and found out that Old Norse language and Old Norse poetry is perfectly fitting the sound of our music.

You live in Norway? How is daily life over there?

Well, we are 13 and 15 now and still at school. Life is normal I guess. We like going to concerts, seeing other bands and hanging out with other musicians and friends. Exploring music in different ways. The plan is to study music.

Which instruments do you play?

I play drums and percussion instruments only, and we’ve been both playing drums in a school band and we’ve had some music lessons. Simen is very talented, his parents are both music teachers and he does play all sorts of instruments, drums, guitar, bass, organ you name it. But he is a terrible singer (ha-ha).

IMG_6656Your father was in Sogblettir, a famous Icelandic 80s band. How did that influence you?

My father has been supporting us all the way. He’s still a punk rocker you know. I’m basically raised up on punk rock and alternative music, alternative thinking, so that has had a huge influence on what I am doing musically today. He is our driver, roadie, organiser and booking manager.

Since 2017 you released a lot.

We did release our debut album “Norwegian Stoner Machine” in January 2017. Then we released a 10″ vinyl EP “The Devil Speaking – Last Explosion” in February 2018 (made in Iceland by vinyll.is). A new EP “ᛒᛅᛚᛏᚱᛋᚴᚢᛁᚦᛅ” came out on 7″ vinyl and CD last month. In just one year the music has developed from instrumental – one guitar – one drum set, to being more multidimensional. The riffs are larger, the drums are heavier and the sound is more complete. And then of course the vocals!


Golden Core’ will play 2 live shows in Iceland this year. Looking forward to that?

Oh yes. We had such a good time in Iceland last summer and we love the Icelandic audience.

Last year you performed at the ‘Norðanpaunk’ festival, right? How was that performing with so many (famous) Icelandic bands on a small stage?

Norðanpaunk was great and the DIY-movement In Iceland is amazing. We loved the relaxed atmosphere and the people organizing the festival are just wonderful. The mixture of punk, metal and doom was perfect. We did see some great artists we would like to see again. Some amazing bands like Gjöll, Kælan Mikla, DYS, Dead Herring and Morpholith. I think Icelandic and Norwegian audience are very alike. At least those who’s listening to underground music.


Very recently, you released a beautiful red vinyl 2-track 7 inch. Tell us more about this release? And why red vinyl?

We did release the two-track EP “ᛒᛅᛚᛏᚱᛋᚴᚢᛁᚦᛅ” on red translucent vinyl, CD and streaming to get it out to different people. I myself prefer the vinyl format, for the sound of it, the full artwork and design. Releasing music is more than just the music.

Where do you find the inspiration in? Books, poems, TV, movies, nature, school, daily life, teenage angst, growing up …

In music itself I think.

Plans for touring outside Norway, Denmark or Iceland?

Yes certainly, sooner or later we will. Our goal is to play shows around the world.

IMG_6739Which bands did influence you in the past and present time?

Well many, however I have to say Mastodon, Killing Joke and old Sepultura are the bands that have influenced me most as a drummer. Today I’m very much into stoner and doom, bands like High on Fire and the Danish stoner-sludge band Dirt Forge.

Name your favourite Icelandic bands, and non-Icelandic ones as well ….

I really like Gjöll and Kælan Mikla. And of course Pink Street Boys where my older brother Víðir handles the bass.

Thanks for your time! Take care and I wish you good luck in conquering the world.

-Wim Van Hooste

Photos by JJ Sandal and live pictures by Jón Örn.



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