"There's stuff happening (on band releases), and hopefully 2020 will end up being a golden year for Faroese metal."
Having released their 2nd EP 'Ódn' last year to widespread acclaim, the Faroese Melodic Doom / Death Metallers Hamferð are eternally grateful for the achievements they have made during the past 12 years. Sadly however 2020 marked a tricky time for the band as guitarist John Egholm left the band, that but also the global pandemic the whole world is grappling with in COVID-19; putting a halt to the vast majority of the bands plans. We speak to guitarist Theodor Kapnas about the reception their latest EP attracted, the challenges Faroese Metal bands face, the inspiration behind their on-stage attire and the COVID-19 situation on the Faroe Islands.
You released your 2nd EP 'Ódn' last year, what was the reception like and will there be a new album in 2021?
"The EP has been very well received. It does feel different from our other records though. One of the songs is a live recording of "Deyðir varðar" from 2015 which we did during the total solar eclipse, and the second one is a live recording from our release show in 2018 of our oldest song, "Ódn", which we've performed live extensively but have never released until now. So even if we released it as a new EP it's technically older material. People seem to have enjoyed it, and we're really happy to have the tracks out there.
We are working on new material and have quite a bit written, but it's too early to promise any release dates. I do hope that it'll be in 2021 though."
You may well have been asked this many times, could you tell us about the idea behind your stage attire (being suits) - who came up with it, etc?
"The stage suits are part of the original idea behind Hamferð. John founded the band because he was inspired to create Doom Metal in Faroese, and one of the main ideas was that our live show should be inspired by the atmosphere of a funeral. Traditional funeral wear in The Faroe Islands is either traditional Faroese clothes or a black suit, white shirt and black tie to a funeral. So the suit idea came quite naturally. It's something we feel works well for our shows, so we've stuck with it and probably will keep on doing so for the foreseeable future."
For those who cannot speak a word of Faroese, can you offer some tips in how to sing along to your music?
"That's a tricky one. I guess you can just learn the songs phonetically. We've all sung along to songs while having absolutely no idea what the lyrics were about. One way would also be to make your own version of misheard lyrics of the songs. And if someone does that please let us know, we'd love to see them!"
Are the Faroe Islands in lock down? If so what have you been doing at home both musically and in other hobbies?
"First and foremost, The Faroe Islands isn't in lockdown. Large gatherings are banned and social distancing rules are applied, but shops are open and a lot of people are still going to work. But it does of course leave you with more alone time than usual. This has given me time to be able to finish a few musical projects which have been laying around for too long, which now lets me focus fully on continuing with writing the next Hamferð record. I was supposed to do quite a bit of touring as sound engineer during the spring, but that has obviously been cancelled. The rest of the guys live in different places and have been affected in different ways, but this situation affects all of us.
When it comes to hobbies I've done the usual, I love being outdoors and now I suddenly have time for a lot of hiking, fishing, diving etc... The main difference is that people are now trying to avoid seeing other people and are therefore heading out of the towns. So hikers have appeared absolutely everywhere."
Would you say the Faroese Metal scene is growing stronger each year or has it been a rocky journey?
"The Faroe Islands is a very small place, so the metal scene moves in waves. A few years ago we had a lot of active metal bands, but as our generation has been getting older more and more guys have stopped playing that has obviously affected things. I don't think kids feel that it's as cool to be in a band as we did when we were teenagers, so there have been fewer new bands popping up.
Having said that, we still have some really good bands in The Faroes, and 2020 is looking like a very strong release year for Faroese metal. I can recommend checking out the band Ótti, which features two Hamferð members. They just released their debut album, definitely worth a listen. Impartial and Asyllex have also released new stuff, and I know that Goresquad and Iron Lungs are releasing new stuff this year. So there's stuff happening, and hopefully 2020 will end up being a golden year for Faroese metal.
What (in your opinion) are the biggest challenges facing the new crop of metal bands coming up the ranks in the Faroes?
"The challenges are the same as they have always been. The audience in The Faroes is limited, and it's harder than ever to find a rehearsal space which is a challenge for a lot of bands. However, the work that Upp Við Hornunum has done with local events and the Wacken Metal Battle competition has really helped. Bands have been given an incentive to perform live, and it has never been easier to get in contact with people from the international metal industry."
What plans for the year ahead do you have (COVID-19 depending); did you have before this pandemic?
"We have a few shows coming up later this year, if that will be allowed by that time. But apart from that this year is set aside to write a new record. We can hopefully start recording that later this year or early next year. So that's where most of our focus lies at the moment."
Do you have any greetings or thanks you wish to send out? Any final words?
"Stay safe out there everyone, wash your hands and we'll hopefully see all of you when this virus situation is over..."