"When radio was the way to hear new music there were enthusiasts with powerful receivers tuning in to English and Dutch channels, so all the latest music came to the Faroes as soon as it was out. "
They are the Faroe Islands' most successful metal band and released their latest offering 'Hel' last year to critical acclaim. As a part of an interview series we are doing under lockdown, GMA spoke to Heri Joensen about the history of the Faroese Metal scene, what he has been up to under lockdown and what his most memorable and funniest moment during the band's touring career was.
For a band who has been going 22 years as of this year, nothing will stop Týr any time soon
2020 started badly for the world with COVID-19, but for Tyr also the departure of Attila Vörös, what happened and have you found a replacement guitarist?
"We didn't agree on a few fundamental things, so we reached the mutual decision to discontinue the co-operation. There are two or three guys on the short list to replace Attila, but these days it's impossible to meet and get to know anyone. It will have to wait until travel is less restricted."
What so far have been the funniest and most memorable times during the countless tours you have done?
"The funniest and most memorable time was probably our tour with Sirenia and Unleash The Archers. It was just a tour full of good company and good times. No real problems and very relaxed attitudes. Not to mention I met my girlfriend on that tour, so good memories there all around."
Heri, can you tell us roughly or exactly when Metal music first arrived on the Faroe Islands? What Faroese bands did you listen to whilst growing up?
"Metal music was popular in the Faroes as soon as it emerged in England. Led Zeppelin has been very popular in the Faroes, as has Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, since those bands began. The Faroes don't look so isolated when seen from the inside. Back when radio was the way to hear new music there were enthusiasts with powerful receivers tuning in to English and Dutch channels, so all the latest music came to the Faroes as soon as it was out. When I began listening to Metal in the mid to late 80s it was Mötley Crüe and Iron Maiden, soon followed by TNT, Europe, Judas Priest, Def Leppard and some similar bands."
As the Faroe Islands are in lock down, what have you been doing at home both musically and in other hobbies?
"I live in Prague, in Czechia. We're under lock down like anywhere else. I've been making a few videos for my YouTube channel, writing music for Týr and Heljareyga, spending some time on improving my physical shape, watching series on Netflix. We've been working on improving our social media presence, a new website with a webshop this time. Please go to www.tyr.fo/merch
Kallurin, Faroe Islands / Source: Visit Nordoy
What (in your opinion) are the biggest challenges facing the new crop of metal bands coming up the ranks in the Faroes?
"The biggest challenge for anyone trying to make it in music, not just metal, is how to make enough money to make ends meet, and I suspect that will be the biggest problem for all upcoming musicians for decades to come. This may be worse in countries where the cost of living is very high, and that definitely includes the Faroe Islands."
For metalheads visiting the Faroe Islands, what would you recommend seeing and doing (in normal circumstances)?
"See the natural scenery. Go to Vestmannabjørgini, Sjeyndir, Beinisvørð, Kallurin and other places. Those are scenes like you will see nowhere else on this planet."
What plans for the year ahead do you have (COVID-19 depending); did you have before this pandemic?
"It looked like we were going to have a very good year touring wise, with Týr and with Surma. But now all tours and festivals are off. We were going to go to the US and on a long EU tour, and even to Australia and parts of Asia. And the Surma album will be released in the fall, followed by a tour that has now been postponed like everything else."
Do you have any greetings or thanks you wish to send out? Any final words? "Stay safe, everybody. I hope we all get through this in good health. Don't touch surfaces everybody else touches, door handles for example, wash your hands and don't touch your face. And I hope to see you on the road somewhere someday soon."