Hamferð has become one of the rising stars to to say just lately when they have issued their latest offering for Metal Blade Records. After five years of waiting finally we have a brand new issue coming from Hamferð and it seems that it was worth waiting for such an issue. Of course, we took the chance and made one interview with Theodor and Jon their members. If you’re into Hamferð you’ll surly find many interesting details…
Hello Hamferð and welcome to the pages of Metal Sound! How are you guys doing these days?
Theodor: We’re doing great, thanks. We just came back from nearly a month of touring Europe, first a European leg with our label-mates from Downfall of Gaia and then a few Danish shows with our good friends Svartmálm. Our latest album “Támsins likam” was finally released by Metal Blade Records in January so overall things are very good in the Hamferð camp.The main reason for this conversation is your second full length entitled Támsins likam!
Now that everything is said and done, how are you satisfied with the album? Is there something you would change from this perspective?
Theodor:We are extremely proud of the album. We set ourselves some quite ambitious goals for both the writing process and the recording process of “Támsins likam”, and even though there are always some small things which in hindsight we could’ve done differently I think the album holds up really well. The reactions to it have also been quite overwhelming, so to be honest we couldn’t be much happier.
Támsins likam is the last part of installment in your conceptual trilogy so since I do not speak your mother tongue can you please try to explain the themes found on the album?
Jón: It is a bit like an origin story. It goes back to when things started going wrong for the main character of the trilogy, who became lost, did horrible things and went mad in “Evst”, and finally died in “Vilst er síðsta fet”. Now, “Támsins likam” explores the trials of his family when they lose their youngest child to disease. Grief strains the relationship between the husband and wife, and in their most desparate hour, a mysterious being enters their lives and threatens to tear them apart forever. Thematically, the story is quite concerned with regret; what purpose it serves and how to overcome it.
This album marks the beginning of your cooperation with huge label Metal Blade so can you please tell us how this cooperation did came to fruition and how are you satisfied with the label so far?
Theodor: A few guys from the label saw us live at a festival a few years ago and Metal Blade got in touch with us after that about potentially releasing our next album. At that moment in time we weren’t sure how we wanted to approach our next release, so we didn’t end up signing a deal straight away. However, as “Támsins likam” started to take shape we decided that we wanted to release this album on one of the bigger labels if possible, and thankfully Metal Blade was still interested. We are extremely happy with our co-operation so far, we feel that the people at the label are proper music people with the right motivation for working with us, so hopefully our co-operation can continue for many years!
Hamferð is not reinventing the wheel with your brand of metal but in the same time the band sounds very original, which is quite a feat in this field. Can you tell us how do you explain this and how do you view originality vs quality debate in metal?
Theodor: Depending on who you ask in the band you will probably get slightly different answers to this question. I can only answer for myself, but for me the most important part of writing music is to be able to express a certain idea or feeling. When you figure out the idea/concept and know what you want to express the rest of the writing becomes relatively easy in comparison. We’ve been lucky with the fact that we have had a strong idea of what we want to express with Hamferð ever since we started the band, so we have been able to build on that foundation for the last ten years. And the longer you are able to consciously develop your sound, the closer you get to expressing something which is unique. In a way we’re also lucky that we come from The Faroe Islands which has a unique cultural voice which has influenced us a lot. So what sounds natural to us can often sound unique and exotic to people who are not from here.
Originality vs quality is a difficult one. All the best music has both in my opinion, but if I could only pick one it would probably be quality. It doesn’t matter how original you are if the music isn’t good enough, and if the music is good enough it will always have a unique expression in some way. So I think it’s hard to fully separate the two even if there obviously are big differences in originality. A few of the guys in Hamferð value originality in itself very highly. But I guess it depends on what you’re looking for when you listen to music.
Hamferð hails from Faroe Islands, would you say that your homeland plays significant role in how your band sounds?
Jón: In a way, yes. The natural environment of the Faroe Islands truly inspires one to write epic odes to it, while the wind and rain infuse the drama with melancholy. Our culture is shaped by this dynamic, and so they have a way of creeping into the art that is produced here. Hamferð unashamedly brandishes grandiosity and melancholy, and through our music we deliberately try to invoke the image of weatherbeaten mountains standing alone in a vast ocean.
You have just released a video for Frosthvarv, can you please tell us something about the shooting of this work and how are you satisfied with its final outcome?
Theodor: The director of the video (Franklin Henriksen) is an old friend of ours who studies cinematography in Poland, and I found out that he had directed a short film which was heavily inspired by the visual aesthetics of the work of famous Faroese painter Sámal Joensen-Mikines. Mikines is a great inspiration to us, his work portrays a very similar atmosphere to what we attempt to create with our music, so we started talking about using excerpts from that film as a visual backdrop to a song off the new album. That didn’t really work out, but we came to the conclusion that it could work better if we made a new film based on the album’s concept but with similar aesthetics as his previous short film. We then worked out a rough script based on the storyline of “Támsins likam” and then let Franklin and producer Beinta Haraldsen do their magic. It was a big production with a large crew, lots of emailing back and forth and lots of attention to detail. But we are absolutely delighted with how it turned out. It’s a visually stunning video which in my opinion complements the music very well. It also gives an insight into the story behind the album to people who don’t understand Faroese. I’d also like to mention how grateful we are to the crew and actors, without all the goodwill we received it would not have been possible to create such a video.
Can you please tell us something about the artwork of Costin Chioreanu, how much input did you have in creating it and how does it depict the themes of the album?
Jón: Costin made several pieces, all depicting different scenes from the story of Támsins likam. The cover is an imagining of the death of a main character, the bereft mother and estranged wife who throughout the story struggles with the need for an emotional connection. She is mercifully killed by the Nykur, a mysterious creature that is trapped in its own otherworldly nature, despite wanting to embody human values such as empathy.
We sent Costin some photos of Faroese nature and artworks by the renowned Faroese painter Sámal Joensen-Mikines. Interestingly, his paintings ended up having some eerie similarities to the ones of another famous Faroese artist, William Heinesen. A strange but welcome coincidence.
It is well known fact that Jón Aldará is also member of Barren Earth, how does his work with that band influence Hamferð? Do you manage to balance effectively between the two groups?
Jón: I think my work with both bands is quite well separated. Barren Earth inspires me in an entirely different way and brings something else out of me. It’s a whole other playground with its own opportunities, its own feel and atmosphere. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t want to do it, since I feel no need to work in two bands with a similar sound. Therefore, I try not to let Barren Earth influence Hamferð, or vice versa. Of course, I have a certain style of singing and writing vocal lines which is partly subconscious, so it might be possible to hear small similarities. But I try to avoid it.
Balancing work with both bands is not without challenges, but it has been possible so far. Luckily, I have really good bandmates in both bands, and they are always understanding and ready to help out, in case things get too overwhelming.
Are you perhaps planning some tours or summer festival appearances to promote Támsins likam? I have seen on your facebook page that you have already done some gigs…
Theodor: We have just done a 20-date European tour and we hope to embark on another European tour at some point this fall/winter. We also have a few really cool festivals lined up this summer and autumn, so we’re keeping ourselves occupied. The last couple of years haven’t been as busy for us touring-wise since we’ve spent most of the time finishing “Támsins likam”, but with the new record finally having been released we intend to tour as much as our schedule will allow us to. Hopefully that will bring us back to Serbia, we’ve played in Belgrade once and that was an incredible experience.
What lies in the future for Hamferð? Now that your trilogy is done, where do you think that the band will move next?
Jón: We already have some ideas in mind, and although I don’t want to reveal too much right now, I can say that we will leave the fictional universe of the Trilogy – for now at least. There is a particularly dramatic event in Faroese history which has fascinated and inspired us for some time, and we are very keen on telling the stories tied to this event and exploring the mythology surrounding it. We have slowly started working on concept and music, and we have made the promise to ourselves that the next album will not take 4 years to make!
That would be all for this conversation, I would like to thank you for your time and wish you all the best! Your last message to Serbian readers, you have played in Belgrade with Amorphis if you remember…
Jón: Yes, we certainly remember. It was a wonderful and unique experience playing in Beograd, and we are working hard to be able to come back soon! See you then!
- Interview was done by Slobodan Trifunovic