On November 6th, Sólstafir’s next masterpiece, Endless Twilight of Codependent Love, will finally arrive via Season of Mist (pre-order here). The record is another continuation of their Icelandic one-of-a-kind experimental distortions, which is promised to be a great contender for one of the strongest metal albums of the year. We caught up with frontman Aðalbjörn “Addi” Tryggvason to discuss the new album, its challenges, and the harsh reality of the ongoing uncertainties in music, tours, and businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What made you decide to release Endless Twilight of Codependent Love during a pandemic?
Throughout the history of heavy metal, all the best albums have been released through pandemics. No, obviously I’m joking now. We had the studio booked in February. Originally, we were going to record it in December, so we delayed it to February. COVID had started in China, and it had reached Italy and the shit hadn’t really hit the fan. So we were done with the album, we just kept going and we didn’t roll with how serious it was going to be, no one knew. The album was supposed to come out in September. We did delay it until November. And I do get this question quite a lot, why are we doing it in this pandemic? And my answer is always, “What are the alternatives? Wait? Until when? Until the US opens? Or until the UK opens?” That could be two years. I don’t know. So the alternative seems to be to wait until God knows when. Then again, are you going to cancel culture? Are you going to cancel art? No, I think people like having some cultural thing. Art going on in a form that we can have it going on. We can release an album. I’m doing interviews. People will read interviews, see new photos. They’ll listen to Spotify or through the internet, physical copies. So at least there’s something happening. We can’t just wait and say, “We’re going to release it in 10 years or two years.” Fuck that. We’ll write another album when that happens.
That’s a very good point. This is definitely an experience for all of us, trying to figure out this new form of life. Musically, how would you compare Endless Twilight of Codependent Love to 2017’s Berdreyminn?
What I missed a little bit on the last album was if I would have mixed the album today, I would have put the guitars a little bit more up because we toured Berdreyminn a lot, like 18 months. So if I hear the album title Berdreyminn, I’m thinking instantly “Silfur-refur” from live, because we always performed the song live. The songs are a lot more heavy live because it’s more rock and roll. It’s still a metal band. I mean, they have distorted guitars. I think of stuff like live versions, and they’re more heavy than the album. I don’t relate to our albums, sort of studio versions after touring them for years, I relate more to the songs as live versions. You haven’t toured the album. So you, of course, obviously are thinking of the studio version. I don’t think that the live versions of that Berdreyminn that they are completely different. This new album, it’s not really a new style. It’s just new songs. You’ve always had obscure songs. I mean, when we did “Fjara,” people were like, what the fuck is this crap? I like it, but what the fuck is it? So, we like to put the blindfolded on and go for a walk. We don’t care.
The new album does feel heavier than the last. I understand what you’re saying between live and the studio versions. Both showcase a completely different energy and level the way that you execute it.
One thing I’ve maybe forgotten to mention is that when we were writing Berdreyminn and we wrote a lot of it sort of, a piano and organs instead, we had like two organs in the rehearsal space, and this album was hardly ever, we were writing stuff on, well, there is of course a piano and organ on the album, but most of its guitar oriented. I almost missed some more guitar oriented stuff. So there is more guitar stuff on this album and the guitars are louder. I mean it’s just as powerful as we have done live, it’s full distortion. This one goes to 11.
Are there any songs on the new album that you found to be more challenging to put together?
“Akkeri,” the opening track, we spent months and months working on that song. I have different demos of it, so many different demos, different rips, even the intro guitar spit a little bit different. We spent then, shortly before putting an end to writing it, there was more rock and roll as like a gun cirrhosis, Duff McKagan based something part is chorus bass thing. I really wanted to put that in the song, but it just didn’t work out. Then we ended up doing this thinles guitar and it put a smile on our face, that we were doing silly, silly guitars and getting away with it. So, that was a difficult song to write.
It’s funny that you mentioned that song because I was, my next question was going to be asking more about the meaning behind that track,I think “Akkeri,” sucks you right into the album.
I have foreseen that the intro of the song would be the opener of the album and of course, the guys agreed, but nothing else came and challenged that idea. I’m always hoping that someone comes with that idea, tell us another good idea, but that’s always remained this should be the opener. It’s normally the opening songs or they’ve told themselves I should be the opener song. Because the songs are very different. I don’t think any other song on this album would have been a better contendant. It’s a 10 minute song, but we’re not in the commercial game. Having the three minutes, four minutes, verse chorus, verse chorus, pop element. We are not in that game. We don’t care. I mean, we’ve had like a 10 minute instrumental song opening up Köld and we’ve had a 19 minute opening up Masterpiece of Bitterness, and that’s another 10 minutes. It’s just another 10 minute song.
I thought it was a great choice. I think it’s great that you guys haven’t gone commercial. I can’t picture a 3 minute pop and catchy Solstafir tune, that’s not like you guys.
We have tried to write shorter songs, I think because of some commercial stuff, but it can be problematic being in a band with only 10 minute songs because you go to a festival and they say, you can play 45 minutes. And they’re like, Oh, we only have 10 minute songs. We can only play four songs while traveling. I remember we were going to play in a festival in Germany. It’s called Summer Breeze, Summer Breeze Open Air. I was thinking about it. I would wake up at four in the morning, drive to the airport. There’s an hour, wait, two hours at the airport, fly three hours to Germany, land, wait an hour, drive three hours to the festival, wait four hours, eat, line check, play two fucking songs. We played two songs and traveled all the way back home. You were like, we did all that for two songs. We had another song, a live version of the song Ritual of Fire, which was 15 minutes long. So, it’s a bit extreme, but so we’ve tried to let’s write shorter songs. So they normally ended up like being six, seven minutes.
That does put things into perspective. Speaking of concerts, now that we have no clue when concerts are going to be a normal thing or which country and what have you, do you have any plans for a record release livestream or virtual tour?
No, I mean, of course we get this question a lot, but in the last six months we’ve had two children and one album. So we haven’t really been sitting around our asses, fingering our nose. And then of course, we all have day jobs, wives and bills. We’ve just been working, having kids and making an album along with our day jobs. So we haven’t really had time. And then again, we haven’t played a song together since February. There’s no shape to do it, but we thought about it of course. I mean, it’s turning into October now, but then again, I just got a new job and I’m going to be working in the countryside for the next two months or something. So I don’t know when it’s going to happen. But good news is that we are sort of working on a live album. That’s what we recorded last year. We recorded a few shows last year, and now we are looking into it and doing some mixing and investigating what’s good and what’s not good. And hopefully, I’m making a wildest guess here. Maybe it’s going to be out by the end of the year. Maybe it’s going to be out next year. I don’t know. But I would of course love to do some streaming, but time is not really our friend right now. We have different day jobs at different hours. Sometimes some are working this day and it’s hard. It needs rigging up gear, where to do it, we need the money. It’s more than just saying but we will eventually properly complete, I’m not going to promise it, but I think they will do it.
How has things progressed since the beginning of the pandemic to where the restrictions are like now?
Today? We have a one meter rule. You cannot have more than 200 people joined up together. You cannot exceed that limit. It is not a regulation to have a mask but some people use masks. And of course, if you go to the supermarket you wear gloves, you stay away from people. And then there are measurements on the ground to stand here, stand there, have two meters between, and the gym is still open. People are going to the gym. They provide a box of soap. So you spray soap on the stuff. It’s kind of funny, well it’s not funny at all, by the time I was having the child in April, that was the peak of the first wave here. And by the end of June, beginning of July, COVID was over here, even having concerts. And everybody’s like, ‘it’s fucking over! Great job everybody. And then in August, it came back. So by the end of August, it was not good, man. Be careful, back to the two meter rule. And then by the end of August, beginning of September, they were like, Oh, it’s gone again. And now like a week ago there were 75 new cases. So, for instance, at the end of June, there were for many days, no new cases in Iceland, for days, many days, no new cases detected. So it’s just weird because I’m pretty sure, I don’t know if it’s over there. I mean you’re in New York, right?
Yeah. It’s a mess in the United States. To be honest with you, a complete disaster.
But don’t you worry, Trump is going to take care of all that.
(laughing) Yeah. We’re dummed.
Yeah. It’s sad, I mean it’s so ridiculous. And this fucking year is madness. Even the message in the news the other day, for a band to get a working permit to tour America, they doubled the price for it. So, I’m so glad we did the tour with Paradise Lost in the States two years ago. And we did some selected shows. We did Seattle, New York. We even did Toronto up in Canada at the end of last year.
I have to agree with you. I’m glad I was there for both of them.
I was so grateful for doing that because I love touring the States. It almost makes no sense for us because we’ve never made anything out of it. It’s coming out like a lottery ticket. So it makes no sense financially. And we can not afford it now. We have wives and kids and families and mortgages. A small one, it was no money. It’s hard to justify. All right. But if I’m going to tour America, I’ll bring no money home, you take care of the bills. I’m going to play a rockstar. Daddy is going to pay rockstar for free. So that’s pretty hard, but then again, I love it. I mean, driving through the desert in Arizona, one day you in Seattle, you’re in New Orleans, you’re in LA or you’re in Chicago. I fucking love it man. So, I am truly grateful. I spent time in New York last year. I love that city so much.
Well, hopefully things will work itself out. To end this conversation on a positive note, is there anything else that you want to say or add to your fans about the new album?
Well, since you’re American and I will split those connections. I had a laugh that I care for guys like Townes van Sant and some old blues country guys. Is it all, there’s a blue song on the album, it gives me great pleasure. It’s a very indirect influence, but I can connect with it. It’s sort of 70s, 60s, I never been too much of a Bob Dylan fan, but I could listen to Townes van Sant and what these guys are doing etcetera. So if they have a modern blues song I’m not going to say it’s American, but it has some connection to it. I would say we have the first blues song on the album.
First blues song. All right. I think I may have to listen to the album again to see which one it is.
It’s the shortest song with two letters in the words.
All right. The eighth track.
Stuck to the bar piano. The night is young. What can a girl do on Friday night in New York? Stay at home on Pinterest, stay at home binge drinking on Skype?
That’s about it. Just binge drinking and watching TV with my pets. It’s such a wild party.
Can you go to the bar or…
No, not really. Actually the bar that I used to go to, they lost their liquor license.
Yeah. And that’s another thing it’s like in Europe as well. I mean, I don’t know how many basement clubs in Germany that we have toured. A lot of these old venues, legendary filthy, lovely, cool venues. They’re going to die because in the end they have to pay some mortgages and stuff. So when this pandemic is over and you say you’re going to come to America now on tour and there couldn’t be anywhere else. That’s going to be the big question.
There’s a lot of questions that are left unanswered.