Heri Joensen (Tyr)

  • Interview by: Stefan Marcus
  • Date: December 30, 2016

Our writer in London, Stefan Marcus caught up with Faroean metal band Tyr a few weeks back and spoke about new music and whaling. Read on..

HBI: Hello, I’m Stefan from Headbangers India and I’m here with…
HJ: Heri Joensen from Tyr and I’m the vocalist and guitarist.

HBI: It’s good to hear the band name pronounced properly!
HJ: Yes, English people usually say Tyr (tear), and that’s ok with us we don’t expect everyone to speak Faroese.

HBI: What’s the significance behind the name?
HJ: It’s a name from Nordic mythology, the god of warfare. He had one hand and he was the bravest of all the gods, his hand was bitten off by the wolf Fenrir. He’s a fascinating character and we picked the name partly because of the connection to mythology but also the Black Sabbath album by the same name.

HBI: So this is the last night on the tour, what have been the highlights so far?
HJ: Yesterday was a very good show, but we had some problems as well, with demonstrations against our band because of my participation in whaling. I wouldn’t call it a highlight but definitely an unusual situation for us. We’ve been banished from some venues. There were 18 shows on the tour and we played 13 of them.

HBI: And this is because of the protests that happened?
HJ: Yes.

HBI: Did you anticipate this or did it come out of the blue?
HJ: Well I posted a picture of myself on the whale hunt on my Facebook page and I expected absolutely nothing. As they were booking this tour there seemed to be some issues with venues and promoters and at one point we thought we were going to be canceled from the entire tour but it was saved. It’s weird.

HBI: I saw the video with you explaining it so it seems like a knee-jerk reaction.
HJ: Yes, I also think that some promoters and venue owners don’t have the time to look into the details of the situation and simply accept whatever they’re told by these protesters. The protesters would have you believe that I enjoy torturing animals for fun and of course that wouldn’t be acceptable but that’s not the case.

HBI: What has been the reaction back home to this?
HJ: People ask me how to prevent and prepare for such things happening, and I’ve done my best and would advise anyone to do the same. We are used to this from other sides, but it’s the first time it hit the band.

HBI: Speaking of back home, how has your success been seen in the community?
HJ: We have decent recognition in the Faroes, and I think we’re the biggest band from there. Everyone who is interested in music back home would have heard of us but won’t necessarily like us, since there’s only a certain percentage of the population that enjoys heavy metal. We feel quite recognized in the Faroes.

HBI: Is it quite a tight music scene there?
HJ: Yeah you could say that, everyone knows about each other, and it’s not divided into genres because it’s so small.

HBI: So in a festival there’s many bands that play together?
HJ: Certain festivals have leanings, like family friendly, but in general but it’s very all around.

HBI: Are there any bands currently active in the Faroes that you’re a big fan of?
HJ: Yes, there are. Eivor, the singer songwriter, I like her music very much. There’s a doom band called Hamferd, and they make very atmospheric music and have a great vocalist. Those are my current favourites.

HBI: Going back to Tyr, I know you are very passionate about your homeland, and you engage in traditional activities. Would you say that your music is shaped by this?
HJ: When I write music it all comes from traditional influences. When it comes to landscape, it’s hard to see how that would affect music, but it influences me and that in turn may influence the music. Geographical influence may be hard to pinpoint, but it may have some. The Faroe Islands are a very metereologically tumultuous place, it’s very wintry and stormy.

HBI: What’s next for Tyr?
HJ: The next album will have top priority after this, it was supposed to be priority before but we were lured into the tour, and as soon as I get home… Next album!

HBI: What are your thoughts on coming to India for a tour?
HJ: We haven’t been to India yet, haven’t really been to Asia, unless you count Siberia. After this album it would be great to go to that part of the world. I haven’t noticed much interest in India, but in Japan and Australia. Maybe the Indian fans aren’t keen on writing to bands?

HBI: Hopefully we’ll see the fanbase grow and you guys can do a proper tour!
HJ: I hope so too, definitely!

HBI: Thanks a lot!