After reviewing -‘Támsins likam‘ here at Rock ‘N’ Load and our reviewer Ed Ford found it to be a curious and inspiring collection of songs, what better way to fully appreciate and understand what makes an album such as Támsins likam come to life than chew the fat with Jón Aldará (Vocalist) & Theodor Kapnas (Guitarist) about all things Hamferð.
Támsins likam is out now via Metal Blade Records – Check out our review here:
This is the 1st album with Metal Blade. You have stated that you hope that this will hopefully take Hamferd to the next level. What do you see as that next level?
Theodor: One of the main advantages of working with a label such as Metal Blade is the exposure that can give to our music. We believe strongly in what we do, and we want our music to be able to reach as many people as possible. We have been very lucky with the opportunities that we’ve been granted so far in our career, but working with Metal Blade will hopefully give us the chance to tour more and hopefully reach bigger crowds than we have been able to before.
I found listening to the album to be rather therapeutic, what was the aim when writing the album?
Jón: That’s a great compliment. We are very much in the business of negative emotions. In my experience, facing such emotions – for example through music – helps you process them to some degree. But such music can be approached from different angles. For this album, our aim was to create something a bit more complex than we have done previously, both musically and lyrically. The story deals with psychological and social issues that are not easily solved or blamed on a particular individual, as the concept of free will is brought into question. How much can we be held responsible for in our lives, when we are destined to repeat the same mistakes again and again?
This difficult theme needed music that was not too obviously dramatic and – dare I say it? – cheesy. Instead, we have incorporated slow-building and progressive elements, and structured the album in the vein of classical symphonies, with the songs acting somewhat as connected movements. This inevitably makes the music less accessible on the surface but also, in my opinion, more lasting in effect.
It is clear that there is a lot of passion and emotion into the album. How does playing the songs make you feel?
Jón: It’s difficult to answer for everyone, but for me personally, it’s quite cathartic and moving. Playing the songs live is when I feel them the most. The songs always tell a particular story, so there is a whole world behind the few words that I sing, of which I am constantly aware. I suppose it’s a bit like acting: part of you spectates from afar, imagining the entire thing at once, while part of you is inside it, living it, feeling what the characters feel.
How do you approach translating writing in Faroese into the music so it doesn’t matter if your listener does not understand the lyrics?
Jón: I have always approached the vocals more like a part of the arrangement rather than the focal element, in the sense that the melody, intensity and rhythm should always complement the rest of the music without overpowering it. This way of working is based on our writing process, where we usually do the vocal lines last. I suppose this helps with spreading the emotional weight across the whole composition instead of hanging it on the vocals and lyrics.
I’m not going to claim that you will have the exact same experience whether you know Faroese or not. There is clearly an advantage to being familiar with the language, but, as you say, the music doesn’t depent on it, and that’s important if we intend for our music to resonate with people on a deeper level.
Támsins likam is the final part of a reverse trilogy. What was the idea behind the trilogy being in reverse?
Theodor: On our first EP ”Vilst er síðsta fet” Jón based his lyrics on a protagonist reflecting on his life, regrets and him looking for salvation at the moment of his death. The songs were lyrically connected, but they did not describe a specific chronological story. When we wrote ”Evst” Jón wanted to expand on the same lyrical universe. He based the lyrics on the same protagonist as on the EP, however this time he created a whole story around him which preceded the events on ”Vilst er síðsta fet”. But when creating the concept for ”Evst” Jón also created a back story for the protagonist which was an important aspect in describing his situation and his struggles in life. With ”Támsins likam” we decided that we should complete the story and tie the three albums together.
Now the trilogy is complete will there be stand alone releases in the future or will a new story begin?
Jón: I have no plans to connect upcoming releases, and the next one will be isolated and framed by an entirely different lyrical concept based on a real event in Faroese history. You never know what will happen further in the future, but at the moment, I feel that I have explored the current characters, their stories and their world sufficiently to finalize this trilogy. Luckily for us, there is plenty of heavy, evocative and sorrowful material in the collective encyclopedia of the Faroe Islands to inspire us.
When writing the album do you plan on a particular sound or way you want the album to feel?
Theodor: When we write music for Hamferð we have a clear vision for the atmospheres which we want to portray through our music. We always strive to develop our sound as a band, and I feel we have come a long way since recording our first two albums, largely because we have been lucky enough to be able to play quite a few shows together since the release of ”Evst”. For ”Támsins likam” we had a specific idea where we wanted the whole album to feel like one piece of music and not just like a collection of different songs.
I personally feel that a strong idea of what you want to express might just be the most important aspect to writing music. So we spend a lot of time discussing which direction we want to take the music in. But at the same time we want the music to be able to develop naturally, and sometimes that means that it will develop in a completely different way than we had planned.
When you transfer tracks from the album to stage how will the live experience differ?
Jón: We are actually able to recreate most of the material to the smallest detail on stage, although songs always tend to take on a slightly different dynamic than the studio versions. ‘Támsins likam’ was not written in rehearsal, but rather at desks or in the studio, so the feel of the live versions is particularly interesting this time around, and I’m sure they will develop their own identities on the road.
There are some elements on the record that are difficult to apply to a live setting. We have used cellos and double bass to create raw and sometimes almost percussive ambience, particularly in the first and last song – “Fylgisflog” and “Vápn í anda”, respectively – and it is likely that we will need special circumstances for playing these songs. But the other songs have already been tested, and they work beautifully. We are extremely anxious to play them on tour!
Whats the plans for you guys in 2018?
Theodor: The first thing on our schedule is touring for most of February. We are going on a 16-date tour through Central Europe with the great Downfall Of Gaia, and straight after that we are doing a four date tour in Denmark with our good friends from Svartmálm. We also have a big release show coming up in The Faroe Islands in March and we are doing a few festivals in the summer.
We hope to be able to tour a bit in the fall as well, but that has not been concretely planned yet. But as of now we’re just really happy to finally have released ”Támsins likam” and can’t wait to get back on the road and play the new songs to different audiences every night and see where that takes us.
Any last words?
Thank you for your interest and your well-considered questions. We hope that anyone reading this will look out for us coming through the neighborhood in the not-too-distant future. Not everyone is lucky enough to be blessed with regular metal gigs nearby (believe us: as Faroe Islanders, we know the feeling!). But we are working on reaching as many places as possible this year. So… see you soon!
Thanks for taking the time guys to chat with us – best of luck for 2018.