Dr. Gunni´s History Of Icelandic Rock / Part 29

Dr. Gunni´s History Of Icelandic Rock / Part 29

Words by

Published September 14, 2011

In the eighties, Stuðmenn (“Funmen”) were the most popular Icelandic band. These people had a solid track record from the seventies (in that decade they had made two wonderful Stuðmenn LPs, six amazing folk rock LPs as Spilverk þjóðanna and two great folk-prog LPs as Þursaflokkurinn (see part thirteen of this series for further reading). In 1983, the band Stuðmenn returned with a comedy flick, ‘Með allt á hreinu’ (“On Top”) and an accompanying soundtrack LP, their first album since 1977. Both the film and the album were very popular. An amazing 120.000 people saw the film in the cinemas. The tongue in cheek humour and lively, fun music had much influence on Icelandic pop bands for years to come.
DALLAS INSPIRED MUSIC

Dúkkulísurnar (“The Paper Dolls”) from Egilsstaðir took their cue from Grýlurnar, an all-girl group that appeared in ‘Með allt á hreinu’ alongside Stuðmenn. However, Dúkkulísurnar never sounded like Grýlurnar and leaned more towards The Pretenders in style. In 1982, the first Músíktilraunir was organised, a “battle of the bands”-competition that still remains a springboard for young bands. The first band to win, DRON, faded away quickly, but for Dúkkulísurnar, who won in 1983, everything “happened very fast afterwards,” as guitarist and main songwriter Gréta would later remark. Dúkkulísurnar got signed to Skífan, at the time one of two big “major” labels in Iceland, and in the summer of 1984 the first six-track EP came out. It included ‘Pamela,’ a hit song about a pregnant 15-year old who sings: “This baby was an accident, in my stomach like flares, I wish I were Pamela in Dallas.”
Dúkkulísurnar’s LP came in 1986 (‘Í léttum leik’ (“A Light Game”)—the girls always hated the title) and included the band’s second hit, ‘Svarthvíta hetjan mín’ (“My Black And White Hero”). Being in an all-girl group was nothing to build one’s future on in 1986, so everybody “got serious” and enrolled into higher education. Dúkkulísurnar were laid to rest, but of course, like most other bands, the girls would play together again decades later.
The TV-show Dallas was obviously a strong influence on young people in the East of Iceland in the ‘80s, as the OTHER successful band from the region was Súellen (incidentally named in honour of Dallas’ Sue Ellen). This was an all-boy band that played both played ‘80s joy-pop and hairdo-pop. Súellen were an ambitious ball-group that owned both a PA-system and a Benz van. Súellen released some rarely seen cassettes, an EP and an LP in 1990.
WHO IS ‘THE SIXTH COUNT’?
Greifarnir (“The Counts”) were the major representatives of joy-pop. Their Cinderella moment happened in 1986 when they won Músíktilraunir. These guys came from Húsavík in the North and had partaken the previous year as Special Treatment. In the year between they had changed their name, recruited a singer/front man they found in a Verzlunarskólinn trade school musical (my partner in Popppunktur crime, Felix Bergsson) and had begun singing in Icelandic.
Greifarnir’s victory got much media attention and the group’s wildest dreams now came true. The band played at a legendary two day festival called Listapopp in the summer of 1986. Listapopp had four British groups visiting the reef: Madness, Simply Red, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions and Fine Young Cannibals. Three other Icelandic acts played as well (Rikshaw, Grafík and the Bubbi-lite troubador Bjarki Tryggvason) but Greifarnir were the only act that got an encore. Greifarnir cared a lot about their appearance and had a stuffed wardrobe, including long white coats. They hired a makeup and hairdo-lady called Íris, who toured with the band—”She’s really the sixth member of the band,” singer Felix remarked in an interview at the time.
Steinar Berg, the owner of the other big Icelandic “major” at the time, signed Greifarnir to his Steinar label. First up was a 12″ EP called ‘Blue Blood.’ It came out before the Bank Holidays and included a tailor made smash hit for the weekend called ‘Útihátíð’ (“Outdoor Festival”). The song described Icelandic outdoor festivals in filthy details: “Badly drunk, in the woods. Where’s the tent? I hope you’re having fun!”
    “Our publisher wanted lightness, summer mood and perky stuff and we complied. We want to make a name for ourselves before we go for deeper ideas,” Felix said when the EP came out.
“ENTERTAINMENT”?
In August 1986, Greifarnir played for 20.000 people when Reykjavík celebrated its 200-year birthday with a big outdoor concert. Everything was broadcasted live on TV. Greifarnir nourished off this flying start for several years. More lightness was to be found on the next 12″ EP, ‘Sviðsmynd,’ and the first LP ‘Dúbl í horn’ that came out before Christmas of 1987.
Post modernism with its limp “everything is equal” mindset was still far off, so Greifarnir were dismissed by some (including myself, of course) as lousy “entertainment”-band and not “real artists.” This, naturally, rubbed Greifarnir the wrong way: “We take ourselves seriously and do our best. Still we’re not reckoned with. Instead people in the know are sucking up to groups that are much less successful than us,” they peevishly said in 1987.
When Felix quit the band in 1989 to study drama, the rest kept on for awhile but then split. The band came back in 1996 and have kept at it ever since, usually without Felix, who only appears on special occasions. They are a popular ball group and fly a gigantic pair of underpants outside the clubs they play, just like they did when they were starting out in Húsavík.
Other notable joy-pop bands were Stuðkompaníið (“The Fun Company”) that won Músíktilraunir in 1987 and included two sons of accordion-legend Örvar Kristjánsson; Skriðjöklar (“Glaciers”) from Akureyri that had many popular tunes and released records with absurd titles like “Is Indriði abroad a lot?” and “This is an insult to the payers of radio fees.” The decidedly un-PC Kátir piltar (“Gay Boys”) from Hafnarfjörður, whose most popular song was about “Fat women” and Sniglabandið (“The Snail Band”) that have been called “the poor man’s Stuðmenn” by none other than the ever-snappy Bo Halldórsson. The peak of joy-pop was probably in 1988, when Músíktilaunir’s top three bands all played joy-pop. These were Jójó (ehrm… “Yo-Yo”) from Skagaströnd, who won, Herramenn (“Gentlemen”) and Fjörkallar (“Fun Dudes”). (Un)fortunately, none of them released any records.



Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

Straumur: Best Of Music

by and

Best album: GusGus’s ‘Mexico’ The greats of Icelandic dance music, GusGus, have yet to slip up in their almost two decade long career and they certainly don’t do so on their latest album, ‘Mexico.’ They continue to explore the sonic terrain of their last album, ‘Arabian Horse,’ a sound that is not in any way minimal, but extremely economical. But that would be for nothing if it weren’t for the melodies and singers. Vocalist Daníel Ágúst has particularly outstanding performances in “Crossfade” and “Sustain” and former member Urður Hákonardóttir shines on standout track, “Another Life.” But they also hark back

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

The Northern Edge Of The Scene

by

If you were to read about Icelandic music in the press, then you’d be forgiven for thinking that all we listen to up here all day is a continuous loop of FM Belfast, Ásgeir, and Sigúr Rós, while employing secret cloning technology to keep our cultural industries stuffed full of post-rock non-entities and ethereal pop ninnies that sport woollen ponchos, face paint, and feather headdresses. Frankly that sort of stuff would send a sane person round the bend. Oh, but reader there are much wilder sounds on this Island if you know where to look! From black metal, to feminist

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

Weather Or Not

by

Red sands, yoga, seal-watching, camp games and nightly concerts in a barn—the only thing the organisers of Rauðasandur Festival couldn’t promise was good weather. The festival, held during the first weekend of July at a remote farm in the West Fjords, is ambitious in its design: 500 eager festival-goers and musicians abandon modern comforts for a four-day marathon of concerts, camping, coordinated activities, and revelry in an idyllic location reachable only by a treacherous, winding dirt road. Icelandic weather being unpredictable as it is, however, the festival organisers are used to changing plans by now. After four iterations—the first of

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

Track Of Issue: Grísalappalísa’s “Nýlendugata-Pálsbæjarvör-Grótta”

by

This frantic and irreverent song is the band’s very first single off of their new album, ‘Rökrétt Framhald’ (“Logical Progression”). The lyrics focus on a person sneaking out of their home and going on a wild ride through Reykjavík, and in typical Grísalappalísa style, also highlight the banality of life in the city. The chorus in particular drives the point home that nothing is new under the sun, counting up the things the protagonist sees, such as grey skies, empty streets and neon lights, before ending with “et cetera.” The instrumentals further accentuate the contrast between the band’s two singers;

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

ATP Iceland Portrait Series By Matthew Eisman

by

I wanted to try something different and challenging at ATP Iceland 2014 so I decided to shoot a series of backstage band portraits. I set up a portrait studio on-location at Atlantic Studios and shot as many bands as possible. For some artists I had less than a minute to work with. For others, time was flexible and we tried a few different looks. I didn’t get everyone, and there are a couple big names noticeably absent here. But I’m happy with the results and hope you enjoy too! Huge thanks to all the artists that participated, and to Tómas

Show Me More!