In an exclusive interview with the Grapevine, Georg Hólm (Goggi) and Jón Þór Birgisson (Jónsi) deny persistent rumors that Kjartan Sveinsson—who has been with the band since 1998—quit Sigur Rós. The bandmates likewise dismiss as “fabrication” the stories published in the Icelandic media that an already-complete second album will follow-up their sixth release—Valtari, out May 28. These rumors have been running rife around Reykjavík for the past months, going as far as prominent music critic Dr. Gunni publishing them as fact on his website, before issuing a retraction. Jónsi does confirm, however, that Kjartan will not be playing with the band on their world tour this summer, which begins in Philadelphia at the end of July. The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RÚV) released an excerpt from an interview this afternoon wherein Kjartan himself confirms that he will be replaced on the upcoming tour by Ólafur Björn Ólafsson on keyboard and oboe, and Kjartan Dagur Hólm—younger brother of Georg and member of celebrated post-rockers For A Minor Reflection—on guitar. Regarding his bandmate’s decision to bypass the summer tour, Jónsi told the Grapevine that he suspects that Kjartan is “tired of touring,” and that he wants to “spend his time doing something else.” Georg adds that the time consumed by touring is “not necessarily the most productive,” and Jónsi agrees that time spent on tour is not very “creative.” Kjartan was, as per usual, involved in the making of the band’s forthcoming album, and no comments have been made regarding the lineup on the band’s impending 2013 tour. Read the full Sigur Rós interview in the Grapevine‘s newest issue. You can also read more of our online coverage about the new Sigur Rós LP, or our track-by-track sneak preview ofValtari.
A new bill from the Minister of Health would provide health insurance coverage to Iceland’s asylum seekers. Currently, only those asylum seekers who were expressly invited to Iceland by the government have had immediate health coverage. RÚV reports that this may soon change. This Tuesday, Minister of Health Kristján Þór Júlíusson will submit a bill to parliament that, if passed into law, would provide health insurance to all asylum seekers, whether they were invited or arrived of their own accord. This coverage would go into effect immediately upon an asylum seeker being registered as such. Under the present system, asylum
Birta Líf Kristinsdóttir, a meteorologist with the Icelandic Met Office has posted a video of what a weather report might look like in Iceland in July 2050, reports RÚV. The video has been made in conjunction with the UN Climate Change Summit in New York next week. By 2050, Birta Líf predicts that Iceland will be much greener with summer temperatures reaching between 20-30 degrees celsius. She also goes over the ramifications of the warmer climate and how it might effect the acidification of the sea. Check out her video below, the first half is in Icelandic (subtitled) but stick
A stolen cardboard cutout of actor and comedian Pétur Jóhann Sigfússon has been taken on a Facebook adventure, reports DV. The cutout of Pétur, who best known internationally for co-writing and starring in Næturvaktin alongside Jón Gnarr, was stolen from Hagkaup supermarket in Reykjanesbær. Since then cardboard Pétur – or Pappír Pési (Paper Pete) as the cutout is referred to in the media – has been to the tanning salon, worked at a kiosk in Grindavík, and checked out a farm. Paper Pete’s extensive adventures over the past few days have been documented on a Facebook page though the police say
Icelandic Customs Officers recently seized 3 Madagascar cockroaches in a plastic container, reports RÚV. A foreign traveller brought them over and was stopped at the airport on his way into the country and informed the Customs Officers that they were his pets. His fiancé had convinced him to take them along so that he would not be bored while staying in Iceland. Importing living animals into Iceland is illegal, so the gentleman’s pet roaches were confiscated by the authorities.
Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson told parliament he was very surprised by the harsh criticisms the proposed budget has received from labour unions. RÚV reports that Social Democrat MP Árni Páll Árnason asked the Prime Minister what his response was to yesterday’s statement from the Confederation of Icelandic Labour Unions (ASÍ) on the proposed 2015 budget. The Prime Minister said the response surprised him and “came out of nowhere”. He contends that the proposed budget was crafted with the aim of helping Icelandic households, adding that the response was especially surprising “considering how very patient ASÍ president [Gylfi Arnbjörnsson] was
Minister of Foreign Affairs Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson told parliament that he was unsure whether now is the time to engage in sanctions against Israel. MBL reports that the Minister, responding to a question from Social Democrat MP (and former Foreign Minister) Össur Skarphéðinsson on whether or not Iceland should start sanctions or embargos against Israel, was hesitant at best about the idea. “Regarding whether the time has come to initiate sanctions or an embargo against Israel, I am not sure if this is the right thing to do at this stage,” he said. “I’m not sure about that.” However, the