“Nick Cave is a real motherfucker” - The Reykjavik Grapevine

“Nick Cave is a real motherfucker”

“Nick Cave is a real motherfucker”

Published December 3, 2004

That “almost everyone interested in music in Reykjavík is in a band at one point or another” is a well-known fact that Águst, guitar player of indie rock band Jan Mayen points out to me when I meet him for a short interview. But for sure, not everyone gets to sign a three album record deal with Iceland’s most prestigious label, Smekkleysa, while still in their early twenties.
Out of all Icelandic bands that have made it abroad lately, few have belonged to the category of straightforward rock. Perhaps it’s harder to fit a fun and catchy, but nevertheless aggressive rock band in the picture of what’s typically Icelandic than one dealing in grandiose soundscapes or quirky electronics and singing techniques. But with influences ranging from 80’s Icelandic rock trough Sonic Youth to Rage Against the Machine and Pixies, Jan Mayen hope to change the trend. Having just released their debut Home of the Free Indeed and about to head out on a tour of Scandinavia, they’re a band with a rapidly growing following. It has all happened quickly.

”After a few gigs with Mínus and a demo EP, things just started happening”, says Águst. “It’s been great playing with Mínus all around the country. They’re probably the only rock band in Iceland today that can actually draw a crowd outside of Reykjavik. And we love playing live; even when we’re in the studio, rehearsing or trying to come up with a new song, we always play as if doing a gig. We’re definitely not one of those bands where every member has his strictly assigned role. When coming up with new music, we try to just jam along and hopefully we’ll find a few hooks and melodies on the way. Valgeir writes all the lyrics though, but they’re always the last step in the process of making a song.”

Águst goes on telling me about the frustrated lyrics being a contrast to the more up-beat music, and I can’t help but ask why in one song Nick Cave is claimed to be ‘a real motherfucker’.

“That just happened by accident. We don’t hate him or anything, and think of the song more as a homage. Originally, the lyrics went ‘Mickey is a surreal motherfucker’, but then a girl in the audience got it wrong. Later on she asked us about it and we preferred her version.”

With the members of Jan Mayen trying to fit school and work in between playing in the band, they’ve earned themselves a break before the album gets released in England and Scandinavia, and all the gigs that involves. Águst assures me however, that the band is far from running out of energy.


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