Þórir Georg is the first to admit that he’s not much for interviews or self-promotion of an kind. Although he’s enjoyed a diverse, overly active career as a musician over the past decade-plus, driven by a strong work ethic that’s resulted in a substantial back-catalogue that spans various monikers and genres, Þórir Georg is a name known by few other than some really nerdy Icelandic music critics and fans. I know he would like to keep it that way, letting his self-named slop-rock trio and his goth rock project Kvöl stay on the down-low. However, when I arrived at Harpa this past Airwaves, planning to hang out before Ariel Pink’s set, I stumbled upon Þórir and his wife and bandmate, Júlía Aradóttir, sitting by the bar. I decided to press through and get him on the record.
You have a good mustache going on right now. Did you get a haircut for the festival?
I just shaved my head and my beard yesterday. I do this fairly regularly, I’m surprised you haven’t seen it before. It’s very common, it’s like, every other time that I shave.
Júlía: And I’m always like, are you gonna leave that mustache?
How quickly does your facial hair grow? Like, how long would it take you to grow out that mustache?
Fairly quickly. I dunno, like, two weeks.
That’s impressive. And how much does your facial hair affect your performance?
That’s a difficult question.
This interview is going to be full of hard-hitting, difficult questions.
So how is Airwaves going for you?
Same as always. This is my eleventh year and I always go into it thinking it will be fun, and I never have as much fun as I think I’m going to have. But that just has more to do with me getting tired very easily from everything.
Is that because everyone around you is getting shitfaced and you’re just like, ugh.
Hmm, probably part of it*. There’s just too much going on.
Have you seen anything good though or have you just given up?
Yes. [Laughs.] No! I saw the show today at Dillon and that was all very good. All the bands that played there were great.
Who was playing again? Just remind me?
I think it was HAM and ghostigital and the Sugarcubes.**
Those are good bands! Solid groups.
Of course, I like all the bands that were playing but I see them pretty much every time they play. I saw Misþyrming on Wednesday at Gaukurinn. I liked that a lot.
At Airwaves, do you spend more time seeing your friends bands or–
Yes, definitely. I realised that the pattern I’ve fallen into is I’ll usually see one or two foreign bands and then I’ll just see the same bands I’ll see every year. I probably see more bands now than I used to. There are more bands going on right now that sort of fit into my taste in music than have there often have been.
In terms of playing has the experience changed? Does any memory stand out?
It’s always nice. I don’t have a very good memory for details though. My shows have always gone very smoothly. I remember the couple of times that Gavin Portland*** played. Those were really good memories. We played two or three times and it was always nice. Now I’m trying to remember bands that I’ve seen but it’s not going very well. [Turns to Júlía] What have I seen that I really liked?
Júlía: You saw The Knife last year.
Yeah, The Knife. That was really good. Oh, and Fucked Up were really good when they played. But I’d seen them a couple of times before. Contrary to what everyone else seems to think, I really loved the Yo La Tengo show a couple of years ago. Everyone I meet is like, nah I didn’t like it that much, but I thought it was really good. I got into a fairly heated argument with a couple of mutual friends of ours over whether The Pixies or Yo La Tengo were a better band.
You’re not gonna tell me who, are you?
We don’t have very many mutual friends that would have an opinion on this! One of them definitely plays drums in a couple of bands that we are in, and the other guy has definitely been a member of one of those bands before but they’re not anymore [laughter]. They were really offended when I said that The Pixies only had a couple of good songs. I may have been exaggerating to benefit my side of the argument, but still. But I still stand by that Yo La Tengo are probably a better band than The Pixies. In my opinion, of course.
But yeah… Börn are one the bands I love to see, they’ve played the last couple of years. But of course I pretty much see every single show they play in Iceland, so…
You put on a lot of them, in fact.
Yes. If I am to be completely honest, Börn might be my favourite Icelandic band in the history of Icelandic music.
They just play exactly the kind of music I love. There haven’t really been a lot of real punk bands in Iceland. Even during the punk period there weren’t really any punk rock bands. There were a couple of punk bands that I don’t listen to that much because they were more on the bar rock kind of side.
And it seems like anything that actually sounded like straight-up punk was actually a lot of macho bullshit.
Yeah, exactly. There was the post-punk stuff which I obviously love, like the weirder darker stuff (Þeyr, Kukl).
Which would venture into some really strange, experimental territory sometimes.
Yes, which is cool. I like that. I much prefer that to this manly Bubbi Morthens punk rock kind of thing. So yeah, so I like Börn a lot. Can this interview just be about how much I like Börn?
Yeah! Fuck yes.
Even the band they had before that, Tentacles of Doom, were an incredible rock band. That was Alexandra, Júlíana and Fannar with a guy named Siggi on the guitar. I think he’s a park ranger now. They were really good as well. It probably affects it that my best friend is in that band, but I think that even if I didn’t know them they would be my favourite band.
I feel like there’s always a bit of a natural overlap between who one hangs out with and what kind of music one likes.
I’ve had friends in a bunch of bands that I didn’t like.
Of course, who doesn’t, but you wouldn’t necessarily organise or play shows together.
No no, but I just mean through the years as well. So I don’t think it’s just because they’re friends of mine that I like them. In fact, most of that band are assholes. [Pauses. Breaks. Laughs.] No, they’re not. None of them are assholes. They’re great.
*Þórir is straight-edge and proud.
**Þórir and Júlía’s band Kvöl and my band Antimony were both playing said off-venue show at Dillon, Dark Waves Night. His answer is what we call a “lie”.
***One of his former hardcore bands. He had a few.