I caught up with Magnús and Aron of Úlpa at Bar 11 on a Sunday. Magnús, the singer, guitarist and keyboardist, was tending the bar. Aron, the bassist, was somewhat draped over the bar.
Grapevine: When does the new album come out, then?
Magnús: By the beginning of October. We’re just finishing overdubs and mixing.
GV: Differences between this and Mea Culpa, your first album?
Magnús: Well, the first album was clean and polished. Now we’re more live. Basically, now we know what we’re looking for.
Aron: For the first album we just wanted to put something out.
GV: You’re known for your live shows. How many do you think you’ve performed in Reykjavík since the year 2000, when you formed?
Magnús: (Stunned, shrugs and stares at Aron.)
Aron: I would say about a hundred.
Magnús: (Looking on the internet at his website, www.ulpa.is.) I have no idea.
GV: (Changing subject slightly.) Well, you’re playing Airwaves.
Magnús: About 100.
GV: That’s a lot of shows for one city.
Magnus: Maybe 80.
GV: Let’s go with 100, it sounds more impressive. How can you fill clubs in the same small city for three years?
Aron: And we’re still getting new crowds. Since we haven’t released anything, that’s saying something that we still get new people.
GV: So why are people coming?
Magnús: (Shrugs. Tugs at sideburns. Looks around. Give the impression he may want to change topic.) Cause we’re fucking good.
GV: You’re in charge of music at the bar?
GV: You’ve just played “Is it getting heavy?” by the Flaming Lips twice. Good song, but do you want to repeat it?
Magnús: (Jumping from bar running to change songs. Returns grinning.)
GV: You’ve been playing abroad. Favourite spots?
Magnus: The Faroe Islands for the G festival. We played on a beach. And the States. We played Baltimore on Halloween. Good show, good sound, good crowd. Everyone was dressed up. We went to…K Mart (somehow says K Mart with enough Icelandic accent to make it sound exotic) and bought wings and capes. The feedback was really good.
Aron: Yeah. Best we’ve had.
GV: Okay, guys. How are you going to promote this next album. Really promote it?
Magnús: We’re gonna. I don’t know. We’re gonna play. We’re going to do what we haven’t done. Tour Iceland. We’re going to make videos. We’re going to release a single. That’s not common for Icelandic bands. We plan on just giving it away cause we’re so nice. In January, we plan to go to Berlin, Spain and Denmark on tour. And hopefully Japan.
GV: Any insight into the videos? Topless women? Dismemberment?
Magnús: The first one is shot in Barcelona by a lady friend. It’s a story. It’s beautiful. A little bit spooky.
GV: Where will you play for Airwaves?
Magnús: Last I heard, NASA. It’s not definite.
GV: Can you tell me, what Icelandic band would you see 100 times?
Magnús: Do they have to be current?
Magnús: (Silent, rubbing his sideburns.) Úlpa.
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