There doesn’t seem to be any place better to interview the lead guitarist of a punk band than midnight at a bar in downtown Reykjavík. Árni Þór Árnason is a burly man with a demeanour that seems to fit perfectly with a punk band that also makes yoga music—warm and cuddly, but with a clear edge. He claims that previously, he had been in bands that made music to “make it,” but now his only goal is to satisfy his own creative impulses.
“For over ten years all of us had been in bands,” he says of his new project, “and we had been close friends for all those years—but at the time when we started playing together all our bands were on hiatus. So we just started jamming, drinking beers and having fun. The thing with punk is that it’s anything you fucking want it to be.”
The last piece in the puzzle, however, came about when their friend married a girl from Colorado. Recalls Árni: “We saw her at a party and thought she looked cool. We had no idea if she could sing or not, and invited her to be the singer of the band.”
It turned out that she could, and that the chemistry worked. The quartet got together and started making music. It might be years since punk had any influence, but from the get-go something special was brewing, and that something was Tófa.
The ethos of “fuck it, this is fun”—which has always exemplified great punk—runs right through the spine of the band. The response has been overwhelmingly positive; they’ve even caught the ear of Pitchfork, who gave props to front-woman Allie Doersch’s “blaring and flinty” voice.
“I’m amazed by the reception we’ve gotten” from both the public and critics, Árni says. “I am still amazed that people like this stuff. In our other bands we have always had an end goal, but this time we just wanted to have fun, and I think that’s contagious. People see that we’re genuinely having fun, and pick up on it.”
It’s this power that exemplifies their live performances. And yet despite all this, the band doesn’t believe in categories and recently decided to flip everything on its head and make… a yoga album. “I’m not really sure why we decided to make a yoga album,” explains Árni. “We were asked to play a yoga gig last Airwaves, and most of us do yoga. People showed up and seemed to like it so we thought, ‘Why not?’”
It’s an unorthodox approach for a punk band to make a yoga album, but then again, when punk stops being style and fashion it boils down to an ethos—something Tófa has in abundance. Next up for Tófa is conquering the world beyond Iceland’s shores with a concert at Ja Ja Ja in London on the April 27. But before that, you can catch them at Húrra on April 26: a good opportunity to catch the punkest yoga band in town.
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