In The Company of Men have been an active presence in Reykjavík’s metal scene since 2011. After placing second in Músiktilraunir in 2013, and winning the Wacken Metal Battle in 2015, they’re calling it a day. Their final show is on April 22nd 2017 at Gaukurinn.
Grapevine: Hey guys. So, it’s been ten years since you got together, is that right?
Steini Milljón: Me and Andri (the vocalist) started doing stuff together around 2008 but ITCOM didn’t really start until late 2011. Sammi and Bjössi then joined the band in 2012. So I’d say we’ve been a group for about 5 years.
Finnbogi: In october it’ll be 6 years since we played our first show at Café Amsterdam with a bunch of bands that slipped through the cracks. I was 15 and we sucked. I was with the band for about four years, but I’m the only member to ever get our dumb name tattooed on me.
GV: How did you meet, and what was your first ideas about what the band would be?
Steini Milljón: I think each one of us has different ideas and experiences about how it all started, but I first met Andri when I advertised for a vocalist to join a Dillinger Escape Plan-ish band on a local forum called Taflan.org, and he was the only one that responded. For my part I just wanted to play crazy intense and complicated music and jump around on stage like Ben Weinman.
Finnbogi: I met Bjössi on a school trip in the 9th grade, and we’ve been best friends since. Around that time I also started going to local shows and met Andri and Sammi. They played in a band called Vulgate. When they broke up, I took it upon myself to try and start a new band with Andri.
Björn: My idea of the band going in was that we would play some outlandish, heavy, Dillinger-esque music, but I still lived out in the countryside when the opportunity arose, and I had never been in a ‘real’ band before. So at that point in time, I was just really excited at the notion of actually playing music at a concert, in front of people.
GV: Do you feel like you accomplished what you wanted to do?
Steini Milljón: I guess. I just wanted to play music that wasn’t fucking trash.
Finnbogi: I threw up on the stage in Harpan.
Björn: 16-year-old me just wanted to play crazy concerts in front of people, and I did a bunch of that, so I would say yes. Mostly though I just had a lot of fun doing this shit.
GV: Were there any surprises along the way?
Steini Milljón: Not really.
Finnbogi: While Steini is being modest, I’ll say that I never expected us to get 2nd place as “token heavy band” of Músíktilraunir 2013. When they won the Wacken battle of the bands I knew I had been a part of something special. What surprised me the most is when I still find our shitty records on Russian mathcore blogs.
GV: What are your best memories of being in the band?
Steini Milljón: One of our most fun shows we did was in Keflavík around three years ago. We were playing this birthday party in Paddy’s and it was so fucking wild. Our friends in Trust The Lies, Great Grief, and Conflictions were also playing and by the end of our set everybody was stage diving even though there were only like 10 people in the crowd. We’ve played shows for 2 people and we’ve played for around 300 people and I’d rather play for 10 people that are really into the music than a stadium of dead eyes staring. Another fun memory from Keflavik was when we played the ‘Keflavik Music Festival’ disaster. It was a clusterfuck from the beginning to the end but we still had so much fun. Shout out to Kef lavik.
Finnbogi: There’s so many stupid shows we played. We did a hip hop improv set in front of 0 people. We pissed of some big businessmen in Iceland’s music scene with our antics. We’ve done shows with such corny “wannabe” serious bands where we’ve made the atmosphere so awkward for anyone who’s had to follow us on stage. My favorite memories are making fun of the people that didn’t like ITCOM.
Björn: I’m mostly reminded of surreal situations with the band. I remember being backstage in Gaukurinn when I was 16 or 17 and seeing prominent older metal musicians doing speed, telling us “I never say no to drugs, kids.”. At Keflavík Music Festival we ended up at our friend’s mother’s house where he was having a party and in the middle of the party his mother gave us really nice Icelandic meat soup, so I was calm and full of energy for what would be a shitty cold concert in front of 10 people, one of them being the mother. Our first release show is probably one of my best memories of the band though. That was insane.
GV: What’s with the name? Were the gigs company-of-men “sausage fests”, or no?
Steini Milljón: The name doesn’t really have a meaning any more than every other band name. It just sounds “right” you know. Most metal and hardcore shows are a total sausage fest though, which is a darn shame. In my opinion it´s a combination of different reasons. One of them is that the “heavy music“ community feels kinda like the last bastions of macho bullsthit. I fucking hate it.
Finnbogi: When we started the band, I was 15 and surrounded by a bunch of old dudes, so that’s how I usually explained it. I was “In the company of men”—get it? Then Bjössi joined so there were two kids in the band. We almost went with the band name “Rob Grabs The Mic”… That would have been so sick.
GV: Why the decision to quit now?
Steini Milljón: Bjössi is leaving the country indefinitely next month and I’m also moving out for some time come fall, and we figured the band wouldn’t really survive that. We spent way too much fucking time working on the last album and we just kinda lost the momentum. We also don’t have a rehearsal space which is really becoming a big fucking problem for bands in Reykjavík. Andri also became a father this year. So it’s alot of reasons really. We figured it’s better to end it with a bang then to just fade out. I can´t really think of a artistically worse fate for a band then for people to go “hey, whatever happened to that band?”
Finnbogi: Iceland is a lonely place, and in order to flourish as a band after burning through the candle for five years straight, you need to do something stupid, like I don’t know… Move abroad, together, as a unit. That’d be fucking stupid and expensive however, I hope no one thinks that’s a good idea.
Björn: I feel that it’s a culmination of things, really. A myriad of reasons that aren’t very dramatic, but they sap your momentum and wear you out. I’ve wanted to move abroad for a while and now that’s finally happening. Yes, that’s a killing blow to a band like ours, but after a costly album that took too long to make, after our singer moving to Hveragerði and having a baby, after losing our practice space, after 5 years of playing the same bars in the same city for the same people in the same small and ever diminishing scene, I feel it’s just time. Don’t get me wrong – good times were had by all – but in Iceland you play hardcore music solely for yourself and for a small fringe group of mostly other hardcore musicians, there is no one else. It takes a great deal of time, energy and money to do this, and at some point you have to ask yourself “for how long do I keep at this?”. And I think we’ve reached that point. (Actually, The Dillinger Escape Plan is quitting this year, so we just figured we’d quit, too.)
GV: What can people expect from the final gig?
Steini Milljón: I think we’re just gonna go all out, not giving a fuck about shit. But our goal is also to give ITCOM a good funeral and for everyone to go home with a good feeling in their tummies.
Finnbogi: I’ve been pondering this for a minute. We will of course deliver the chaos that we are known to produce, and I hope that the audience will do the same for us. I will bring Bananas for all those that are in need of healthy nutrition, and then I will hope for a Banana peel moshpit.
GV: Any last words you want to put out into the world?
Steini Milljón: DESTROY GARBAGE MUSIC
Finnbogi: Write radio music. Don’t disappoint your parents. Big business kills culture. Iceland has never inspired me. Reykjavík is a husk of what it used to be. Listen to Great Grief. Support underground music in Iceland. Go hard, or go the fuck home.
Björn: Avenge us.
Concert photos by Unnur Snorradóttir.