Surf Vampires Of Doom: Godchilla Is Fuzzy, Dirty & Loud - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Surf Vampires Of Doom: Godchilla Is Fuzzy, Dirty & Loud

Surf Vampires Of Doom: Godchilla Is Fuzzy, Dirty & Loud

Published June 9, 2017

Steindór Grétar Jónsson
Main photo by
Chris Cleland & Ingi Kristján

The Batcat, Nosferadude and The Glampire King take to the streets in the newest music video from surf-sludge doom metal stalwarts Godchilla. The monster movie trailer-style video for their track “Dracoola” was directed by guitarist Hjalti Freyr Ragnarsson and his girlfriend Kristín Mjöll Bjarnadóttir Johnsen; both star in the video as vampiric creatures of the night.

“I got the idea two years ago,” says Hjalti, during a hectic three-way Skype with bassist Birgir Sigurjón Birgisson. “Two of my buddies had a 24 hour B-movie marathon at their apartment. I don’t remember what film was playing, but somewhere in the madness I visualised Dracula—except he was called Dracoola—driving a convertible. Then I forgot about it, until we were planning the video.”

Fog and chaos

The term for Godchilla’s unique sub-genre was coined by Noisy’s metal editor, Kim Kelly, who caught the band’s live show in an abandoned steel mill off-venue at Eistnaflug. “We wore robes, barefoot, with shards of glass all over the place, drowned in fog and chaos,” says Hjalti. “Two of our friends from Kælan Mikla danced around dressed as ghosts. Kim saw this crazy set and called it “surf sludge”. It fit.”

Godchilla are known for their trippy live performances, and for their new album the visual aspect is front and centre. Their breakthrough 2016 video—for “Bum a Smoke/Trash a Car”—featured the band members’ faces covered in paper mache. “We didn’t really make videos until now,” says Birgir. “We asked our friends to do whatever they wanted, so ultimately every track on the album will have one.”

The album ‘Hypnopolis’ is due out in the fall on vinyl. Until then, Godchilla will play the Norðanpaunk festival and tour the UK. “We have six gigs in six days,” says Birgir, “from Brighton to London and then Hull and Lincoln. I think these smaller towns are great for concerts. There are some impressive bands on the bill with us. It’s a good scene out there.”

“It’s really the birthplace of doom music,” adds Hjalti. “Black Sabbath are kind of the originators, then we have Electric Wizard. We played doom, and then started playing surf-style stuff to mix it up, sort of by accident.”

Fuzzy, dirty, loud

Just like the video, the album has been a long time coming. “It takes us forever,” sighs Birgir. “A year and a half of recording, mixing and mastering, trying to capture that live element.” Hjalti adds: “There’s a lot of mud—fuzzy, dirty and loud. It’s difficult to catch it nicely on tape.”

“We wore robes, barefoot, with shards of glass all over the place, drowned in fog and chaos.”

However, their website is up and running, looking like a relic from the dial-up 90s. It’s well worth a visit for aficionados of classic web design. “I’m no website hacker,” says Birgir. “I drew all of it in MS Paint and found some gifs that I liked online.”

As we’re about to wrap up our Skype chat, drummer Höskuldur Eiríksson suddenly joins the session to confirm the date of their 29 July show at Gaukurinn in Reykjavík, where they’ll play alongside Balagan and Skrattar. The four-way interaction immediately proves too challenging for all involved, and it’s cut short amid laughter. Their music may spell doom, but these musicians don’t take things too seriously.

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