Benny Crespo’s Gang, the dynamic Icelandic rock quartet, formed in 2003, and their self-titled debut album was released in 2007. They’re worshipped by rock enthusiasts in Reykjavík, and known for their energetic and wild performances. Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir is the singer of the band and is also well-known for her solo project Lay Low. “Rock was mainstream then, now rock is more side stuff,” she says of the band’s debut, more than a decade ago. “It’s fun to feel that shift. They’re not playing rock so much on the radio.”
The gang are embracing this evolving musical landscape, and now—eleven years later—their sophomore album, “Minor Mistakes,” has finally arrived.
Helgi, Bassi and Magnús met while in high school in Selfoss. When asked about the birth of the band, Lovísa lights up. “Funny story,” she says. “I was Magnús’ girlfriend—which I’m not anymore—and they needed a keyboard for a practice. I showed up to the practice and played with them. I was just in. I don’t recall ever being officially invited to be the band.” Helgi adds: “You just were a part of the band from our first practice.”
Their music is written collectively. “The four of us bring an equal amount to the table,” says Lovísa. “We own the songs together and write them mostly together. Someone will bring a riff and then someone else will add onto it and it grows. Often we disagree and we just have to find ways to decide on things, which makes it fun. We come from different directions but still we kind of like the same things.”
Helgi adds: “Sometimes we have to take democratic decisions.” Lovísa chimes in, half-smiling: “Which may be why this album has taken such a long time.”
Don’t call it a comeback
Their meticulously created second album has been long anticipated. “You could almost say that each note, each sound has an exact intention,” says Lovísa. But their fans have stayed loyal and excited. Benny Crespo’s Gang have played every single Airwaves since they started, except in 2015.
Some years, it was the only show they played. “It’s kind of like our annual celebration,” says Helgi, chuckling. “People have written about us when we play again like we’re making a comeback—but we’ve never quit.” Lovísa emphasises: “Never quit.”
Atmosphere and attitude
The gang have been working on ‘Minor Mistakes’ since the release of their debut offering. “There have been times where we are listening to demos and notice that it’s been a few years since we last opened the file,” says Lovísa. “Then sometimes there came a lag in passion to finish the album. We would meet and make something new, and realise: ‘We have to finish this, it’s great!’ Then another six months would pass and we hadn’t done anything.”
Their trademark within the craft is to weave chapter changes into their songs. Some of the songs have a different styles intertwined. “We decided right away that on this album would concentrate on the melodies,” says Helgi. “I would say that there are catchier lines on this one.”
The new single “Another Storm” is indeed catchy, “poppy,” and exact, but they certainly haven’t lost their attitude, and the music still shakes up your gut. Some songs on ‘Minor Mistakes’ have been performed at concerts in the past years, but others have been hidden away until now. For an immersive experience of a Reykjavík rock legend, see them live at Airwaves 2018.
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Posted November 7, 2018