The Professionals: A Very Expensive Hour with Barði and Krummi - The Reykjavik Grapevine

The Professionals: A Very Expensive Hour with Barði and Krummi

The Professionals: A Very Expensive Hour with Barði and Krummi

Published August 5, 2005

Grapevine: This is the cleanest studio I’ve ever seen. And that’s an accountant’s lamp you’re writing under. I was expecting more rock and roll—but why are you dressed up?

Krummi: (Shrugging.) This? This is casual wear: just black t-shirt, black pants. T-shirt, trousers and shoes. No underwear though.

Grapevine: Oh. Well, now I know. And what are you writing?

Krummi: The chorus for the song I’m going to record as soon as you leave.

Grapevine: I think a lot of readers familiar with Mínus are curious about what will come out on this record. Having seen some recent shows, you seem to be presenting more raw material, and yet here you are recording with the most refined stylist in the country, Barði.

Krummi: Yeah, well we just played our whole set list for our fans. And they shouldn’t be surprised about me playing with Barði—we’ve been friends for a while. We always wanted to work.

Barði: And this film is a good reason to get together.

Grapevine: The film is a fictional account of a national gay soccer team. Are you saying you got together because you believed in promoting the social significance? Or did you see the rough of the film and like it?

Krummi: We knew there was humour. We liked that. But we didn’t think too much about it, because it would put us in a corner.

Grapevine: And why combine Bang Gang and Mínus?

Barði: They wanted something between our two bands, so we got a studio and made it work.

Grapevine: But the gap between Bang Gang, an ultra-smooth melodic, relaxed European club band, and Mínus, a tooth-and-nails hard rock band, seems enormous. Doesn’t that leave just about every type of music that includes vocals in the middle?

Krummi: They wanted something fresh. What you have to understand is, only musically is there a difference between us.

Barði: We play in the same league, but different teams. We’re both the national team.

Grapevine: You’re saying you both have an understanding of writing music that is similar?

(Silence.)

Barði: Something we have in common is that neither of us care about selling records in Iceland.

(Krummi pours a dark brown, non-bubbly substance from a Coke bottle into a glass and drinks.)

Grapevine: Okay. Krummi, are there drugs in that glass or something? Liquor? That looks like a big glass of flat Coke. But, is there something more rock and roll in it?

Krummi: No, it’s just flat Coke. It’s better for the voice.

Barði: Because he’s singing in G-flat.

Grapevine: Dear God. But I should point out, you’re here doing this soundtrack when both of you could be out making a lot more money touring or recording your own music. Barði, you’ve just toured successfully in France, and your Lady and Bird work is attracting a lot of international attention. Krummi, you’ve obviously been doing well touring on the last album, Halldór Laxness.

Krummi: True. But we’re doing this because it’s something fresh.

Barði: We both agree on that.

Krummi: And we like the romance of the film. And it’s fun working together. It’s always fun getting away from your band style and trying something new. And if you think of soundtracks, some bands really come up with something strong. Like the AC/DC soundtrack for Maximum Overdrive.

Grapevine: True, that is a great album for a movie I don’t really know. Is there a chance that this session will permanently change your sound or style? Suddenly Bang Gang will involve screaming?

Barði: (laughing) Probably not at all.

Krummi: (laughing) Why would it? I seriously doubt that Mínus is going to bring in a string quartet.

Barði: Maybe a banjo player.

Krummi: Maybe when we’re really old and sick of doing records we’ll bring in a string section and have Barði arrange it.

Grapevine: Okay, this is almost disturbing. You’re both happy and easygoing. Isn’t this the end of the recording week? How many hours have you spent together? Shouldn’t you be fighting or at least moody?

Barði: Well, I do now have a lot of tattoos. I’m covered in them.

Krummi: Hanging out with me 15 hours a day, he’s now into Black Metal. But this is how we get by, emotionally and physically. Of course we get annoyed and jaded but it only comes out in the music not on each other. We just get up and let it all out. Let the dick hang out.

Grapevine: Yes. You refer to your crotch a lot.

Krummi: That’s where it all happens, Bart. The life cycle all comes from right here. (Pointing at his crotch.)

Grapevine: True. So this session has been easy.

Krummi: We didn’t know how things would work out, but when we got together we were really happy about it. If you don’t enjoy working in the studio, you should go handle a cash register at Hagkaup.

Barði: The tour bus, that’s different.

Krummi: Yeah, then people really get on each other’s nerves. But then you have shows to get everything out.

Grapevine: I’ve heard only two tracks off of what you’ve recorded so far. One was extremely heavy, and you said it was atypical. The other had a very Kiss Dynasty disco feel, with a vocal range that I didn’t expect from Krummi.

Krummi: There is some Kiss influence. Maybe it could even be a Kiss song from when they were doing 4/4-time.

Grapevine: Given the success, what happens when people want to hear more?

Barði: If they want to hear more, they’re unlucky.

Krummi: We just wanted to write good songs. We’ve accomplished that.

With that, our time is up. All in all, including off the record comments about the local music scene, a brief studio tour and getting to hear a few tracks from the new record, I have had an hour with two of the most successful young musicians in Iceland. Barði Johannesson has been taking note of this, apparently.

“We’ll send you a bill for one hour of studio time,” he tells me on my way out.

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