Grapevine met up with half the band Kimono, Gylfi and Alex at Tjarnarbíó theatre, where they were busy gathering their stuff and cleaning the place after a concert held there the night before. The concert was arranged by the two and among other bands were Maus, Worm is Green, Æla and others. As the bands performed, video art was shown on a screen behind them, a blend that made quite a show and was the first concert in a series called Tími or Time, a co-op between musicians and visual artists.
But Grapevine wasn’t there to question the two about the concerts but to ask them about the release of album “Mineur Aggressif”, Kimono’s first LP release. Grapevine had managed to get a copy of this, then unreleased, album and after listening to it over and over became more and more impressed. The decision was then made to do some research on the band and interview band members.
Band Kimono was founded in 2001, when the band Kaktus dissolved, and the members split up into the bands Hudson Wayne and Kimono. Kimono´s members are; Alex McNeil (guitar/vocals), Gylfi Blöndal (guitar), Kjartan Bragi Bjarnason (drums) and Halldór Örn Ragnarsson (bass).
The bands name is Japanese for a robe or a type of clothing made to fit all, where size or sex doesn’t matter, and when questioned on the matter Alex and Gylfi replied that it was more like; “one size fits most” leaving out the “all” statement. The bands bassist was also very picky on letters used when deciding upon the bands name, banning letters like R and S as these cause bad karma (Grapevine wishes it had heard of this when naming itself, but what the hey, if it works for dried out alcoholics…)
Mineur Agressif is the bands first major release, but both an EP titled “Kimono Demono”, and a single, “Japanese Policemen”, along with live radio recordings exist and some of them are even downloadable at the bands homepage. The band is now on the Bad Taste label, which is of course the label formed by former members of the Sugarcubes, a band that became semi-world famous and had Björk onboard before she went solo (editors note: It´s about time her name was mentioned).
Grapevine wanted to know more about the songwriting on the album and asked who wrote the music:
“Most of the album’s music is co-written by the band, where one of us brings ideas or riffs and then the band adopts it and makes a song out of it. It is actually quite a difficult task sometimes for the bassist and the drummer since it is very hard to find beats, breaks and lines for some of the stuff we contribute but as an estimation it takes around three band practises to make one song, from the simple riff to the complete song.”
What about the lyrics, do they have deep complex messages hidden in them?
“Well the lyrics are written by me”, says Alex “And of course they have a meaning to me, although listeners might understand them differently from me, they’re not political or anything in that direction, more about experiences, like the song “Japanese Policemen” is actually about my experience as a foreigner in Scandinavia, but is basically about being a foreigner wherever”.
Who are your major musical influences?
“Well I’d like to put together a dream band to answer that, my dream band would consist of John Bonham on drums, Mary Timony playing guitar and with Cliff Burton taking care of the bass lines,” was Alex’s reply.
Gylfi names the Sparks, the Byrds and Elvis Costello as his main influences, and curses himself for not stalking Elvis Costello when the legend visited Iceland a couple of weeks ago. “I knew where he was dining”!
Now that the album is out, what’s next?
Well, we might tour Germany this fall if everything goes as planned and also we’re playing at the Icelandic Airwaves in October. Then there’s a video by Ragnar Hansson to the song Japanese Policemen that is to be ready this fall too and then hopefully we’ll start recording a new album before the end of the year. The songwriting process has already started, we’re planning to have around 15 songs on the album and are already finished with at least a third of that”.
Grapevine has so far tried to focus on the music, but can restrain itself no longer and blurts out; “Alex! What’s with the hair?”
“I was actually going to cut it off last night…but I didn’t obviously. I’d say it was a reversed mullet if that answers your question”.
Grapevine recommends readers to look for Kimono’s album in Reykjavik’s record stores, and check out their homepage: www.mineur-aggressif.com
Jón Oddur & Jón Snær
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