Jakobínarína is a band that in Iceland needs little introduction. Músíktilraunir winners and Airwaves protégés in 2005, Airwaves venue headliners in 2006, and most of them only slowly nearing the twenties mark, the six-piece has long been trailed by a golden river of hype spewed by industry big-shots like the Klaxons, Islands and Rolling Stones veteran David Fricke.
After being picked up by Regal/Parlophone early in 2007, and recording their debut album to be released in September, the boys were back in town for a semi-holiday and a short chat with the Grapevine at Kaffibarinn early one Saturday afternoon.
Last summer you recorded an album in the Sigur Rós studio, but The First Crusade, which is coming out in September, was recorded in Wales this past January. What happened to the first album? Do you plan to release any of that later?
Heimir: No, you see it’s the same record. It was just… those recordings weren’t good enough. We just re-recorded it, in Wales.
Was that insisted on by your label?
Heimir: It doesn’t have anything to do with EMI.
Hallberg: Everyone just wanted it. We recorded it with new people.
Heimir: We started work on it before we signed the contract.
As a young band, do you have any worries about how early in your music career you were picked up by such a big label like EMI/Parlophone/Regal? A label that is likely to have very strong opinions about how the bad and especially the music should be.
Heimir: We’re just really happy with that. It’s sort of what we wanted. To sign with one of these big companies.
Yes, but it must have some influence on you, or on your music and how you make it.
Heimir: Very little.
Hallberg: It doesn’t matter at all.
Heimir: It’s of course a sub-label, Regal, and they’re maybe not as strict as if we had signed with Parlophone, just directly to Parlophone, you know.
Hallberg: We just do what we enjoy now and we’ll continue to do what we enjoy in the future.
So from a creative point of view, you don’t feel that things have changed at all since you signed?
Hallberg: Not in that way. We’re just making music like we do.
Heimir: They just… push us and help us. Buy us recording equipment.
Has the reception changed at all? By associating with a big record label you are, for better or for worse, sort of associating yourselves and your music as mainstream. If only because you get guaranteed radio play and whatnot. Do you try at all to avoid that stereotype?
Heimir: I don’t think we think a lot about that.
Hallberg: Yeah, I don’t give a shit what… yeah, it doesn’t matter at all, we’re just doing this and they see about the rest.
What’s the rest?
Hallberg: We just expect that they take care of the rest, like radio play.
And the image?
Heimir: The image just comes based on how we act and what we do, that’s how the image forms, but they can’t really create any image for us, we are the ones doing everything surrounding the band. The only thing that they really do is to sell us and make sure that we’re putting our best foot forward.
What’s different about being a band in Europe and being a band in back home in Reykjavík?
Hallberg: It’s fun to play for new people, who haven’t heard this before. To see their reactions. Just also, yeah, fun to play new places, new countries.
What is the best concert you’ve ever played?
Hallberg: Here or abroad?
Hallberg: Of all time?
Or perhaps which has been better? Playing here or abroad?
Hallberg: It’s always fun to play here.
Hallberg: Just, people know you here, and we’ve got a good group that shows up to our concerts. But I don’t know what the most fun concert has been. Do you know Heimir? Heimir: There aren’t really any that stand out. Some concerts are better than others, and others are completely horrible.
What Icelandic bands do you have the most interest in now? If any?
Heimir: There aren’t any…
Hallberg: There’s really just one that’s been doing something good. Which is Singapore Sling. I don’t think anything else is really happening.
Do you follow the Icelandic scene?
Heimir: It doesn’t really escape you. But, like if you look at what bands are playing Innipúkinn, there are all these Icelandic bands, and it’s all just so much trash.
It’s quite an interesting perspective that you have on the scene. Because many of those bands have been working here for many years and have built a fan base and have also been working for a long time to develop their sound and also themselves as musicians. You, on the other hand, were picked up sort of from the crib, and I mean that more in terms of your career as a band. Should it be the objective for an Icelandic band to go international as quickly as possible, or is there some merit to staying local and working up a good sound?
Heimir: Well, I don’t know. If it’s interesting music that they’re making, then it’s of course great that you can get it out with some company that you want, to get your music forward and out, however old you are, or how far you’ve gotten with your music.
Hallberg: We were just lucky to meet good people at the right time, that helped us play internationally, which led to us being where we are now.
So you don’t see it as something that might set you back in the future? To have risen up quickly? erhaps it’s difficult to say at this point.
Heimir: We just look at it as a good thing.
Hallberg: There will probably be some people who’ll say, “they were discovered too quickly” or something like that, but that doesn’t really matter much. We were totally ready for this, to go into this.
Heimir: We try not to take it too seriously. And then just to enjoy ourselves.
Hallberg: Like many people do take this whole thing too seriously. It’s supposed to be fun, and for us it is.
What are your plans next? More touring?
Heimir: Yeah, totally.
Hallberg: We’re touring from September through December. We’re going to be playing in Europe, England and the U.S.
And then is it on to writing after that? The next record. Do you have any time to think about new music?
Heimir: Yeah we’re writing B-sides now.
Here in Iceland?
Heimir: Yeah. But otherwise we’re just working on this record, playing it in concerts and finishing it. We haven’t really been thinking about record two. If there is a record number two, you know.
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