Published November 10, 2014


Parker Yamasaki


Axel Björnsson pushes into the Grapevine office at 2:00am and chomps the triangle tip off of a slice of pizza out of our editor’s palm. His body swirls as he tries to stand still. The smile on his face suggests his beard is made of a heavy iron, he hasn’t closed his mouth for a moment. He’s giddy and hungry and has a full beer in his right hand. Perfect time for a chat.

Axel is one member of the Pink Street Boys, and he has wandered in with good reason to celebrate (not that he needs a reason). Axel has been on the music scene in Iceland for the last decade. Those who have followed his musical saga would most likely agree that the recognition has been mild, to put it kindly. So what does it feel like to play a packed Gaukurinn, with a queue spilling down the street, at the biggest music festival in Iceland after all these years of persistence?

I don’t like it. I like playing in the holes. I like to make good music and be more like, “you people you don’t know shit. You don’t know shiiiiit” (raising two middle fingers). But now so many people are like “eeeyaaee it’s so coooool.” I don’t know man, it’s complicated. I’m not used to being you know, popular. Never. I’ve been fucking playing since I was thirteen years old. I’m 23 right now. So I’ve been in this scene for the past ten years and nobody has given a damn. But right when I don’t give a shit, people give a shit.

I barely speak English but my lyrics are in English. It’s just beh beh beh. You know it’s just bullshit. I mean it. It’s actually just bullshit. I’m writing down, “come on, go on, just shake your ass.” It’s nonsense. But I think we are just loud and there is a strength in us. We are powerful on stage. You see all these metal bands like ‘woooooweee’ tapping some shit and everybody’s like ‘yeeeeaaahhh.’ You know, I’m doing the same shit man. I have my wah-wah pedal and I’m like ‘wowwwooowlwlwlw’ and everybody’s like ‘YEEYEEAEAAHHHH.’

I don’t know why we got picked up this year. I really think it was one journalist who is very appreciated here in Iceland, and he wrote about us. And because he wrote about us they’re all like ‘ohhh wheeee, they can play.’ Really. They decide who gets to be famous. You know, it’s just fascist. The guys who decide ‘who is cool’ and ‘who is not cool,’ the guys who decide who is playing Airwaves this year. It’s total fascism if you ask me.

I don’t want to be famous. I just want a record. For my own. You know, my record. We made this record and it is ready at the fucking studio. It’s a very good record. But there is no company here in Iceland that wants to release it. We just have to save our money ourself and make it.

Truer to the garage spirit. We are garage rock. We are not trying to be garage rock, but we come to this scene because we are loud and obscene and we are not hardcore. Like Thee Oh Sees or something.

I was the only guy who got thrown out of ATP. You know? I just wanted to see Thee Oh Sees so bad. That’s the only reason I bought the ticket, to see Thee Oh Sees. And then I just drank so much and I was so excited, and my friend who was dealing drugs gave me some, and there were some other drugs, and then The Fall started playing so shitty and I was like AAHHHH FUCK THIS SHIT; FUCK THIS. And I started throwing beer bottles. And then my favourite Icelandic band Botnleðja came on as the guards were pulling me out and I was like ‘nooo,’ and by the time Thee Oh Sees went on stage I was crying. I cried to the doorman, ‘this is my favourite band, this is my favourite baaand!’

I fucking love this band. I remember when I heard them the first time I was like what the fucckkk, this is my fucking sound. He is doing my sound… and then those fucking three albums per year, he’s the GOD man. John Dwyer is the fucking GOD. Really man, this guy man.

But still, we are doing kind of like Thee Oh Sees, but in Iceland. We are doing this pure Rock N Roll shit. The shit that everyone’s like hey, woah, this riff? Aw this riff, man, it’s so good. We are like the first people doing that right now. Because everything here is either some hardcore shit or some indie shit. Just some plain indie crap. And then we come just doing pure basic e-chords like drrrrrmdrrrmmm. Maybe it’s just what people want now. They want the pure, they want more rock.

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