Following advice from my colleague Paul Fontaine to just go into the unknown and see bands that I had never heard of before, I found myself in Harpa Kaldalón checking out an Icelandic band that had escaped my notice: Par-Ðar. Right from the get-go I was impressed with their energy and take on psychedelic rock. Everyone in the band was clearly enjoying themselves, with the drummer enthusiastically whipping his hair back and forth, the backup vocalist taking a few ballet steps, and the rest shimming away during instrumental segments.
Their music features lots of vocal harmonies, twangy guitars, an organ, clarinet, and loud yet sharp drums, all coming together into dramatic psychedelic ambient music. The kids were rough around the edges, but I was intrigued. So I asked them if they were up for an interview after the show. Shrugging their shoulders, they said sure.
Joining them in their dressing room, I discover the band was formed about a year ago, and is made up of five friends from the South Peninsula. They placed second place in Iceland’s battle of the bands this year, winning awards for best drums, bass, and others. Speaking to guitarist Kristjón Freyr Hjaltested (23) and drummer Ethoríó Eyjólfsson (22), they give me the skinny on this new band.
So how did the band come together?
Ethoríó: We’re from the same county and know the same people, but it wasn’t until a year ago that we started paying attention to each other.
Kristjón: Me and the bass player had been in a band together since we were thirteen, and him and Ethoríó have been friends for the longest time, but the two of us weren’t fellas until recently. Then the keys player joined us.
E: I know him from school.
K: The whole project started when I came home from LA. I had an idea for a few songs, and they became the ten that make up our album, ‘Upplifun’, which will be released in May next year.
And what can you tell me about the album?
K: It is all a journey of the self, and the songs reflect that. The first is called “Af stað” (“Go”), and the last is called “Tímaleysa” (“Timelessness”). All five of us sing together, and we make the whole thing cozy. The theme is also a spiral, sort of like with Talking Heads, Stuðmenn, and other acid bands. We just released a video to the song “I don’t know who I am” the other day, and it’s the first single from the album. The next one will be released in February, and it’s called “Svarti fuglinn” (“The Black Bird”).
E: I’m the black bird.
K: We’re going to release five videos, and they’re all connected.
E: It’s all supposed to be connected.
K: The first one is about getting into my mind, and the next one is about Ethoríó’s, and then it continues until we get to your mind. [both laugh]
But where does your name come from?
K: Oh, there’s no meaning to it, it just means Psychedelic-Ambient-Rock.
E: But the full name is difficult to pronounce, so we turned it into Par-Ðar.
When you played on stage, there were more than five of you there.
K: We had extra session players on tuba, clarinet, and backing vocals. Then we always have a lights guy, and sound guy with us.
E: It’s a whole team of people.
K: And we can’t fit into one car. We had to rent a taxi to get our harmonium to Harpa.
And did you make the visual element that went along with the show?
K: It’s all footage from my living room. We turned on a bunch of lights, and then played around with it until it looked good.
Par-Ðar is playing one more show at Airwaves.
- Sunday (November 8)
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