April 2008 - BRAIN POLICE
At the end of 2007 when I received my general promo package from Small Stone Records, one of the included CD's was the new album from BRAIN POLICE. I wasn't aware of their existence and so 'Beyond The Wasteland' was my first meeting with this Icelandic band. Since that day, I don't want to miss that album because it embodies heavy rock in its most perfect way. It's not only about the single heavy riff, but more about the heart and soul of rock. This guys are talented song-writer, and the hooks of their songs have carved themselves into my mind and soul. That's what I would call a classic album and, of course, a real masterpiece. Drummer JÃ³n Bjorn RÃkarosson was so kind to answer my questions about the new album, Icelandic mythology and the music scene in Iceland....
Welcome, Jon! How are you doing? How is the feedback for your new album 'Beyond The Wasteland'?
I'm feeling good these days thank you. I have to say the feedback is beyond. Far beyond what we expected, it's blowing our minds.
I think, that your new full-length is a great album with a lot of soul and passion. It's not only about heavy riffs, but also about well-crafted songs where the hook line is important as everything else. What comes first, when you write new songs - the riff or the melody?
Usually the riff comes first but the songs are mostly born while jamming so sometimes it's the beat that's the first thing. Then a few day's or maybe months or so pass and then Jenni drops the melody on the rest of us.
'Beyond The Wasteland' is a very suggestive title. Is it a description for the state of mankind or is it more based on personal experiences?
A large part of Iceland is really barren - a desert wasteland, so the title actually represents our beginning to journey outside of Iceland into the Rock'n' Roll cosmos. Also we thought it was just a cool name :)
What I also like about it, is the variety of the album. It sounds, as if you have made a lot of thought about the order of each song, so that the result really deserve to be called an album. Please, give me an insight in the process of the creation of the album!
We were very lucky to have the luxury of working with two masters of their craft, Chips K (producer) and Stephan Boman (engineer). In the beginning of the sessions we had more songs than we needed for the album and Chips was crucial when it came to choosing what songs to drop and how to order them so that the end result would make sense as a whole. I am very pleased with the result, a great buildup with an epic ending - exactly what we wanted. The variety of the songs is not intentional - we don't decide what kind of songs we're going to write, we just jam and something happens. Thus the album represents happenings in a specific period in time and space.
Since the band was formed in 1998, you have released three albums. In comparison to other bands, you seem to be a very busy group. What do you think? How important is the band in your life?
First I have to correct you, we have actually released four albums. Only 500 copies were made of the the first one 'Glacier Sun'. It's the only album with our first singer and not many people know about it. I wouldn't say we're that busy, we just like to play. Also I think that four albums in ten years isn't really that much. Besides my family, the band is the most important thing.
Your previous albums have been released through the Icelandic label Sena. Why and how did you sign with Small Stone Records? Have you been dissatisfied with the work of Sena or what was the reason?
We're still signed with Sena but our contract with them has always been limited to Iceland. A while back we did a gig with Alabama Thunderpussy here in Iceland. Their guitar player Erik Larson liked our stuff and told us he wanted to send a couple of our albums to his friend Scott Hamilton, Mr. Small Stone himself.
At the time the plan was to do a tour in the States with ATP, Scott intended to come to one of the shows and see us live, but those plans fell through and nothing happened for a while. Later, after "the Wasteland" was released here in Iceland we sent a few copies to some labels to find out if someone would like to release it and we got two positive responses and one of them was from Scott. The rest you know and the future is galactic.
The beautiful and 60's-inspired cover-artwork of 'Beyond The Wasteland' is made for a vinyl-edition. Have you ever thought about it or do you think that it isn't really necessary?
I'm a vinyl freak so yes I have thought about it. A lot. I only buy vinyl records and it's my dream that the "Wasteland" will be released on vinyl. And you know what ? Cargo records are going to release Beyond the Wasteland on vinyl in just few weeks.
That's really awesome! You've taken the name BRAIN POLICE from the Frank Zappa song 'Who are the Brain Police?', which one can find on the first 2LP set of The Mothers Of Invention. What is your favorite album from Frank Zappa, and have you ever had the chance to see him live on stage?
My favorite album is 'Just another band from LA' and 'Dog Breath' is my favorite song, I never had the chance to see Zappa live but I got to see Terry Bozzio once so that's something. The main reason for the name we chose is that there is a song on 'Freak Out!' called 'The return of the son of Monster Magnet' and us being Monster Magnet fans we thought that it would be cool to have a name from that same album.
On a side note you should also know that we are currently marching towards a one world government and the Brain Police as a part of the New World Order are already here - controlling the minds of the many, cleansing "impure thoughts" through drugs and mass media mind control. But that's ok because hey hey my my rock'n'roll will never die coz god gave rock'n'roll to you Sonny Boss.
In 2005 you have toured for the first time outside of Iceland. When can I expect your next European tour and what are your plans for 2008?
Hopefully you will see more of us in the future but at the moment we don't have anything concrete regarding touring in Europe. It's on the drawing board. But if everything works out Europe will see a lot of us by the end of the year....
Jon, you live in Iceland, a country that is famous for its beautiful and untamed landscapes. Where exactly do you live and do you still enjoy all the nature in your homeland?
I live in KÃ³pavogur which is located in the capital area. The capital area contains about two thirds of the country's population which is about 300.000. Of course I still enjoy the nature. I like to snowboard in the mountains, play golf, go camping in the wilderness, run around naked in the freshly fallen spring dew, cook some stew while drinking brew and have some fun in the midnight sun.
Are you interested in the ancient and mystical historical background of Iceland?
Yes I have always been interested in our ancient history - the old gods and traditions. Christianity was forced upon our country in the year 1000 but I think Icelanders have never really forgot our heathen background. Two members in the band have actually changed their religion from Christianity to the old heathen religion ÃsatrÃº which contains and respects the ancient tales of ÃžÃ³r and , Fenrir the wolf and of course Ã“Ã°inn the home of the Gods to name a few. We are very proud and we respect our history as true heathen Vikings.
For my taste, you're a very good and powerful drummer. When did you learn your instrument and have you played in any other bands before you became on of the co-founders of BRAIN POLICE?
Thank you for your kind words. I started playing the drums when I was thirteen and played in many bands that didn't last for long before the Brain existed. Here is the magnificent list of bands I have ever been in (in chronological order): Beyglan, DT, Uxorious, Tombstone, Blast, Make some noise, Grassbumper, PÃ¡lmi og UtangarÃ°smennirnir, Intifata, Jumboflex, Neistar, Granfalloon, Vax, VÃrskÃfa and Brain Police. Side projects I have been a part of since we started Brain are HÃºddiÃ°, Diamond and FF Believer.
The most famous band from Iceland is Sigur RÃ³s, but are there any bands apart of BRAIN POLICE, who play Heavy Rock or Doom Metal. What can you report about the Icelandic music underground?
The underground scene is very big, the standard is very high and there are many good bands with plenty of potential. Some of the bands I like are SÃ³lstafir, Dr. Spock, Deep Jimi and the Zep Creams, MÃnus, HjÃ¡lmar and Ã‰g to name a few.
OK, that's all for now. Many thanks for taking the time to answer my questions!
No, thank you. And by the way, if you see your mom this weekend, would you be sure to tell her SATAN! SATAN! SATAN! :)
Yes, of course ;-).