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Heri Joensen (Tyr)

Interview with Heri Joensen from Tyr
by Amy La Salla at 23 January 2005, 8:07 PM

Tyr are a fresh Progressive Metal band and I do mean Progressive. I have heard neoclassical bands, I have heard folk bands but never have I heard anything quite like their blend before. Because of this, I was excited when the band's singer, Heri Joenen, agreed to do an interview with Metal Temple!

Greetings from Metal-Temple.Com Magazine!
My first question would be: how did the original members meet?

Greetings and hail Metal Temple.

Here’s the story: Kari Streymoy and me formed the band in January 1998 in Copenhagen, Denmark. We had played together before in the Faeroes. Kari had moved to Denmark some time before, and I had just arrived. We met at a party, and the first thing I said to him was, Lets make a band. That very moment was the forming of the band. Then we contacted Gunnar H. Thomsen, a bassist that we had both been playing together with in the Faeroes, who had also moved to Denmark. We lacked only a singer. That was taken care of when Pol Arni Holm moved to Denmark (A lot of Faeroese move to Denmark for education). We asked him to join the band and he agreed. In December 2001 I called Terji, an amazing guitar virtuoso, only 18 years old at the time that I had met at the Prix Foroyar music competition in the Faroes in April 01. He participated in the competition with another band. We had talked about our musical influences and interests and found we had much in common. He left his band a few months after that, and I thought we better get him before someone else did. So it came to be that the four of us ended up together.

What caused your original singer to leave, is he still in the music industry?

The Christmas of 2002 Pol Arni moved back to the Faeroes. This became more and more of a problem, and when he started his education as a carpenter, which he gave top priority; it became even more apparent that he was not able to combine this with a career in a serious band. He had been talking about leaving the band several times before that so it was no shock. He has sung in a local entertainment cover Rock band, but quit last summer. I don’t think he’s involved in music at the moment.

If someone asked you to describe Tyr’s playing style, what would you say?

I would say that it is harmonic melodic progressive folk Metal from the Faeroes.

Your lyrics seem to focus on historical/mythical people. Do you need to do research for your songs? How does your writing process usually work?

I read a lot of lore so I don’t have to research for lyrics, but maybe I have to look up a few details in the process. First I have a subject or a message that I want to bring forth and then I find a fitting circumstance in the Faeroese or Norse lore and write accordingly.

Do any songs have particular meaning to you or significance to that period of your life and which ones?

The songs are statements by themselves of what stage I am at musically and the lyrics are about the subjects that I think most about at the time they are written. So naturally I connect them to that time in my life

Do you prefer playing live or tinkering in the studio?

Life on tour is the most fun part of being in a band, and the stage is the band’s natural element. Studio has its fun too but it can be very stressful in the long run because it takes an extreme level of concentration over a long period of time. I definitely prefer playing live.

How did you come about choosing the name of your band? Is there any special significance to it for you?

We knew from the start that we wanted a name from Norse mythology and we were also led on by the Black Sabbath album by the same name. Tyr is one of the oldest Germanic Gods and by the time of the Vikings Odin had taken his place in the Norse Pantheon. The main reason for choosing him precisely is the interesting and ambiguous stories about him. He was the bravest of the gods and he is commonly thought of as a God of war, but the stories about him reveal him as a strategist and a tactician where he mingles with his resources to avoid war through personal sacrifice, all for the common good. A very positive and humane signal to send from a religion and a people usually thought of so brutal and warlike as the Vikings, don’t you think?

Your music is very unique, do you have any influences?

Faeroese and Scandinavian folk music, J. S. Bach, Iron Maiden, Dream Theater, Pink Floyd, Dio, Black Sabbath and many many more. I like to arrange the music in a classical manner most of the time with voicing for each instrument, and only once in a while playing the same unison riff, which is the more common way of doing things.

How has the reaction to Eric The Red been so far? Are you pleased with it?

The reaction is has been very good indeed and we couldn’t be more pleased with it. ETR has been called everything from impossible to label to a timeless classic masterpiece. What can I say, it’s heartwarming for us to read such comments.

What has been your best gig so far, crowd wise? What is the most fun you’ve had on tour?

We played a concert this new-year here in Torshavn. It was probably the wildest crowd we have played for, about 1300 people, and we felt in very good contact with the audience throughout the show, we were also pleased with our musicianship, probably our best gig. All tours are extremely fun almost without exception and the funniest one is hard to pick out but if I had to pick one I’d say the Finland and Russia tour the summer of 2004. Great company, great places, great crowds and generally a good feeling all the way.

What is your opinion of the sub-genre’s of Metal? Do you feel they are more helpful or harmful to the larger Metal world?

Harmful, harmful indeed. I don’t like to divide everything into sub-genres, and I don’t like that zines specialize in a certain sub-genre, because it only encourages the genres. I would like to see all styles represented in the big zines, maybe just divided into good and bad Metal. Style should not bind you to a certain market or group of people. Great walls have been erected between these so-called different genres and eventually the walls come into people’s minds, and music interested people will start thinking in genres and sub-genres, and that is not a fortunate development. Prejudice and deprivation of good music experiences are the result. If I look back on the music from my youth I feel no need to put labels on the respective styles. Everybody knows what Pink Floyd and Iron Maiden sound like and when I hear it I feel no need to put words on the style, and I strive to listen to all music with the same spirit. Music is not to be written about or described. No, music is to be heard.

Your band show a high level of musicianship, did you take classes or are you self taught?

Kari and I have taken classes at D.A.R.K. in Copenhagen, Denmark. Gunnar and Terji have not taken classes, but I think we can all be called self-taught as musicians because we had been playing a long time before we started at D.A.R.K. When we make music we try to challenge ourselves so as not to make the playing become trivial. That also warrants progress in the musicianship. As a composer I must say I am not self-taught. I majored in Guitar and Music Theory at school and I learned almost everything I know about theory, arranging and voicing at D.A.R.K. and those are my most useful tools in making music.

I like how you mix English and Scandinavian lyrics. How did the idea to do so come about?

I have always wanted to write in Faeroese. Before the first album we thought that Faeroese lyrics would confine us to the Faeroese market and we put Ormurin Langi on How Far To Asgaard mostly for the Faeroese audience, but it turned out that people who didn’t have a clue about Faeroese liked it just as well. So when we came to Eric The Red we knew that it was no problem so we even put a Danish traditional on that one. Personally I liked best the style of How Far To Asgaard, the title-track, and The Edge, in which we mix English and Faeroese.

What are your future plans for Tyr?

A record deal, another album, another tour, upwards and onwards.

Any message for the fans?

Unite Humanity and Unite Metal.


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