Icelandic crew on recording new material and Trump's “megalomania”
Growing up in Iceland, Sigur Ros bassist Georg Holm developed a unique connection to the natural world.
“People in Iceland tend to spend a lot of time in the country. The summers are short, but the daylight [can last] 24 hours, and we like to go and take full advantage of the opportunity to be in nature,” Holm said in a recent email interview. “So, yes, I guess it's true that a connection to the environment is inbuilt. I have a summer house now, and my favorite times are spent there.”
So it's with a bit of consternation that the musician has followed the news as President Donald Trump has worked to gut the Environmental Protection Agency, embraced climate-change denial and flirted with withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement — a global accord confronting climate change — against even the wishes of Exxon CEO Darren Woods, who penned a personal letter urging Trump to stick to the deal.
“It's insane and terrifying,” said Holm, who joins bandmates Jonsi Birgisson (vocals) and Orri Pall Dyrason (drums/keys) in concert at the Palace Theatre on Sunday, June 4. “You can't not pay attention [to current political developments in the US]. We thought we understood a bit about megalomania having been in a band for so long, but we've got to hand it to you, your guy is next level.”
Sigur Ros has been a band for more than two decades now, having released its debut album, Von, 20 years ago. In that time, the group has continued to change and evolve musically, drifting from the dreamy, alien textures of its 1999 breakthrough album Agætis byrjun and exploring everything from wooly, stripped-down campfire songs (the Heim half of the split Hvarf/Heim) to mood-setting soundtrack work on the ethereal “Angels of the Universe” score. The lineup has shifted, as well; in 2013, keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson departed the fold, leaving the musicians to carry on as a trio.
“We've all had to learn and adapt and take on more roles,” Holm said. “Orri is now frequently dodging between drums and keyboard, sometimes at the same time. But after Kjartan left, it became important to us to prove to ourselves we could do it without him.”
The desire to prove itself has always existed within the band, which, in the late '90s, once posted a statement to its website that stated its admittedly grandiose desire “to change music forever.”
“There doesn't seem to be much point in reaching for an artistic endeavor unless you intend for it to be meaningful,” said Holm, who also relayed that the musicians are currently in the process of working on new material, touring with a portable studio that allows them to record while on the road and premiering the occasional new track for audiences (the band has been opening this stretch of shows with an unreleased song called “Á”). “Yes, the statement reads slightly gauchely from where we are now standing, but musical history is changed by young gauche people with ideals, and we fit the bill.”