On October 27th, Katla, the band of former Sólstafir drummer Guðmundur Óli Pálmason and Einar Thorberg Guðmundsson, will release its debut album Móðurástin. DutchMetalManiac’s Julia Obenauer already reviewed it here and now you can read her interview with Guðmundur Óli Pálmason.
Hey! Thank you for doing this interview with DutchMetalManiac. Could you briefly introduce your band?
Katla. is a holistic artproject that combines music, poetry and visual art to create an atmosphere that hopefully moves whoever is on the receiving end.
Your band name refers to an Icelandic volcano. Why did you choose exactly that one as namesake?
Why Katla.? Because Eyjafjallajökull isn’t really a good bandname haha.
Seriously though, we felt that the destructive, but also life giving powers of a volcano fitted our concept and music 100%.
„Life giving?“ you may ask. Well, even though volcanos can be destructive and deadly, we wouldn’t be here without them. You see, volcanos don’t just spew out lava and ash and fire. Volcanos have created our atmosphere be spewing out gas that would otherwise have been trapped inside the earth. Sure this gas is deadly to us, but over millions of years this gas has turned into the atmosphere we breath.
Life and death are forever linked.
Also we wanted a name that connected to Iceland’s nature. We both enjoy nature a lot, and I work as a tourguide so I’m out in this nature every day, this is our reality.
Speaking of Iceland’s beauty: congratulations already on Móðurástin, it’s a very impressive album and I really loved it! I had the chance to visit Iceland last year, and all songs projected me in my mind to different places I visited throughout the island. Can Móðurástin indeed be seen as a homage to Iceland’s nature?
It can for sure. The red thread throughout the album is family and generations. It is about Iceland, its nature and its people and their battle against the elements in the unforgiving conditions up here in the far north. But also about the joy of summer and the life that prevails despite the harsh circumstances.
How did you experience the album production process? How did you approach the songwriting and the recording?
Einar started writing some new music immidiately after we recorded our Ferðalok 7”ep. The man is a machine when it comes to writing music, but unlike most machines this one has a lot of soul. He was living in Norway at the time so we sent each other ideas over the interwebs. This was a totally new way for me to make music, no rehearsals. But it was a good way and it’s really liberating for me to work with Einar as he’s open to ideas and he took a few crappy guitarriffs and vocal melodies I wrote and turned them into real songs. He writes the majority of the music though, while I do the majority of the lyrics. He can write a few songs in the same amount of time it takes me to write one guitar riff haha. So in that way this co-operation is perfect.
The recording took 6 months, as we worked on it on and off with producer Halldór Á. Björnsson of Legend and engineer/mixer Leigh Lawson. We had to work this way as Einar still lived in Norway at the time. He came to Iceland for me to record the drums and then he tracked all guitars and bass in Norway. We later reamped them in Iceland with Halldór.
After Einar moved back home we finished doing vocals and additional instruments and we gave Halldór a free pass to add what ever he wanted to the music and he did a great job at that, adding elements we would never even have thought of.
You’re only two guys in the band – how did you manage the instrument recording? Did you have guest musicians on board?
For the main tracking it was just the two of us. First we demoed the songs in Einar’s computer and we used them demos as a base to build on. Then I recoded the drums. Einar played along for some parts, some parts I just played by memory without music but mostly I played to the demos. Then as I mentioned earlier Einar tracked the string instruments over those recordings. Later on in the process our producer Halldór from Legend
added some synths and also Einar’s sister Sylvía Guðmundsdóttir sang on
the title track. Both of them added their unique touch to the album. At the end of the titletrack is a recording of my great grandmother from 1934, we are proud we could keep it in the family.
How long did it take it to get the whole album done?
It took us about half a year to record it, on and off because of the conditions.
You use quite a variety of music styles throughout the record, which I liked as well. What was the reason for it?
We’re not even conscious about that. We just make the music that comes to us. We don’t want the music of Katla. to be confined to one style or the other. Next album might be grim trve blakkmetal or it might be jazz or it might be idm or a combination of both. It all depends on our mood at the time of writing.
Which bands inspire you as individual musicians or as a band, and why?
None. Or Idunno, probably some, inspiration is such a fleeting thing. Something plants itself in your brain and brakes out months or years later and you have no idea where it came from. Personally I’m more inspired by life itself, arts and general estetics.
Icelandic bands have been up and coming, especially these last years, in the metal community I feel. Did you experience the same? And how does it affect Iceland’s metal scene?
Yeh Iceland is the new Norway. I don’t know about the scene as neither of us are involved in it anymore. We are just old men with kids and families, trying to make a living and making art on the side to keep our sanity. We have no urge to belong to a scene. As far as I can tell “occult” blackmetal seems to be the flavor of the day in the Icelandic metal scene. Singing about Satan or some other made up bullshit that has no bearing on our reality on this volcanic island up here in the frozen north.
Do you plan a supporting tour for this album? Where can we see you?
No, no such plans exist.
How’s the future for Katla looking?
I really don’t know. I no longer have any plans for the future nor do I have the illusion of knowing what the future brings. The only thing I’ve learned in life is that life never turns out the way you think it will.
Thank you for doing the interview with DutchMetalManiac! Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
Thank you very much for the support and the great review you posted of Móðurástin, we are truly touched.
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Read part 12 of Promoting Bands, in which we also mentioned Katla, here.