Solstafir's Addi Tryggvason: "If Metallica only did Kill ’Em All 10 times in a row, we’d have missed out on a lot"

(Image credit: Season Of Mist)

Aðalbjörn 'Addi' Tryggvason has spent over 25 years as chief of Iceland's biggest metal export Solstafir. While his main band slumber, the singer has branched out into new territories with Bastarður, channeling everything from Motorhead and Disfear to Napalm Death and Terrorizer. Hammer caught up with the singer to talk black metal, recording in the garage and, erm, incest...

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Is it true that the population of Iceland is so small that there’s an app to prevent you from accidentally fucking a relative?

“True story, dude! I haven’t used it, but it was built by a company called Decode. They were doing studies on genetics and DNA. If you were from Iceland, I’d put in your full name and mine, click enter and find where we are related. Everybody is related as far back as at least nine generations, so it’s OK to have sex with someone related to you nine generations ago. That’s fine! Ha ha! But where’s the threshold? Is it three generations? Six? Because you’re pretty much always fucking your relatives.”

You wrote the debut album from your side-project Bastarður, Satan’s Loss Of Son, while forced to live with your dad, and the last Sólstafir album was inspired by abusive relationships. Do you think great art comes from adversity?

“Sure, but this was more done out of love for my childhood favourites. I’ve always wanted to make an album that was to Entombed’s standards. Without Entombed, without Terrorizer, this project would never exist. It’s basically something on my childhood bucket list and I’m loving it. I can get away with getting death metal legends like Marc [Grewe] from Morgoth on an album. If you’d told me that in 1991, I’d have shit myself.”

You recorded the Bastarður album in your dad’s garage, revisited your early love for death metal and even included a cover of a song by your old punk band. Is this your midlife crisis album?

“I’m gonna be an old fart and say not really. In reality, it’s just me living life and enjoying it. If you’re a metalhead and play guitar, tuning a guitar down to B to get that Entombed sound is like porn. Some people play golf; I like to play death metal and crust-punk.”

How many purists have asked Sólstafir to go back to making black metal? What’s your response to that?

“Ha ha! I’ve had many. Most ask, ‘Will Sólstafir ever do a black metal album again?’ I’ll usually just say, ‘Yeah! We’re gonna do 12 black metal albums’ and keep bullshitting until they realise I’m joking. I get it, but if Metallica only did Kill ’Em All 10 times in a row, we’d have missed out on a lot of stuff. Stagnation is death. I wanna continue forward.”

In the 90s, you distributed the Sólstafir demo by giving it to a blind audiobook salesman…

“That guy knew what he was doing. Those were crazy times. When we did our demo, there was one company in Iceland who would make cassettes, and they were audiobooks for blind people. But, it turned out fine; the demo was fine. It was a complete Burzum rip-off but I was proud of it. We did 100 cassettes, we all had PO boxes and we were immersed in the underground. Life before the internet, man.”

You once said that the best compliment anyone can give you is, “Sólstafir sound like Sólstafir.” What’s the worst thing that anyone could say about your music?

“That it’s unoriginal. We always want to explore new territory, so if someone said, ‘It’s all the same; it’s AC/DC in the 80s,’ then I’d be offended. But the thing is, we’ve always gotten good reviews: eights, nines and tens. I always wondered, ‘When are we gonna get a bad review? I’m really looking forward to it.’ If someone can write a bad review with good criticisms, that interests me.”

How’s the next Sólstafir album looking? Any progress?

“It’s weird timing – we haven’t played any songs from the last album live yet. All I can say is that if we were going to go into the studio in three months’ time, we’d have ideas for half an album. The last album came out a year ago and we haven’t done any touring, but I had a daughter last year and Hallgrímur [Jón Hallgrímsson, drummer] had a son two months later. We might have material for half an album, but we’re not in a hurry. I hate writing albums, because there are so many arguments.”

Satan’s Loss Of Son is out now via Season Of Mist. Sólstafir tour the UK with Katatonia in February

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.