I know a lot of people talk about tape-trading networks, but I didn’t really get involved in that until around ’95 when Sólstafir formed. We’d make cassettes for our demos, which then made us dive into the underground pool to trade those cassettes and posters with fans and other musicians. But before all that, around ’88, I went to a friend’s and he’d got this cassette that said ‘SLAYER – Reign In Bloodpest’ written on it in pencil, because he’d just recorded a copy of his cousin’s record. It’s funny, I still have it! The first thing that hit me was the guitar of Angel Of Death – the riff is mindblowing and when that Tom Araya scream kicks in? Insane.
AUTOPSY are my favourite death metal band. Around the time of release – 1991 – I got a copy of Spanish Metal Hammer while on holiday with my parents. I got it for the pictures of course (I couldn’t read Spanish!) and there was a see-through flexi 7” attached, where one side was Twisted Mass Of Burnt Decay and the other was Eternal by PARADISE LOST; both these songs coloured my youth. I’m not even sure I had any death metal records at that point so it changed my tastes completely. ENTOMBED changed death metal in 1993 with Wolverine Blues and it just exploded - I even played in my own death rock’n’roll band at the time. That album was great, but it got even better with the follow-up – the single Damn Deal Done is one of my all-time favourites.
Around ’95 I heard FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM thanks to our old bass player Halldór [Einarsson]. He went to England and ended up in a store – I’m pretty sure it was Resurrection Records in Camden. The guy in the store wouldn’t let him out unless he brought a Fields record, so he came home with that and inevitably when we were playing together, we’d also listen to music together – stuff like Darkthrone, Norwegian black metal, but suddenly here was British new wave goth and Love Under Will changed the way we listened to music. Speaking of Britain, JUDAS PRIEST are one of my favourite bands, but if I had to pick a song it’d probably be The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown). The [Fleetwood Mac] original is OK, but it’s not even half as good as what Judas Priest can do with it.
THE SMASHING PUMPKINS have this song Mayonnaise from Siamese Dream and whenever I hear it I just think, ‘Damn, I wish I’d written that song.’ It’s very melancholic – the Pumpkins so often get stamped as being part of grunge, but this song shows just how different they are. I also love NEIL YOUNG, especially the Rust Never Sleeps album. There are two versions of the song My My, Hey Hey on there and there’s just this cracking guitar sound – even if it’s not strictly heavy metal. He came to Iceland in 2013 on my birthday and a friend of mine was working backline, so I got to be part of the crew too. We were all waiting for the holy grail to be put onstage – ‘There it is, Neil Young’s amp!’ We tried to be professional, but nobody could resist going to look at this 50s Fender amp that he’s been using since the 60s.
One of my first favourite bands was DURAN DURAN. One of the only magazines we could get in Iceland was Bravo, from Germany, and I remember opening it and getting a poster I could put up on the wall. There’s something about A View To A Kill that makes it special and Simon Le Bon’s vocal lines are glorious. A lot of people look at them as this superficial band but they were around for ages before they were famous – like The Beatles, playing in leather jackets and carrying knives until [people around them] dressed them in suits and made a boyband of them! I’m a huge JOHN LENNON fan – I actually got into his music before The Beatles. I really identify with songs like Instant Karma – even more because his voice tears out of his mouth; his vocals get shredded on that song, something I can relate to!”
Solstafir’s new album, Endless Twilight Of Codependent Love, is out now