Interview: Band discuss album no.2, Sigur Ros and Glasto sex shows
Michael Baggs

13:59 15th July 2013

Over the past year, Of Monsters & Men have become one of the fastest rising new bands on the planet, scoring chart success with their single 'Little Talks' and are a true must-see band at every festival they perform.

The Iceland stars are currently on the home run of their lengthy time on the road, and return to their homeland in August to start work on the follow up to their debut album, My Head Is An Animal. After nearly a year on the road, that band are more than ready for a break.

We caught up with frontwoman Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and bassist Kristján Páll Kristjánsson backstage at Optimus Alive to discuss their time on the road, missing Mumford & Sons at Glastonbury to watch a drag queen sex show, their best and worst festival experiences and whether they believe in trolls...

You were one of the highlights of Glastonbury and your album returned to the Top 40 after you played Worthy Farm. Why do you think your music works so well in a festival setting?
Nanna: It's hard to say. We try to just have fun, be energetic and get people involved. I guess people like feeling as if they are part of it.
Kristján: Definitely. If I was watching us I would love participating. Glastonbury was cool. We saw Johnny Rotten. He played before us in his band, so he was backstage. That was really cool.
Nanna: I missed Mumford & Sons. I took a walk and got lost. I took a walk around the area, and the amount of weirdness going on just took me away.

What was the weirdest thing you saw at Glastonbury?
Nanna: I went to Shangri La. It was very late. I was walking there and saw this cubicle, it was made of glass. There was this drag queen standing in the cubicle, trying to lure someone in. This guy went in, took all his clothes off and was spanking him and spitting on him. It was very weird.

You missed Mumford & Sons to go to a sex show?
Nanna: Basically. Yeah, I went to a sex show. That's what I did. I didn't even know I was going.
Kristján: And this is why you're meant to stay on the bus!
Nanna: Yeah, this is what happens.

From Iceland to Portugal: Of Monsters & Men pulled a massive crowd at Optimus Alive

When it comes to album number two, what thoughts and ideas do you have?
Kristján: We have some ideas for songs, but we're still thinking about it.
Nanna: The way we went into the first album was simply that we had an idea, we went into a studio and it became something completely different. In a way I think we will go into the studio with that kind of mindset, allowing ourselves to explore, take our time,

What one thing do you want to change, or introduce to, your sound?
Nanna: I just want a lot of brass. I want a huge brass section.

What's been your best ever festival experience?
Kristján: I remember when we were in Brazil, doing Lollapalooza in San Paolo, that was crazy. The crowd went mental. There were people crying. They cried for every song. I felt bad - but it was good. It was something I will never forget.

But what about your worst ever festival experience?
Nanna: Probably one in LA.
Kristján: It was a radio show in LA. There was something wrong with the PA, and somehow it was contacted to radio frequencies. Through our show there was radio chatter coming from the speakers. Men saying things like 'I'm going to the bus' and it was really loud. All the crowd could hear it.
Nanna: I remember we were playing 'Little Talks' and during the breakdown someone said 'shit, shit' over the loudspeakers in the middle of the song.
Kristján: We were really made about that, and it wasn't our fault.
Nanna: It's almost fun. It breaks the cycle.

Our interview was interrupted by a dancing Raggi from the band

When you're on the festival circuit, which bands do you see performing and think 'that's where we want to be performing'?
Kristján: We've been playing a lot festivals. We're a pretty new band but we are getting pretty big crowds. We are often playing in daylight, and I often think it would be better to play after dark, so we can have a proper light show. That's something I have been thinking of.
Nanna: When we've played shows that Sigur Ros are also playing, we look at their production, their whole thing and think 'wow'. I would love to on a show like that. You watch it and you can't take your eyes off it.
Kristján: We want darkness and more lights.

I was once told that everyone in Iceland believes in trolls. Is this true?
Kristján: Yeah. We do. Arnar told me once about a troll who lives in his father's garage. There is a troll that lives there. You can't see him but you can feel him. Sometimes his father goes into the garage and speaks to it, has long conversations with him.

There's still a long summer of shows ahead of you. What are you most looking forward to over the rest of 2013?
Nanna: To be very honest, we stop touring in August and we're really excited, even if it has been very fun. We want to do some more songs. We're itching for it.
Kristján: Some of the songs we are playing are so old. But still good. We want to do something new. We want to see our families, we want to be in Iceland for more than a week.
Nanna: We are going home in a few days for a week. We're very excited.
Kristján: Although i'm playing in Japan and our Australia tour will be good too.

Thank you very much, Of Monsters & Men.

Photo: Chris MacDonald