NWMS Interview: On The Bus With Of Monsters and Men

It was the first day of Sasquatch and I was getting excited to meet with Of Monsters and Men to have a quick chat. Their star has been on the rise over the last few years starting with the release of the debut album in 2011, ‘My Head Is an Animal’ and the lead single “Little Talks” that blew up and changed this Icelandic band’s world. The band is currently on tour in support of the new album ‘Beneath The Skin’.

For this interview we were going to meet at the media space but their tour manager called me a few minutes before our time and asked if it was possible to meet in the backstage area to save some time since it was a busy day for them. I met him with a couple of photographers that wanted to snap a few shots before I sat down the them. As we walked and chatted at the same time I noticed how nice everyone was and how genuine their relationship was with each other. They were talking and joking around like a very close family which I enjoyed a lot. Once the shots were taken Nanna jumped on Kristjan’s back and he ran towards the main stage so they could see the New Pornographer set. I followed Raggi and Arnar to the tour bus to have our chat. As we made ourselves comfortable on the couches and I took a look around I began to wonder all these things about the bus.

NWMS: What’s the hardest thing about being on the bus?

Raggi: Interesting fact: there is only one coat hanger on the bus and we all use it

NWMS: You’d think they know better considering 12 people can fit on this bus

R: So the limited space probably

Arnar: and no going to the bathroom (I laughed)

NWMS: How many people are on the bus with you currently?

R: At the moment 11

A: So we have a spare one as we call it the junk bunk

R: The bus is nice though, you get a good sleep, it’s always moving but once you get used to that it’s good

A: It’s a little weird because you sleep well eventually but it messes up your body because you never fully relax and you get stiff but we have a great setup in the back lounge for our video games

NWMS: So what’s the hardest thing about being away from home?

R: Being away from our family and friends, but we have some of our friends with us now

A: I miss my dogs as well

R: We haven’t been away that long at this point, only about a month and we’re going back for a week soon and then we take off for another month. We learned this time around that we can’t be on tour for three months straight because it gets completely exhausting, you need to reset for a few days at home.

A: There is also a big time difference in Iceland from here which makes communicating a little difficult. You’re working with opposite times for Skype calls.

NWMS: How do 11 people get along on a bus?

R: That’s easy for us, you have people hanging out in the front and some in the back and we are all really good friends. If you want to rest you can just go relax in your bunk alone.

A: You close the curtains and “Goodbye Universe”

NWMS: I feel that it’s the ultimate test for a band, being in such a confined space with each other and still being able to get along

R: We have no problems with it at all (Something I believe completely seeing their relationship)

S: Did you write some of your second album while on the road on the bus?

A: No, we try to work on material during a long soundcheck sometimes, we stay after and jam with each other and see what happens

R: I feel like a lot of ideas came while on the road but they were developed once we got back home. You get back and go through computers and phones and find ideas that you have written and forgotten while on tour and work on them

A: I believe a couple of songs from the second album came from the last tour

NWMS: Is this your first time playing at the Gorge?

R: It’s our second, we came here in 2012 and it was one of our first festivals

NWMS: How is it touring in Europe versus the US and Canada?

R: It’s a little different but very similar

A: In Europe we use double decker buses, so there’s a little more space

R: The backstage areas here are a little bigger here

NWMS: How different did you find your lives after the success of your first album and tour?

A: Probably returning and not having to go to a job because this is it now. A lot of down time so you can go around and explore Iceland a little more

NWMS: I always wonder what happens to bands especially after the first time around because you are used to a routine at home all your life and then you return and you have to develop a new routine because this is the job now

R: It’s a little weird because you return and you have to settle back in and during points in the day you feel that you should be doing something, like you have obligations but you don’t.

A: You get to sleep a lot and catch up

NWMS: I was wondering in which language you write your songs since you’re bilingual

R: We write in English and I think it’s cool because when you don’t know everything you might end up doing something differently going in another path than if you were to write in your native language.

Sophia Barkalakis

Music is probably the most important part of her life. Sophia is constantly searching for new material, old and new. Always looking forward to the next live show she can attend, ready to immerse herself in the sound. "There is something so magical about attending a live show that you cannot possibly feel from a recording itself that makes it worth going to", she says. She also says she's lucky to be able to combine her passion for music with her obsession of capturing moments. She finds that being able to look at a photograph and be transported to that second of your life is indescribable and she's so grateful for all those great moments.

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