- Hello, Ragnar! How are you doing? To start this interview, could you tell us about the band's origins? To be more specific, how was Beneath created?
- Hello Tough Riffs Magazine! I am doing good these days, working during the day and composing the next beneath album with the boys in the evenings. I am actually not a founding member of Beneath. Gísli Sigmundsson and Jóhann Ingi Sigurðsson started the band as a new project after they both left their previous band called Changer. They had some line up changes but Unnar, also from Changer soon joined and I joined some months later after another drummer did not have the time. Then i got Gísli Rúnar Guðmundsson to join as we had played in another band together. We immediately started writing our first EP.
- How would you explain the band's name? What is your personal vision (if there is a secret meaning) behind this title?
- If paradise is above us then what is beneath? It was Gísli Sigmundsson´s idea and to me it represents defiance to religious scaremongering.
last album and actually very stoked with how it has been received. We put a lot of effort into the writing process and did our very best to prepare for the studio with previous studio experiences in mind. We set clear goals about many things, from how many songs should be on the album to how it should be recorded. We wanted to push ourselves to the limit on our instruments technically and still have song structure. The album has been received very well, indeed beyond our hopes and all this positive energy only makes us thirst to create more crazy death metal to play for all of our fans. I think the biggest difference between our two full lengths have to be the new vocalist on the Barren Throne, and also there were differences in the songwriting process. There was more collaboration on each song on Enslaved by fear but more independent songwriting on the new album. Not a decision, it just happened.
- Interesting fact, the first album was mixed and mastered by a Swedish team, but while recording "The Barren Throne" you worked with Hertz Studio, Poland. How would you comment on this decision? What influence did it have on the final result?
- There were not many places in mind other than those two that you mentioned. We explored the option thoroughly to work with Dugout productions again, but changed economies of our countries coupled with the reputation of the Wiesławski brothers made us choose Hertz studio. We were not disappointed.
- What do you think about your cooperation with Unique Leader? Are you considering that you are a part of a big metal-family with other label's bands?
- Our cooperation with UL has so far been pretty good I would say. I hear a lot of horror stories from some bands on other labels that we do not have to endure. One always wishes for more tour support, but everyone has a hard time touring in today´s musical economy. I personally don´t think a lot about the band´s status compared to other bands, I don´t know about the other guys. I don´t really know how we are seen right now, everything happens kinda behind the internet and its hard to feel how people are talking about you beyond the ocean.
- You've already played at several festivals, had some tours, is there any concert that was the most important for your band? Do you still remember your first show with Beneath?
- I remember our first show very well. We were a part of like 46 bands warming up for the Black dahlia murder (we were first on stage). We played 4 songs and I think it went down decently. I was shitting my pants beforehand because we had written such difficult songs to play and now I had to play them decently on stage. I remember the Black dahlia gang fucking kicked butts and I watched their drummer in awe playing some incredibly tight metal-drumming. I think that dude quit the band now. But they are crazy live. Good moshpits. Concerning our most important festival dates today I would have to say SWR metal fest and Neurotic metal fest along with Wacken. The reason being they were the most fun to play and that´s why we play. Death feast open air in Germany is also a great festival but unfortunately we were not in our best shape when we played there. But hopefully we can correct that soon!
- Do you play often in Iceland? What is the current situation in the local underground scene?
- Currently we play very few shows in Iceland. Two biggest reasons being that one of us lives in another country (Jóhann Ingi) and simply because we do not really have many fans here. Most of our following comes from abroad. The scene here has changed very much since we started the band. Back then there was a very defined black/death metal scene with regular shows in few selected venues. Now very few people are starting traditional metal bands but much rather doing a much more global thing or something. Metal elements are sometimes used in progressive rock here, and some dudes are still starting an atmospheric black metal project here and there but things are much more all over the place and the old scene has scattered and gone on to have kids and do other shit. But I think music goes in circles in some ways so we´ll be the hot shit here again some day. Hopefully before I have to start to collect the bountiful Icelandic pension.
moment! Things just happened that way and other things have come to fill my time since I was in 3 bands at once. Unnar and Benedikt are busy with other bands though. Beneath is always our priority though.
- Do you have any difficulties with pronouncing Eyjafjallajokull? By the way, have you been there? And how could you describe the life in Iceland?
- Only when I´m tired. I haven´t been on top of it but Iv´e seen the thing. Life in Iceland is pretty boring. Stupid politics like mostly everywhere. Stupid national debates about petty bullshit. Slow progress in all departments. But if you have good friends here you can have a good time and also it helps to be fond of nature. In all forms. The tourist sector has been booming here for the last years but it has been very poorly managed and mostly just a few people are reaping the benefits, as with some other big industries here.
- What do you do in your free of music time? Sending copies of "The Barren Throne" to Bjork?
- I go skiing! I go cycling and sometimes go downtown to meet people and have a beer or two. Travelling abroad when possible is fancied by all members of beneath and we all like to do so with our families if we can. I think we all watch news and documentaries. Otherwise we would not play such angry music. Have not sent Björk a copy yet but I think she can pretty damn well buy it. And my house and my car and the elementary school I went to. She should buy it, listen to it and then hire me as the drummer for her next album. I would spice that shit up and I could wear her swan costume looking fabulous.
- Have you already planned any tours for this year?
- I am sorry to say that we have no tours planned for this year! We are young and poor after all. Also we are focusing on writing our next album, its a heavy process. Things happen slowly in our world but always a little bit faster each year.
- Thank you, Ragnar. Would you like to say anything in the end of this interview?
- Thank you too! If you are still reading, thank you so much for your time. Go check us out on Facebook and visit our webstore for our merchandise. We collaborate with some kick-ass artists and always aim to have the sickest designs for as low price as we can. Peace out and stay death metölz.