Although Icelandic post-rock outfit Sigur Rós recently parted ways keyboard player and founding member Kjartan Sveinsson, the band has soldiered on as a three-piece. The trimmed line up has continued working at its surprisingly productive pace, recording and releasing Kveikur, Sigur Rós' seventh studio album, and touring the new material all over the world. Orri Páll Dýrason, Sigur Rós' drummer and occasional keyboardist, took a few moments of downtime before the band's show in Norfolk, Va, to discuss the new lineup's dynamic, Kveikur's loose recording sessions, and how the band's appearance on "The Simpsons" came to fruition.
Kveikur feels like the most aggressive and darkest album of Sigur Rós' discography. Did you guys intend it to sound so different?
Not really. We wanted to do something different than our previous albums and we'd been playing around in my garage at my house. We were playing around with some synthesizers and effects and things. The first song we actually finished was the first song on the album ["Brennisteinn"] and we just thought, "Hey, this is something really nice." So we just took it from there.
When you mention playing around with synthesizers, I felt as though there was a much heavier emphasis on loops and samples too.
We had used them before, but not so much, really. Kjartan - our old keyboard player - left the band before this album so it was just the three of us. It was kind of weird at first, so we actually started making loops in songs and just played along with the computer. It was kind of funny, we actually named the computer "Kjartan" [laughs]. There was a definite gap we were trying to fill but became more competent over time.
This isn't the first album you've produced on your own as a band. Why did you decide to produce the new album yourselves?
We never really talked about that; it just kind of happened. We wrote these songs pretty quickly, went into the studio to record the tracks, and just overdubbed the songs in our homes.
Do you prefer producing Sigur Rós albums yourselves now, or does it just depend on what you're working on?
We definitely didn't need one for this album, but sometimes it's good to have a fresh angle on it.
Untitled, the first album you played with Sigur Rós on, is more than 10 years old. How do you view that album now?
It's nice to think about how many things have changed, and thank God! I couldn't imagine playing the same music all of this time. It's boring to make the same thing over and over.
Sigur Rós has rerecorded older tracks for multiple albums, like "Hafsol" from Von returning on untitled. Or "Njósnavélin," an old live-only song resurfacing on untitled, as well. What do you see in these songs that's worth revisiting?
[laughs] I really don't know. I never thought about it. We haven't played "Njósnavélin" in some time. When we're working in the studio sometimes we take older songs or parts of songs and slowed them down or change them to make something new. It's kind of nice sometimes to recycle our own music.
You guys seem to be more productive than ever, with Jónsi [Þór Birgisson] working on his solo material and Riceboy Sleeps, and Sigur Rós having never taken a hiatus or time off. How do you keep so productive after almost 20 years as a band?
I think we are always trying to do something different. If you get stuck in the same position making the same kind of music, it gets boring and really slows you down. We all like hanging out together and making music, especially when it's something else. And new technology and new instruments always helps. [laughs]
Do Jonsi's other projects affect Sigur Rós at all, maybe by taking time or energy away?
Oh, no. Everyone's very excited for him. He's been writing his songs for a very long time and we're so glad he did it. It was a really good break for us as a band too since we'd been spending so much time together. Everything has its limits, you know. We're staying at home and having babies, making families [laughs].
How did your appearance on The Simpsons come together? Were you guys fans of the show beforehand?
[laughs] Yes, of course! We'd loved them since we were kids. We're huge fans. We were contacted by the producers of the show and they told us they were setting an episode in Iceland. They asked us to write some music and record the end credit theme, and we said "yes" instantly. We didn't have much time so we recorded it all on the road and in our hotel rooms. It worked out just fine.
Sigur Rós and Julianna Barwick play Chastain Park Amphitheater on Sat., Oct. 4. 7:30 p.m. $35.50-$45.50., 4469 Stella Dr. 404-733-4949.
Nashville has more dive bars than ATL now that sucks. tbh i think that new…
*Christ, Lord sorry
"Punk" style like this seems like it is the polar opposite of punk. Bradford Cox…
They're kind of starting to look like a joke of themselves. Song's good though.
All 80s movies want you...
Their show with Chris, Lord about 3 years at the Unicorn was the best.