‘Of Monsters and Men’ Plants ‘Seeds’ For New Songs
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS NEWS) – When Of Monsters and Men burst on the scene in April with its North American release of “My Head is an Animal,” the band members had no idea they would be on the road for the rest of the year, playing festival dates and sold-out headlining shows. This weekend is no exception. The band performs at the sold out Alice In Winterland show at Bimbo’s 365 Club in San Francisco on Thursday and again on Friday at Live 105’s Not So Silent Night inside the Oracle Arena in Oakland.
Now the Icelandic five-piece (formerly a six-piece act) is looking at another year on the road with upcoming legs in Australia, Europe and South America. It also means, though, that fans clamoring for new music may have to hold on a bit.
“We’ve been busy with touring. It’s been a busy year,” singer/guitarist Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir told CBSNews.com prior to a recent show at Terminal 5 in New York. “But I think ideas are starting to come.”
They’ve been trying to come up with music while on the road, but would rather set aside time to write and record in a proper rehearsal space. But the songwriting “seeds” are starting to sprout.
“The seeds are in the pockets,” Hilmarsdottir said, putting her hand in the pocket of her denim jacket. “We just need to find pots.”
With all of the traveling ahead, Of Monsters and Men expects to sit down next summer to “jam” and “hammer out” new material.
“A lot of the album was made when we were just bored and had nothing to do,” singer/guitarist Ragner Thorhallsson said. “But now we’re always busy.”
“We’ll have to get bored again,” they joked.
Boredom may not hit for a while, as Of Monsters and Men’s popularity continues to grow.
“It’s been fun,” said Thorhallsson of the band’s success. “You kind of don’t notice it and then all of a sudden when you play Lollapalooza and you just notice the crowd and everyone is going crazy, it’s kind of like a reality check.” He cited playing “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” as an example.
“You get those every now and then,” Hilmarsdottir added. “You realize what you’re doing.”
Things happened pretty quickly for the band, which has a relatively short history. Hilmarsdottir started as a solo act, Songbird, prior to linking up with Thorhallsson, Brynjar Leifsson, Arnar Rosenkranz Hilmarsson and Kristjan Pall Kristjansson in 2010.
They found the biggest studio in Iceland to match the “big” sound they hoped to make. “We wanted to do something big because the band kind of started as an acoustic act, so we wanted to go in another direction,” said Thorhallsson. “Big, but intimate as well.”
Citing influences that range from Radiohead and Death Cab for Cutie to The Cure and Bon Iver, the five members who make up Of Monsters and Men grew up listening to a wide variety of music.
Before Of Monsters and Men made its way to the U.S., it had already garnered a lot of attention back home. The group won the Icelandic music competition, Musiktilraunir, in 2010, which “opened a lot of doors.” “That competition played a huge role in why we’re doing what we’re doing, really,” said Hilmarsdottir. A coveted spot at the Iceland Airwaves Festival and many Icelandic shows followed. And pretty soon, the track, “Little Talks,” hit No. 1 in Iceland.
“A lot of stuff with us just happened,” Hilmarsdottir explained. “We hadn’t planned on what we’re doing. It just happened very naturally, I think.” Another thing that happened organically was the album writing process.
“If you listen to the album, there’s a certain theme to it — not exactly a theme, but a feeling,” said Thorhallsson.
“We feed on each other’s energy,” added Hilmarsdottir. “We have fun together onstage. I really enjoy that.”
When asked if there are any downsides to success, Thorhallsson said, “No, aside from being away from your family. They understand…It’s worth it.”
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