Icelandic band OF MONSTERS AND MEN have announced a show at BIRMINGHAM O2 ACADEMY on MONDAY 28 OCTOBER as part of a five date UK and Irish tour. The tour follows the release earlier this year of their third album, FEVER DREAM, which completed a trio of albums to reach the Top 15 in the UK album charts, and comes after a huge headline tour of the USA.
OF MONSTERS AND MEN went from being the talk of Iceland to the heights of global conversation with their 2011 debut album, MY HEAD IS AN ANIMAL, which not only went multi-platinum but also produced an international hit in the form of LITTLE TALKS. That breakthrough single made history as the first song by an Icelandic band to exceed one billion streams on Spotify. The group appeared on official soundtracks for the likes of The Hunger Games and The Walking Dead, and performed at festivals such as Coachella, Lollapalooza and Firefly. In the midst of this, the 2015 follow up album, BENEATH THE SKIN, entered the Billboard Top 100 at #3 and the band starred in an episode of Game of Thrones.
And now FEVER DREAM.
OF MONSTERS AND MEN are joint vocalists and guitarists Nanna and Ragnar; bassist Kristjan; drummer Arnar; and guitarist Brynjar. The band operate as a democracy and in the past, that manifested as the five of them being in the rehearsal space, working on one idea until each of them had their own individual stamp on a song. It was arduous, stressful and difficult. With FEVER DREAM, the pressure within the democracy required a different kind of vulnerability. Rather than being forced to show themselves to one another on the spot in that previous rehearsal space, for this album they all spent extensive periods apart, contributing ideas they had produced at home.
It was a novel challenge for each of them with, at first, little clear-cut direction; just diverse ideas informed by five people with very different tastes. Ragnar, for instance, is influenced by the staying power and sonic identity of bands such as The National; Nanna, on the other hand, took her maverick inspirations from artists with equal integrity such as Solange and Childish Gambino.
“We eliminated the roles we had in the band, and not in a bad way,” explains Nanna. “It’s more open, it gives you more space to explore yourself as a musician.”
Lyrically, the album is more personal than ever, which makes sense when Nanna and Ragnar reveal that this is the first album they’ve written lyrics apart from each other. The way Ragnar has written has been inspired by gut emotions; for Nanna, the meaning of her lyrics is revealed to her over time.
“We don’t want to repeat what we’ve already done,” adds Nanna. “It’s important for us to have a long career, make albums that we’re proud of, and take our time.”It’s a statement that sits at odds with the fast-paced music industry of today. Most of all, the band are excited by being back in the live arena, learning how to celebrate and let loose more easily. They once bought an inflatable lifeboat for Nanna to use for crowd surfing which never got used. “I would love to crowd surf with the boat,” she exclaims when reminded. It may appear at the forthcoming UK shows. It would seem OF MONSTERS AND MEN are ready to set sail.