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Jón Aldará (Hamferð, Barren Earth): Time has come for something new

Jón Aldará (Hamferð, Barren Earth): Time has come for something new
 Last winter I met Jón Aldará in Copenhagen, who is the vocalist of one of the most arresting doom death bands in these days, namely Hamferð. He is also renowned for being a member in the super-group Barren Earth, along with Sami Yli-Sirniö of Kreator, Marko Tarvonen of Moonsorrow and Olli-Pekka Laine, former bassist in Amorphis. Fewer people are aware of Aldará’s collaboration with international project Clouds, with Daniel Neagoe, who is known in the old Romanian records as the drummer and singer of My Shadow, currently making music with Eye of Solitude, with Shape of Despair’s guitarist Jarno Salomaa and other busy musicians in the underground. Given the genuineness which recommends Hamferð’s music, it became pretty natural to focus the dialogue with Aldará on the details regarding the existence of this Faroese band, which charmed so many fans with its music charged with emotional intenseness, blending the doom’s slowness with progressive approaches and folk tendencies. Although many fans of this band expect to find Aldará in a grey and deserted Faroese land, I met him in a major city, which – despite its fair population – keeps hostilely that shade of grey during winters, and this is the place where the musician works. While I was talking with him about Hamferð’s music and related matters, I thought it would be nice to do an interview with Aldará at one point. Since time compressed so much, it was only these days that I managed to ask him a few questions. In the following lines you will read various ideas regarding doom music, Hamferð’s inspiration, Faroe Islands’ art, seabirds and the annual festival in our realm, which is Dark Bombastic Evening, where Hamferð was invited for the second time in a row. The next edition of Dark Bombastic Evening takes place in Arad (Dorobanţi) and begins this week, starting on the 3rd and ending on the 5th of August. 

Metalfan: Hey there! How is your day so far? Did we disrupt your routine or the peaceful atmosphere around with this interview?
Jón Aldará: Hello! I’m having a nice day, thank you, and the atmosphere is indeed peaceful. But it is certainly not disturbed by a few nice questions.

Metalfan: Among many other interesting appearances in various places, Hamferð performed last year at the Dark Bombastic Evening Festival in Transylvania. It was a beautiful summer night when you took the stage and the red candles were burning among the bricks of those fortress walls which encircled the festival area. The performance was majestic for the viewer. I remember me sitting down, leaning against one of those walls and feeling that I lost my speech and that my senses were mesmerized due to your music, which was flawlessly executed. I could see many people in the crowd moving as if they were hypnotized. So many of them expressed their feelings afterwards and I could understand that the memory of your show was as powerful for them as it was for me. What do you remember from this specific concert? What about your view from the stage?
Jón Aldará: You’ve painted a very flattering picture, thank you. I do remember the show fondly, as do my fellow Hamferðians. DBE was an expertly arranged festival in a beautiful setting, and the audience response to our concert was overwhelming. This festival does not compare to most other metal festivals, but rather focuses on grandiose emotion as conveyed by music genres such as post-rock, goth and doom metal. Therefore, we felt very much at home!
Jón Aldará playing with Hamferð at Dark Bombastic Evening, Alba Iulia, 2016
Metalfan: In the following days you will play again at the same festival, but this time the event is set in a different place, although it’s still in the western parts of the country, the most western one actually. I have seen some photographs taken in this new space, which is a thermal garden and looks amazing from a distance. How do you see the idea of playing in such place and what is your impression about this festival given that you played there twice already, with both Hamferð and Barren Earth?
Jón Aldará: Of course, returning to the fortress of Alba Iulia would have been wonderful and nostalgic since we had such a great experience there, but a moving festival is a very exciting idea, and a great way for us to experience a new part of Romania. It might not be as doomy as an 18th century fortress, but thermal pools sound like an entirely different type of fun!
Metalfan: About one year ago, we could see through social media that Hamferð was recording something. Thus, there are hints pointing that a second full length is about to emerge in this world. What can you tell us about that and the long wait? I know that curiosity killed the cat and at the same time, I don’t find any trouble in playing the “Evst” album over and over again, but you know, the idea of a new release by Hamferð is totally exciting. So, if you want to share some information regarding the new album and your artistic perspective on it, please do!
Jón Aldará: „Evst” is getting to be four years old now, so you are absolutely right, time has come for something new. And indeed, we are ready with the new album, and are currently organizing everything around to fit with our vision. We cannot reveal much quite yet, but we have a big announcement on the way, which will hit the ether in a matter of weeks!
© Jón Sonni Jensen, „Evst” front cover
Metalfan: It’s no secret that the origins of Hamferð, the environment of the Faroe Islands and perhaps the arts, culture and especially folklore play the main role in shaping the particular touch and expressiveness of the band. For someone in the South-eastern Europe, the Faroe Islands' culture might seem like an alien phenomenon. No one told us anything about these places. Besides your music, I know about Týr, obviously, I know about Eivør’s music and my mind goes immediately to the video for “True Love”, which reminds me in a strange way about a book by Portuguese writer José Saramago. Speaking of a small and peaceful community, I also noticed that there is a main video artist in the Faroe Islands, who works with plenty of musicians and he has a beautiful cinematic style and bases most of his work on the Faroese landscapes. Another thing, which I am aware of, is Tóroddur Poulsen’s poetry, I read a few of his pieces and I really enjoyed them. As you can see, my knowledge about your culture is pretty poor. So, can you please present us one or a couple of artists in the Faroe Islands whom you appreciate most? 
Jón Aldará: Those are some very interesting observations! I think I know which video artist you are referring to, and yes, he is very talented. As is Tóroddur Poulsen. Considering the small population, we have an abundance of artists in every thinkable avenue. We have a few highly treasured troubadours and folk singers, including Hanus G. Johansen, Kári P. and Stanley Samuelsen, all of which are big heroes of mine. Among our most famous pure painters are S-J Mikines (whose darker work has been an inspiration to us) and Ruth Smith, while modern visual artists include Edward Fuglø and Jón Sonni Jensen (who worked with us on „Evst”). Among my favourite poets are Poul F., J.H.O. Djurhuus and Jóannes Nielsen, all of whom have been translated into songs by artists such as Hanus G., Stanley Samuelsen, Orka and Kári Sverrison. 
© Samuel Joensen-Mikines, Whale killing scene, the Faroe Islands
Metalfan: What are the greatest doom names in music in your opinion? Please explain your choices according to your natural feelings.
Jón Aldará: This may seem odd, but I only listen to doom occasionally, and only a few albums in the genre are on my “Greatest Albums” list. My very favorite doom album is definitely Anathema’s “The Silent Enigma”. Besides them, I enjoy bands such as Ahab, Daylight Dies, Candlemass, Swallow the Sun, Mar de Grises and Memento Mori, among others. My reasons for liking these bands are varied, but I generally prefer my doom with a progressive or aggressive touch, and I rarely have the patience for music that is super slow all of the time. Perhaps a bit ironic.

Metalfan: When it comes to bands in general, we all know that some of the greatest moments in their members’ lives are those unfolding during the process of writing, recording or touring. But do you have another type of memories relating to experiences shared by you with your band mates, like happenings outside the musical realm?
Jón Aldará: That’s a big question, and I’m not sure how to answer it. The members of Hamferð are an odd bunch, and certainly not very doomy or gloomy types in general. So we tend to stir things up a bit wherever we are. It has nearly gotten us in trouble a few times, but I believe our sweet demeanor has saved us from any real issues. One time, in France, we received a roll of aluminium foil and a pack of After Eights from Mayhem, which later developed into something quite interesting, if you can call it that. But it’s not a story that should be told officially… Yet!

Metalfan: Hamferð has already one of the greatest videos in the metal dimension. That’s “Deyðir varðar”, of course, shot during the solar eclipse in March 2015. What other natural phenomena will fit the Hamferð’s music and lyrical themes in your view?
Jón Aldará: We are generally strongly influenced by nature and landscapes; Faroese ones in particular. Storms are a recurring theme with us, simply because they are so regular during Faroese Winters. Same as with fog and rain. It can get quite depressing on the islands, if you are accustomed to sunny and mild weather, believe me!

Metalfan: This summer, Hamferð played at the spectacular Wave-Gotik-Treffen in Leipzig. Was it the first time when you were there? How was your overall experience during this event?
Jón Aldará: This was actually our second time at Wave-Gotik Treffen, and yes, it is indeed spectacular. This time, we had the honour of playing in the beautiful Schauspielhaus, a historical theater that experienced bombing during War World II. The perfect surroundings for a doomy night.
Metalfan: I know you have studied biology and perhaps you went farther with the post-graduate studies. I assume that the microscopic observations and captures have been some of the main things in your school work at one point, besides other means of research. I don’t have any clue about the mechanisms in this natural science, but I love to gaze at microscopic captures or to simply watch the samples under the lenses and I imagine various types of roads, universes and creatures within creatures and so on. I thing this practice is amazing regardless of my ignorance. What was the most fascinating „capture” you have encountered so far? I would love to learn which biological field you have been studying so far. 
Jón Aldará: Microbiology is certainly an interesting area, but my main interest at the moment lies with birds, and particularly seabirds. After the DBE-concert in August, I will return to Copenhagen and defend my final thesis and finish my Masters degree. For the thesis, I have studied a particular bird called the Arctic skua; a beautiful thing which is a bit like a cross between a gull and a hawk. It is an incredible flyer, and has a reputation as a pirate of the sky, since it steals food from other birds. Among other things, I have investigated whether it leaves its eggs more frequently during periods of high air temperature, which is very relevant for its survival when considering continuous climate change and increasing temperatures all over the world.

Metalfan: Okay, I think we can finish this. Thank you pretty much for being so kind and answer our curiosities. Last words belong to you and they can relate to any subject. 
Jón Aldará: Thank you very much, Gina and Metalfan. We are looking forward to returning to Romania and meeting our friends there, both new and old. Also, we have something quite special up our sleeves for this show, so bring your sad faces!
Autor: Gina S.
   August 01, 2017  | 0 Comments  | 5359 Views « BACK

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