Oh to be young and in a band. To have long dirty hair and play outdated Iron Maiden songs or your own variations on that theme. To carry your burst pimples like a banner against the world and of course there is always the coarse leather jacket and carrying some slogan that defines you. How cool is that? The other day we bought an apple tart & coffe and went to see Nolo who incidentally are nothing like the aforementioned leather-phile. Soft spoken and clean they were gracious enough to show us their studio space on a Sunday afternoon in the end of June.
Could you tell us a bit about yourselves?
My name is Jón Gabríel Lorange or Nonni and I am the guitar player in Nolo. Ívar: You sing as well.
Nonni: I try to sing, can’t sing, still do it. I live in Kópavogur eee… I don’t know. That’s a fine start. Shoe size? 43. Account number? (it’s an old gag but it gets people going) I don’t know, I can’t remember.
Over to you?
My name is Ívar Björnsson and I’m 20, play the keyboards and I sing as well. There is bass on the keyboard too so there is a lot to do.
What else do you do? By that I mean do you do something other than music?
We play football for Valur. No we play for a none league side called Achilles United and yes we’re also in school if that’s what you mean? In part. Nonni: I’m finishing MK and Ívar is in Uni but mostly we just do music.
“It didn’t have a home and drifted between years.”
What positions do you play?
It differs but mainly defense and the centre of midfield. So you’re more creative in music than on the field? Yes, but football is always fun. Nonni: We can forget about everything in football. Ívar: …all the pressure and the stress of the music industry.
There seems to be a movement within the music scene towards football, isn’t there a musicians only football team called FC Mjöðm?
Yes, in the same division as us and they are really good, we’re not, but we just won our first mach the other day! Nonni: The first of five actually, the others have been more like 7-1 or 13-2. Maybe we should just focus on music and forget about football? No, no reason for that.
Tell me, you released an EP album in 2010
You mean No-Lo-Fi. Yes with Brak and it was on Þorláksmesa in 2009 so it was like the last album of the year and it has been lumped in with the albums of 2010 on year lists and that. Nonni: It didn’t have a home and drifted between years.
You are working on a new material now, when is that due?
We are told that it will be in the end of July or beginning of August hopefully. Nonni: We intended to release it in the beginning of summer but the process has drawn out a bit. And you are at Kimi Records? Yes.
Aren’t delays often the case when you add in the mixing and editing?
Of course. We have got two fine gentlemen working with us recording the album; Logi from Sudden Weather Change and Svavar Pétur from Prince Polo and also the third one is Gunnar from múm, who is doing all the mixing.
So now you officially have an entourage?
Yes they’re just string puppets now.
What program are you using to record?
When we record we use AcidPro but they use Protools because they´re so pro, we have no clue how to operate that. Nonni: On the first album we used AcidPro. Ívar: And Wax which is a movie editor.
Taxi is a brand new song from Nolo´s forthcoming second album. Never been heard before, enjoy.
With the first album more down to earth have you set your sights on doing things differently?
Ívar: The idea we set out with was to record this one in a professional studio and get the perfect sound. Nonni: The first album was almost unplayable for radio because it cut at regular intervals, I mean it was recorded in here so you could almost hear the rattle in the computer in the background where as the next one is to be more pro, Bubba Pro!
That brings me onto the cliché question, where do you come from, what are your influences?
Naturally it’s Bubbi Mortens and Björgvin they are the kings in our opinion (at this point I do a look and they waver) Ívar: No joking. Nonni: We have been playing together for such a long time and we have evolved for such a long time, for maybe six or seven years – back then it was us playing in a band doing songs like Back in Black and it started out in the classic rock and since then we have stopped trying to be in a band and just ended up the two of us making our music.
“..and the last one tried to poison us.”
So you have been trough the molding period trying out new people and having splits and realized that less is more, in your case?
Yes definitely! (at this point they cannot restrain themselves any longer and take the plunge into eating the apple tart and lose all interest in the interview). We enjoy being two of us, we create a lot when it’s just us. Ívar: There was always trouble with finding a drummer and it was always us creating in the bands and the last one tried to poison us. He was just so angry with us because we would show up in for the practice sessions and start composing most of the music as we went along. We still do it like that..
Nonni: We never write something at home and bring it to the session, that’s what he wanted for us to do. At one point he stopped the jam and asked: guys where are the songs? Let’s play them! Come on can’t you just write them at home? Ívar: There was always drama like that going on and eventually we just gave up on the idea of having a drummer at all and bought us a drum machine.
And I presume it doesn’t protest or throw a tantrum much?
No, never a word nor drama and always in sync. No heavy equipment either! That’s a big plus.
Any difficulties playing live as there are only two of you?
It can seem a bit empty as it’s just the two of us and there is a lot to do on stage, adjusting the drums, playing bass and the computer. Changing between songs can be a hassle. Nonni: Especially after we got the drum machine, now we have to scroll down the interface and adjust it whereas if we had a drummer we could just count in. There is a loss of flow so Ívar has to tell jokes in-between songs.
Can we expect a sea change in terms of material from the last album?
We’re always evolving! Ívar: Now we are a bit reggae, no not really, but the way we write is that regularly we go into a creative phase and do maybe ten songs or there about. Nonni: Ten songs, what are you talking about?! Ívar: Ok like three or four depending on how good the vibe is that we got going.
“It blends together like a bag of Skittles”
Is that lyrics and songs?
Just meeting up and jamming and we do the lyrics afterwards. Nonni: We don’t do lyrics, didn’t used to, now we’ll create a story, well lyrics matter so we’re trying to meet up and work them out. So they might be in batches of a few that are similar and others that are completely different.
How does that work when it comes to fitting that into an album that needs to have some cohesion or not for that matter?
Nonni: It blends together like a bag of Skittles. Ívar: We rarely have a genre in mind when we’re working. Nonni: There was that rap phase though with the hip hop drums and culminated in us calling MC Gauti. And how did that work out? Not great but we got 7Berg instead. Nonni: We don’t define ourselves as this one moment and that the next, Post-rock Apocalyptical, no we’re just trying to create our own thing.
That we don’t have, thank Jesus. Not at all, we just use what we own. Every other band talks about buying this amazing thing that does this and that. It seems to me that Icelandic music has been plagued by the newest, biggest, best mentality much like the rest of the society. Nonni: It can’t help you play better music, it’s great to have good sound but then you grow tired of that, what do you do, buy a new thingy? Ívar: It’s the music that matters.
That being said we are trying to bring our equipment up to date, the Electone orgel is some 90 kilos and can be terrible to haul around. Nonni: You can see that it’s meant to be stationary. Ívar: We’re in a bit of a pinch at the moment as a band cause the concert at Factory the other day should have been the Electone´s last concert and at the end of it, it broke down. It’s a mystery or a sign. Nonni: On June 13th we play at LUNGA in Seyðisfjörður and we need to figure this out before then.
Do you like playing in the countryside?
Last year we played on Kimi’s summer happening in Ísafjörður, which was fantastic, having just played in Hólmavík in a shed for like three folks, everyone else having left the town for Verslunarmannahelgin. Kinda ridiculous! Really don’t rightly know why we were there? One of the plus sides about being two in a band is that your more likely to be playing for more people in the crowd than are in the band. Hjaltalín are screwed statistically when there are two people listening, you got to play the numbers.
What are the bands medium to long term plans for the future?
Nonni: Japan in the fall. Ívar: Yes Japan and disappear and see about everything else… No, it’s mainly to release the album and try to get more than three stars in the paper, which is what we got for the last one. Still it was mainly criticism about the quality of the recordings. So Japan and Popppunktur, that’s your ambitions? Ívar: Oh Popppunktur would be great! Nonni: but there’s only two of us and we need to be three for the show. You’ll just bring the drum machine. And program it with a robot voice. Nonni: And connect it to the internet and have all the answers.
Interview: Guðni Rúnar
Photographs: Nanna Dís