I found myself in York on, yes you guessed it, a bloody cold night. It's a beautiful Roman town with characteristic gateways, Roman walls and the such. I like it here. Surely this cannot be the setting for three of the world's loudest, heaviest and most gruesome bands. Yep, it is. Mínus were here in the UK for their first tour outside of Iceland, supporting the mighty metallers Charger and Matter. I sit down for a chat about what goes on underneath the surface of such mordant music with compelling vocalist, Krummi…
Where did you get the name for your latest album, 'Jesus Christ Bobby'?
"The name comes from a personal joke really that was created from blasphemy when people say "Jesus Christ" all the time we put the 'Bobby' on the end because its like "Jesus Christ, Bobby". Then it became a meaning like we're not religious or anything but by saying that, anyone can be like Jesus Christ. So it means that an ordinary Bobby can be Jesus Christ."
Your live performance has been hailed far and wide - in particular, the intense nature of it. Where do you gain such onstage energy?
"We get it from anger; from beauty; negativity and really just turning ourselves into oblivion and just forgetting ourselves for 5 minutes and trying to reach a comatose state. We really don't know what we're still doing - it is subconscious."
So what are the essential elements of your inspiration?
"Really just from arts. From musical art forms; from paintings, people and life. Negativity, optimism. We inspire each other just as human beings. Just through expressing ourselves, which is art really. It's very important to us. Its what we're about. Naturally like every rock band were trying to push the limits and put art back into punk rock and rock music."
You seem to take a lot of care about the meaning of the band. What about the name?
"Mínus means minus in Icelandic. It came from negativity. We don't want to push it away. We want to take and embrace it and try and make something new out of negativity and use it in a challenging way. So there's no negativity in it, really. It just makes you look up and think for a moment. If there isn't negativity in the world then there is negativity in your own mind. And that will never go away. It will always exist. There has to be black so white exists; there has to be white so black exists."
What are the major influences upon your work?
"It's international. The diversity and dynamics of the album is really inspired by the weather in Iceland because it changes rapidly in a very short period of time. It gets extremely beautiful; it gets depressing; it gets optimistic. We are, as people, really diverse and open for whatever comes our way, we will embrace it and work out some kind of agreement with it."
And what about bands?
"Iggy Pop & The Stooges, Television, The Hives, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Converge, Melt Banana, The Melvins, Nick Cave, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin. We really embrace everything. The old blues like The Evelyn Brothers. And jazz stuff. A lot!!"
It is very interesting that you cite so many punk bands among your influences because you are signed to a famous punk label in the US - Victory - and your sound has been labelled as Hardcore. To what extent do you agree with the Hardcore philosophy?
"They are keen on categorising it as hardcore because they really can't find a word for what kind of music this is. We're not a hardcore band. We of course draw influences from a lot of good hardcore bands, which is a very good art form. We're just trying to find our own sound. It's based on rock 'n' roll; it's based on punk. Of course there are metal and hardcore tinges. Hardcore just means aggressive and believing in what you are doing…like punk. We're not a hardcore band…we're a rock 'n' roll band."
Curver was producer on Jesus Christ Bobby. He has also come on tour with you as your sound engineer. How did the collaboration come about and how did he influence your sound?
"He's from Iceland. Were all from the artists scene in Iceland and he's one of the most respected artists and has been into the scene there for many, many years and he's a bit older than us. He's our sound guy - he does the noises. It came about just socialising in some places and meeting each other. We wanted to do something special like combine noise soundscapes. We really like that art form, which really challenges people. And put that into aggressive rock music and create something like a diverse and challenging and hard to categorise music."
"We're all fans of electronic music and all music and you can do so much if you know what you're doing and if you have the right ideas to use the electronics with rock 'n' roll then that's a great challenge for five guys to cope with. And it makes you a better musician. Its what we do. We challenge ourselves to reach that higher level."
Another notable name featured on the album is Eidar - a former member of the legendary Icelandic band, The Sugarcubes…
"He sings on 'Modern Haircuts'. He's just a guest vocalist. He's kind of our godfather. He does a lot of things for us and he's a great fan of our music. The Sugarcubes are one of the greatest bands in the world!"
You're from Reykjavik, in Iceland and you are one of the biggest bands around there at the moment. What is it like living there at the moment?
"It's a small community but we don't have a problem with the local people at all. The thing about back home is if you're original, you are respected. If you are true to yourself, in the end someone who really wants to hate you, respects you. He can't hate you because he would hate you because he is as true to himself as you are to yourself. It doesn't pay to have some beef with another band or some locals. The only thing that we have had is the jealousy. Because we are doing so great outside, some of our friends are really jealous. It really hurts my feelings because they should be happy for us. I fucking hate that. We are really the pioneers of progressive hardcore music in Iceland and the first ones who released a record in Iceland playing this music and performed on TV and got on front pages of magazines. Some people get jealous - it's just a normal reaction, but sometimes it gets out of hand. We just think about our own clique and do it on our own."
Mínus are currently back in their homeland, but plans are afoot to return to the UK later this year. If you like it hard, fast and Icelandic then I suggest you make the purchase of 'Jesus Christ Bobby' and prepare yourself.
WARNING: You might fall over