Formed in 2013, Iceland’s Great Grief have just released their debut “Love, Lust and Greed” on No Sleep records. Mixing elements of hardcore with pure emotion and some blackened elements, the bands sound is quite unique and is bound to gain them even more exposure worldwide. Having earned a reputation for being “Iceland’s hardest working band”, the guys have played over 150 shows in the US, Canada and Iceland since their inception, and have been called the driving force in the Reykjavik hardcore scene. 2014 saw the release of their first outing, EP “Ascending / / Descending”, under their former name Icarus. Since then, they have been relatively quiet up until announcing both their signing to No Sleep and their debut. I recently had a chance to chat with the band about the name change, some of the lyrical themes on the album, and a handful of other topics, which you can read below. Be sure to give the guys a like on Facebook and purchase “Love, Lust and Greed” from iTunes, Bandcamp, or from No Sleep!
Where did the name of the band originate from? Is there meaning behind it at all? Why change your name from Icarus?
The name is simply something we all thought was cool and fit with our music. The name change was something we toyed with for a while since there were so many other bands with the name “Icarus”. The final straw is when we played South By So What festival and they linked the wrong bands music on their website.
What have you all been up to since the release of your last split EP?
Since we released the split we’ve been slowly writing and tracking our full length while attending school and working. We are complete idiots when it comes to managing our time properly so getting this record finished took way longer than it should have.
What made you all decide on sticking with the blackened hardcore genre? Did you ever experiment with other genres before deciding on the aforementioned?
We never really had the conversation on where to take our music, we always sort of just start writing and see what happens. Currently our songs are taking influence from all over the place but we’re heading in a more straight forward rock band direction.
There are a lot of bands playing similar music, what do you feel separates you from your contemporaries?
Musically we feel we’re paving some new paths however I’d like to think that our live performances are what makes us special. We put everything out there every single show, even if we’re only playing to a few friends that have seen us before. Jumping into drumsets, doing front flips into amps and throwing instruments is never planned but these things tend to happen every so often.
Conceptually, what are you trying to convey with the lyrics on both this album? Are there any reoccurring themes or meanings? About how long would you say you spent on writing the album?
The writing for this album was done over a course of 3 years. Originally we intended on releasing a full length with 7 new songs and re-recording 4 songs off of our EP and split. Somehow we just kept on making new material that we all loved. We scratched the weaker songs and put together a full album with all new songs. Mental health is a hot topic on this record, but we also go deep into the subject of organized religion, toxic masculinity, the harmful party culture in Iceland and being isolated.
Who would you say your biggest influences are?
There is such an incredible amount of bands we take influence from, but if I had to mention five bands off the top of my head, they would be Tom Waits, Blacklisted, The Blood Brothers, Billy Talent, Queens of the Stone Age. Obviously there are so many more outside of anything we sonically resemble but those are some nice ones we all appreciate.
The records we listened to while recording/writing:
MM Food by MF Doom
Burn, Piano Island, Burn by The Blood Brothers
The Dream is Over by PUP
Yesteryear by American Scarecrows
Unortheta by Zhrine
No One Deserves To Be Here More Than Me by Blacklisted
Major albums coming up that we’re excited for:
Whenever Deathspell Omega drops another album, and also the Krabba Mane mixtape when that drops.
Who did you work with as a producer? What kind of experience did you have?
Our drummer Leifur tracked most of the songs off the record in our practice space/studio back home in Reykjavik. We then took a trip in late December of 2017 to track 4 more songs with Adam Chichocki in his home studio. Adam consolidated and mixed the record, while Mike Kalajian mastered it. Working with Adam was perfect for us as he had bunks for us to sleep in and dogs for us to play with. A typical conversation with Adam went like this: “Let’s do that again, you’re bending a bit too much…One more time” then after the take he goes “you guys fuck with that? I fuck with that”.
Whatʼs it been like working with No Sleep records?
Working with No Sleep was a dream come true. They were so patient with us and gave us all the space we needed to make the best version of the record possible. Signing a band from Iceland is no joke as we had learned from other labels in the U.S. yet Chris from No Sleep believed in us and we couldn’t be more grateful.
Any big plans for tours to support the release? Hopefully the United States!!
Nothing we can announce yet unfortunately but we can say for sure that 2019 will have Great Grief all over the U.S.
Speaking of touring, what are some of your favorite touring or show memories? Anything ever happen that resonates with you the most? Doesnʼt necessarily need to be a positive experience.
There are so many memories from touring that we’re extremely important to us and changed the course of this band in some ways. It’s too hard to pick one memory like that, so instead I’ll just say that I watched the guitar player from “Left Behind” drink an entire bottle of his own piss and then burp really loudly.
If you had the opportunity to tour with 3 bands, past or present, who would you tour with?
Orchid, David Bowie and The Blood Brothers. Opened by Patton Oswalt doing an hour of comedy.
Is there anything youʼd like to say your current or future fan base?
Thank you for sticking with us. It wont be so long for the next one. Love you.