Despite their Icelandic origins—they educated themselves on the subject of Lollapalooza by watching a live stream of last year’s festival—the members of the band Of Monsters and Men revealed to Marty Lennartz on Sunday that they nevertheless have their own special connection to the city of Chicago:
“I’ve been to Chicago in spirit while watching Blues Brothers—my favorite movie!” exclaimed band members Árni Guðjónsson, Brynjar Leifsson, and Ragnar þórhallsson. The three also expressed amazement at the number of police cars smashed during the course of the film: “They have the world record of smashing cars in that movie!”
When they’re not watching Blues Brothers, the members of Of Monsters and Men have been busy playing festivals in the U.S. and Canada, among these the prestigious Newport Folk Festival and, of course, Lollapalooza, where the band performed on the same day as their idol and fellow Icelander, Sigur Ros. Guðjónsson, Leifsson, and þórhallsson remarked that Of Monsters and Men would certainly catch Sigur Ros’ set, as Sigur Ros are “legends” in Iceland: “We’re fans” the three confirmed, but “not like fans that cool stuff”.
The connection between Of Monsters and Men and Sigur Ros might at first appear surprising, given the difference in the two bands’ sounds. Of Monsters and Men, Lennartz noted, have a “grounded and organic” vibe, whereas the music of many Icelandic bands, including Sigur Ros, is “otherworldly”. According to Of Monsters and Men, however, the music scene in Iceland is quite diverse, teeming with “people trying to stand out”.
Of Monsters and Men were just such people until they got their big break in Icelandic music competition Músíktilraunir (or “music experiments”). Established in 1982, the competition features “sixty to eighty” competing bands in addition to “older musicians and music critics” as judges. As the winners of the competition in 2010, Of Monsters and Men won studio time at a studio home to none other than—you guessed it—Sigur Ros.
Before leaving the interview, the band members expressed their pride in their first single and first song they recorded together as a band, the ever-popular “Little Talks”, as well as in the fact the music video for “Little Talks” recently received an MTV award for best art direction.
Even for someone who lacks the ability to pronounce its band members’ names, the music of Of Monsters and Men is as enjoyable and accessible as Guðjónsson, Leifsson, and þórhallsson’s quirky sense of humor during this pre-show interview.