We were invited to interview the mighty Tyr following Ave Noctum’s 9/10 review for their highly impressive Valkyrja album. Unfortunately our correspondent was overseas and unable to interview the band in person, but Tyr frontman and lead vocalist Heri Joensen has taken the time to respond to this our questions via e-mail, revealing the reasoning behind his shock move out of armour, his surprising predilection for Blackie Lawless-alike song lyrics, Tyr’s Top Tour Tips and his increasingly well-documented if somewhat one-sided love affair with Doro….

AN: First of all congratulations on the release of ‘Valkyrja’! It certainly seems to be getting a good reception from most reviewers. What did you want to achieve on this record?

Heri Joensen: We simply wanted to further our careers and make a good album to begin our co-operation with Metal Blade Records. Also I wanted to make a strong concept album.

AN: You even appear to be troubling the music charts worldwide. What has gone so right this time?

HJ: I think our songwriting gets better for each album. We put a lot of emphasis on making our songs memorable and infectious, and for the most part radio friendly. Also I believe it shows on our chart entries that Metal Blade has a stronger promotion than our previous label.

AN: I was sorry to hear that your former drummer Kári Streymoy succumbed to injury before this record, and sure that Tyr fans wish him well. Will he be jumping back aboard the longship at a later date?

HJ: Not as it looks at the moment, no.

AN: If not is there any word on a long-term replacement for Kari? George Kollias certainly filled in admirably on the album.

HJ: Amon Djurhuus Ellingsgaard has taken the permanent position as Týr drummer.


AN: Long sections of ‘Valkyrja’ were Thrashtastic. You have often cited Metallica and Pantera amongst your influences. Is the more Thrash-orientated sound a deliberate step, or natural inclination?

HJ: The Thrash you can hear this time is probably due to Terji being more involved with the songwriting this time. The Pantera influence in Týr all comes through Terji, although we all like Metallica.

AN: The album itself has a conceptual theme, roughly put of a Viking aspiring to ‘a relationship’ with a goddess via the medium of a Valkyrie. Knowing Tyr there is no doubt some deep root in Faroese mythology…. or perhaps judging by some of the spicier lyrics on ‘Mare of My Night’ it had some other, more personal inspiration?

HJ: The mythology of the Valkyries is a common Nordic thing, not specific to the Faeroes. The Valkyries are female beings that carry the fallen brave warriors to Valhalla or to Fólkvangr. There are also some a bit more close-to-earth lyrics, yes. They are more general than specific to me. Mare Of My Night is quite explicit, sexually. I’ve been a long time fan of W.A.S.P. and I’ve wanted to try out some lyrics like that for a long time. I think I finally found the right place to put it.

AN: You have certainly set himself some challenges on ‘Valkyrja’. Not content with taking on a duet with Liv Christine from Leave’s Eyes, the album includes Iron Maiden’s ‘Where Eagle’s Dare’ complete with those tough, tough Dickinson high notes. Those pipes are sounding stronger than ever. What’s the secret?

HJ: Practise. I’ve looked around for a long time for vocal lessons online. I’ve tried out a few, and even had a crack at it myself to make exercises. But some time ago I found a program that I’ve stayed with so far and I think it’s done me good. I’m not sure it’s very important which program you follow, so long as you follow one and practice daily. Also it’s very important for me that I am confident with the material that I’m going to sing, so memorising text and melody very thoroughly is a large part of the practice.


AN: If, following your own untimely demise in battle you had to choose a personal Valkyrie from women in Metal, who would it be?

HJ: That’s a hard one. I don’t usually listen to female fronted bands and the ones I know best are Doro and Lita Ford and the likes. I guess I’d take Doro Pesch, …if she’d have me

AN: A tour with Finntroll. What could be better?

HJ: A tour with Wintersun? We enjoyed the tour very much, our first time on tour with Finntroll, but hopefully not our last. Finntroll is the one band that we’ve not worked with, unintentionally of course, throughout our career and it was good to finally get to know them properly.

AN: Judging by photo-shoots for the new album you have changed your look to something much more Metal. Are you going to be getting the armour out this tour?

HJ: We have no plans to bring the armour back. We used it only for By The Light Of The Northern Star and the following tours and festivals. It was a nightmare to travel with and a pain to play in, so we were glad to see that go, although it gave us a strong, but also less mature, image. Our present live look is very much like the promo pictures for Valkyrja, and we have no plans of changing it in the near future. But then again, you never know what’s around the next corner.

AN: This final one you don’t have to answer! I was going to ask you how you stay in shape on tour, which is something I am genuinely curious about as it seems impossible – and you guys always looked fairly muscular. However when I look over your most recent photos it seems that you have slimmed down considerably. OK – how DID you stay in shape on tour?

HJ: I used to work out every day on tour and stick to a very strict diet. I’ve fallen of that lately, but I plan to take it up again, any day now. Staying fit on tour is actually very easy, if you drink as little as I do. There’s plenty of free time in which people are usually very bored. If you go to sleep early, and sober, you can always get up early, in good shape, and do a fitness routine. I hope to get in reasonable shape again for the Children Of Bodom tour. Let’s see

Interview by Graham Cushway