Interview with Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir of Of Monsters And Men

Of Monsters and Men are in the midst of their first U.S. tour with almost every single stop completely sold out already. Later this week they roll into Philadelphia for two sold out shows on April 3rd & 4th at the Theater of the Living Arts.

Before their debut album drops tomorrow, and they hit town to wow Philly audiences on back-to-back nights, we wanted to gain a little more knowledge about the six piece band from Iceland and what makes them tick. We did a little Q&A with Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir, guitar player, co-vocalist, and the lady who got this whole crazy thing started. Here’s what came out of that little talk:

Independent Philly: Who came up with band name “Of Monsters and Men”? What special meaning does it have for you? 

Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir: When we were deciding on a name Raggi came up with the idea of “Of Monsters and Men”. It sounded good and interesting and later i think it became a big part of the way that we write lyrics and think about our music. So in a way the special meaning that it has to me is that it kind of sums it all up, what we are about.

IP: Your debut album “My Head is an Animal” drops on April 3rd (in the U.S.), what can fans expect from the album? What special meaning does the album title hold? 

NBH: Well, we had a lot of fun making this album and a lot of work was put into it… it’s our baby.  So we hope fans can feel the effort and good times. The album title “My head Is An Animal” is a line from the opening song on the album “Dirty Paws”.  It just felt very appropriate, both with it being the opening of the album and because it sums up the album. 

IP: What was it like hearing yourselves on the radio for the first time? 

NBH: It was great! When they started playing us at home in Iceland it was so cool. I would extend my drive sometimes to see if they would play us and switch between channels. It was very exiting.

IP: “Little Talks” is a huge hit. Did you expect to have such a big response to the song? What’s it been like?

NBH: No not at all. It just kind of happened and we had no idea we would get such positive feedback. I even remember when we recorded demos of “Little Talks” and “From Finner” that we said to each other that “From Finner” should be our first single. “Little Talks” just kind of had its own intentions apparently. It has a mind of its own. 

IP: How did the six of you come together to form the band? 

NBH: I used to play solo for a while and called myself Songbird. I got my friend Brynjar to help me out and play guitar on some shows. The Raggi followed and was playing glockenspiel and melodica and singing. Then before Músiktilraunir, a music competition in Iceland, we were like, Ok let’s become a proper band and that’s when Arnar joined. Then before Iceland Airwaves festival 2010 we added Kiddi Palli and Árni because we wanted to make our sound bigger for that show, and they stuck around, so now we are six family members. Party of six! 

IP: You’ve just embarked on your first U.S. tour. What 5 items are must-haves for you on tour? 

NBH: We are on tour right now and it’s been AWESOME!  5 things that we have learned are a must are:

: Comfy bus clothes 

: Healthy food, enough with those damn Pizzas! 

: Good music to play in the bus

: Enough Sleep

: Water, lots and lots of water

IP: The tour is littered with SOLD OUT shows, what can fans in these packed venues expect from a live O.M.A.M. show?

NBH: A good time! We have a good time performing and we really want people to experience that with us. 

IP: Which band member would win the following contests (and why)? 

a. cook offBrynjar. I think he’s secretly a good cook. 

b. arm wrestlingI think Arnar and Raggi would have a good battle but i think Raggi would win, he’s strong like a moose. 

c. free-style rap battleRaggi. But Árni did bust off some good rhymes yesterday though….hmmm…

d. DJ competition – Brynjar

e. 5K raceÁrni. He’s so fast, he’s like lightning.

IP: Who are currently some of your favorite bands? Who were you most excited to see perform at SXSW? 

NBH: My current favorite band is maybe Gayngs or Feist. I’m getting friendly with my iPod again after a long time and I’m rediscovering a few things. 

We saw Norah Jones and Mumford and Sons at SXSW. We were very exited about that.  

IP: What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen at one of your shows? What’s the craziest fan letter/email you’ve ever read? 

NBH: Someone crowd surfed last night. That has never happened before. We’ve had people jump up on stage too. One time this girl came on stage really drunk while we were starting to play King and Lionheart…she ran up to the mic and went, like, “MY SISTER!! HELLO ARE YOU THERE, I NEED TO FIND MY SISTER OK!!!” .  She just stood there screaming that into the mic for a really long time and we just stood around like.. ..”yeah.. can someone please find her sister so this very awkward moment can be over with?”. We’ve actually had a handful of these really weird and funny fan moments. 

IP: What is the music scene in Iceland like? 

NBH: It’s surprisingly big and diverse. Everyone wants to do their own thing because chances are you know someone in the other bands and you really don’t want to be copying anyone so that’s how I think the scene becomes diverse and people in most cases really try to create something unique. I love the music scene in Iceland and many of my all time favorite bands are Icelandic.

IP: Tell us something that would surprise, or even shock our readers…. 

NBH: The longest recorded flight of a chicken is 13 seconds!

We can’t wait to check out Of Monsters and Men at the TLA this week. We’ll be on hand to cover their show on Wednesday night and we hope that you’re lucky enough to have scored tickets to one of their two Philadelphia shows!

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