SIGUR ROS’ JONSI BIRGISSON LOVES IRON MAIDEN
What’s the non-metal crowd’s take on Sigur Ros? Our friend Tommy Wee is a HUGE fan, and based on his strong recommendation, I went with him to see them play live last year. Their music is beautiful and they put on quite a show, but I found Jónsi Birgisson’s high-pitched vocals to be kinda irritating. After the show, I made my complaint known, and Tommy called me a hypocrite, seeing as I enjoy the work of such apparent-eunuchs as King Diamond, Bruce Dickinson, and Rob Halford. But I dismissed his accusations as those of a fan so enamored with the band that he couldn’t handle any critique of their music whatsoever. “What Dickinson does and what Birgisson does aren’t the same at all,” I told Tommy.
And as it turns out, Tommy may have been right and I may have been wrong.
Birgission has a new solo album, Go, coming out in March, and was on WNYC last week to promote the release. Tommy happened to be listening when the interviewer asked Birgisson about his vocal style. Here’s a transcript of that exchange:
What is that high voice? Have you trained to be a counter-tenor or anything like that?
No, nothing like that.I never train or do anything with my voice, I just sing when I have to.
So when you were growing up, when you were beginning to sing, who were the singers that appealed to you? Who gave you a thrill?
Uh… I guess there’s one screamer… I used to grow up with heavy metal, and Iron Maiden, that band, the singer, Bruce Dickinson, he used to scream a lot.
So, I guess I should give Sigur Ros another shot. Maybe this time I’ll think they’re 100% awesome instead of 90% awesome.
You can download the audio of the interview with Birgisson here.
Here’s Sigur Ros’ “Hoppípolla.” It’s my favorite Sigur Ros song because it features a bare minimum of Birgisson’s higher-pitched vocals.