Airwaves 13: Leaves

Leaves, for those who don’t know, are an Icelandic five piece from Reykjavík that have been around since 2001. They have released several albums and received critical acclaim for their debut, Breathe, which was particularly well received in the U.K. where the band was held in the same esteem as Doves, Elbow, Feeder and even The Verve. Then, they seemingly disappeared. Now they have returned with a vengeance. They are just about to release their new album See You In The Afterglow, and play at Iceland Airwaves.

Leaves are Arnar Guðjónsson (vocal/guitar), Andri Ásgrímsson (Guitar), Nói Steinn Einarsson (Drums), Kjartan F. Ólafsson (keyboards) and Elís Pétursson (Bass). I caught up with Nói to find out more, and get his view on Airwaves.

For people that don’t know, how would you describe Leaves music?

Slow-burning, epic, melodious rock and roll with uplifting harmonies.

Most people outside of Iceland know Leaves best for Breathe. Did the success of the album surprise you?

Everything happened really fast for the band in the beginning and the band was only a few months old when we signed our first record deal with B-unique (record label), so of course it was surprising but we also knew the album was really good but things happened much faster than we had hoped for.

You seemed to be everywhere a few years back, and then disappeared. Was that by choice?

In a way, maybe, after releasing two albums and doing a lot of touring we just needed some time to rethink our next step. As I said everything happened really fast and we just needed time to develop as a band and establish our sound, so we spend a lot of time in the rehearsal studio.

You are about to release a new album, called See You in the Afterglow. Does the title reference your past success?

For us personally the name of the new album See You in the Afterglow only references this album and the time we spent working on it but people can of course put their own meaning to it.

What can we expect from the new album?

When we started writing songs for the new album we decided to try to combine and balance the progressive sound of our last two albums and the simplicity of our first album and I think we managed this well. So, think the songs are more accessible and the album has a easier approach then our last two albums.

Leaves are playing concerts at Airwaves this week. Are you looking forward to playing again?

We are really excited to play Iceland Airwaves this year. The band is in a very good shape and looking forward to playing the new album.

What’s the best kept secret about Airwaves?

The atmosphere, I would say. It’s always fantastic, everywhere you can fit a band, there’s a band playing and this time of the year Reykjavík has this magical feel and everything looks a bit mysterious.


Originally published on Iceland Review online.