For the band members from Icelandic group Of Monsters and Men, the past few years have been a whirlwind of gigs, hotels, festivals, tour buses and more hotels.
Since winning ‘Músíktilraunir’, a five-day, battle-of-the-bands competition in their home country in 2010, touring for their first album ‘My Head is an Animal’ has taken the folk/pop outfit to no fewer than 27 countries, playing a total of 231 shows.
The warm front that set the whirlwind in motion, was of course the success of the single ‘Little Talks’. It helped their album go in at six on the US Billboard charts, supplanting eclectic songstress Bjork as the previous highest charting Icelandic artist on the countdown.
It could all have been so different for the collective. The catchy song was not originally planned as a single, and was the result of simple messing around.
“When we made it, we went into the studio to record two songs, we recorded ‘Little Talks’ and ‘From Finner’ and we actually thought that ‘From Finner’ would be our first single but it never was,” says the soft-spoken singer Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir.
“The song itself kind of made the decision, we were going for ‘From Finner’ as our single and the radio and other people started picking up on ‘Little Talks’.
“How the song came about, I used to have a roommate and we were sitting around and she was dying her hair red and I was just fooling around on the guitar. I was just teasing her, and I was writing this lyric teasing her.
“But then I was like ‘the melody is alright’, and then I met up with Ragnar, the other singer, and [played] him the melody and he was like ‘yeah that is OK’ and we just sort of went there but it started off as a joke.”
It is a joke that has yet to reach the punchline as the band feel like their feet have barely touched the ground.
“We got a chance to play places that we never really thought were go to as tourists or something, let alone playing music there. We got to go to Brazil and that was amazing, Argentina and Chile and that was just amazing,” says Nanna. The band has also been taken out of their comfort zone on a few occasions, however, as Nanna adds: “I remember one show where they were throwing bottles all of the time, like not at us but at each other and I was seeing people get hurt and it was horrible. I thought it was very rude… It was a UK festival, V Fest.”
While having learned to cope with the stresses and strain of being on tour, Nanna seems to still be the shy Icelandic girl from Garðabær, a town with a population of just 14,000 people. Her shyness got the better of her in one of her more surreal on-tour encounters - when the band were invited to play on hit US comedy show ‘Saturday Night Live’, hosted that night by oddball ‘Hangover’ actor Zach Galifianakis.
“The guys went to see him, but I just did a quick hello, because I was very shy,” she recalls. “Our bass player meeting him was very funny though because we shared rooms next to him. And he was walking into his room and Zach was there with a dragon suit on, dressed as a dragon. He was like ‘Hello I’m Zach’ and we are like ‘Hello’, OK weird.”