First Light is Berlin based The Third Sound‘s fifth album already. The band is lead by guitarist/vocalist Hakon Aðalsteinsson, who you might know as The Brian Jonestown Massacre‘s guitarplayer since 2018. The Third Sound is a different beast though, with a sound more akin to darker indie bands like Madrugada, Tindersticks, or Echo And The Bunnymen. First Light rather brilliantly mixes up those dark elements with hypnotizing psychedelic elements and killer songwriting skills. I was lucky enough to be able to talk to Hakon about the corona period, playing with BJM, and touring with The Third Sound, this is what he said:
Hi Hakon, how have you been this ongoing Corona period? How has it been for you as a musician and as a person?
It’s definitely been weird and hard at times, but all things considered I have been doing alright both as a musician and personally. We managed to record the new Third Sound album, I worked on a bunch of BJM songs with Anton and I found love and am in a relationship that started during the pandemic. So I can’t complain really
You have just released an awesome new album with The Third Sound, which is your side project from BJM, right? How do you manage to combine the two?
I don’t consider Third Sound a side project, that has been my main music project for the past 10 years. I only joined BJM in 2018 although I have known Anton for many years and worked with him on all sorts of projects, both related to BJM as well as other projects of his. It’s just a matter of trying to be fairly organized and focused on each project when you need to be.
Can you perhaps briefly take us through the band’s history until now?
It started when I was living in Rome quite a while back now. I had taken a step back from bands that I had been involved with (Icelandic band Singapore Sling and more) and was focusing on other things. But then I bought a cheap acoustic guitar and these songs started coming out that I felt I needed to record. With the help of some friends I managed to do so in a cheap studio over there. Then I had my friend Hallberg help me mix the record before I relocated to Berlin where The Third Sound became a band. There we have recorded 4 albums now in different places and with different line ups, but the band is now working better than it has ever been before. The current line up is: Hákon Aðalsteinsson (Vocals, Guitar), Robin Hughes (Guitar/Organ), Fred Sunesen (Drums, Synth) and Andreas Miranda (Bass).
How do you usually start working on a new album and did it differ this time? What life influences play a role in the process?
Every time is different in some way. I guess the restrictions this time played a part. In some ways it slowed the process down but at the same time it made us more focused during the times we could actually work. It started with me making home demos that I then brought to my band mates. We then worked on the arrangements together, sometimes changing the songs completely but in other cases less so. After rehearsing those songs as much as we could during the restrictions, we went to a studio in the countryside of Alsace, France and recorded the whole album in a week. I think your whole life and experiences bleed into the process somehow even without you realizing it in some cases, or sometimes you figure it out long time after the record is done
Your work with The Third Sound is a lot darker than BJM, would you have an explanation for that?
Maybe because Anton grew up in California and I grew up in Reykjavik? I have no idea to be honest, and I actually find our new record less dark than most of the previous ones
What are your biggest musical influences for The Third Sound? Does that vary a lot? Do you listen for instance to a lot of new music?
It always varies I would say although you tend to go back again to a few certain bands, usually bands that you got into when you were younger. For example I have been revisiting some Sonic Youth albums again for the first time in years, especially those early to mid nineties records (Goo, Dirty, Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star). Those albums were often considered by fans to be too polished or over produced back then but coming back to them now I think they sound great. I tend not to listen to a whole lot of new music, but there is always something that catches my ear from time to time. I have been listening quite a lot to Fat White Family recently. I know they are not very new but I didn’t really pay too much attention to them before. Maybe because I found the name a bit silly, or maybe because they were being so hyped up few years back and stuff that gets hyped so often turns out to be shit. So I think it is often better to wait until the hype dies down and then see if the music has actually something to offer, and in their case it certainly does. I think they are great.
How are the roles divided in the band? Does it differ a lot from BJM?
The main difference between the bands is that BJM members are scattered all over the world while Third Sound is based in Berlin. The process is similar in the way that one member comes up with a main idea that other members then contribute to it, but the difference is maybe that the collaborative process starts earlier in case of The Third Sound. It’s easier when you are all in the same room together
How have the release scheduling and touring been influenced so far? What can we expect?
There have been some delays and cancelations but we have been pretty lucky compared to many other bands we know. We have been working with a new booker, Filippo at YTC Bookings, who has been doing a great job finding us shows in these difficult times. Now we just keep our fingers crossed that all these shows will be able to go ahead as planned.If all goes well our first run of dates will be in late September and October and is mainly in Germany and France. We are still working on setting up a nice Berlin show but that might happen in November. In December we should do a short Scandinavian/German run (although Swedish dates don’t seem to be happening at this point because of new rules over there). And in late January we’ll head over to the UK for some dates, but probably connecting those with some dates in Belgium, Netherlands and Germany. We hope for the best.
Finally, what should the Weirdo Shrine readers do immediately after reading this interview?
Thanks for setting this one up so nicely for me, so I can knock it right out of the park: They should go out and buy our new album!
THE THIRD SOUND EU TOUR-DATES
29.09.21 – DE – KASSEL – Sandershaus
30.09.21 – FR – MULHOUSE – Noumatrouff
01.10.21 – DE – MANNHEIM – ALTER
02.10.21 – CH – SION – Point 11
03.10.21 – FR – MARSEILLE – Le Molotov
04.10.21 – IT – MILAN – Arci Bellezza
05.10.21 – FR – CHAMBERY – Brin de Zinc
06.10.21 – FR – PARIS – Supersonic
07.10.21 – FR – BORDEAUX – L’Astrodøme
08.10.21 – FR – Poligné – On lâche rien sauf les chiens
09.10.21 – FR – ROUEN – ROUEN – Le 3 Pièces Muzik’Club