Ever since Of Monsters and Men hit the music scene back in 2010, they’ve been a hit sensation that has captured the attention of millions around the United States and the world. The group’s first album, My Head Is An Animal, released in 2011, and it was not until this past June that Of Monsters and Men released their second album, Beneath The Skin.
What has turned out to be as incredible of a record as their first, Beneath The Skin sold over 61,000 albums during its first week of being available and it has continued to sell well since then. Of Monsters and Men had several singles from the record and those included “Crystals,” “I of the Storm,” “Empire,” and “Hunger.”
With a full schedule of touring still to come this year, atombash.com had the opportunity to speak with Of Monsters and Men lead vocalist Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir about recording their most recent album, what they’ve learned along this exciting road of success and some tour experiences they’ve had thus far.
Entering the studio with a certain objective in mind is a method some groups use to create a new album, and to a certain extent, that seems to have been what Of Monsters and Men did when creating Beneath The Skin. However; their process seemed to flow more organically than something that was formulaic.
“I feel like a lot of times when we go in [to make an album], we go into a studio making something and then when we leave something else comes out. That’s a positive thing,” Hilmarsdóttir said.
Each person had an idea of what they wanted Beneath The Skin to be, and they all worked within those differing creativities to help make the new record possible. Hilmarsdóttir spoke about some of the processes they went through and how they never tried to force anything, despite all have unique ideas at play.
“We all had different ideas of what we wanted to achieve with the new album. We met to talk about what type of album we wanted to make and ended up creating what we thought the album without forcing anything. We were surprisingly on a very similar page I think. We didn’t know exactly what we wanted to do but we did know we wanted to dig a little deeper, which I think we accomplished,” Hilmarsdóttir said.
Nanna said she saw this album as one with a darker tone, but that didn’t necessarily mean it’s of a grim nature. By temperature and aura it’s a darker record. “I think this album is a bit darker. If the first album was summertime, then this one is wintertime. It’s a little bit colder than the first record,” Hilmarsdóttir said.
Inspirations for this record we based on the life experiences they had over the past few years. While touring was a big part of life for Of Monsters and Men during that time, the experiences outside of performing were the influences the weighed most heavily on them. In creating Beneath The Skin, ensuring that everyone in the group felt like they were contributing was and is important. Hilmarsdóttir described the value of including each person’s perspective and input.
“We are a group of people and there has to be a certain chemistry and trust for things to workout. I think that’s the most important part. We have confidence in each other to listen and give each person in the band a voice. It’s important people feel we are all working on this together and each one of us has a voice in it,” Hilmarsdóttir said.
For fans who are interested in seeing Of Monsters and Men live, they are in the midst of a West Coast swing where they will head to Elverta, CA on Saturday, Aug. 15, followed by Portland, OR on Aug. 16. Once they have completed the West Coast shows, they will shift back to Iceland where they’ll play a few sold out shows on Aug. 19 and 20.
Touring can be a draining experience as well as a rewarding one. Visiting a new city virtually one day after the next can become a numbing factor to have to dodge each day. Learning how to handle the craze of touring was something Hilmarsdóttir and the rest of the group had to figure out. “Everything happens very fast and you’re always trying to keep up, so this time around I’ve learned to enjoy the quiet moments when there’s a day off and just hang out with myself (laughs). Silence is good,” Hilmarsdóttir said.
The group has done a slew of overseas tours and shows and among the many they’ve played, trips to Paris and Tokyo stuck out most for unique reasons. “We played a show in Paris and we were dancing with the crowd; they were just so much fun. Everything in Tokyo and Japan was amazing, we did all of the karaoke and went to a robot battling show (laughs). Touring has been a great experience,” Hilmarsdóttir said.
It has been exciting to see how Of Monsters and Men’s music has evolved from the first album to the second. Fans who enjoyed their first record will certainly find plenty to love in Beneath The Skin, which you can download now.