Living in Manchester is a fortunate state of affairs for any music lover, the city is literally bursting with home grown talent. But on top of that, it also attracts its fair share of out of towners touring their wares. One such on offer tonight at Gullivers, located in the heart of the Northern Quarter is Berlin based The Third Sound. Having been a fan of the band for some time I couldn’t wait to finally see them live, but before I did, I had the pleasure of chatting with front man Hakon Aðalsteinsson.
Firstly Hakon, thank you so much for taking time before your set to have a chat with me, I know the BSM readers will also be grateful. For those who don’t know much about you or the band, can you give as a beginners guide?
I come from Iceland originally where I used to play in bands, Singapore Sling, being the most known of them. After moving away and ending up in Berlin after a stop in Italy I created The Third Sound which has been going since 2011 as a band, released 5 studio albums and now most recently an album of live sessions for Fuzz Club. I have also a couple of side projects called Gunman and The Holy Ghost and Diagram that are still active, and a new collaborative project called The Golden Hours that is releasing an album on Fuzz Club early next year.
Since I moved to Berlin I have worked with Anton Newcombe in various ways through the years and joined The Brian Jonestown Massacre as a guitar player in 2018.
Some big names there for sure! Talking of which, where does the bands name come from?
As I was recording in Italy what ended up becoming the first Third Sound album, I was reading Eye Mind, a book on Roky Erickson and The 13th Floor Elevators by Paul Drummond and there it was mentioned that Roky referred to the crazy feedback sounds they made as The Third Sound. It stuck with me and after reading up on Tartini’s theory of the third sound, it felt like a fitting name for the project.
As it should, I’ve also read that book and it comes highly recommended! What are your biggest influences?
It’s a hard question to answer at this point I find. Obviously, it was other bands that got me into it in the first place, like the aforementioned Elevators and many others of course. But I don’t think they are the main force behind me making music these days. The influences come from everywhere, whether it’s literature, cinema, your daily life, or your personal state of mind. It’s a combination of many things. I do still love seeking out new music and sounds though
And so who writes the music? How does an idea end up being a song, do you have a formula you work to or is it all ad hoc?
These days I usually come up with ideas on my own to begin with and demo them before bringing the demos to the rest of the band. Sometimes the demos are more developed and don’t change so much in terms of song writing from the demo to the final version while others are more like sketches that we develop together. So, there is no formula really, it is all about making the song work the best way possible.
Seems to work for you as there is a lot of material out now, has there been a set path or have you let the music take you where it wants?
I never sit down and make a conscious decision of what kind of music I am going to make. The music leads in that sense but then obviously I know what elements I like and which I don’t so it’s about trusting your instinct. Often taking a break from something and coming back to it with fresh ears helps with the decision if it is something worth pursuing or if to throw it away.
Again, it seems to work so let the music do the talking. Do you have a favourite song of yours or do you love them all equally?
The cliché is of course that you always love most the latest stuff you are working on and there is some truth in that, but sometimes you listen to a song you haven’t played or heard for a long time, and you get pleasantly surprised. It varies, I could not name one favourite song.
Very fair to all your music there! And how about playing live, do you enjoy it?
It feels great when people are responding to your music, when you can feel the energy in the room and when the sound is how it should be but can also be frustrating when things don’t go as they should. But that is also part of the beauty of it, that you never know how it will turn out.
You’ve just released a Fuzz Club Live album, how was that? Did it feel more like a gig or like an album recording, or both?
That is an interesting question. I guess it felt somewhere in between the two. It definitely didn’t feel like a gig as there weren’t any audience but at the same time, I think it captures our live sound pretty well. I am very pleased with how it turned out
And finally, sum up your sound in three words?
The Third Sound
Touché, thanks Hakon!
Photo credit: author, taken at Gullivers, Manchester 09.12.2022