As always, I was very excited as Iceland Airwaves ’16 approached. But I got even more excited when I found out that the festival would also see the opening of The Icelandic Punk Museum. If you’re a regular reader of Life in the Vinyl Lane you’ll probably know that I am way into early Icelandic punk rock (♠), and the fact that Dr. Gunni teamed up with Finni from Dr. Spock to make this a reality gave it instant cred. I knew it was going to be good.
In true punk DIY fashion, the museum is housed in a disused public restroom accessed via a set of stairs that leads below the sidewalk. I mean, look at it. If that isn’t punk I don’t know what is.
Gunni, Finni and their team did an amazing job cleaning the space up, covering it with old gig posters, flyers, and photos, and adding some monitors to play video. There’s a full instrument set up in one corner if you want to relive your days in a band back when you were fourteen, and a very cool feature of headphones hanging from the ceiling in different areas, each aligned with a specific classic Icelandic punk album. Hell, this place is actually educational!
The opening was officiated by none other than Johnny Rotten, who hung out under the tent for a bit on a drizzly early evening and answered questions for the 50 or so attendees. I didn’t actually make it inside until a few days later, and I came away impressed. I also climbed the stairs back to sidewalk level with a pair of cassettes in my pocket – (SOÐIÐ) PÖNKSAFN and (HRÁTT) PÖNKSAFN. Both have a DIY feel, recorded on standard Maxell 60-minute tapes and with hand-written labels. The J-cards are professionally done, however, and each comes with a download card for more accessible listening.
(SOÐIÐ) PÖNKSAFN contanions 22 studio tracks, arguably the most complete early Icelandic punk compilation available with the possible exception of the Rokk Í Reykjavík soundtrack. While the soundtrack is great, the tape gets a bit of a benefit by being further removed from the scene, opening it up to post-1982 bands and having a better understanding of which groups lasted the test of time. No band has more than one song on the tape, though Bubbi Morthens appears all over the place including a solo number, as part of Oxsmá & Bubbi, and with Utangarðsmenn. A few other musicians also appear on more than one track because of their involvement in multiple groups, like the Pollock brothers, Mike (Utangarðsmenn, Bodies) and Danny (Utangarðsmenn, Bodies, Q4U).
Regardless, the curators did a good job in covering a range of Icelandic punk from 1980-83. I was particularly happy to see some bands included that I haven’t heard before like Án Orma, Fan Houtens Kókó, Spilafífl, and Chaplin. All four were limited in what they released, with three only having a single 7″ to their names, so it’s great that some of their old material got dusted off and put out there into the world.
The track list is below (♦), which provides the name of the album the song originally appeared on and original release date as well. Where there are hyperlinks, these link to posts on Life in the Vinyl Lane about the album or artist.
01 Bubbi Morthens – Jón pönkari (af Ísbjarnarblús LP 1980)
02 Fræbbblarnir – Bíó (af Viltu nammi væna? LP 1980)
03 Taugadeildin – Hvítar grafir (af EP 1981)
04 Purrkur Pillnikk – Gluggagægir (af Ekki enn LP 1981)
05 Jonee Jonee – Helgi Hós (af Svonatorrek LP 1982)
06 Megas – Krókódílamaðurinn (af The Boys From Chicago LP 1983)
07 Kamarorghestar – Rokk er betra (af Bísar í banastuði LP 1981)
08 Án orma – Dansaðu fíflið þitt dansaðu (af 7″ 1981)
09 Sonus Futurae – Myndbandið (af Þeir sletta skyrinu… Mini-LP 1981)
10 Grafík – Videó (af Út í kuldann LP 1981)
11 Fan Houtsens kókó – Grænfingraðir morgunhanar (af Musique Elementaire kassetta 1981)
01 Þeyr – Rúdolf (af Mjötviður mær LP 1981)
02 Q4U – Böring (af Q1 Mini-LP 1982)
03 Utangarðsmenn – Hírósíma (af Geislavirkir LP 1980)
04 Grýlurnar – Betri er limur en limlestir (af Mávastellið LP 1983)
05 Tappi Tíkarrass – Skrið (af Miranda LP 1983)
06 Baraflokkurinn – Catcher Coming (af Mini LP 1981)
07 Spilafífl – Playing Fool (af 3 – 30. júní 7″ 1982)
08 Chaplin –Teygjutwist (af 7″ 1981)
09 Vonbrigði – Ekkert (af Kakófónía Mini-LP 1983)
10 Bodies – Lonely (af 12″ EP 1982)
11 Oxsmá & Bubbi – Me & My Baby (af Biblía fyrir blinda kassetta 1983)
The second cassette is called (HRÁTT) PÖNKSAFN, and it consists of 24 live tracks and demos, which is very exciting since most if this material never appeared on any official releases. Even better, a lot of the bands on this tape weren’t part of the other one, and as near as I can tell quite a few never formally released anything during their existence. I’ve never heard of a lot of these groups, like F/8, Allsherjarfrík, N.A.S.T., Geðfró… being able to discover so many new-to-me bands at one time is truly eye (and ear) opening. The inside of the J-card provides the recorded date and location for each song as well.
01 Halló & Heilasletturnar – Amma spinnur galið (Læf á Kjarvalsstöðum 8. ágúst 1978)
02 Snillingarnir – Kids (Demó að Rauðalæk 1980)
03 F/8 – Bölvun fylgi þeim (Í bílskúr í Kópavogi haust 1980)
04 Taugadeildin – Íslandi allt (Læf í Kópavogsbíói 22. maí 1981)
05 Allsherjarfrík – Lögbrot (Læf í Uppsölum, Ísafirði, nóvember 1982)
06 Utangarðsmenn – Leiðinlegt lag (Læf í Kópavogsbíói 21. febrúar 1981)
07 Fan Houtsens kókó – Þriggja stúlkna rúmba (Læf í Kópavogsbíói 21. febrúar 1981)
08 N.A.S.T. – Anarkisti (Læf í Kópavogsbíói 22. maí 1981)
09 Sjálfsfróun – Allir krakkar (Læf í N.E.F.S. 16. des 1981)
10 Stífgrím – Dansskóli Heiðars Ástvaldssonar (Læf á Rútstúni 17. júní 1980)
11 Q4U – Menn (Læf í Háskólabíói 30. mars1983)
12 Fræbbblarnir – Bjór (Læf á Hótel Borg vor 1981)
13 Geðfró – Stundum (Læf í N.E.F.S. 21. okt 1981)
14 Vonbrigði – Holdleg atlot (Læf í Safarí 9. ágúst 1984)
01 Jonee Jonee – Brot (Rúv 2007)
02 Haugur – Skuld (Æfingahúsnæði í Garðabæ, vorið 1983)
03 Þursaflokkurinn – Jónarnir í skránni (Demó 1981 fyrir kvikmyndina Jón Oddur og Jón Bjarni)
04 Baraflokkurinn – It’s All Planned (Demó úr Stúdíó Bimbó vor 1981)
05 Oxsmá – Rokkum og poppum (Læf í Tívolí í Hveragerði 17. júní 1985)
06 Purrkur Pillnikk – Flughoppið (Læf í Austurbæjarbíói 12. sept 1981)
07 Tappi Tíkarrass – Beri-Beri (Læf í Safarí 28.11.1985 – kombakk)
08 S. H. Draumur – Gryfjan (Læf í Hjáleigunni 24. nóv 1985)
09 Bruni BB – Dr. Rúnkbor (Tekið upp á Bala í Mosfellsveit 1981)
10 Þeyr – Life Transmission (Læf á Hótel Sögu 28. janúar 1981)
As you’d expect, the recording quality is a bit lower on the live/demo cassette given that a lot of these tracks weren’t exactly captured in ideal conditions. They’re all quite listenable, however – the Punk Museum didn’t include anything of inferior quality. I came away particularly impressed by the songs by F/8, Taugadeildin, and of course Tappi Tíkarrass.
I’m not sure if you can convince the Museum to sell copies via mail order, but right now it looks like they have ’em there for 3.000 ISK apiece – about $25 US. That’s the same price I paid during Airwaves. I’m not sure if these are any kind of “limited” edition or not and I have no idea how available this will be in the long term, so if you want ’em, I suggest you try to get your hands on them now before you find out it’s too late.
And if you find yourself in Reykjavik, look for the sign (right) and head down the stairs… trust me, it’s safe.
(♠) This always feels ridiculously pretentious to say/write, as if I’m intentionally into something just because it’s obscure and relatively unknown by most people. I assure you that’s not the case (♥) – I just really like the music!
(♥) At least not consciously.
(♦) A big “takk” to Dr. Gunni for letting me copy these track lists with details from his blog.