Introducin g ★ SIGN
From page 18 of Classic Rock Magazine February 2007
They’ve conquered their native Iceland with their melodic brand of hard rock, and the world could be next. Is this the Sign we’ve been waiting for?
WORDS: HENRY YATES
Ask Sign frontman Zolberg how far he wants to take his band and he’ll tell you in no uncertain terms: “We’re going all the way. I don’t care how many records we sell, we’re going to make a difference.”
Of course, such bullish statements of intent are common currency among fledgling bands. But with their third album Thank God For Silence consolidating their position as “one of the three biggest bands in Iceland” and their name spreading from the Reykjavic club circuit to warmer climes, Sign might just deliver on it.
“It’s very hard to start a band in Iceland,” Zolberg sighs. “To start with, you’re always going to have trouble finding a bass player and a drum player. Once you’ve got that, there aren’t many places you can play. If you’re any good people will hear about you. But if you’re not good you can go on forever and nobody will give a shit.” Zolberg was good. He remembers playing Hendrix riffs behind his head at the age of seven and cites Steve Vai and Zakk Wylde as his main influences. After Zolberg had played in various line-ups with his drummer brother Egill and guitarist Arnar G, Sign came together in 2001 when Zolberg stole bassist Silli from another group and entered the line-up into a local battle of the bands. They came second. “When I look back,” says Zolberg, “I’m relieved we didn’t win that. Because all the bands that win, people say they’ll be the next big thing but none of them ever do anything.”
By the end of 2001 Sign had released their debut album Vindar Og Breytingar (translation: Winds And Changes ) and hit the top of Iceland’s single chart with Cassandra . The following year saw further success with second album Fyrir Ofan Himininn ( Above The Sky ). “It’s not hard to be a big rock band in Iceland,” Zolberg shrugs, “but so few people live here that you’re not really going to get anywhere.
“And here’s the thing,” he adds. “Because we’re so young compared to the other bands, we don’t get too much credit here in Iceland. It’s not cool to respect someone who’s younger than you.
That’s why I love English audiences, because they’re always ready to lose their minds. In Iceland everyone is looking out for their coolness.”
If there’s any justice, Thank God For Silence will make that frosty reception melt into unconditional praise. We’ve seen the Sign.
• Thank God For Silence is out now on Ic. SLICK OPERATION
HOW FORMER BOWIE GUITARIST EARL SLICK CAME TO RECORD A TRACK WITH SIGN.
“We had a chance to work with Mark Plati – who used to play bass for Bowie – as our producer on Thank God For Silence,” Zolberg explains. “And when he decided to come over and work with us he asked Earl Slick, who’s a good friend of his, to come and help. And since Earl Slick had always wanted to go to Iceland, he did it. And I got him to play on Breathe. He’s the coolest cat I’ve ever met – and the best guitarist. Better than me? Yeah.”