Meet The Band: Drungi

This week’s featured Meet The Band artist is the Icelandic group Drungi. Their debut album is Hamfarir Hugans. Bassist Magnús Addi Ólafsson introduces us to his band.

Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Drungi.
Magnús Addi Ólafsson: Drungi originally started as a bassist-drummer duo, me on bass and Gummi on drums, that wanted to play heavier music and we started looking for more members for the band. After a few auditions, we got a message from Loki about being a guitarist for the band. We were hesitant to recruit him as he was only 16 (or so he said), turns out he lied on the application being only 15 (5 rock points to him). Soon after that, we recruited Gunnar, who was with us during our first four shows on guitar, and Sjafnar on vocals. And then we briefly had a lead guitarist Brayan who played with us our first show in 2019, before leaving to pursue other dreams. Cue a new search and lead guitarist Rúnar joined us after having seen us play live on Halloween 2019.

After playing a few shows and writing new music Covid hit, and we went dormant, leading Gunnar to leave the band. We used the time to release our first single “Ófærð” in June of 2020 along with a lyric video. In December we started production of the first official music video, which won an award for best cinematography in a small video competition. We then headed back into the studio, this time the renowned Sundlaugin (Auðn, Skálmöld, Sólstafir), and proceeded to record the songs for Hamfarir Hugans. Finished with the recordings, our drummer Gummi left the band leaving us in a conundrum. Sandra then joined us and with little time to spare, we hit the studio again with Kristján B. Heiðarsson (Changer) on drums. Guitars, bass, and vocals were redone and shipped to Studio Emissary where Stephen Lochart mixed and mastered. This process ended up taking up most of 2022 and 2023, re-recording, mixing, and mastering. And finally, we are here, the album is almost out.

What inspired the band name?
Drungi, meaning Eerie or Gloomy, came to us after we contemplated creepy words in the Icelandic language and selected a list. Guitarist Loki came up with the name as a form of descriptor for the eerie music we had already started writing at that point.

Describe the songwriting process for Hamfarir Hugans.
The process is mostly all over the place, with a riff pitched to the band and members working on it to improve the riff and then adding on to build a solid structure to the songs. Most all the songs have a part of each former member but have been reworked to fit a style that we wanted to show. More songs have been written than could fit the album and so we have some songs that might see the light of day, but that remains to be seen.

What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
It was a very educational process over all and with all the fun we had, I think the strongest memory for me was when Rúnar’s amp head decided to blow up on us after finishing the first song, putting months of delay on the guitar takes.

What was the biggest challenge in its creation?
Finding good affordable studios that could take on the high gain from our amplifiers and trying not to compromise the idea that we had in our head. Most studios today want more or less everything digital, but we wanted to focus our attention on recording actual amplifiers and using as little D.I. as possible. So, the album is a mix of both D.I. and live amps.

How would you characterize its style/sound?
Unique, like the members of the band. We all come from different backgrounds when it comes to music and inspiration, Sjafnar with a more growly background like Sepultura and Pantera, Rúnar more old school, AC/DC, Guns’n’Roses, Megadeth. Me, I’m all over the place but mostly listening to power metal and symphonic metal, but also electronica. Loki is inspired by everything and anything around and Sandra is more pop and rock inspired. This creates a dynamic of music that’s very hard to stylize. So I guess we’ll call it progressive death metal doom-influenced heavy metal.

What lyrical topics do you cover?
Our topics are focused on mental illnesses, where the illnesses in each instance is portrayed by the image of Icelandic nature that could be lethal.

How was the video shoot for “Alda”? Looks like things got pretty wet!
Don’t remind me, the shooting of “Alda” was a full Saturday of work where we started off dry, as can be seen in the video, and progressively got wetter as we went along. Thankfully most of the water that got poured over us was warm but as it cooled down, we started getting cold. It was a tough shoot and we had to improvise a bit, but the biggest headache was to get instruments that we could use during the shoot without damaging our own instruments. So we turned to Harley-Benton instruments that we could get cheap and used those for the video. As for the drums, fortunately, we had a spare kit lying around that we could rig up for the set.

What led you to go the independent route for the release?
We decided to try it becaise many bands around us often have to wait to get their music out because labels have a firmer schedule. We also were not excited to surrender our masters to a label. Another big problem we faced was the classification of music. We were not sure what we could possibly classify as, and that made looking up labels we would be interested in working with a little tough.

What are your goals and expectations for the album?
Honestly, our goal is that people enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoy making the music. All in all, that’s why we decided to make the album, so people could listen to it.

It’s also being released on vinyl. Is anyone in the band a vinyl collector?
Rúnar, Sjafnar, me and Loki are all vinyl collectors. Wanting to get the album in a physical format was very important to us, and the first main objective we had was vinyl, and it had to be as well. So, a white 180gr vinyl, grey smoke, in a gatefold sleeve was super important to us. Same with the CD, there is a lot of manual labor that went into making the CD and it’s a very limited product. And possibly the most expensive CD case in the history of Iceland, but who knows?

What has been your most memorable Drungi live show?
For me, there are two that stand out. Our last show where we had people fly in from the UK to see us play, was a small show but had so much awesome energy that I’ll never forget it. Also, the first show where the whole band got flashed by a member of the audience, who then proceeded to lick the singer’s toes, mid-set.

What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
Following the release we are working on some local shows with bands around the country. And then we are aiming to tour internationally, starting with a UK tour and see how it goes. Perhaps we will follow it up with some shows in Canada and Europe, at least as we stand today.

How did you get started in music?
My father was a musician in Iceland in his youth and had started a band. He always had an acoustic guitar laying around and when I turned 13 I got my first classical guitar, which I did not bother learning I might add. When I turned 16 I had been to a few concerts and my fingers started itching to play music but I sucked at guitar. So I did the next best thing and joined a band as a roadie (read, glorified groupie that carries stuff) and while they were at it I started playing bass. As it turned out the band’s bassist quit, and just like ZZ Top, the roadie steps in to steal the show.

Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Nightwish, Metallica, Megadeth, Stratovarius, Tarot, Sonata Arctica and many other bands from the Nordic. I also listened to a lot of Danish and Icelandic music such as Kim Larsen, KK, Bubbi, and many others.

What was the first metal concert you attended?
Korn in 2004 when they played a show in Iceland.

What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
I am a competitive axe thrower and chef, and I am finishing a degree in psychology, as well as being a full-time worker. It’s been a few hectic years balancing all this and the music.

Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
As we talked about the “Alda” music video, at the time I’m writing this, it’s the day of our second single video premiere, “Myrkur.” I would recommend checking that one out as well when it’s released. And then just pointing out our T-shirt and mech shop on and

(interview published April 6, 2024)

Watch Drungi – “Alda” Video

Watch Drungi – “Myrkur” Video


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