Mike Lindsay’s love affair with Iceland began in 2006. It involved a girl and an unforgettable New Year’s Eve party. In 2011, Lindsay – best known as the frontman of Tunng – took to Iceland to rekindle that romance, and to record a bewitching new album under the name Cheek Mountain Thief, inspired by the landscape and the people of Iceland. We asked him to document a day in the life of his new Rejkjavik-based existence...
10am. Wake up, pull the duvet a little tighter and lie in bed listening to the wind and the creek of the wooden cabin I'm using as a bedroom, whilst trying to formulate a plan for the day.
10.20am. Make the move out of bed, slip my long johns on and make the six meter dash out of the bedroom cabin into the main cabin that I've turned into a mini studio. Immediately make some coffee. Power up the laptop and turn on the desk, then I listen to where I left off the night before, hoping I still like it!
10.45am. I decide I don't like part of it and start working on it immediately… I just can't help myself.
1.00pm. Realised I haven't eaten breakfast, so I stop tinkering and jigsaw puzzling with the tune. The tune is ‘Showdown’. I have a bowl of last night’s "Mike’s special sausage pasta" with some fresh melted cheese, heat up the coffee again and think about going for a swim.
1.30pm. I’m dressed in my big boots, long coat and woolly hat. I climb in the monster truck and head to the local pool. Until I came to Iceland I had hardly driven a car in seven years… but here anybody can drive anybody’s car as it’s the car that’s insured no matter who's driving it! So, when I arrived in Kaldbak cottages, just outside Husavik, my girlfriend’s mum just gave me the keys to a massive monster truck… and it’s amazing!
1.40pm. Arrive at the sundlaug (swimming pool) and have a long hot shower (naked is mandatory!) and then head to the hot tub. It’s so relaxing sat outside in winter, snow everywhere but you’re up to your neck in a natural geothermal hot tub with a bunch of local people from the village. Just listening to them speak in Icelandic is kinda soothing - I wish I could understand it… but I get the idea - it’s always local politics. If you want to get involved you just have to say "Ja ja ja, einmit " which means “Yes yes yes, exactly”.
2.40pm. I take a drive for half an hour out of Husavik and along the coast. I bring my sound recorder and see what I can find… I end up on a black sand beach recording the sound of the rotten seaweed.
3.30pm. Drive back to the cabin via the Cheek Mountains for the scenic route…
4.00pm Sit back at the laptop and work on the tune again. I’m also listening to the other tunes and looking out the window at the mountains… you can get so lost when making music, especially in a place like this that hours can fly by… and you may only have been playing with one part of one tune.
9.00pm. Make some food from whatever I have in the fridge. It happens to be these strange fish cake things that I found in the supermarket yesterday. They're really good, but don't look good. I decide to make a cheese and pepper sauce. This is the first time I have tried to make this sauce… It kinda works, but I have made far too much... Well this is what I’ll end up having for brunch tomorrow, I guess.
10.00pm. I phone Gunni the drummer who I have already recorded in the cabin and ask if he is going to the pub tonight. Tonight is Saturday which means that "Gamli Baukur” is open – Husavik’s one pub which is only open on Saturdays. It’s quite a new building, but all made out of wood so it has an old feel. Tonight my friend Kiddi is playing, he is the father of my fisherman and artist friend Baldur, who is a troubadour. He is also the guy who leant me a lot of equipment for the cabin studio.
He always draws a good crowd and is a bit of a local hero.
11.00pm Gunni picks me up from the cabin and we drive to the pub. I arrive with a bottle of whiskey to give to Kiddi to say thanks for lending me the equipment.
1.00am. I’m surrounded by many drunk people of all ages. A coach load has arrived; it’s some kind of school teachers’ convention. One woman in her 50s, quite large, is standing on top of a table, she jumps up, grabs the wooden beam on the roof, and swings her legs out, kicking a guy stood below her. He drops his pint. Kiddi is playing some 60s classic pop tune and has clearly been drinking the whiskey I bought him.
2.15am Kiddi announces he is too drunk to play any more songs and stagers off the stage.
3.00am I found a ride home with Birkir the bass player from Cheek Mountain Thief. I met him and Oskar here the week before; they are both now in the band, or at least on the record. Oskar plays space guitar noises. They are both 20. Birkir stays sober cos it’s his turn to be the drive. That means he pretty much has to drive the whole pub home, coming back for many trips to pick up more people. Everyone has to have a turn at this… Tonight it’s his turn.
3.15am. Back at the cabin. I listen again to where I got to with the tune ‘Showdown’ and get inspired to write some lyrics. Tomorrow I’ll read them and see if they make any sense at all.
4.30am. Get back into my long johns and make the six meter dash to the bedroom cabin… It’s super windy. But super cosy.
Mike plays live as Cheek Mountain Thief on the following tour dates:
Sep 10 The Point, HAMPSHIRE Sep 11 Purcell Room, LONDON Sep 12 Thekla, BRISTOL Sep 13 Hare & Hounds, BIRMINGHAM Sep 14 Point Ephémère, PARIS Sep 15 Incubate Festival, Tilburg, NETHERLANDS Sep 15 Merleyn Nijmegen, NETHERLANDS Sep 16 Tivoli Spiegelbar, Utrecht, NETHERLANDS Oct 31 Reykjavik, ICELAND