[Interview] Thugfucker and a Clown Named Barnabus

What an adventure this night was for Thugfucker's debut performance in Atlanta. The night began at Jungle for Expand's party where we talked, smoked and chilled in the mysteriously stained greenroom of the warehouse. These guys were a fun duo, up for anything that the night could throw at them. Having been told of a local wedding going on nearby of some of the most badass Atlanta peeps, we decided to hit up the afterparty post-show.

This turned into an adventure of rushing from a warehouse off the infamous Cheshire Bridge Rd., to the even sketchier garage of west downtown to crash a wedding's afterparty full of festival goers and burners. We started off the night seeing the sunset, and by the time all was said and done, we were going back home into the sunrise, the perfect ingredients for an incredible night.

Welcome to Atlanta guys! Do you have any expectations for your night here, any goals for the crowd?

Greg: We generally try not to have expectations I would say, right?

Holmar: We heard a lot of good things about this party, so we are excited to play here. We heard through friends that there is something good going on {in Atlanta}.

Greg: We have friends who used to come play here in the 90’s, when it was a big scene. We understood that it took a dip, but we hear that it is a growing scene again so we are excited to see that.

Holmar: There seems to be a lot of enthusiasm here across the board in North America, we love to see that. What has impressed me most, is that people now seem more open-minded and have this community vibe. It opened me up personally and I have learned from it.

Can you tell us about your humble beginnings and how you two met?

Holmar: I was throwing a lot of parties in New York, back in the late 90s’, early 2000’s. We met at this party I would throw in New York called Nice

Greg: It was Nice

Holmar: We met there, became friendly, and that kind of solidified it for us. 

Greg: That is the very tame version! Really, we found a lot of over-lapping interests, and we are both good shit-talkers. There was this guy there, who was literally a clown that sold weed. We were at this Nice party, and Holmar introduced him to me, his name was like Barnabus or something. He basically talked Holmar out of smoking this joint. It was a weed-selling clown talking him out of smoking, and he told us we should instead make music together. I was a little bit like, ‘Ok, I don’t know about this guy from Iceland, but alright.' That was in 2002, then we started working together and playing music together.

Holmar: We actually started this tradition of making each other treats, we would each bring one for the other. So we would be working, working, working then I would get out my treat, and Greg would bring his and we’d take a break this way.

Does each of you have a significant role that you play in your working relationship?

Greg: I’m more like the psychotherapist, he’s more like the problem solver.

You’ve created a few tracks such as “Morgana” and “Disco Gnome” that became huge hits in clubs everywhere. Did you know when producing the tracks how special they were going to be?

Greg: I don’t know that you can ever really say. With both tracks it felt like there was excitement doing it, and both of them happened really quick actually.

Holmar: 'Disco Gnome' we actually created several years before it got released.

Greg: Yeah, we were done for years and had passed it around but no one was really interested. Although, I take that back. People were interested. Dixon was playing it, but then it just kind of got passed on. But then Manfredi Romano and I started (Life and Death) and decided to release it on this new label. A copy was actually given to Loco Dice who played it and really took to it, from there it started spreading like wildfire. And you know, it seems like total happenstance as it’s happening, but when you look back it, it couldn’t have happened any other way. Sometimes you feel like you can’t completely claim credit for it, you know? It was happening and you were just there to help usher it along.

You’ve been playing quite a few festivals in your years together. Any ridiculous or crazy stories that stick out from these adventures?

Greg: There was a time that we flew back from the South of France and I kept falling asleep and Holmar kept slapping me the entire plane ride {laughs}.

Holmar: He promised he would stay awake! He is the master of sleeping on airplanes, as soon as it starts moving, his eyes start twitching and then he’s asleep. We had been partying hard and I was totally awake. And the lady next to us didn’t really know what was going on. She was not a happy neighbor. 

I have to ask, how did the name Thugfucker come about?

Greg: It originally comes from an Icelandic myth, it’s an old legend. And it’s such an ironic name, it’s not something you can put on a billboard. It’s just odd enough to attract the weirdos, and just odd enough to keep away the people without a sense of humor.

What is it about music for you both that allows you to bring the fun-loving happiness out of the masses?

Greg: The thing about music is, it’s this thing that can speak to you without using any words. It doesn’t try to put words in your mouth or paint a specific picture. It has a really abstract quality, yet it touches people in a really direct and emotional way. It bypasses your logic and goes straight to your heart. That sounds a bit cheesy I guess, but it’s true. For both of us, we have both been kind of obsessed with music since we were young. I was just thinking on the plane ride here that it’s still fun to go through music, and try to find tracks and figure out how to juxtapose them against each other to see people’s reactions and experience that with them.

Holmar: Basing off what Greg just said, its important to never lose track of the fact that we started doing this because it was fun, about good times and togetherness. Sometimes you get lost in the shuffle of the seriousness of the business. But the reality is, we started doing this because we love it and we like to have fun doing it. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, we’re just trying to have some good times.

Kristin Gray

Kristin is Media Relations Manager and Atlanta native. Music is her passion (duh), but so are planes, trains and automobiles. Basically anything that will get her to the next adventure. Other talents include awkward yet unashamed dance moves, terribly punny jokes, and finding hidden spots around Atlanta.