By Leila Baxter
Sibiir opened the second day of the Tons of Rock festival in Halden, Norway with a dynamic performance. Half-way through their second song, a screaming Jimmy Nymoen, the band’s vocalist, leapt into the pit of photographers below the stage. Concerned for his safety, security stuck close by Nymoen when he jumped onto the barrier and sang into the crowd. The energy was infectious. The crowd grew louder and more rambunctious as the performance went on.
Sibiir is a Norwegian band of five 30-somethings who juggle their musical careers with their families and 9 to 5 jobs, so they will only commit to 30 shows per year.
The band members had all previously been in other groups and had met while playing the same gigs in Oslo’s tightly-knit metal scene in Oslo. When they formed Sibiir in 2013 they didn’t have a vocalist. Bassist Kent Nordji had a friend –Nymoen – who had just moved to Oslo and was begging for an audition, said Nordij. When they offered him the job, however, he was unable to start right away since he had already booked gigs for the next three months. But within a year Sibiir was complete.
The band members enjoy playing all kinds of festivals because they are exposed to audiences they might not have reached on their own. “Tons of Rock gives us a chance to play in front of people that maybe don’t check us out because we’re not metal enough or, like, we’re not in their specific genre. And then we get to play like mainstream festivals, like, maybe bigger festivals and then we get to play for a mainstream audience who might not have listened because we are rock or metal,” said guitarist Tobias Gausemel Backe. “It’s like you get the best of both worlds, kind of, because we’ve played so many different kinds of festivals.”
They’ve been able to play so many different venues and for many different people. The small population allows musicians and venue owners to create lasting partnerships. It’s an even tighter relationship among the metal groups in Oslo, “if you start a band and you’re kind of good it doesn’t take so much time before people know who you are or who you are or know your band.”
One of their first tours was with a metal group called Kvelertak. Kvelertak attended one of Sibiir’s shows as a part of the audience. A few weeks they called to ask Sibiir to open for for them during a European tour.
Disappearing for two-and-a-half weeks would mean calling off at work and leaving their families behind, but they decided to go anyway. Joining Kvelertak on tour would be their first international exposure, so they agreed it was worth the sacrifice.
Steffen Grønneberg and his girlfriend had a month-old newborn at home, but even she supported the decision to go. He said she couldn’t live with him if he weren’t an active member of Sibiir. He agreed, “I think, for me, I need to be able to go play.” The guys use the band as a sort of escape. While the goal is to make it their only job – and they believe that’s their next step – they know they are not there yet.
Sibiir is recording songs for their next album. and are hoping for a 209 release date.