Music

Ultimate Playlist: Of Monsters and Men’s Brynjar Leifsson

Posted by
Joe Ellison
Published

“Here, try this,” says Of Monsters and Men guitarist Brynjar Leifsson, handing ShortList a questionable substance backstage at a sold-out Brixton Academy.

Thankfully, the substance in question isn’t as rock ‘n’ roll as you might be imagining: it’s Djúpur, a liquorice-filled chocolate ball with a rigid white shell and boasting enough sugar content to give any headline act a pre-show buzz.

But before we let him head out on stage, we gave Leifsson something else to chew on by asking for the songs of his life - and he didn't disappoint, revealing a a real love for the classics, a few modern efforts and even let slip he'd like his band to cover Mambo No.5.

You heard it here first.

Of Monsters and Men’s new single Human is out on 25 December. Merry Christmas indeed.

FAVOURITE SONG THAT NO ONE ELSE HAS HEARD OF

"I think plenty of people will know of Lee Hazelwood, but I also know plenty of people won’t know him. I bought one of his albums on our first tour and my first reaction was, ‘Why haven’t I heard this before?’ I was almost furious about it because he’s so good and I’d had to wait so long to find him. If you like What’s More I Don’t Need Her then chances are you'll be the same."

FAVOURITE MOVIE SOUNDTRACK SONG

"I was really into Spaghetti Westerns as a kid, and as soon as I heard Ennio Morricone’s Ecstasy of Gold in The Good the Bad and the Ugly I knew I would associate that track with the genre. You Only Live Twice is another great film soundtrack – to me, Bond was an uninteresting dude in the old movies and even a bit of a dick sometimes. ‘Is he forcing himself on these women?', you'd think. But this song from Nancy Sinatra is just unbelievable – it reminds me of an era when men were slicked back with suits."

FAVOURITE ONE HIT WONDER

"Lou Bega's Mambo No. 5, of course! I was 10 or 11 this came out and it was everywhere. Then after a year it went away. In the nineties, pop songs like this would come in cycles, every five or so you'd get a Las Ketchup or Who Let The Dogs Out? and then they'd disappear. I miss that. [ShortList: would Of Monsters And Men ever cover Mambo No.5?] I hope so, it would be amazing."

FAVOURITE SAD SONG

"Roy Orbison’s Crying. When he wrote it, back in the early sixties, it was quite a big thing to openly say he was crying over a girl. It was a macho time and he wasn’t afraid to touch on his emotional side. When he hits the chorus it’s just beautiful. I don’t really cry but if I did it would be to this."

FAVOURITE CLUB ANTHEM

"I don’t even go to clubs so I’ve no idea what people are playing today. We’d just do parties at friends’ houses in the small town of 14,000 people I grew up in. Born Slippy by Underworld is the best party tune, and it also reminds me of the soundtrack to Trainspotting, which is also brilliant."

FAVOURITE CURRENT SONG

"It’s not that new but I’m very much enjoying Timber Timbre right now. They’re a Canadian group who do a sort of psychedelic folk, and they're brilliant at it."

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FAVOURITE SONG FROM YOUR CHILDHOOD

"Like all dads in the world, my dad's a huge Beatles fan. Another Girl is the track of theirs I first loved because we had Help on VHS. I watched that film pretty much every day from aged five to aged six. I knew all the lyrics and my parents even filmed me with my plastic guitar pretending to play the songs, with a makeshift pedal too. It was only when I got older that I enjoyed the more progressive Beatles work. My favourite of the four was George Harrison, who, without a doubt, is the coolest man to ever set foot on earth."

FAVOURITE LYRIC FROM A SONG

“'Come sail your ships around me, and burn your bridges down', from The Ship Song by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I’m pretty sure I know what he’s trying to say, at least in Icelandic but I can’t really explain in English without sounding like I’m having a seizure, which is part of its beauty. Everyone can have their own interpretation. When I was 16 a friend of mine got me onto Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, I bought Henry’s Dream, the seventh album, and the lyrics were perfect."

FAVOURITE WEDDING SONG

"All the Icelandic weddings I've been to have been weird. Usually someone with an acoustic guitar plays five songs and then a DJ appears, which I’ve never understood. A band would be my choice, ideally playing something like Sleepwalk by Santo & Johnny. You can just imagine it in a movie, where someone’s getting married – or dying. It’s a great song, which was also played at the end of La Bamba, the Ritchie Valens biopic, right after that fateful plane crash. So sad."

FAVOURITE SONG FROM YOUR OWN MUSIC

"The most fun for me is A Thousand Eyes – it’s very different from the dynamic of most songs we do. It’s like a weird child that we love anyway."

[Images: Cropix, Rex, Shane Timm]