offers programs and services to members of the music community, including emergency financial assistance, medical expenses, psychotherapy, and treatment for HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, hepatitis C, and other critical illnesses.
Of Monsters and Men has come a long way from their native Icelandic roots. They quickly became a phenomenon in 2011 with the quadruple-platinum track, “Little Talks.” Since then, they’ve lent their single, “Dirty Paws,” to a trailer for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, while “Silhouettes” was featured on the soundtrack for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
Their chart-topping debut album, My Head Is An Animal, has sold over 2 million copies worldwide. The band’s sophomore album, Beneath the Skin, was released this past June and “Empire,” their most recent single, premiered on August 7th. The band is currently in the midst of their world tour.
However, Of Monsters and Men is interested in more than just performing — on Oct. 18, the band played an intimate concert for the MusiCares Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping those in need within the music community. The band’s selflessness shined through as they utilized their talent to contribute to the cause; their dedication to helping others proved to be just as strong as the band’s passion for creating great music.
Read on as Of Monsters and Men’s Ragnar Porhallsson discusses the band’s recent charitable acts, personal musical inspirations, and his slightly peculiar obsession.
So how did you first get involved with The MusiCares Foundation? Are you involved with any other charitable organizations you’d like to bring attention to?
Ragnar Porhallsson: This is the first time we’ve been a part of the MusiCares Foundation and we’re very excited. We’ve done some charity work back home in Iceland involving the Children’s Hospital where we raised money for new hospital equipment, in addition to another charity for Rett Syndrome. That one hit close to home since [Of Monster and Men’s] Brynjar’s niece suffers from Rett Syndrome.
What advice do you have for young musicians who are new to the music industry?
RP: Do your thing, believe in it, and enjoy it. This is an important thing — I often need to remind myself.
Credit: Meredith Truax via Entertainment Weekly
Thinking back to early childhood, what was your first experience with music like? What song do you remember most as a child?
RP: I remember listening to “Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles in the car with my dad every time we’d go camping. He probably played us a bunch of other songs but for some reason that song always comes to mind when thinking of my childhood.
Your headlining tour kicked off in September — what’s the most memorable experience you’ve had so far? Any particular venues you’re looking forward to?
RP: It’s been a great tour with loads of cool venues, like the Masonic Temple in Detroit and the legendary Ryman in Nashville. But in the end it’s not the venues you remember, it’s the crowds. And we’ve had so many really good ones this time around!
What song from Beneath the Skin would you say you’re most proud of? What meaning does it hold for you?
RP: It’s always hard to pick. I’m very proud of the album as a whole. I love playing the songs live and feel they provoke a different kind of atmosphere than our older songs, which is a good thing. It’s cool to be able to switch gears live, and the way our new songs contrast the old makes it a lot of fun for us on stage.
You recently had a performance on The Ellen Show — had you ever met her before? Have you ever been star-struck by any particular celebrity/musician you’ve met?
RP: No, we hadn’t met her before! I haven’t really been totally star-struck yet, but it’s definitely weird doing these shows and meeting people you’ve been following on TV your whole life.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
RP: I love bags, suitcases, and all sorts of compartmentalized travel storage. I love being organized. It’s become somewhat of an obsession actually!
If you could have a conversation with anyone in the world (past or present), who would it be and why?
RP: My grandparents (who have passed). Now that I am an adult, I realize that there are so many things I never asked that I would have liked to ask — things that I didn’t think about as a kid.
Thank you, Ragnar!
Check out the band's recent single, “Empire."
Video stills — click pic or link for music video
For more information, visit MusiCare Foundation’s official website. For breaking news and exclusive content, please “Like” MusiCares on Facebook and follow @MusiCares on Twitter and Instagram.
Of Monsters and Men’s latest album, Beneath The Skin, is now available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon. It is also available to stream on Spotify. For more info on tour dates and other events, visit the band’s official website.
Many thanks to Of Monsters and Men, the MusiCares Foundation, and Republic Records for the opportunity!