Sign have just performed on the Main Stage at Download Festival. Danny Montana talks to Zolberg from the Icelandic five-piece about their new album and his new lifestyle.
If you’ve been to any rock festivals the last couple of years, you may have spotted a bunch of black-clad teens (yes, I know, there are a few knocking around there) with the Sign insignia emblazoned across their tshirts. That is The Sign Army.
“We have a really strong fanbase now,” smiles Zolberg, Sign’s 21 year old frontman and founder (picture, below). Indeed, that fanbase was seen filling the front rows at Download Festival 2008, singing the words back to every single song.
Over the past couple of years, Sign – completed by AD (guitar), Eagle (drums), Heimir (bass) and recent addition Aggi (guitar and keyboards) – have supported the likes of Wednesday 13 and The Wildhearts as well as hard rock heroes such as Whitesnake, Alice Cooper and Skid Row in their Icelandic homeland, as well as releasing two albums.
Their first English-language album, 2005’s Thank God For Silence was their third full-length and the band wrote and recorded it all themselves. “We decided that we wanted to bring the ‘80s and glam parties back into the metal world. We were so young and it was really hard,” Zolberg explains. “That was when we learnt how to do it.”
They took the same insular approach to recording this year’s opus, The Hope but the results were much different. “This time around there were no rules and we knew our way around the studio,” Zolberg smiles.
The Hope is a much heavier affair and this direction is much to do with Zolberg’s new-found sobriety. “I’m the kind of person that just can’t drink,” Zolberg says matter-of-factly. “I’ve woken up regretting things and with twisted ankles. When I’m really drunk, I can’t even look into a mirror because the person looking back scares me.”
He claims it is a permanent move and that he sees a brighter future without alcohol in his life both personally and for the band. “When I’m sober and focused, I feel like I am the show,” Zolberg says intensely. “I have no fear about going onstage; I find it easier and have more control over my thoughts and my voice now. I suppose it’s like theatre in some ways.”
“Thank God… was about getting drunk and partying. Singing those songs isn’t that easy any more because I can’t connect to them the way I used to,” he rues. “This album is about rising above all your naivety and gaining your purpose in life.”
“The Hope definitely is a heavier album,” Zolberg says, nodding. “The Hope is about rebirth and that’s much heavier than partying.”
The Hope by Sign is out now on R&R Records
Photo of Zolberg by Abbi London