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Iceland Mag

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Former KISS and Alice Cooper Roadie writes book about the Icelandic Christmas Trolls known as The Yule Lads

By Matt Eliason

  • A Yule Lad in traditional attire. After years in the live-music industry, Floridian Ken Barr decided to "switch it up" and write about Iceland's Christmas trolls known as The Yule Lads, which are frighening Christmas ogres known for scaring children into behaving well. Photo/Daníel Rúnarsson

American Ken Barr has a lot of range in his professional careers. After working as a "roadie" or "tech guy" for world famous bands such as Alice Cooper, KISS, and the Stone Temple Pilots, the guitar technician is shifting his attention to writing. After authoring "We are the Road Crew" about his years on the road in the music industry, Barr shifted gears to write about Icelandic Christmas characters - yes, you heard that right. 

Known as Jólasveinarnir, or in English, The Yule Lads, the Icelandic take on Christmas characters is slightly more mischievous and cynical than the American tales. The Icelandic Yule Lads are descended from trolls and historically, their primary objective is to scare children into behaving properly. As it is told, they are descendants of the two most hideous ogres ever known in Iceland, Grýla and Leppalúði. Translated to English some of their names read Bowl Licker, Pot Scraper, Door Slammer, Skyr Gobbler, Sausage Swiper and Window Peeper.

After learning of the Icelandic Christmas stories, Barr decided to apply his own take on the Icelandic tradition. As a result he created identities for each. "It’s my hope to keep these characters and stories alive long after I am gone," says Barr regarding his decision to write about the Icelandic characters. "What I have done here is to reinterpret them, through the eyes of an outsider, and to modernize them, just a little." 

Jólasveinarnir, The Yule Lads and Their Family is available on Amazon for purchase.

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