Thursday 14 January 2016

Interview with Mhyk Monroe from CULT OF THE LOST CAUSE

Cult Of The Lost Cause came to my attention back in October 2013 when they released their self-titled debut album. It showed a band with a lot of promise as they created highly intelligent instrumental Post-Rock/Post-Metal music.

Now 2.5 years later and the band return with their truly stunning new album – Contritions - which we will be reviewing very soon. Contritions is a much darker and more progressive album and sees the band play some heavy riffs that evoke memories of Pelican, Russian Circles and even Neurosis at times.

I recently caught up with Mhyk Monroe (Guitarist) from this highly talented band to see what the new album has in store for people.

Hi Mhyk. How are things with you today.

Great, thank you! We appreciate this!

So why did you choose the name CULT OF THE LOST CAUSE for your band. Any specific meaning or what is the THE LOST CAUSE to you as a band.

We actually had a song named “Cult of the Lost Cause”, and decided it was better than the band name we had at the time.

There wasn’t any particular thing that inspired that, but we came to like the idea of how hard people work to chase things that are bad for them, and how much they’ll dedicate to pursuits that are clearly disruptive and unhealthy. That emotional turmoil is something that plays out in our songs.

How did the band get together? Did you all know each other before forming the band.

We actually met off of Craigslist. Thom and I were in a band together (from a Craigslist ad), and when that band broke up, we put out another add and met Mike. We started writing and were having a blast immediately.

For a first time listener looking to discover your band - How would you describe your music.

We call ourselves heavy instrumental rock. Not quite post- stuff, not quite metal, but heavy, loud, and angular, nonetheless.

Your new album – Contritions – is an excellent album packed full of great progressive sounds and bleak based riffs. What can people expect from the record.

Thank you, we appreciate the kind words! The record is, intentionally, a lot darker than our first record. We were really trying to explore different emotive ground, and I think that shows in the songs. They’re more panicked, more dissonant, and with less hopeful moments than what’s found on the first record.

Your new album has a different sound to your debut album. It's heavier and way more progressive. Was that an easy decision to do something different with your sound. Or was it because the band's sound has moved on from then.

It was both, I think, a very natural step. We really wanted to explore darker territory and, simultaneously, wanted to write songs that were more challenging to play and to listen to. As we wrote, we tried to be more deliberate about doing things we hadn’t done before. That’s going to continue as we start writing the next album.

Was recording Contritions an easy or hard process to complete.

Recording was pretty easy. It was writing that was the challenge. As far as recording, we had the privilege of working with Dave Otero (Cattle Decapitation, Cephalic Carnage), and he is a fantastic professional as well as a great all around guy. He made every part of the recording process efficient and fun.

I think the primary challenge of recording was putting ourselves under the microscope and realizing, despite our best efforts, that some parts of our songs or our individual parts had to change for the song to work. That’s never easy, even if it’s expected.

How hard is it being a band in today's world. What are the most difficult aspects in being in a band.

I can’t speak for all of us, but for myself personally, I think the most challenging thing is making sure we’re staying true to ourselves and doing this on our terms. It’s easy to get taken advantage of, even in little ways, if we don’t pay attention to what’s going on.

We’re lucky that we’re part of a great, supportive scene here in Denver with a lot of stand-up individuals, but it’s still something that can happen from time to time.

What is the song-writing dynamic in the band. Is it a group collective or down to one individual.

We write collectively, most definitely. We don’t usually write each others instrument parts outside of suggesting a “try making this sound” or “try it here” or “try adding this or that”, however.

A song will usually start with a seed from one person, usually Thom or I, and get tackled part by part as a group. At first, whosoever idea it was may only have one part or may even have 90% of a song, but we all get to contribute to the final product in some way.

Usually the person whose initial idea started that song gets to name the song. Not having a vocalist, the titles are very important to convey the themes and ideas we’re seeking to illustrate, musically.

What inspired you to become a musician? Any particular album, band or life-changing event that told you – Yeah, that's what I want to do....

Oh, man, so many…. Personally, The Cure was a huge influence in getting me interested in playing music.

Then Faith No More, Smashing Pumpkins, Bikini Kill, Helmet, Nine Inch Nails, Botch, Sleater-Kinney…those were all artists that, for me personally, changed what I thought was possible in music and simultaneously made it seem accessible, something I could be a part of. That was always the thing that I sought to re-create, that sense of community and urgency I found in those bands and their music.

Will you be touring this record heavily. If so what dates are you performing and what can people expect from the live CULT OF THE LOST CAUSE experience.

No heavy tour plans, right now. We’re going to be playing in Colorado, and then trying to participate in some festivals around the area.

For now, the best time to catch us is going to be 27 February at Hi-Dive in Denver for the release party. We’re planning on going totally ape-shit at that show; and with our friends Muscle Beach, Abrams, and Necropanther on the bill, it’s going to be one of the best shows of the year.

Before you go, do you have anything to say to your fans.

Just that we cannot be more grateful that people are listening to us and responding to what we do. We’re truly grateful, and we encourage people to hit us up online and say “hello”!

Well guys, thanks for doing this. All the best with the new album. It's a stunning record.

Thank you! We appreciate the chance to talk to you!

Words by Steve Howe and Mhyk Monroe

Thanks to Dave at US/THEM Group for arranging the interview and for Mhyk for taking the time out into talking to me. Contritions will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl from Sailor Records from February 26th 2016.