Thursday 10 March 2016

Interview with Sander Evers from MONOMYTH

Today's guest is drummer for one of the best Instrumental Psych/Stoner Rock bands of recent years. Monomyth are about to release their 3rd album - EXO, and it's a stunning sci-fi themed musical space odyssey featuring the usual Monomyth magic. Heavy spaced out riffs trapped under a layer of Psychedelic Stoner vibes mixed with Doomy atmospherics.

It's the final trilogy that they started with 2013's S/T debut album and continued with 2014's Further. EXO takes Monomyth's sound even further into the cosmos.

I saw Monomyth perform live in a small pub in my home-town of Newcastle Upon Tyne and it was a spell-binding gig as they kept the small audience in attendance entertained throughout their stunning 85 minute set. It was such a shame that there were more of Monomyth amp's in attendance than actual people. Though they still delivered the goods.

Anyway, I digress. I caught up with Sander (Drummer) from Monomyth recently to discuss what the future holds for the band and what EXO is really about. Here's what went down...

Hi Sander, thanks for doing the interview. How are things with you today?

I'm fine, thank you Steve, we're busy preparing for the upcoming shows.

For people not in the know can you tell how your band came about and where it is today?

We started Monomyth back in early 2011 after a phone-call between Selwyn and me. But it was not before march 2012 until we made our on-stage debut. Our first album was released in September 2012

Photo Credit by Michel Mees Photography

 You're about to release your third album EXO What can people expect from your new album.

You can expect new music, a few new influences, but all with the now familiar Monomyth sound. We never work with a blueprint so what we create is always different when compared to what came before. That also keeps it fresh and exciting for us. On EXO we continue our journey and also try out new things.

Why did you choose the name EXO for the album? Any specific meaning.

EXO is the last chapter from what we now call a trilogy. At the end of Further we travelled towards the sender of the 6EQUJ5 signal and now, on EXO, we're finally got there, land, and start some research. EXO, in this case, stands for a very remote place.

Your music is very hard to describe. KrautRock, Doom, Psych, Stoner. How would you describe it?

That is tough one. Our music contains elements of all the styles you mention. We certainly don't want to stick to one style. And having that said it comes to mind that we never create new music with the idea to do something doomy or psychy or whatever. We usually start with a few riffs, a rhythm or maybe someone humming an idea to the rest of the band, and then we'll see where it might bring us. But in the end it is psychedelic music and it is rock, so maybe psychedelic rock fits best.....with elements of kraut, doom, psych and stoner.

I’ve heard EXO been described as the final part in the trilogy that you started with your S/T album back in 2013. It has been quite a musical journey that you’ve taken listeners on. What have been the main themes of the trilogy? As the albums have a different tone and structure to each other.

There is a storyline spreading throughout all three albums. Both sound-wise and story-wise. Looking back at it now I think travelling and discovering are the main themes. The first album is the safe haven from where we departed. We explored myths and science (fiction) on S/T, but we also looked to the stars via Huygens. Huygens was a well known astrologist from our home-town The Hague. He designed the lens for a telescope which was able to spot the rings of Saturnus for the very first time.

On Further we introduced our spaceship ArkM, a map of the skies and a goal where we like to travel to: 6EQUJ5. So now we have our own spaceship. Yes, it is a classic metaphor, but it works great. And who doesn't want to have his own spaceship? On EXO we finally arrive on this unknown surface with all it's challenges and right from the beginning of the record we start exploring the environment. An interesting journey through a barren landscape, with a very unexpected twist for listeners who pays close attention.

Photo Credit by Michel Mees Photography

Does this mean this is your final album as a band or do you plan to continue with a new musical journey?

No this won't be our last album. This team is such a wonderful and talented group of people, I think we’re just starting up. We don't know what we're gonna do next. Maybe something completely new or maybe we keep on developing this storyline. We don't know that yet. But we are already playing with ideas.

You did an extensive tour of Europe late last year and especially the UK where you guys made a lot of new fans. How was that tour? What were your favourite memories from that tour?

We had a great time on tour in the UK. We have seen many happy faces and there were always people hangin' around with us after the gigs so we made friends everywhere we played. We were lucky to travel with a small night-liner so that we didn't have to rely on hotels and travel from venue to venue. Altogether it made the tour a great experience. I can't think of one exceptional memory, it was all great and even the lesser attractive venues we're great to hang out. As long as we can play music we're a happy bunch altogether. Besides the music we took the opportunity to see something of the cities we were visiting. Music as a travel agency in all it's facets.

I see your touring again with the new album. Which places are you heading to and what can people expect.

We're going to Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and England. We're gonna play EXO entirely (not necessarily in the album order) and some old favourites. With three albums in our pockets now we have something to choose from. On a few occasions we will bring our own light technician and some special FX we're working on. But only in clubs where we can put this up technically. It's a growing thing.

EXO is more trance based and calmer compared to your other albums. Was that your original plan in creating something calmer than your earlier albums?

Is it calmer? I don't know. There is never an original plan besides that we want to set up a new album. A few ideas were already there, Uncharted was the first track that we had finished and we played it live several times already. Ideas for new tracks are floating around us constantly so when we start to make things up for an album we have to transform those ideas into some workable structure and add sounds and melodies. 

But it really is the music that dictates itself, we only search for a way to get the best sound out of ideas. That makes, in my opinion, every Monomyth album unique, there is no second track that is the same. Although there are some tracks that are related to each other and sometimes structures are comparable. But overall we try to let the music lead us with these results.

Was it an easy or hard album to write and record for?

The big difference between EXO and our other two albums is that we had less time to complete the tracks before we headed into the studio. Before our debut we had plenty of time to test our tracks in front of an audience. As goes with tracks from Further, which were already on the set-list before we released S/T. But after Further we had a much busier touring schedule and less time to rehearse properly, so we had the parts of the tracks, but besides Uncharted, nothing complete. So we took some time during fall 2015 to get things right.

Then we did a few gigs with the new tracks, just to try them out. And in November 2015 we recorded everything with Pieter Kloos (you might know him from his work with 35007, 7zuma7, Motorpsycho and others) in a top-notch studio. It was a very smooth production, we were quick, 90% of what you hear was recorded live in only one take. We’re never have been that quick. So we worked hard but it was a fantastic and fast recording period.

The album song titles have more of a science fiction based theme compared to your previous albums. Can you give some background behind some of the album titles and what they mean to you as a band?

Is that so? S/T and Further were also a bit on the sci-fi side. The whole trilogy could be sci-fi but we don't want to fallback on titles with words like space or planet or whatever. That sci-fi theme is not that important and must be subliminal in it's message. So I don't want to spoil too much of the story because I hope the listener makes up his or her own story. That is part of the Monomyth magic, everything is there, music, story, titles, sleeve design, there is a connection between what you hear and what you see. With all these components you have a story or a compelling themed rollercoaster ride, it is up to you what you do with it.

How hard is it for you all being in a band within today’s musical scene? Is it always a never-ending struggle?

Well, it is a struggle anyway, being in a band hahahahaha but it's a wonderful challenge to get things done as a team. Today's musical scene is different then years ago, but I'm not complaining. We have a good deal, we can tour, play at great festivals, record our music and all of this in all the freedom we need.

We have to talk about the album cover. What is that album cover about? Who designed it and what does it mean to you as a band and the album in general.

Maarten Donders made the artwork, a Dutch artist who we all admire for his wonderful artwork. He did all our album covers. We love to work with him because his vision matches that what we like you to see. What you see on the cover is what you hear on the record and vice versa. Everything is there. When you take a closer look at the album cover you will notice a few familiar things and you also get a glimpse of EXO. The storyline is also there, every album cover continues where the last one left off. It's great to work with themes and ideas in this way. It gives you tools to tell a story, even when your playing instrumental music. So we try to add extra layers and deepening the listening experience by bringing the music and the artwork closer to each other.

Do you have any more exciting plans coming up in 2016 – Tours, other projects you’re involved with we should get excited about.

We're now preparing ourself for the upcoming shows, and we try to create new music somewhere along the line. And, we're also busy reworking some material and some new stuff for a very special event. We've been asked by Cinesonic to play a live soundtrack accompanying an old silent movie called Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari at the Imagine Film Festival in Amsterdam. This is a wonderful challenge for us. Our music could fit a movie and now we have the chance to give birth to this idea we already had for a long time. Exciting.

Well Sander, thanks for doing this. All the best with your new record.

Thank you Steve. We hope to see everyone at one of the shows. Cheers.

Words by Steve Howe and Sander Evers

Thanks to Bart at Suburban Records for arranging this interview. Thanks to Sander for taking the time out to talk to me. EXO will be available to buy from on CD/DD/Vinyl via Suburban Records from March 18th 2016.