Wednesday 2 August 2017

An Interview with Esben Willems from MONOLORD

Monolord have returned with their epic and progressively heavy new album – RUST. The album which to be released on Sept 29th 2017 via RidingEasy Records sees Monolord play a heavier and psychedelic blend of their trademark Doom/Stoner Metal riffs.

I caught up with Esben Willems (Drums) from the band to discuss their new album and his recent recording work with bands such as Vokonis and Cities Of Mars.

Read on for more info....

Hi Esben, Long time no speak. Thanks for doing this interview. How are things with you today. Congrats on your excellent new album. You’ve released one of my favourite albums of the year.

Hi, everything's great here! And thanks, really happy to hear that you like it. Getting eager to getting it released.

What can people expect with your new album – Rust.

They can expect us to always be Monolord. To us that means allowing the band and the sound to evolve, without losing the core of what we feel is our band.

What are the underlying themes of the album.

Human kind's never ending urge to destroy both our surroundings and ourselves with religion, insane fantasy based politics, wars, pollution and so on. We're a flawed race, it seems like we just can't help ourselves. Rust never sleeps, just like our collective self-destruction never does.

What influenced you when recording the album and was it hard album to write and record for.

All songs on this one are written by Thomas; when it comes to the musical part of the writing process, he's an ever-flowing stream of amazing riffs and song ideas. Our collective part has been selecting among the massive amounts of ideas and finalizing them together.

The influences regarding lyrics are everything above, with the misanthropy that follows. We love humans, but not humanity. As a collective, the human race never learn from our mistakes and we're obviously not intelligent enough to handle or constructively use our “intelligence”.

It’s very different to your last album. Was that the plan to release something different.

No specific plan as such. To us it's not that different, just a natural step forward. We always work on new material and a lot of the pieces of the patchwork that music is are old, pieces that just needed the right time and place to fit in. Rust is just the result of us wanting to release a new album that feels relevant to us.

My favourite song is perhaps the fourth track – Wormland. The violins that appear toward the end of the song. It gives the album a more uplifting feel. Who idea was that to include the violins on this track.

Thomas presented the idea of adding an instrumental track with the beautiful melancholy that's the key characteristics of Nordic folk music. And we all loved it. The violin at the end really added to that vibe, I'm happy to hear you enjoyed it.

RidingEasy Records is releasing the album. Did you have any other record label offers to release Rust. Or was it an easy decision to stay with RidingEasy Records.

RidingEasy is a relentless label, they keep impressing in everything that comes out from there. So yes, the decision was easy.

The artwork for Rust is very cool indeed. Very understated without giving too much away. Who designed the cover for Rust.

It's a photo by the amazing Arash Naghizadeh, taken at a war sight in Iran. The cars are buried like that to prevent helicopters from landing. We almost instantly felt that this perfectly captures the theme of the album; human kind's insanity and spiteful behaviour.

Monolord have been touring regularly more within the last two years or so. Did you find that an easy or hard environment to adjust to by playing more shows than you were used to.

EW: Touring is the weirdest environment, a surreal alternative reality. But when you get in that bubble, in that mode, you just keep going and want to play more. The adrenaline high from one show fuels the next one and that spiral is one crazy ride. It's harder work than you could ever imagine, but it's also awarding beyond belief. Getting on stage never gets old.

You’ve just finished a small European Tour earlier this year. How did that go. Did you play any of the new material from Rust to unsuspecting audiences. How was their reaction to their new material.

It was our first proper run in the UK and the reception was fantastic! We have some truly amazing fans, they blow us away every night. We played Manchester two days after the bombing there and the vibe was electric. We wanted to play the show and just laugh in the face of the fear-mongers; the audience wanted the same and the whole night just became a rumbling love fest. A truly humbling experience.

Will you be touring this record heavily or is it just the joint tour with Conan happening soon.

We'll tour as much as possible, plans are in the making.

What have your been high points and low points being with Monolord or your musical career in general.

For me personally, the high points after all these years of playing still getting on stage and kicking off the first song. It's incomparable. The lows are the 23 hours in between shows, ha ha.

You’ve been recording and mastering a lot of cool bands recently such as Vokonis and Cities Of Mars. What has that experience been like working with the next generation of upcoming Doom/Stoner Metal bands. Have you worked with any recent bands that people should be made aware of. If so can you make some recommendations for people to check out.

Getting the trust from other musicians to work with them on their music is a great feeling in itself. It's always really inspiring to be allowed to be a part of other band's creative processes, I feel I learn a lot from it every time. Everyone has their own way of creating; for me, that's always brain fuel, seeing new ways of realizing ideas.

From what's officially announced right now I would recommend checking out the upcoming release from Cities of Mars. They really pushed themselves one extra step on this one.

Does Monolord have an advanced equipment setup when playing live or recording new material in the studio. What equipment do you use to get the trademark sound.

We work a lot collectively with our backline. Our aim is to complement each other soundwise and I think that's key. You often see musicians being focused only on their own rig, but if that rig doesn't fit in in the band sound, it's irrelevant what you use or how you tweak it. All three of us are band members, not solo peacocks.

My studio equipment doesn't have any magic secrets, it's just a basic Pro Tools rig with a very standard mic collection. It's the way I use it.

And now you have your own Can of Beer named after you. Seems to be the in-thing at the moment. How did that come about. Big question is have you tasted it yet.

EW: We haven't tasted it, I really hope we get to the next time we tour the US! We got in touch with Steve at Oliver Brewing on our first US tour and he came to a show with a case of beers for us. He's a music loving brewer who likes to support the bands he likes, and we were fortunate to be one of them. They release some great beers, so I'm really stoked about the Rust double IPA.

Before you go, do you have anything to say to your fans. All the best with your new album as it’s a brilliant album.

Thank you so much! We're always looking forward to the next show, so we'll see you out there!

Words by Steve Howe and Esben Willems

Thanks to Dave at US/THEM PR for arranging this interview. Thanks to Esben for doing this interview. Rust will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl via RidingEasy Records from Sept 29th 2017.