Friday, August 5, 2011

Monsterworks Interview

1. Can you tell us a little bit about the band for those that have never heard of you before?

As a misson statement we have stuck behind "Image Is Nothing; Metal Is Everything", possibly to our detriment. It just means we are a bunch of regular guys that love metal even though we are not that interested in any peripheral aspects of the scene. It is all about the music.

2. When I listen to your music I can hear alot of different forms of metal, how would you describe your musical sound?

We called it "supermetal" in the early years. It sounds a bit arrogant but at the same time it was important not to just be a death metal band or a thrash band. We like a lot of different types of metal and get influenced by that in the song writing.

3. What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the new album explores?

The God Album has an "anti-religion" message, which is nothing new in the metal field, but we put a bit of a more positive spin on it. I am hopeful that religion will disappear without massive bloodshed. As people become more educated and learn about history, religious practices tend to be abandoned or are at least diluted.

4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the bands name?

Our first songs were dual vocal, i.e. low growl and high shriek, and using vocal layers is still a common theme in the music. It so happened that some chick commented that we sounded like two monsters shouting at each other. And we thought that worked well, so that is where the idea for “Monsterworks” came from. Also, our sage first drummer once said a band name should sound a bit stupid at first but then it grows on you. I think Monsterworks does that. Although, not everyone gets over the sounding stupid part.

5. What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and how would you describe your musical sound?

The best shows are the ones where everything runs smoothly, because playing in London can be a logistical nightmare with transporting gear around. Perhaps one of the most memorable shows was when our roadie arranged for us to be picked up by limo to play at the Thurrock Music Festival in Essex. I guarantee we were the only band that arrived by limousine that day.

6. Do you have any touring plans for the new releases?

No touring plans. We all have day jobs and fitting in a long tour is just not practical. We are more in it for the music, so as long as we can record new music and play a few gigs here and there we are happy.

7. Currently you are signed to Casket Music, how did you get in contact with this label and how would you describe the support that the label has given you so far?

I forget how we actually came across Casket. Presumably it was a recommendation from somebody. Casket is quite a good set up for bands that want access to distribution and do not have too many other prospects of being signed by a major label - who all tend to be cutting back on the money they have to spend on new bands. In this way Casket has been very useful at getting albums out for review and the odd interview. No compaints really....otherwise we would not keep working with them.

The deal is, we pay for production of the album and they distribute it, for a cut of the sales. They can place the CD for sale in places that you would not be able to do if you went it alone, e.g. Amazon, HMV etc.

8. On a worldwide level how have metal fans reacted to your musical sound?

On the whole we have always had very good feedback, although the sound does polarize the reviewers sometimes. However, I would rather have a really bad review with something amusing to say than a mediocre one. It is true enough that some people just don’t get what we are trying to do….but that is the beauty of music.

9. Are there any other side projects besides this band, or is this a full time line-up?

I am the vocalist/lyricist for The Living Fields (signed to Candlelight) which is a Chicago based metal band, also with a new album coming out soon. The other guys all have numerous music projects, not all of which are metal. The current line up of Jon, Hugo, James and Marcus is a "full-time" working unit and friends as well as band mates.

10. How would you describe your musical progress over the years and what direction do you see the music heading into on future releases?

The sound has definitely evolved from a straight death metal band, through thrash, to a more progressive edge now. While we don’t sound that much like them, Opeth is a band I admire a lot for producing good, heavy music which defies strict boundaries. Monsterworks is in the same ballpark in terms of attitude. The new material in the pipeline has more progressive elements but always with a death growl in the base of it somewhere. I do not see us becoming avantgarde or taking a fundamental direction change. If that were to happen from one album to the next you may as well call it a different band.

11. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

The classics: Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Queen. These were the basic influences which have inspired a generation. I listen to a broad range of metal, but not much else because within metal there is such diversity. As it happens I met Karl Sanders from Nile yesterday so I would name them as something I listen to a lot. I am also making my way through the Black Sabbath catalog from the beginning as a kind of pilgrimage. I just finished the Dio-era albums and will move on from there.

12. Your music covers alot of religion and anti religion, how would you describe your views on these topics?

I read a lot of surrounding literature recently and formed a view that whether you believe in a god or not is a personal question. However, religion is not a personal thing; it is a social mechanism that forces people to believe ridiculous things without any evidence. To a strict definition I suppose I am atheist, but I don’t like that term because it can be a divisive label – like every other box checking exercise.

There is a god or there is not; it is not for me to convince anyone either way. What I hope to do through the message in the music is to get people to question their beliefs. Ironically, most metal fans are probably coming from a similar position to myself, so maybe the music is just therapy for finding my own answers.

13. Outside of music, what are some of your interests?

Weightlifting. Also, I have a 13 month old daughter now, so that becomes pretty central to your existence.

14. Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?

Just one thing, which was briefly touched upon above….. I recently realised specifically why I love metal so much and have little time for other forms of music (even though I can freely admit that other styles can sound good). It is because of the current diversity in metal music and the “danger” that it can go anywhere. A regular person could listen to some parts of Opeth (for example) and think it sounds beautiful…but all of a sudden it will change to something that sounds all together evil. It is the threat of that change which does not exist in any other music form. Clearly the general public would see the change to that death growl as a “waste of good music”, but we in the kingdom of metal love that contrast and are not afraid of the threat. That is why I am a metal fan.

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