Interview with ...MONSTER TRUCK

WILL HORSMAN

It’s been 10 years since Canadian rockers Monster Truck first got together and two years since the release of ‘Sittin’ Heavy’ – an album that put them on the map for rock fans across the globe. Following the release of third offering ‘True Rocker,’ I caught up with drummer Steve Kiely ahead of their UK tour to discuss the story behind their success and how a chance encounter in a juice bar during a Christmas musical lead to them working with rock icon Dee Snider!

 

It’s been 10 years, 3 albums, countless Arena and festival shows since the Canadian quartet first got together. So, would Steve Kiely in 2009 have ever expected Monster Truck to be where they are today? “No, no – I think if you asked us all individually, at that time we would have wanted to have achieved that success with the bands that we were in back then. This band was a fun-size band away from them – very much an anti-industry, anti-establishment, playing for fun and doing what we want kind of thing…but it’s pretty cool that it did!” 

Does that mean that new album ‘True Rocker’ see’s the band coming full circle? Having all the fun and enjoyment the band started out with but reaching a far wider audience than you could have anticipated before? “Yeah, I think we make strides to get closer to coming full circle as to how we approach each album and what not - we still learned a lot on this record. We’re already talking about how we’re gonna do the next record, we’ve already got a bunch of songs written for it. I mean we’re never gonna get back to where we were before – we’re different people and the stakes are higher but I think our collective goal is to get back to that off the cuff kind of innocence we started with.”

You’ve said in the past that you tend to write songs as and when inspiration strikes as opposed to when you feel you have to, most notably with ‘Thundertruck’ having originally been written for ‘Sittin’ Heavy’. Is this the approach you always take to the writing process?

 

“Yeah it’s been more so like that in the past so we’re not just sitting down going “Who’s got a riff?!” but we’re finding that the way the songs come about is something that’s changing from album to album and some processes work better than others. One important aspect of the writing for the last album was that we were continually doing it – we weren’t just waiting until, “Alright, we need to have an album done in 3 months…” we wanted to have a pool of songs that we could pull from that had been written over a year or two of jamming and coming up with ideas. That way, you’re picking from a pool of songs which were written when you felt a certain way or were inspired by a certain thing or you were happy about something or sad about something – not just these songs that were written in a short period of time under the gun. We’re gonna keep trying to advance our methods and do it even better next time.”

Another artist who seems to be doing his best to take the pressure off and just enjoy making music again is Dee Snider. How did you guys end up working together on the title track from the new album? “That came about because he was doing a musical - a Christmas production in Canada which was like 45 minutes down the road from us. He just stayed at a hotel in Toronto for the entire time that it was running and on his way to the theatre one day, he loves those juice bars - he’s a real health buff, and one day I guess the guy who was working there was playing a Monster Truck album and Dee loved it! I think the guy gave him one of our albums and that’s how it came about – off the back of that. I think we have juice bars to thank for that!”

For the new album you also had the opportunity to work with hit writers Gavin Brown and Maia Davies which shines through in ‘Evolution’ and ‘Young City Hearts’ but ‘Hurricane’ is one of the heaviest tracks on the record – what do you feel they brought to the process? “It’s funny, with ‘Hurricane’, that was probably the one that wasn’t touched out of those three from the demos we made. Gareth put his special production touch on it getting everything sounding as heavy as it was but that was funnily enough one of the songs that went through relatively untouched which is why it sounds like a Monster Truck track. But it was mostly Jon and Jeremy that took the lead on those extra songs working with Maia and Gavin. They would give you a better answer on that”

You guys are no strangers to Arena tours having recently done a similar circuit with Nickleback. This feels different to me though – Black Stone Cherry, The Cadillac Three and yourselves are 3 of the biggest names in rock at the moment and all on the up. How pumped are you for this tour? “We’ve been out with BSC in Europe for just over three weeks now. The Cadillac Three isn’t out here but just based on how these shows have been going alone it’s definitely one heck of a line-up. I think people are leaving feeling like they saw a really cool rock show, with a really good line-up – you don’t get that all the time, you know? And I think a cool part of it too is that we all have a good crossover of bands, they embrace the other bands like their hometown favourite! A lot of people back home are like “Bring that tour up to North America!” It was hard enough to line up these dates, we can’t just stay on tour together forever!”

 

It’s sadly uncommon for rock bands to stay with their original line-up these days, even after 10 years – what’s the secret for Monster Truck? “I guess it probably has something to do with how it all started, you know? It very much started as a fun thing to do and it was to make music that we felt wasn’t out there at the time – simple, fun, rock and roll and we were having such a blast doing it. When you start a project out of that, I think you’ve got a better chance of everyone sticking together and the project staying together. It’s funny hearing we’re coming up to 10 years together, hearing it’s been that long kinda blows my mind – time flies. You don’t think it’s that long until you hear someone say it. We just came off the heels of a year and a half off the road as well so when you have a break like that it makes going back on the road with the guys all that much more fun.” 

So when you started the band there was never a main goal – you just wanted to do it for fun? “Exactly and I think that’s going to be the secret to our longevity – sticking with that. No matter where we end up, just sticking with that attitude.”

 

Finally, I have to ask, after your first decade together as a band – do you still think things are gonna get worse before they get better?! “You know what? I think it depends on what scale you’re looking at it really…I know this year and a half off was nice to recharge but it isn’t easy because you feel like you’ve gotta get back to work. We went through a management change, label negotiations, re-doing our deal and it’s been tough to be honest even though we haven’t been on the road. Our albums’ been delayed and delayed and delayed and you know spirits can get low at times. It was getting tough the last year and a half of feeling stagnant when you’re not active for that long you start to worry - have we been away for too long? Have people forgotten about us? Can we still perform like we used? Can we still write songs like we used? These first 3 weeks of playing with Black Stone Cherry to all their crowds in Europe it’s been ultra-reassuring. We’re kicking ass every night and we’re playing better than we ever had - the crowd’s really reacting. If you ask me - I think we’ve been through that. We’ve got through the worst part - they just weren’t really public struggles. It was our private struggles, trying to get through the last year and a half”

 

Monster Truck’s latest album ‘True Rocker’ is out now on Mascot Records and you can catch them on tour with Black Stone Cherry and The Cadillac Three across the UK:

Thursday 6th December – Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff

Friday 7th December – Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle

Saturday 9th December – SECC, Glasgow

Monday 10th December – Manchester Arena, Manchester

Tuesday 11th December – Birmingham Arena, Birmingham

Thursday 13th December – First Direct Arena, Leeds

Friday 14th December – The SSE Arena, London

 

Monster Truck are:

Jon Harvey – Lead vocals, Bass

Jeremy Widerman – Guitar

Brandon Bliss – Keyboard

Steve Kiely – Drums

 

You can find them at:

http://www.ilovemonstertruck.com/

https://en-gb.facebook.com/ilovemonstertruck/

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