Saturday, 24 August 2013

Interview with Sander from Monomyth

Now on Sludgelord it is my pleasure to be interviewing Sander Evers drummer from Dutch Instrumental Stoner Rock geniuses – Monomyth – who recently blew my whole world apart with their stunning début album.

This is what I originally said about their incredible S/T début album.

“You will not hear a better sounding album all year. Believe me folks when I say that Monomyth are only going to get bigger and better. That is the most exciting thing about this band and the album. It is the suspense of what will they come up with next.

Awesome. This is a classic album in the making. Incredible.”

So let’s get started with Sander from the brilliant Monomyth.

Q1 – Hi Sander. How's it going with you today? Thanks for doing this.

SE - We are fine! Thank you for your interest, it’s a pleasure.

Q2 – Can you give our readers a brief history of how the band came about as you’re all from some very cool bands I have had the pleasure to listen to over the years.

SE - Indeed we all have a history in a bunch of very nice bands and we brought all that experience together in Monomyth. Selwyn and I know each other from years before. He was playing with Incense and I was in 35007 during the same period. Years later we met while working in a local venue and swapped e-mail addresses. I guess this was somewhere in 2007.

We decided to do a few jams, but Selwyn was playing in The Polar Exploration Ship at that time and I was starting up with Gomer Pyle, so we decided to focus on our then current bands. But when I left Gomer Pyle and The Polar ended we took the chance to form a brand new band. At first Monomyth was like a twin band to Lucid, sharing both the bass player and guitarist, but when the guitarist called it quits on both bands, we started searching for a guitar player and continued strictly as Monomyth.

With Peter on keyboards we already found a solid foundation, but when Thomas came in on the guitar and Tjerk closed the ranks with his digital extravaganza, the whole thing started to shape up really nicely. With just a handful of tracks we took the plunge and booked our first gig: supporting The Machine in 013 (the venue of Roadburn fame). It became a very important gig for us and we are still very grateful to The Machine for offering us the chance to present the band to the public for the first time.

Q3 – Have you all been friends for a long time? How did you guys decide to form a band together and was it an easy decision to make to form Monomyth?

SE - After joining two bands that were already rolling, I wanted to start a band from scratch, with a few guiding musical ideas as leitmotif. Forming a band is like starting a relationship with likeminded people. But you're never sure what is going to happen. We knew each other’s work and that made the decision to form a band a lot easier. But it's not that we were friends before. It is a musical friendship primarily. Of course, over the years, I’d collected a few names of musicians with whom I'd like to try and make music.

And Selwyn was one of the names on the list. But a band is a constellation of musicians and everyone who is in the band now should have been on that list. I just never had the chance to meet them earlier than in Monomyth. That is just the way things go. Why bands pop up and why they succeed on a creative level is one of the wonders of life. They are happy accidents. With all our experience we can manipulate the whole thing a bit now, but it is still a happy accident.

Q4 – Now congrats on your brilliant new album. Really impressed me with the first listen. Was it an easy or hard album to record for?

SE- Thank you! To be honest: no, it was not a hard album to record. We took an interesting route: we wrote the material together from the start. So writing is truly a group process. When we changed guitar players we kept the parts that were already written, blended them with Thomas' sound and continued writing. We decided not to go and perform live until we felt that the band's line up was complete.

When we started to perform we wanted to try out our music in front of an audience just to force ourselves to shape up what we were doing. It made the process of writing very organic. Before Monomyth we were used to writing songs, recording them and when finished start performing them. This time we turned that idea upside down: we wanted to catch a bit of that air you experience when performing live. So when we started recording we knew exactly what we were doing. The goal was to make it sound like an organic, living, breathing record. And I think we succeeded in doing that.

Q5 – Would you change anything about it or are you happy with the final version that will be released?

SE- The final version is more or less what we had in mind. But for a musician there is never a final version. That is one of the frustrating things about recording music. You could work for years on an album, but I doubt that it would make a better album. At one point you have to decide to stop the process and finalize it. That is a hard decision sometimes. We were very lucky in that we could rely on Peter. He recorded the album in his studio and mixed the whole thing.

Of course the group had some wishes and influence, but for the most part he was in charge. And because one of us controlled that, it never felt forced or uncomfortable. So what you hear is what we want you to hear. And with a few sparse edits here and there the album is in a sense recorded live. Of course there were overdubs, but they were all reproduced entirely from what we did live on stage. It was not an endless process of editing countless takes of a solo or something. We wanted to avoid that.

Q6 – How would you describe your overall sound? I would call it Space/Stoner Rock, or possibly Space/Kraut/Stoner Rock.

SE - Labelling the band's musical style is difficult. It is space rock and it's krautisch, but we are also influenced by minimal classical music and film music. So I think we haven't found our definite label yet. Now if there's anyone out there who comes up with something that really catches our style in a single term or a word, we're happy to adopt it. But for now, space/stoner/kraut will do the job. A personal long-time wish is to produce a soundtrack. Not just a song at the end of a movie during the credits, but music that is truly incorporated into the movie. I think that we’re capable of doing that. It would be great to work on such a project.

Q7 – It seems this albums release has been a long time coming. I remember seeing YouTube videos early as summer 2012 and being made a fan back then. Wasn't it supposed to be released earlier in 2013? Why the delay?

SE - That is correct. The album was more or less finished earlier in this year, but we couldn't find a proper date to release it. Originally we set a date somewhere in June, but that made no sense because we wanted to accompany the release with a bunch of gigs. At the end of June the clubs close for summer and no one is going to book a new and unknown band for summer festivals. So a release in September made more sense. But we used all that extra time to write new stuff for a follow-up album. We even put some of that new stuff on our live set list. So we are not complaining.

Q8 – Congrats on signing with Burning World Records. How did that come about? You must be excited about releasing your album on Double Vinyl.

SE - That is indeed exciting. Burning World and Roadburn are returning values in my musical career since my days in 35007 and more recently in Gomer Pyle. Burning World released some music of those two bands on very slick vinyl. And I was there performing at the very beginning of the Roadburn festival, which spawned the record label, back in 1998.

Seeing it now some 15 years later it is a huge honour to be part of that legacy with music that influenced a generation of die-hard music lovers. With Monomyth we try to follow our own vision and stay true to this genuine way of putting music together. It's simply the music that we would like to hear and I hope that we can stay connected to the scene that meant so much for me throughout the years. This is what I always did and what we will continue to do.

Q9 – As stated previously, I have seen the many excellent videos of Monomyth live in action. All I can say is wow. You guys are seriously loud. What equipment/set-up do you use for that huge wall of sound?

SE - Yes we are loud, but never too loud. We always want to have the best of both worlds. We like to have it loud, but also detailed and very crispy. Our live sound must be a transparent experience. It must be around you and give you the sensation of being able to touch the music. And as there are a lot of sounds and instruments in the band, we have to make room for every single sound we produce. A wall is always built up from smaller bricks. Together these bricks form something bigger than the sum of their parts. That is the goal. So yes, Monomyth is loud, but in a very controlled manner. We use a combination of old and new equipment. Slingerland drums, Sound City amps, Leslie speakers, Rhodes piano and some analogue synths, but we also use computers and modern sound manipulation software live on stage.

Q10 – I know that Monomyth is more about the visual experience as well as the audio experience. You project videos in the background when performing live. Which videos do you guys use? Who creates the videos that you use? And how do you decide which video goes best with each song?

SE - You must have seen the video that was shot during the Sonic Boom festival in 2012. Only during that gig we used video as a backdrop. That was a onetime collaboration with VJ Stalker. He made the footage that was projected and he also shot the recording that is on YouTube. So that happened only once. Normally we have a light technician with us and he brings some lighting effects with him. That provides us with an experience that fits us best and we would like to increase that in the future. But video and good ol' lights are both options. Speaking of video: some very enthusiastic video artists are currently shooting a video for our track Vanderwaalskrachten. We hope to release that video when the album comes out.

Q11 – Obviously you’re all busy with your other respective bands as well as Monomyth, but how regular do you tour with Monomyth?

SE - Currently we are not touring but only playing gigs here and there. Two of us are in other bands but up until now that has never been an issue. We'll see how it will turn out. But when it comes to touring, everybody is facing in the same direction.

Q12 – Where did the name Monomyth came from? Any specific meaning?

SE - The Monomyth is a tool developed by Joseph Campbell that provides a storywriter with a way of constructing a compelling storyline, which contains some kind of structure, balance and adventure. The Monomyth is also nicknamed The Hero's Journey. It is a lot of info to put into a few lines but basically it’s the journey of a hero who has to face different encounters in different scenes or situations and overcome them or succeed in them, all to end his quest and save the world. It is the blueprint for a lot of well-known stories, old and new. So the name Monomyth is a metaphor for some kind of journey we provide you within a tale of music. It's also a metaphor for the band itself and the fact that you can consider a band a travel agency. When you’re in a performing band you travel a lot, meet people etc. That is also a journey.

Q13 - Has the Sludge/Stoner/Doom Metal community been a big help in getting your music across to the masses? Have you received any mainstream attention yet?

SE - Yes, we owe the scene a lot. This is the community that picked up on our ideas from the start. We performed some great gigs in front of the core audience: Roadburn, Yellowstock, Misty Mountain, etc. Some mainstream attention is slowly building up. We played at the Parkpop festival in The Hague this year with a huge crowd and people like Sinead O’Connor headlining. It was a bit of a gamble to put this kind of music on during such a big festival, but it turned out quite nice. But for the most part it’s underground media and blogs. And they are very good to us, so we cherish those. With the album coming out in September we'll see what's going to happen.

Q14 – Do you all have full time jobs or is being a musician classed as your full time job?

SE - We do have jobs. Some work fulltime, some have their own small business, some work as sound or light technician. We can’t make a living out of our music. Making money is not the reason why we’re doing this. Should we get the chance of making a living out of it, then we would probably grab it, but we don't count on it, so we don't get disappointed. When we make back our investments we'll be happy altogether.

Q15 – What is the Dutch Stoner Rock scene currently like? We have featured a few bands from the Netherlands such as Izah, Komatsu and the brilliant Toner Low. Is there a scene for you guys to perform on a regular basis?

SE - The Dutch stoner scene is very scattered and consists of many different bands and subgenres. It's not like the nineties anymore. There is heavy stoner, doom, psychedelica, retro, etc. It’s really diverse and there is a lot going on. I like Toner Low, Orange Sunshine, Santa Cruz, Candybar Planet, etc. Burning World is releasing Atlantis later this year, another band that’s thinking outside of the box. I like that.

Q16 - What are the advantages and disadvantages of being in a band? The financial aspect being a part of band can be a major disadvantage.

SE – That’s rather a difficult question. I don't know what it's like not to be in a band. I’ve played in bands since I was 16 years old. It’s a way of life, it is a purpose in life. In bands you develop relationships with people on a very altered level. Learning to play and write music is like learning to speak a language, which you practice together in secret. That is very special. On the other hand, when things go wrong, they can really go wrong. I’ve also had that experience. That makes me sad sometimes. But even after two bands that collapsed, I still think there must be more, so the road didn’t end. It's just like what is explained in the Monomyth, you see. It’s all about metaphors.

Q17 – What are your favourite bands that you are currently listening to? Any bands that myself or our readers should check out?

SE - Not so much at the Stoner front at the moment. I listen a lot to ambient music and I like the new Primal Scream album a lot. It has a Hawkwind kind of vibe to it. You know that early nineties British free festival stuff. It's very enjoyable. I also like to listen to early Genesis, ELP, stuff like that. I'm still a big fan of the Orb and dig good ol' techno as well. It’s a wide range as I don’t want to pin myself to one style or genre.

Q18 - If you could provide words of wisdom for people wanting to start a band, what would they be.

SE - Try to find the instrument that suits you best, practice a lot, play with other people and really listen to one another. Try to find your own signature. In other words: be yourself, only then you will come up which something that is uniquely your own. There are already too many people trying to be someone else who is successful.

Q19 – Do you guys have any plans to tour overseas? Or is it too expensive to do at this moment in time?

SE - We don't have plans, but is on our shortlist.

Q20 – Finally, do you have anything to say to your fans?

SE – Well everybody, enjoy our debut album. There is a lot of effort put into the music. We are looking at it as a long term vehicle, so you’re not rid of us just yet. :p Hopefully we will see you at one of our shows. Cheers!

Well Monomyth – Thanks for doing this. We love your album at Sludgelord. We think it's going to be acclaimed as one of the year’s best début records. Best of luck with the album release. I hope you sell out all of your vinyl.

SE - Thank you!

Thanks to Sander for taking the time out to do this great interview. All the best to Sander and the rest of Monomyth. Everybody should check this album when it finally comes out. You're in for something truly special.

Monomyth S/T Debut Album will be available to buy from Burning World Records on Sept 16th 2013 on CD, DD and Vinyl

Check The Band from the links below.