By Keith Sharp
Enough of sitting around already, upon the completion of the band’s new recording, Sitting Heavy, Monster Truck bassist Jeremy Widerman is biting at the bit to hit the road and perform their new material for a fan base which has been growing steadily since releasing their debut Furiosity record in 2013.
Produced by Eric Katz (Billy Talent, Cancer Bats) who was also behind the boards for the band’s first two independent Ep’s, Sitting Heavy is full of bombastic rockers sprinkled with a couple of more toned-down mid-tempo tracks. As Widerman noted, “What would you expect from a band called Monster Truck, a bunch of love ballads?”
Launching with a raucous rocker titled “Why Are You Not Rocking”, Monster Truck throws out a challenge to their fans with a song that lends itself to be the perfect live concert opener “Jon (Harvey, bassist/lead vocalist) and I have always been fans of albums that just kick the doors down right off the top with the opening track. It tells everyone what we’re all about.”
Widerman, Harvey, keyboardist Brandon Bliss and percussionist Steve Kiely have blossomed over the past three years, breaking out of the Hamilton Ontario bar circuit to arrive on the national music scene just as authentic, guitar-driven rock was making a comeback.
“When we were first starting out, I was nervous that we would come out in a crowd of other bands that sounded just like us,” noted Widerman. “I felt we were in a race to get our record out so we wouldn’t be seen as copycats. But by the time we actually released `Furiosity’, I found we stood alone, just us and The Sheepdogs.”
Known for their punchy, `in yer face’ lyrics, Monster Truck delivers with 9 solid rockers (and two more melodic tracks just for a change of pace). Tracks like “Don’t Tell Me How To Live”, “For The People”, “Another Man’s Shoes” and their autobiographical “Enjoy The Time” are straight ahead rock fair, “The Enforcer” is an ode to NHL tough guys, reflecting the band’s love of hockey and there’s a clever lyrical twist to ‘Things Get Better” with a preceding line that says “I’ve got a feeling things’ will get worse before they get better”.
“I think that lyric sums up the feelings of everyone living anywhere, you can take that message either way,” Widerman explained. “No matter how bad things get, there’s always hope for a better outcome.”
A highlight of their debut single; “Don’t Tell Me How To Live” is a video showing the band performing on a gravel pit platform in a blinding snow blizzard. “The blizzard hit just as we were wrapping up the shoot so we decided to incorporate the elements into the climax of the shoot,” noted Widerman. “It was a frantic mess at the end but we used the situation to work for us.”
With a 2013 Juno win for Top Emerging Band and a European following initiated by three separate tours of Europe, Monster Truck have come along way since their stints playing Ontario bars. “We may have started out as a three-chord party band but I feel we have definitely progressed over the past four years,” Widerman allowed. “Touring with the likes of Slash and Alice In Chains, we still feel we are the same band but we just continue to grow in confidence as we gain experience, we’ve never felt like fish out of water.”
About to head out on a national tour which will take them across Canada in March, Widerman sees a steady progression both in Monster Truck’s music, their recording sessions and their performance on stage. “Touring in Europe was a great experience for the band,” he noted. “We’ve had three trips to Europe and our fan base is at a fever pitch. Hard rock is still big over there and their acceptance of us only makes it both financially and creatively, worth our while to go back.”
As for making progress at home, Widerman says the band is happy with the fan base they have developed. “It’s taken seven years for us to cultivate but I think our timing was spot on. There’s a great buzz about rock bands in this country right now and I think we’ve played our part in reigniting that interest.”
By Keith Sharp