Photo by James Heaslip
Interview By Keith Sharp
Suggest to Monster Truck bassist/guitarist Jon Harvey that classic arena rock music is virtually extinct, and he’ll invite you to listen to his band’s latest release titled `Warriors.’
At a time when Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Patient Number 9’ sits atop Billboard’s North American album charts and even Nickleback has released an incendiary new single, “San Quentin.” Monster Truck, a Hamilton quartet of Harvey, guitarist Jeremy Widerman, keyboardist Brandon Bliss and new drummer Theo McKibbon has released ‘Warriors’ with ten tracks of straight-out, in-yer-face rockers as they help re-establish arena rock as a musical force.
“The whole idea was to put out a real rager of a record,” Harvey noted from his Hamilton, Ontario residence before the band packed their bags for a three-week tour of the United Kingdom. “Normally, we have ups and downs when we record, production-wise, tracks that kind of create a wave. But this time, we created a wave that crushed and kept going.”
Commenting on the no-holds-barred production (produced by Eric Ratz – Arkells, Big Wreck, Billy Talent), Harvey observed that “At the end, we thought, there’s no balance here, no real dynamic, it just pounds you all the way through, but we just thought, ‘forget it, let’s just go for it.’”
In releasing their fourth studio album for Dine Alone Records since their 2011 ‘Brown’ EP debut, Harvey noted the band had laid down most of the bed tracks for `Warriors’ before being held up by the pandemic. “So, we just took breaks when we were allowed to, we’d send one person into the studio on a Monday and someone in on a Wednesday. It was an interesting experience. It gave us time to listen back to the recordings and decide what was right and what was wrong. We did all the beds live off the floor, we were in a pretty good groove.”
The whole spirit of the new album is captured in the title track, ‘Warriors.’ (and it’s video ode to WWE wrestlers) “The idea was to say, Hey, we’re back with a big, bombastic rager. The pandemic had forced us into a long delay,” Harvey noted. “At that time, we were just starting to hit our stride so getting back into it was our ultimate goal. This album puts an exclamation point on what we do from now on.”
`Warriors’ also features balls-to-the-wall rockers like “Golden Woman” and “Fuzz Mountain”, R&B rockers like their new single; “Get My Things And Go” and even a Country Rocker; “Country Living” which wasn’t supposed to make the release but it was deemed sufficiently powerful enough to make the final cut.
Harvey says the band initially embraced the pandemic break. “The first eight or nine years of the band has been insane with recording and non-stop touring. You find yourself missing your family and your friend’s weddings; that sucked, and it was great to have that six-month break. We had constantly been touring, and I don’t think I could have written another Monster Truck song. But after about six months, we were anxious to get back on the road, we were doing live streams and all of that shit. We just wanted to recapture that rush of performing ‘live’ again.”
In the interim, Monster Truck lost its original drummer Steve Kiely and has Theo McKibbon serving as a short-term replacement. “Theo has another career, but he’s agreed to fill in for us, he’s a monster on the drum kit, and we’ve said to him, ‘you can do it until it becomes too much, and he’s agreed to that.’”
Having toured North America consistently over the past eight years, the 2013 Juno Award winners for Breakthrough Group of the Year are presently focusing on breaking in European with a current three-week tour of the UK, cementing their reputation overseas.
“A lot of North American bands don’t want to make that investment, but it’s something we feel we have to do to expand our exposure,” Harvey noted. “There’s no doubt you are going over there to burn money, but the way social media is these days, you create music to promote your concerts, and it’s amazing how popular Canadian bands are in Europe.”
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