“You’ve got to be reckless and ruthless with material, otherwise it doesn’t satisfy. You have to create chaos to get the good stuff.” – Esben Willems, Monolord
In three short years, Monolord has conquered the world. Or so it seems, from their almost meteoric rise and touring schedule. 2016 alone has seen them jump from the European festival circuit—including stops at Hellfest, Freak Valley and Desertfest—to American shores. All off the back of their second full length, Vænir (2015).
Now the Gothenburg trio is coming to Australia and New Zealand for the first time next month. A move they are all humbled by, considering the DIY nature of their releases. Written and recorded by the band themselves in their box-like rehearsal room, fuelled by a “big backline and coffee”, their desire to make music often comes from one simple idea—developing a killer riff and seeing where the journey takes them.
“We work in our extremely tiny rehearsal room,” drummer Esben Willems says. “It’s crazy small and we like it there. We have the freedom to waste time, which is key when you record music. Because we are not pressed for time in an expensive studio, it just means you can play around until you get things exactly how you want them. We’re happy with this; for now at least.
“I just had a kid two years ago, so I haven’t had that much time to do songwriting. So lately it’s been Thomas (Jager, guitarist) that has come with the rough idea and we build on that. But we have no set formula. Ideas pop up in whatever way they pop up. Which I like—it gets boring otherwise.”
Although originally starting the band as a side project, with Jager and Willems playing in Swedish “boogie rock” outfit Marulk, they knew they were onto something special when they added bassist Mika Hakki (The Don Darlings, ex-Rotten Sound) to the mix. And their output speaks for itself; two devastatingly heavy full lengths and a brand new two-track already under their belts.
Despite their outstanding work, the band is actually pretty hard on themselves. They wanted to give fans another new album this year—but too much touring saw them opt for a shorter release. “The two-track was more a necessity because of a lack of time really,” Willems explains. “We wanted to release a full length this year, but we didn’t have the time. We spent too much time touring, which is great fun. We really wanted to release something though.
“We just keep on working on things like we’ve always done. Each album isn’t a separate process for us; it’s all one ongoing thing for us. We take any chance we can get to get into the rehearsal studio to play around with new material and start working on pre-production for whatever is coming.
“We’re continually looking to find out what Monolord is musically. All of us come from very different musical places, which we like. It’s a constant friction. We like to keep an open mind—as open as we can. Whatever happens, happens.”
By keeping an open mind, their pursuit of the ‘riff’ leads them to continually experiment. The title track from Vænir is a particular good example of where this path can take them. Clocking in at almost 17-minutes, this gargantuan effort crawls between some of the most crushing—and meditative—moments on the album. “As always, we like to try to refine things,” Willems notes. “The title track was kind of an experiment which we liked a lot. It’s a long track and it’s got all these different mellow parts and that’s not how we usually build songs. You’ve got to be reckless and ruthless with material, otherwise it doesn’t satisfy. You have to create chaos to get the good stuff.”
And the band make no apologises for their ethical standpoint. Lyrically, all their music delivers a big “fuck you to the greed present in the world”. A doom band with social perspective? “Because we care,” Willems says. “We want to live in a world where we treat each other with respect. We (humans) keep fucking up constantly; like all the time. In Europe right now, the political climate is crazy. It’s really scary; same as with in the US. It’s a constant worry for all three of us and we think we should be open about that.”
Now, for the first time, you can catch Monolord playing Vænir (along with select picks from their back catalogue) as they head to Australian and New Zealand shores with Italian’s Ufomammut.
Catch them at any of these dates:
Wellington - San Fran - October 3
Auckland - Kings Arms - October 4
Brisbane - Crowbar - October 6
Sydney - Bald Faced Stag - October 7
Melbourne - Max Watt's - October 8
Perth - Rosemount Hotel - October 9