You have to ask yourself the question, are you gonna go and get your head blown clean off by the sheer power that these Canadian’s can muster up or are you gonna sit at home and miss out on what can only be one of the most crushing hard rock gigs of the year! We know you’ll do the right thing.
Having spoken to the band late last year while opening for Nickelback, it was apparent that their hard work and relentless touring ethic had paid off, as the 3Arena audience were noticeably drawn in by the undeniable hurricane of riffs and blistering choruses. Drummer, Steve Kiely gives us access to all things Monster Truck and their plans for the rest of 2107!
OD – Since the last time I was talking to you guys Jon (Harvey, Bass) and Brandon (Bliss, Keys) you have been hammering out the live shows. This marks the first time you guys will be doing your own show in Ireland.When you compare the huge venues from opening for bands like Alice In Chains/Slash to a smaller club scene, what do you prefer?
STEVE – There’s definitely aspects of arena and club shows that you can’t get from the other. For instance, the intimacy of a club show is irreplaceable and simply cannot be reproduced in a huge venue, but at the end of the scale, the roar of an arena crowd is mind-blowing. It almost sounds like a jet engine going off and there is just no way that can be achieved in a club setting. I prefer playing clubs, but that’s just me.
Whenever we play headline shows, they are most likely clubs as we are not that big of a band to be the main attraction in the big sheds. Well, not yet anyway (laughs)! So whenever I think about playing in an arena, I think about it as opening for another act and not really playing for our fans but it’s more of a situation where we are trying to win people over. It’s kind of like two very different kinds of jobs for us if you know what I mean.
OD – Sittin’ Heavy has been out now for just over a year and you have done your fair share of touring to date with yet more happening. Are you a band that is most happy when on the road?
STEVE – I think it’s more a case of that’s where we have to be. The way things have been going on within the business side of the music industry, the only way to get some type of longevity in the business is to get out there and tour as much as possible.
Touring for us right now is just something that we have to do as it’s of great importance to be out on the road promoting the band, especially at the level we’re at right now. When we are offered to play big festivals in Europe or North America as well as the opportunity to open for huge, icon bands, we just can’t turn those offers down because those are the things that we need to be doing right now to advance to the next level.
We’re happy to be on the road as we feel that we are gradually moving forward and we have a good momentum unfolding that is reflected in the success of the album and the amount of Monster Truck fans that we are now beginning to see turn up to the shows.
All that being said, we are definitely ready for a bit of downtime later this year as we have been touring non-stop since the album came out last year. We’re gonna be wrapping up the tour cycle in the coming months and it’s gonna be really nice to just kick back and hang out with family and friends.
OD – Seeing as you spend so much time out, do you find that you’ve come to learn to write on the road?
STEVE – On this tour cycle we’ve learned the importance of that and with the help of our front of house engineer, we put together a recording/rehearsal rig that we can jam out in our dressing rooms and lay down some new ideas. The setup is really compact and is working. I play on an electronic drum kit and the guys just plug the guitars and keys into an interface and we all just wear headphones and jam out our ideas. It’s like a silent rehearsal/writing setup (laughs).
We’ve rehearsed a lot of new material and have been way more productive on this tour as we have realised that we are constantly on the road and don’t want to be in a situation where we are pressured into writing the next album in a stressful short period of time; when we get home. We are aiming to be almost ready to record as soon as we get home rather than scrambling for ideas and feeling the pressure. It’s the first time we’ve ever written like this but things are going really well and the material is coming together.
OD – So do you have a good amount of new material in the bag since introducing this new writing regime?
STEVE – I think we have about twenty demos done at this point but bear in mind that those twenty tracks are just the skeleton ideas of songs, which we need to build on. We want to just keep writing for the remainder of the tour which is will be for the next couple of months. The next album is gonna be a very important one for us as we have developed some great interest across Europe and we really want to build on that and push the bar even higher.
OD – With a decent amount of material under your collective belts, do you find that you can now pick and choose with regards to the setlist or do you have a pretty foolproof selection of songs for the up and coming tour?
STEVE – We have been more so doing that lately in terms of picking what works best for us as we don’t want to be one those bands that just plays a song and then stops, plays a song then stops etc. Certain songs work better doing that than others, so we’re just messing around with a few ideas right now.
We’ve also been working a lot with lighting directors over the last couple of tours, so not only does it make their job easier when it comes to knowing our setlist and being able to match it with something visual, but it also just enhances the overall live experience, which is really cool.
We’ve also been playing so many opening slots and only been getting thirty to 45-minute set and that’s been a kind of restriction for us in terms of what we can play. Obviously, we have to play the “hits” and try to win over as many new punters as possible (laughs).
OD – You recently did Shiprocked, which I’m sure was a kind of surreal experience?
STEVE – Yeah, that was insane! I personally had never been on a cruise ship before so that in its own right was just a little strange for me. It was really nice to get a break from the Canadian winter for a few days and go down to the Caribbean.
Shiprocked was cool to play. There were four different stages on the ship with about 3,000 people and a huge crew, so you can just imagine the size of the ship. It was huge! Basically, the vibe was full-blown party atmosphere that transpired into a lot of really messy situations (laughing). When I’m on the road, I don’t really party too much but when you get three thousand people on a rock festival/ship who are having some whiskey with their coffee in the morning, what you get is a pretty insane shit-show of madness (laughing)! There were times we were all just standing there thinking “wow, what planet are we on?”
There were no problems of people getting drunk and fighting or anything like that, but just a non-stop party that gradually got more insane as each day went by. I have to admit there was a brief moment of panic when we got to a point where no matter where I was looking I just couldn’t see any land and that was a freaky new experience for me.
OD – With the news breaking last week of Monster Truck confirmed for the last ever Deep Purple is must be amazing to finally be able to talk about this fantastic opportunity and know now that it’s 100% official?
STEVE – Yeah, totally! It’s just so mind-blowing to me that this is actually happening. We played with them for a few dates, I think it was only three or four Canadian shows and that in its own right was just a huge pinnacle within the band’s career, so being able to head out on the road again for an extensive tour is just fantastic. You gotta know that when Monster Truck was starting out we used to sit around and listen to Space Truckin’ and would say “this is what we want the band to sound like”.
The fact that it’s the last tour they’re ever gonna do is just so special. The last time we played with them, I thought that it would never happen again and for this opportunity to come our way, with the added bonus of European dates, just makes it so much more incredible. We’ve been going to Europe so much lately, so it’s great to be able to get over there again on a really big tour like the Deep Purple one.
The fans that are going to the DP shows are a classic Monster Truck demographic. They are exactly the fans that we want to like us and when you take in the fact that this is the bands last, tour means that all of those people that see us might take a vested interest in following Monster Truck and liking what we do.
OD – Monster Truck seemed to have found a home of sorts in Europe as you have been over a great deal and certainly put in the hard work. Do you find that things are way different over here to Canada?
STEVE – Yeah totally man. The whole climate of rock n’ roll and how people receive it and celebrate it, is very different to what I’ve seen back home in Canada. There seems to be more passion with the audiences in Europe and by that I mean, they turn up to the shows early to see the opening bands and they also tend to get more involved with the music by jumping around and shaking their heads etc. They know how to have a good time and are not afraid to show it. I’m not saying that shows in Canada are not good, it’s just that the crowds in Europe are a little more consistent, when compared to Canadian audiences.
We’ve had some great shows in Canada when it’s been a good night and the crowd are on point and we actually refer to those shows as being almost like a European crowd (laughs). Another thing that I’ve noticed about the shows in North America, the crowd tend to not even come into the arena until the main band hits the stage, so you’re just playing to a quarter or half empty venue, where’s in Europe they are ready to party from the first band right through to the headliner. We’ve been the opening band for a couple of really big arena shows and when you look out and see a venue that’s only a third full, it’s kind of demoralising, to be honest.
I just don’t think people appreciate the aspect of live music as much as they do in Europe and the UK. We have had great shows all over the world and each one of them was a great experience. When touring as much as we do, we really get to see the slight differences and similarities with different cultures and how they react to certain things, which is very interesting.
OD – Finally, can we ask if you have anything special regarding merchandise for the forthcoming Irish/UK dates?
STEVE – We have some really cool tour shirts and of course a selection of our albums with some vinyl editions on offer. We can’t wait to get over to Europe and the UK for this run of dates. There will be a lot of firsts for us on this run of dates and be headlining our very own Irish date is one for sure. We can’t wait!!! Come and check us out, it’s gonna be epic!
Monster Truck will be performing in Dublin’s Academy Green Room on Tuesday, March 14th with a very special scheduled FREE acoustic show in Tower Records on Dawson Street at 1.30pm. Tickets for the Academy show are on sale now via Ticketmaster and Sound Cellar and are selling fast. The original Academy 2 venue was upgraded due to popular demand, so get your tickets today!
© www.overdrive.ie 2017
Who’s going to be representing Ireland at this year’s Bloodstock Festival? Metal 2 The Masses Ireland – Heat 5 this coming Saturday, March, 11th! Click the link below for official event page. Admission is FREE – Official Voting Slips €3.00.