Monster Truck on stage supporting Nickelback at SSE Arena, Belfast

Interview: Monster Truck

Currently providing support for rockers Nickelback across Europe, Monster Truck proved to be the perfect addition to the line-up after their performance in Belfast’s SSE Arena.

Forming in 2009, the band gained momentum quite fast embarking on a sold out Canadian Tour with ‘Sheepdogs’ and then being hand-picked to open for Slash. Their latest album ‘Sittin Heavy’ has garnered rapturous responses from fans and musicians alike. 

Having already announced a further European tour with Billy Talent after they finish up with Nickelback, Monster Truck are one extremely busy band. Taking a few minutes out of their busy schedule I managed to grab a quick chat with guitarist Jeremy Widerman before their show in Belfast.

Aine Cronin-McCartney: Could you give me a brief description of how Monster Truck originally formed and who you are as a band?

Jeremy: “The band started in 2009 as a side project, a passion project just something to have fun with, nothing to take too seriously with no intentions to go on tour or to sign a record deal. We started playing shows around our local area in our hometown Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and it all just caught on really quickly locally and we started to realise that things that we had trouble with in other bands such as getting sold out shows and a lot of attention were starting to happen really naturally and organically. So we had about eight months to a year where we had to readjust and leave the other bands we were in that at the time were supposed to be more serious. We had to collectively decide to make this a priority which happened about six years ago and we have been climbing the ladder ever since.”

Listen to ‘Don’t Tell Me How To Live’ while reading.

Aine: Who were the artists, musicians or bands that inspired you to become involved with music?

Jeremy:To become a music lover for me anyways it started with the fifties and the birth of rock and roll with the Beach Boys, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly and that’s where it stared with me as a child. What started me playing guitar and playing music, happened  almost a decade later, was the whole grunge and alternative scene that happened when we were basically thirteen to fifteen years old. It made music more accessible seeing artists that looked like us and were closer to our generation rather than looking at artists that were either dead or off the music circuit for decades.”

Aine: Where did the idea for the band’s name Monster Truck originate from?

Jeremy:Monster Truck is actually jut a silly take on a nickname that we had for our drummers van at the time. We used to call his old crappy van the monster truck. We had been loosely playing with the idea of  a fun beer soaked riff rock band for a long time, so when the idea came up for us to steal the name from his van it seemed kinda obvious and everything came together that way.”

Aine: The band gained momentum quite fast with a sold out Canadian tour with Sheepdogs in 2011 and then were handpicked to open for Slash in 2012, was this something you expected and how was it to handle in such a short space of time?

Jeremy:It was really exciting and fun, a lot of the anxiety and pressure that you would get being in those situations we had already experienced before with our previous bands. We had played big shows and opened for big bands and had run the guantlet of the music industry once before in our twenties so when got this second opportunity wehre the stakes were higher but the shows were better and everything was more promising, it made it a lot more fun. We had a lot more confidence in knowing that we had learned from the mistakes we had made before in our previous groups. There was a more general feeling that we could do it. There was confidence and we knew how we wanted to execute everything. It made everything run a lot smoother because we had all that experience.”

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Aine: Monster Truck have been a band since 2009 how do you ensure you keep momentum and drive in the band? 

Jeremy:The momentum hasn’t been very hard because we have a pretty hard work ethic, we make sure we keep producing albums and stay on the road which also hasn’t been too hard. We have had more tour offers and opportunities then we have ever been able to accept. So the timeline has always been crushing with get a record done, get on tour, stay on tour, get back home and do another record  so we haven’t had the option to let up so it’s been easy in that regard to stay busy.”

Aine: What is your process for writing new songs and how does everything come together?

Jeremy:The only unified idea that we have about writing is that we just never stop – whether we are on the road or at home. The way our songs come together change every time. It could start with a complete song from either me or our singer, John. Or sometimes Evelyn is working on little riff ideas so someone could come just bring a single riff to the group or we could just mould two ideas together. The lion share of the work happens when all four of us are together working on a song, where it originates from could be any number of combinations, singular or together.”

Aine: Since the bands inception, you have had the opportunity to open for acts such as Deep purple, Alice in Chains and now Nickelback, what has been your favourite tour to date?

Jeremy:I’d have to go for Rival Sons which was only a short tour but it was the one that felt the best, there was a lot of common ground. There has been bigger and better tours we’ve been on but that was the one that we felt like we were touring with our peers. There was a real common bond between us and them and even though they are a lot further on in their career, popularity wise, it was this really cool feeling that we were fighting the same fight to bring rock and roll forward as much as possible and be a new generation of band. Opposed to bands like Alice in Chains and Deep Purple who inspired us and helped us to become a band, we are those bands now. It was a very symbiotic tour where we weren’t competing, we just felt like a team for the night, it was a lot of fun.”

Aine: You released your second album Sittin Heavy this year what has the reception been so far? 

Jeremy:Really good, a lot of the fans of the previous record were satisfied. We also got it on a European record label so we have made a lot of new fans based of ‘Sittin Heavy’ and it just felt like the logical next step in the success and evolution of the band. At the same time we left the door open to go further and be even better so we still have that feeling of unfinished business that we want to do with the next one which we are already starting to work on and think about now. I think its important to always try to out do yourself on every record because people get comfortable and they like to romanticise your first album because it’s the one that they fell in love with. There is always an impossibly high bar to overcome when people have that really romantic vision of the album that got them into your band so its that much more pressure on us to really out do ourselves on what we have done in our previous records.”

Aine: Monster Truck are known for their live shows so how do you ensure that you are able to translate that sound when recording in the studio?

Jeremy:That’s the part we have had trouble with the most, the most common thing we hear from fans of the band is that we are better live than on CD. It is a better thing and I’d rather it be that than the other way around but at the same time there is big room for improvement on the recordings. Finding ways to capture that excitement and live feel that we have at our shows and to somehow get it onto our record which I do feel we are getting closer and closer to each time. It’s probably one of the things we are going to make the biggest effort on in our next recording, to at least get them closer to the same calibre.”

Aine: You mentioned in your bio that the term Rock n’ Roll gets thrown around haphazardly, so what do you think about the rock scene now; is there any bands you admire?

Jeremy:Well, as I mentioned before I think Rival Sons, I guess they’re not much of a new band but in my opinion, they are definitely one of the best modern Rock and Roll bands in the world. We are fans of Crowbot and we were really bummed to hear that Graveyard was calling it quits which only happened a couple of weeks ago and we are also big fans of Alter Bridge.”

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Aine: You are currently on a European Tour with Nickelback. How has the experience been so far and what is it like to perform alongside side the band every night?

Jeremy:I think for us it’s a great learning process getting into these big arenas and getting serious time night after night, getting to play these big rooms which is something we haven’t had a whole lot of so it’s something new for us. Everyone on their crew and everyone associated with them has just been super nice to us because we haven’t been able to bring our own crew along, it’s made things a lot easier. It’s been a lot of fun and really exciting, looking forward to ending off big in the UK.”

Aine: What else can we expect from Monster Truck for the rest of 2016?

Jeremy:Well, we just announced a new tour with Billy Talent and it’s going to be covering Germany, Switzerland and Austria in November into December which is going to be a lot of fun. It’s an all Canadian Tour, (actually another all Canadian tour) and we are all friends so its going to be good. There is also a couple things we haven’t announced yet for the New Year so more things to come as well.”

Monster Truck supported Nickelback in the SSE Arena, Belfast. Read our full gig review here.

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