Interview: Making Monsters
Fresh from releasing their lead single ’Better’ off their brand new E.P Bad Blood to a remarkable reception Derry based four piece Making Monsters have proved unstoppable in their rise to recognition.
As Northern Ireland’s most prominent metal ensemble the band have gigged relentlessly throughout Ireland and the UK since their formation in 2011 and have continued to evolve both musically and in their performance.
The band, whose single ‘Better’ received its first exclusive air play from BBC Radio 1’s Daniel P Carter Rock show, also released their video for the song and managed to amass over 7,000 hits in 24 hours. Available to pre-order on iTunes, the band will officially release their E.P Bad Blood on the 13th of May 2016.
Gigging NI’s Aine Cronin-McCartney managed to speak to Paul Monk and Emma Gallagher about the reaction to their new releases and plans for the not so distant future. Photos by Carrie Davenport.
Could you give me a brief description of who Making Monsters are as a band and how you originally formed?
Paul: We are four buddies from Derry, Muff, yes Muff, and Omagh. Emma on lead vocal, Paul on Guitar, Gary on Bass, and Brian on drums. Making Monsters started off as a bunch of ideas, riffs and demos, that quickly grew into a pile of instrumental songs. The more I got into the swing of writing again, I wanted to make the project a live thing, and began jamming with some friends. Like something from a cheesy movie, I happened to be in a local bar watching a Battle of the Bands, saw this amazing singer (Emma) with a not very good band. I called Brian and told him to get over and see this girl quick, got chatting with her after, and a few weeks later we were playing our first show!
Who were the artists, musicians or bands that have inspired you to become involved with music?
Paul: My first introduction to rock music / bands was when my Dad gave me his tape walkman at about age 5 or 6, so I’d listen to a lot of Queen, and Thin Lizzy, general classic rock stuff he passed on to me, and I just became engrossed in the music, and the riffs, it was all about the riffs! From then I just listened to anything I could get my hands on, but the real game changers were Linkin Park with their first album ‘Hybrid Theory’, and Papa Roach with ‘Infest’. I was just drawn to that nu metal sound and would listen to the stuff on repeat, without these bands I don’t know if I’d have picked up a guitar, so I owe it to them.
You have just announced the release of your brand new E.P Bad Blood, how has the reaction been so far?
The reaction has been mind blowing, honestly. I’m not sure if its desperation for new material because it’s been so long, or that new stuff is actually better, we never assume anything, and it’s hard to judge your own material so we honestly didn’t know what to expect, but the response and love has been off the scale!
‘Bad Blood’ has been almost two years in the making do you feel that you have matured as a band?
I think that we’ve just found balance, outside of our comfort zone, if that makes sense. We’ve had a lot of time to write and reflect on each song rather than rushing them and doing as we previously would. Each song is different, and required us to step into a new way of working. We’ve grown-up as song-writers but we haven’t lost our temperamental flair.
How different do you feel this E.P is compared with your last release Attention?
Something that we’ve always taken pride in, when writing, is maintaining diversity within our tracks. I’m happy to say that we have followed through with this in our new EP, however I feel we have broadened our interests and I feel that this shows. Better is honest, we’ve left ourselves wide open to the listener.
Your lead single from the E.P ‘Better’ received its first exclusive play from Daniel P Carter on the BBC Radio One Rock show. What was that like and how exciting was that for you to hear?
It was definitely an experience I will never forget. We were all waiting eagerly by the radio, as we knew it was going to be played that evening. Emotions were high. Once he had mentioned our name I just lost it, it was so surreal! It may not mean much to others but it meant the world to us.
It has now also been announced that you have been selected as ‘Tip of the Week’ for BBC Introducing – was this something you were expecting to happen so soon after ‘Better’s’ release?
This track isn’t as heavy as our older stuff, so we had a feeling it might go down better with radio, but nothing like Radio 1 exclusive first plays, or ‘tip of the week’.
What is your process for writing new songs and how does everything come together?
They normally start with a few chords I’ve been messing around with, then bass and drums, we jam a few sections and Emma will improvise some melodies. As the jam goes on, more sections start to slowly develop and change, until we have the basics of some kind of song, then we literally fine tune every single part until it’s how we imagine it should sound. It’s a weird, fun, yet frustrating process.
You have also just released your brand new music video for ‘Better.’ How has the response been so far?
I’m all about quality over quantity, but the fact that it somehow accumulated 7000 hits in the first 24 hours blows my mind, it’s not about the numbers, but it’s definitely nice to see it’s reaching so many people all over the world so quickly. And everyone has been super excited for the EP and complimentary of the song in the comments, it gives you a weird piece of mind to know that you are making people buzz off your music.
Making Monsters has been a band since 2011, how do you ensure that you keep momentum and drive in the band?
I won’t lie and say that it was easy all the time. It’s easy to lose hope, but we constantly remind each other why we’re doing this. We set ourselves goals and time frames in which we want to achieve things. At the end of the day we’re a team, and without one anothers support we couldn’t do it. We’re very lucky that we have great friends and family that have been with us every step of the way.
You have spent the last three years relentlessly touring Ireland and the UK. What has been your highlight and what do you feel that you have learned?
We’ve learnt is that we want to do this every day of the year. To pinpoint a highlight of all the experiences we’ve been fortunate to have had is difficult. Of course the Fightstar tour in October 2015 was HUGE for us. We got to tour with two bands we love and respect very highly. The venues were crazy and the reception we received was totally unexpected, it left us wanting more.
As a band you have always had very distinctive merchandise, where do you get your ideas and is this something that is important to you?
Merchandise is extremely important, there are so many benefits! Everyone wears clothes, so its applicable to everyone! You just gotta make sure they look half decent. T-shirts are mini billboards on people, spread the name and raise awareness about your band. And the obvious one would that you can make some money, bands are broke, it’s no secret. But if you have a small flow of money coming in from each show, or every so often from your merch store, then the sooner you can pay for some studio time and do your thing, or afford to tour.
October 2015 saw the band embark on a tour alongside Arcane Roots and Fightstar what was it like to perform alongside these acts and how was it to perform in such well renowned venues?
Surreal. It’s not often you get to play with some of your favourite bands in venues 1000+ cap, never mind a full UK tour with them for 2 weeks. It’s nerve wrecking at the start, and glorious once you get in to the swing of it. Definitely a point in our lives we will never forget.
What advice would you give to new bands starting out?
Practice as much as you can, write as much as you can, your first songs are going to be crap but they will get better, so start writing more, and start writing your own material sooner if you haven’t already started. Gig as much as you can, but try not to just play your home town, the priority should be to get out of town so don’t play the same place every other week!
What can fans expect from you for the rest of 2016 and what goals do you hope to achieve in the near future?
MORE SHOWS! We’ll be promoting the release of the ‘Bad Blood’ EP and hopefully we’ll be visiting a town near you. Europe is high up there on the list at the moment, we would hope to get over as soon as possible. Sit tight, there’s more to come
Making Monsters play Belfast’s The Empire on May the 2nd as well as a string of Irish dates this May, be sure to catch them.