Musicscan: Does These Monsters have a certain vision of the band? What should the people connect with what you are doing and especially with the name These Monsters?
These Monsters: Basically as a band we want to be totally anti-bullshit. It's not necessarily a vision as such but hopefully it's an outlook than comes across in our approach to music and something people can connect with.
There is so much mystique and hero worship involved in the music industry that really gets in the way of people being able to genuinely appreciate music for what it is. Once you strip away all the hyperbole and pretentiousness all musicians are just regular people, some may be more talented than others and some music might resonate with you better than other music but ultimately we all have the capacity to create and appreciate it equally given the opportunity.
Putting artists on a pedestal and using that status to sell music as people buy into the mystique seems completely at odds with what music should be about. Music can still have artistic worth and can still touch people without the hero worship and nostalgia that is bundled with it. At their base level humans are pretty incredible as it is so there is little to be gained from elevating the importance or uniqueness of someone just because they are being creative.
We want to make music that is vital, articulated and intelligent but at the same time never want to take ourselves too seriously. Self importance is a creative coffin that we would like to dodge.
Musicscan: Does being a trio make managing the band and the sound easier or harder?
These Monsters: Being a three piece does have a lot of benefits in terms of efficiency on tour and the day to day organisation of the band. In terms of the sound of the band and the technicality of writing songs it has been a challenge becoming a trio but a satisfying one. The more members in the band (we've had six at one point) the more noise there is to hide behind, as a three piece we have to make sure that every part we play is pulling it's weight in the mix and have to be confident that the sound we are making is powerful enough to get our ideas across. I think it's helped somewhat with our stage presence and confidence as players and although it may not stay this way in the future it's been a great experience.
Musicscan: Heroic Dose is sounding fresh and vital. Is it a record you consider to be something special in your career or is it "just one more record” for you personally?
These Monsters: I think the way our 'career' has worked so far and our musical output to date means that each record could be considered special or at least unique to the time and place in which they were recorded. Our three main releases have all featured different line-ups and have been recorded in vastly different situations so if you combine this with the fact that we intend to be making music indefinitely then, for me at least, I'm not inclined to look back and label any particular release more 'special' than another as they're all milestones in their own way.
Musicscan: A lot of bands never change their sound over time. From your personal point of view: Is it such an exception in these days that bands play the music they really want to without focusing on what the fans might expect? What are your experiences with the partly "new" sounding of These Monsters?
These Monsters: It's odd to me but it does seem to be the case that bands rarely change their sound throughout their career, despite how much they talk about their latest record sounding 'more this' and 'more that' it usually sounds exactly the same as the last thing. For These Monsters, theres no way on earth we could release two records that sound alike, I'm not saying that's necessarily a good thing but we're just too creatively restless and find our interests and situations shifting so drastically between records that it would be impossible for us to repeat ourselves.
We always find it odd that something so natural to us is such a common talking point when discussing the band. When you intend to spend your life making music i think it's more baffling to NOT change your sound every album! We just want to explore every option really and don't want to be remotely burdened by expectation or nostalgia. It may sound pompous or whatever but personally I don't care what anybody thinks about our music, I'm just doing it because I love it.
I think the second you consider other peoples expectations as an artist then you are creatively dead. As a fan of other bands myself I don't feel I'm owed anything by any artist I like and I think if more people were able to ignore the fan/musician/expectation model then the music industry both live and recorded would be way more vibrant and creative.
Musicscan: What exactly does Heroic Dose sound like from your point of view? Is it any kind of departure to what people might expect from These Monsters having Call Me Dragon in mind?
These Monsters: To me Heroic Dose sounds like Call Me Dragon with it's wings chopped off, played twice as loud and twice as fast. I think the two albums actually have a lot more in common than people realise but certainly on first listen it does sound like a vast departure.
Musicscan: When you were writing the songs, did you have certain issues you specifically wanted to address? How did you go about writing them. What impresses me are the live-feeling of the album as well as spontaneity and roughness…
These Monsters: Basically we wanted to convey the ideas I've expressed above about creativity, expectation, hype, nostalgia, hero worship and humour in art. Musically we tried to put this across by playing everything super loud and fast, we made sure any musical ideas disappear as quickly as they arrive in a song - nothing is given much time to develop as if to downplay the importance of the idea.
Sonically everything is stripped back but at the same time amplified as if to show that something stark and simple can be just as powerful and important as something over-orchestrated and complex. The spontaneity and recklessness was also an important part of trying to show the listener 'behind the scenes' as it were, to push the message that we're just a bunch of stupid humans like everybody else behind all music and that as earnest as we are in our music we still don't take it too seriously and neither should the listener.
Musicscan: As far as lyrical themes go, for anyone who's unfamiliar with them, could you give us a little insight into it? Are there any unifying themes to the songs of These Monsters?
These Monsters: In terms of lyrical themes they all tie in with my answers above about the general outlook of These Monsters as a whole, but maybe not expressed quite as bluntly. Stylistically, perhaps because the songs are so short, the lyrics are generally just a few mantra-like lines and also a lot of ad-libs and improvisation on the spot to fit with the spontaneous vibe. They range from kind of obscure, dream-like nonsense to absolute mundanity and straight up day-to-day commentary. Both tongue in cheek and deadly serious at the same time.
Musicscan: Regarding Heroic Dose - which aspects are you especially proud of, and why?
These Monsters: I don't know if we really do pride. We're definitely happy with it and I think it totally satisfies what we set out to do. As it's the first time I've ever done proper vocals on a recording and the first thing we've produced as a three piece I'm pleased with how it's worked out as initially we were a little daunted. But as far as I'm concerned there's no time for pride, we've just got to keep moving.
Musicscan: Where in the process are you guys at the time, what’s been already done in 2013, what’s left to be done? What are the touring plans for the European mainland?
These Monsters: So the album's out now, hopefully we'll be coming over to the mainland later this year. We have an exciting idea of a line up planned with a couple of our favourite UK bands but we still have to work on all the details. We're also releasing a 7" through the Too Pure singles club at the end of September which we're going to record and produce entirely ourselves which is pretty exciting and should lead into some sessions for the next album.
Thanks! These were great questions, it's nice when someone seems to have a genuine interest in the band and the album rather than asking stupid questions about what our favourite monster is!