MONSTER TRUCK – Standing Tall and Sittin’ Heavy

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Canadian rockers  may seem like they are relatively new to the rock n’ roll music scene, but in reality the band’s four members (guitarist Jeremy Widerman, lead singer and bassist Jon Harvey, keyboardist Brandon Bliss and drummer Steve Kiely), have decades of experience as musicians between them. They toured the country in bands like The Reason and St. Alvia. Widerman explains, “We really just started as a group of friends that wanted to have some fun playing rock and roll on our own terms as a side project.  It was really never meant to go anywhere or do anything other than satisfy our own primal rock urges. However after a few local shows it was pretty clear we were on to something and we quickly had to shift into deciding if we wanted to take it more seriously.” In April 2013 the band won the Juno award for best Breakthrough Group with only two EP’s under their belt. Their first album Furiosity was released on Dine Alone Records on May 28, 2013, and was distributed by Universal.  They were then nominated for Rock Album of the Year at the 2014 Juno Awards. In the time since their debut, they have toured Europe and the US supporting some pretty big names including Guns N’ Roses, Slash, Alice in Chains, ZZ Top, Buckcherry, Rival Sons and Vista Chino.

Photo Credit: Brooks Reynolds

Photo Credit: Brooks Reynolds

The band took what they learned on the road to Vespa Studios, Revolution Recording in Toronto, which is ’s new jam- space studio and created their second full-length entitled Sittin’ Heavy.  It will be released February 19th, 2016 on Dine Alone Records in North America, Australia and New Zealand and via Mascot Records. The album was produced by the award-winning Eric Ratz (Billy Talent, Cancer Bats). Widerman described the experience of working with Ratz: “We met through work he had done on another band of mine and we really hit it off on a professional and personal level.  He’s stayed a great friend for years and has the ear and skill that has made him the ‘go-to’ guy for us over three albums.”

MONSTERTRUCK_SITTINHEAVY smallSittin’ Heavy  is a collection of 11 hard rocking songs that retains all of the same elements that enabled to get noticed while continuing a gradual evolution into bigger and better territory. In a previous interview Winderman mentioned how the band had learned a lot touring with Slash and Alice in Chains. Winderman elaborated on how this influenced certain tracks on the new album: “Yeah I think the song To The Flame really captures the essence of what Alice in Chains showed us as far as harmonizing the vocals 100% of the time. It can be so powerful and catchy when used the right way.  As for Slash I was always just blown away how exacting he can utilize the wah, and it really made me want to work on that more and find ways to integrate that into my own playing.” Slash himself described the band as “… one of the few really great down to earth rock ‘n’ roll bands… they’re hard, soulful and heavy.” When asked what it was like to tour with such legendary artists Winderman had this to say, “Always a little mind-blowing when arriving to the show when opening for legends like that.  It always takes a little longer to get settled on site.  But the calibre of individuals in all the bands we have opened for has always made it easier to get comfortable. Once you realize they are just normal dudes you find yourself being able to shoot the shit with them and relax a bit, which is when you end up finding yourself getting great life advice or really just having a great time. Brando and Steve got to do a little golfing with the guys from AIC and I know that’s something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.”

As far as the musical direction of the new album, Winderman explains, “In the beginning we wanted to firmly root the band around mixing 70’s classic rock and some of our modern favourites. However, after being a band for seven years we have kinda developed our sound, so it’s hard to pinpoint now as we are drawing on so many influences over three decades of being music lovers. The direction of the band was solidified in the first couple jams we had in 2009 and we’ve basically used that as the blueprint for everything moving forward.  We have definitely modified and amended that original gameplan a few times but the heart of it is certainly still intact. [This new album] was basically a conscious effort to stick to what worked on Furiosity while at the same time refining it a bit and treading into some new territory with a few new sounds and styles.  It was a bit of a balancing act that I think we nailed pretty well. A lot of time the seed of a song will start with a riff that one of us writes but the meat of the arrangement comes together once all four of us are in the room working on it together.  Jon will also sometimes come to the group with nearly finished songs and we will refine them a bit, but it really can come together any number of ways.”

Photo Credit: Brooks Reynolds

Photo Credit: Brooks Reynolds

The album is not just heaviness from start to finish, however. The song Black Forest is laden with the electric piano of Brandon Bliss supplying dynamics while it is sung with grit and emotion by singer and bassist Jon Harvey. Enjoy The Time is also another track that demonstrates the evolution of the band into more serious territory. As far as some of the lyrical themes on the new record Winderman had this to say: “Since the band was started for the simple idea of celebrating rock and roll, we wanted to keep the themes pretty light.  Having fun with friends, enjoying your life and really living in the moment.  However there are definitely moments on this album where we tread into some darker elements, like the state of human race and how it relates to what could end up being a very bleak future if we all don’t start paying closer attention.”  The album’s first single Don’t Tell Me How To Live  “…is about being independent in one’s life, rather than worrying about what people think or the expectations of other people; just be true to yourself” explains Harvey.

The band recently did an intense video shoot for Don’t Tell Me How to Live. The video is out now and is definitely worth watching. Apparently, it was also difficult to film. Winderman explained, “ It was VERY difficult.  Super cold and a really long shoot overall.  As for the drones I know the head drone pilot was starting to get very worried about his $20k drone flying around in the snow storm. He was constantly saying that he wanted to stop shooting which is where our amazing director Davin Black was able to come in a demand him to get it back in the air to get all the final shots you see in the finished product.”

Photo Credit: Matt Barnes

Photo Credit: Matt Barnes

Overall, the band is super excited about the release of Sittin’ Heavy. Winderman talked about what he believes the fan reaction will be: “I never know for sure! Right now we are getting a ton of amazing feedback about the two songs we have released so far. I’m very hopeful that we will garner the same fantastic reaction we received from Furiosity and we will just keep slowly working our way up the ranks.” The band is going on a Canadian tour throughout February and March and is announcing American dates soon. As far as what the future holds, Winderman proclaimed “Who knows!! That’s one part of the journey I never try and concentrate too hard on.  There’s enough going on today to keep my mind occupied. I think if you worry too much about what the future holds you end up not doing the things today that need to be done to assure that it is as bright as possible.”

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