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Monuments: Pin Drop Violence were awesome

The London progressive metal band talk about playing in India, djent and their peers

Anurag Tagat Jan 22, 2013
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UK progressive metal band Monuments. Photo: Patrick Häberli

Progressive metal band TesseracT performed at IIT Kharagpur’s Spring Fest in 2011, and now, their peers, progressive metal band Monuments, are all set to headline the annual festival on January 25th. Monuments’ vocalist Matt Rose and guitarist John Browne say they know how to stay ahead of the prog metal curve, after the release of their first full-length album Gnosis last year. The band was also part of the same lineup as Delhi prog metallers Skyharbor at the EuroBlast festival in Cologne last year. “We also know Anup [Sastry, drummer for Skyharbor and Jeff Loomis’ band] since we’ve toured with Jeff Loomis a while back,” Rose says.

Rose and Browne spoke to ROLLING STONE INDIA about their first Indian gig and how they might just be returning to the country very soon.

First off, how did the India gig come about?

Matt Rose: It’s been in the works for a couple of years now. We were supposed to play at Spring Fest before as well, but this time, it seems to have worked out. Our friends from TesseracT played in India in 2009 and 2012. Textures played recently as well. I mean even some bands like Benea Reach [extreme metalcore band from Norway], not a lot of people have heard of them, but they’ve played in India too. The Indian music scene seems to be really big and really running for these new wave of metal bands, so we’re really excited about that.

You also performed at EuroBlast, with Skyharbor. Did you get to meet any of the guys?

John Browne: Yeah, we met them all. We also toured with Jeff Loomis recently and hung out with Anup. That guy’s a legend. Love that guy. We would love to do a tour with Skyharbor, hopefully, in India and we think that would be a good idea. What do you think?

I think it would be a great idea.

MR: We want to make that happen. We wanted to do a Skyharbor/Monuments tour, but it’s dependent on everyone’s scenario. You know, you’ve got Anup in America, Dan in England”¦ Whatever happens, we hope this is the first of many gigs we come to play in India this year, because we love the country. Everyone goes to America to tour; we’ve done Europe a million times. It’s not to say Europe is crap or anything, but when India comes through, everyone goes, “Yes! We’re going to a new, exciting place for a new, amazing experience.”

JB: I think most of us are happy we’re going somewhere warm [laughs].

MR: We’re not going to cold, old, dark Europe. We’re going to warm India! I think our bass player might stay and never come home.

Have you guys heard any Indian bands? They’re getting a post-hardcore band called Goddess Gagged to open for you guys at Spring Fest.

JB: Yeah, there was one in particular that I heard a few years ago, and I think they might have split up now. But I think their name was Pin Drop Violence, or something along those lines. They were awesome, those guys were really sick and then the guitarist from Skyharbor ”“ not Keshav, but the other dude, the one that looks like [former TesseracT vocalist] Elliot Coleman [laughs].

Yeah, Devesh Dayal.

JB: His band is supporting us next week. I can’t really remember the name, though.

They’re called Goddess Gagged.

JB: Yeah, that’s it. That’s them. Really looking forward to checking those guys out as well. I remember hearing a few other bands, but their names seem to escape me right now, but there’s Skyharbor as well, who’ve made waves all around the world with their album.

Did you ever think progressive metal, especially this new wave of metal, would become a global movement?

JB: I think metal, in general, can be so accessible. Skyharbor has a really accessible sound. It’s really melodic, it’s catchy, it’s got a good feel to it. I think if you have a really good mixture of styles, and know what people want to hear, then you can be successful wherever you want to be. I’ve seen some bands go to South America, and even the smaller bands, they can do wonders around there.

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MR: You guys should expect something heavier from us, though. We’re a bit heavier, and a bit angrier than Skyharbor, a bit more intense. We’re just angry in general [laughs].

I was watching a few of your live videos. I remember someone from Meshuggah once said that the reason they don’t move a lot is because they have to concentrate on nailing every beat. The kind of music you play also needs that kind of concentration, I would think.

MR: Meshuggah, those guys don’t move, because I think they’re in their 40s now. But they used to move loads. I think they just got”¦

JB: I think they all broke their backs a little bit.

MR: Yeah, they all probably hurt doing it. Whereas we’re young guys, we can still thrash ourselves about. It comes with the music. We can’t help but react that way to that kind of music, and we usually get the same kind of response from the audience. So hopefully, there’ll be a few moshpits and circle pits going on [in India]. 

So you don’t need to concentrate too much on the playing to rock out, then?

JB: Well, actually I do rock out, but I just have to think about it. You just have to change the level of rocking out [laughs]. With my head, with my body, you know, do a little bit of James Brown. With the more heavy riffs, I really try to get to the floor with my face.

Speaking of when you play live, is the crowd usually divided between moshers and guitar geeks?

MR: Yeah, seems like you’ve been to a Monuments gig!

JB: Yeah, we do have the ones who want to get involved and the ones who concentrate more on what we play.

MR: I think it’s changed since I’ve joined. I’m a bit more manic on stage. I encourage moshpits more than before. I’m even trying to get the guitar geeks to move now. It’s my mission. But then, it’s technical music, so I can see the attraction in seeing someone like Browne and Olly [Steele, second guitarist of Monuments]. It’s a force to behold when you watch it live.

John, I remember watching one of your playthrough videos, which was the first taste I got of Monuments. More recently,  I saw you do a playthrough for a Necrophagist song. Is there any chance Monuments’ music will draw from something as heavy as Necrophagist?

JB: Quite possibly. I get influenced by all sorts of things I hear. Necrophagist made me want to sweep pick relentlessly [laughs]. It depends on how angry someone makes me during the process of recording the next album, or”¦

MR: I think you can expect a mixture of heaviness and lighter moments on the next album. Mostly heavy, though.

What’s the update on the next album? Have you guys been writing songs?

MR: Yeah, we’re writing new songs. We’ve got two that we’re really happy. It’s in its very early stages. We’re just going to keep it metal as fuck, really. We’re not going to try anything stupid. It’s not going to be a concept album, or an opera, or, you know, some sort of crazy, one-song, 40-minute album. It’s going to be solid, full of great metal tracks. It will have its light moments, as well as its dark moments. 

Progressive metal is one of those genres which, at least now, has gotten pretty big, but there are still so many newer bands coming not doing anything too different from the current crop. Does it feel good to be among the first of the modern progressive metal bands?

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JB: Definitely. I’m really happy that we stuck to it. When we started out, it sounded really experimental. Now, there are a lot of bands doing it, so it’s been pretty inspirational. I guess we feel similar to how TesseracT feel when people copy them, how Periphery feel when people copy them. If you go back to every single genre of metal”¦

MR: Yeah, we copy a great deal [laughs].

JB: We copied Limp Bizkit. It’s really hard to be in original music today.

MR: The important thing is that you’ll always know a Monuments song from, say, a Periphery song, a TesseracT sound or even a Deftones sound. We’ve got a distinctive style. Unfortunately, people might want to copy that, but there’s only one Monuments.

I’m not going to call Monuments djent, but I want to know why you guys don’t call yourselves djent.

JB: No, we don’t like to call ourselves djent because Monuments doesn’t sound like djent. When I think of djent, I actually think of bands like Emmure. I think of it as a one-note thing, but I’m not saying Emmure are bad or anything. I think of djent as one-note riffs, but a lot of bands that are referred to as djent don’t really have that. On the whole, I think the word is actually quite restrictive of what’s going on.

MR: See, I’m into soul, jazz; my favorite singers range from Chino [Moreno, of Deftones] to James Brown to Terence Trent D’Arby. I love Stevie Wonder as much as I love Slipknot. None of those people make us that”¦ djent. We just make metal.

JB: You can hear maybe one or two riffs that are inspired by the djent sound, but I think it’s just better to call it music. ”¦

MR: We’ll let it go anyway. We think of it as metal.

Do you think progressive metal and djent has become all about the production, to the extent that it’s become over-produced?

JB: It’s exactly that. A lot of bands just want to edit their music out till it’s tight as possible. That’s not what music is. Music is about capturing the moment and a lot of times, people forget about that. They get too clinical about how it’s played. You just have to learn to limit yourself. Everything sounds so overproduced that it sounds like an end-note from nowhere, or an artificial voice, and the drums aren’t even real, they’re just snapped to the grid. It’s actually pretty horrible if that’s the way music is going.

Have you seen any of these bands live?

JB: The fact is, when you see them [bands] live, they can’t play it live. It’s impossible to play it like that [the way it is on the album]. It’s just about knowing the music is too tight and fixing that. The computer is so perfect, sometimes you have to add mistakes in.

Are you guys playing any new songs at Spring Fest?

MR: No. We were thinking about it, but the show came about at such short notice. We only found out about it two weeks ago. We will be playing new songs on the Born Of Osiris tour, though. Like I said, it looks like we’ll be coming back to India after this  and if we do, we’ll play new stuff then. We’ll try something at soundcheck, though. This should be a good outing.

Anything else you guys want to add?

JB: It’s really cold in England [laughs].

MR: We’re really happy to be finally playing in India. We always wanted to go there. The food, the spirituality of the place. We’ve all kind of seen Life Of Pi as well.

JB: Yeah, it’s been on top of my list of places to visit.

 

Monuments play at Jnan Ghosh Stadium, as part of IIT Kharagpur’s Spring Fest 2013 on January 25th. Entry Rs 700. More details here.

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