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January 18, 2019

Interview Monsterworks

Hi! Give a brief history of Monsterworks, music style, and the members.
Hello! Monsterworks began about 20 years in New Zealand. We played a lot of gigs and recorded a few albums, until Ian (lead guitar) and I (Jon, guitar vocals)relocated to London, UK, in 2002. Ian eventually moved on in about 2008 leaving me and a line up of Hugo (bass since 2003), James (drums since 2005) and Marcus (lead guitar since 2009). So we have been together quite a while now.

The musical style evolved from some kind of reckless death/thrash hybrid in the early days to the more laid back, almost post metal, beast it is today. Although, at its heart Monsterworks is heavy metal with dual guitars and hints of most of the sub genres. The vocals range from Rob Halford to John Tardy type screaming/shrieking with a lower register death roar added for good measure. Our style has always been difficult to pin down which only makes it suitable for highly refined heavy metal fans that are of superior intelligence to everyone else.

Give in more detail, some information about “Scale and Probability” and how well it sells?
The album is themed on The Fermi Paradox which is a question asked about why we have not made contact with any other life forms when estimated calculations would make it seem almost definite (i.e. highly probable) that there is other intelligent life out there on the vast scale of the local galaxy or wider Universe.

It is not really a concept album because it does not tell a story, but explores a few reasons as to why we have not knowingly met any aliens before.

Scale and Probability will be released on 4 May 2018 so it is a bit difficult to know how well it will sell yet. If we sell a hundred copies I will be happy.

Oh, really? Seems like I have missed correct info about release date!!  Monsterworks has signed with no label, tell more about that?
We have had brushes with labels in the past but I think at this stage it seems to make more sense to self release and have total control over our destiny. We are not a touring band which means it is difficult to get a lot of attention from labels. Touring support and distribution is something that labels can offer but neither is relevant to us, especially since I happen to believe that physical media should disappear. The better environmental and economic model (because it gets more of the sale price direct to the artist) is for people to pay to download music.

Streaming sucks because artists don’t get paid hardly anything. Most of the money in physical media is tied up in production, transport and middle men which is a waste of resources when the best format sonically for anyone to listen to is a high bitrate download. That is science. However, I suspect just about any record label would disagree and disown me because they are only concerned about selling as much physical product as possible.

I have no problem with people working in supporting roles in the music industry like for promotion and touring etc because humans are social animals and gigs are important. I just reckon that merchandising and physical formats in general are getting away from what is important, which is good sounding metal music. Also, fuck image. Image is nothing; metal is everything.

What is the difference between your latest and the very first records?
I touched on it earlier with the ‘death/thrash’ to ‘post metal’ comment. It has been a slow evolution between those two descriptors though. We have not been one of those bands like, say, Anathema, Paradise Lost or Opeth that had a drastic change in sound from one record to another. Every album retains some death metal but, who knows, maybe one day it will evolve out of that. I doubt it. I have this weird obsession with not being too accessible. Death vocals are a line in the sand that some people will not cross.

What inspires Monsterworks music and lyric writing? What does Monsterworks lyrics talk about?
The lyrics tend to be philosophical about a range of subjects that are, hopefully, also thought provoking. Overall I try to stay positive. Negative and evil lyrics have their time and place and, obviously, it was the back bone of heavy metal for much of its history but, personally, I just prefer to present something more positive even if the world is turning to shit around us.

Actually, maybe I should start to reflect more reality in our lyrics. The planet is fucked.

Do you play live often? Do you like abroad gigs?
Not for quite some time. Perhaps we will get back into it because there are a few changes afoot. For the last year we have been operating from opposite sides of the globe.

How often does the band practice and work on new material?
I write and demo new music constantly. Once a set of songs is together for an album we start practicing. That preparation period normally only takes place for a few months every years. Then we hit the studio and record.

How did the band come up with the name Monsterworks and tell what does it means for you?
We were listening to our newly recorded first demo at Ian’s (then lead guitarist) house and his girlfriend had some Christian chick over at the same time. She was horrified at the music we were playing and declared ‘it sounds like monsters yelling at each other!’ I looked at Ian and said ‘Monster? That works.’

There were surprisingly few band names with ‘monster’ in it, at least in 1997 when we were having that conversation. Originally the name was meant to convey that ‘monsters yelling at each other’ idea. It is not particularly accurate anymore but I see it like ‘Metallica’ as a band name; it is actually pretty shit when you think about it but hopefully no one notices.

Emperor and Iron Maiden are the best band names but when I searched on Metal Archives they were already taken apparently.

What does the band plan on doing in near time?
We are working on a couple of new albums to follow up Scale and Probability. It will be the next evolution of the band’s sound. We are all going to meet up soon and make a plan for near time.

Any message to Sick and Destroy readers?
Thanks for reading. Check us out and keep supporting the metal bands that you like directly on bandcamp and similar platforms.