An Exclusive Interview with Esben Willems from MONOLORD!

The brilliant Swedish doom metal trio Monolord is a rare breed: A band both encompassing and transcending genre; a vortex of heavy rock density that consumes all others. Their thunderous, tuneful heft has built a rabid international fan base in short order since their 2014 debut. But Rust, the band’s third full length, truly exemplifies why some refer to them as the Nirvana of doom.

Monolord’s enveloping, syrupy sludge is a vibe, it’s a state of mind. Not riffs for riffs sake, but a collective buzzing, rattling and rumbling that’s more total environment than a collection of songs. Together, guitarist/vocalist Thomas Jäger, drummer Esben Willems, and bassist Mika Häkki create a massive, dynamic sound with ultra-low frequencies serving as its fourth member.

Monolord has returned with their epic and progressively heavy new album, Rust, released on September 29th, 2017 via RidingEasy Records. Rust is one of the best stoner/doom albums out last year and it was number 1 album of 2017 at Doom Charts.

Monolord are currently on tour to support Black Label Society on their spring European/UK tour in March and April. We’d like to bring to your attention this interview with Esben Willems – drummer from Monolord! The following interview is taken exclusively for Rock Arena. Enjoy it!

♦INTERVIEW♦

– Hello, Guys and welcome to Rock Arena! How are you feeling today? The band is currently on tour to support Black Label Society, how have your live show been yesterday?

♦Esben Willems: Thank you! All good here, we’re having a laidback day off in Prague before heading to Krakow for the show there tomorrow. We played at Malá Sportovní Hala here in Prague last night; a great response from the crowd, as it has been in all cities so far. The Black Label Society crowd is very welcoming.

– The band was formed in 2013, how everything started… How did you all meet each other? Have you had any previous projects and what was their style?

♦Esben Willems: We’ve all played music our entire lives, in countless bands and constellations. This band actually started out as a side project to another band, since we often jammed with slower and heavier riffs and wanted to explore that more. It immediately felt so right we chose to start a proper band from that.

Regarding how we met, the music community is a small bubble where most people know each other, even more so in a small city as Gothenburg. Thomas and I played in the band that leads up to Monolord and I knew Mika from another project we both briefly played together in.

 – What are your strongest musical influences from the past and from today? 

♦Esben Willems: When I was a kid, my biggest influences was Søren Berlev, Bill Ward, John Bonham and The Animal. Since then, I’ve been influenced by everything I listen to. Which I feel is key, I strongly believe that you should be as filterless as possible experiencing new music, only then can you decide if you like it or not.

None of us limits ourselves to genres, we listen to all kinds of music; some that we have in common, some that we have completely different relations to and feelings about. I think the one major thing we have in common is that we all take pride in always delivering our best on every show, no matter what the circumstances are. The people who bought a ticket to come see the show deserves the best we can give and nothing less.

 – Your latest full-length, ‘Rust’ was number 1 album of 2017 at Doom Charts… what does it mean to you?

♦Esben Willems: When you have put a lot of blood, sweat and coffee into an album and finally release it, it’s hard to describe the feeling you get if it’s well received. So it means a lot.

– How does ‘Rust’ differ in sound from your previous album, ‘Vaenir’, tell us about the writing and recording process for the album… Who does working for the band? Who designed the cover for ‘Rust’?

♦Esben Willems: For us, Rust is a natural step forward, not a pre-calculated sound or vibe. We always try out new ideas and our albums are logbooks, more or less. We chose the songs we thought was the strongest of those we had, worked with them to create what we felt was a collection of songs where the sum hopefully was bigger than the parts. What I feel that a good album should be.

As with our other releases, we have recorded it ourselves and I have mixed and mastered it. When we were in the process of deciding the cover, we were presented with this amazing photo by Arash Naghizadeh. We instantly felt that the contrast between a beautiful picture and the horrific war scenery that it represents was the perfect cover.

– ‘Rust’ uses several accompanying instruments such as strings and organ which fit quite nicely, would you change your sound as a band in the future and in what direction? 

♦Esben Willems: We have added instruments we felt added to the vibe of each song, we simply just went with how we heard the songs and what we felt needed to be emphasized, if anything. What happens on future albums is impossible to predict.

 

 

 

 

 

– Could you like to write music for other artists? Is there anyone you would love to work with, even production-wise, that would tick off your list?

♦Esben Willems: I honestly don’t know how to answer that question. I’m not a big fan of lists and would never consider any collab to be something I then would have ticked off, but I’m constantly curious and open to inspiring projects if the opportunity arises.

– What’s difficult about being in a band these days, is it the touring, creating music? What is the most important thing for you as a musicians and performers?

♦Esben Willems: The most important element and what everything is about is playing live. That makes all the insanity surrounding it worth the effort. Getting on stage in front of a cheering crowd never gets old.

– Are you considering working with a certain label or are you going to produce your music by yourself? What is your opinion about independent/home recording and producing of Metal albums? Is it a better option than signing with the wrong man or label?

♦Esben Willems: As I see it, there are no absolute truths when it comes to recording music and tour as a band. It depends on so very many things. What is the best choice for one band is the worst for another. Keep eyes and ears open and make music you honestly like, that’s the best way to move forward, I think. There are no magic recipes that apply to all.

– Esben, you have your own Can of Beer named after you and you also released Monolord Dark Rust Blend Coffee with Cozo Coffee… How did that come about?

♦Esben Willems: Oliver Brewing Company in Baltimore made an imperial IPA named Rust, after our album. The brewery’s mastermind Stephen Jones is a big music lover and supporter of the band, so he decided to make this good looking beer. Which we still haven’t tasted, hopefully, we’ll get the chance next time we tour the US.

The coffee was an idea that surfaced when Oskar from  Truckfighters started his own roastery and we contacted him about a collab. Turned out great!

– Monolord have a massive tour this year, the band will hit the road on a shared headline tour with Conan in May… Tell us more about it?

♦Esben Willems: Looking forward to that! We had a blast touring with Conan in Europe last October, so we wanted to extend that tour the UK as well.

– What more should we expect from the band and where can everyone get your music?

♦Esben Willems: You can always expect us to push ourselves beyond our limits live!You can find places to get our music worldwide at http://monolord.com or http://ridingeasyrecords.com .

– Thanks for taking the time out to do this interview! What would you like to tell your fans right now?

♦Esben Willems: Thank you! And see you at the next show!

BLACK LABEL SOCIETY
MONOLORD
TOUR 2018: 
8th March Paris, FR @ Bataclan 
9th March Toulouse, FR @ Le Bikini 
10th March Vitoria, ES @ Jimmy Jazz 
11th March Santiago De Compostela, ES @ Capitol 
13th March Madrid, ES @ Riviera 
14th March Barcelona, ES @ Razzmatazz 
16th March Milan, IT @ Alcatraz 
17th March Telfs, AT @ Rathaussaal 
18th March Prague, CZ @ Mala Sportovni Hala 
20th March Krakow, PL @ Studio 
21st March Warsaw, PL @ Stodola 
23rd March Munich, DE @ Backstage Werk 
24th March Frankfurt, DE @ Batschkapp 
25th March Pratteln, CH @ Konzertfabrik 27 
27th March Cologne, DE @ Live Music Hall 
28th March Berlin, DE @ Huxley’s Neue Welt 
29th March Hamburg, DE @ Markthalle 
30th March Amsterdam, NL @ Melkweg 
31st March Antwerp, BE @ Trix 
3rd AprilLuxembourg City, LU @ Den Atelier 
5th April London, UK @ Royal Albert Hall

More information at:
www.facebook.com/monolordsweden/

Interviewed by Toni Rock