My house is cold, yet per usual I find myself in my underwear pouring a bowl of cereal and sinking into my couch with a warm blanket. I know it’s not the same circumstance for Monster Truck guitarist Jeremy Widerman. Yet even with the busy schedule that musicians often have, he finds himself with a moment of tranquility and time for rest in his Hamilton home. This is the calm before the storm of their much anticipated sophomore album, Sittin’ Heavy.
The all natural frontman, Jon Harvey who is accountable for singing and slapping’ da bass. His long curly hair and usually free growing facial hair made more obtainable by his heavy use of Mane ’n Tail. Both signs of a rockstar, until he puts his glasses on and combs his hair behind his ears. Now more of a genius scientist than a gregarious anthemic vocalist. Keyboardist, Brand Bliss would fit right in at a high class social gathering…at least behind a piano. Drummer, Steve Kiely really pulls the mean mugging look together with Widerman, rounding out Monster Truck.
If you are one of the few who think you don’t know Monster Truck, you may actually recognize them from attending a Flames game in the last year or so. Every time the Flames score on home ice, you can hear an early one “Righteous Smoke” in the rink or on your television. “Yeah, I’m on fire…This righteous smoke gonna set your soul on fire” is rather suitable for the Calgary Flames. Though in a nation where hockey is the sport, I understand it may not be something you follow. (Slight sarcasm). You can still hear Monster Truck on almost any rock radio station across the nation. Radio singles from their debut album, Furiosity include “Sweet Mountain River,” “The Lion,” or “Old Train.” Maybe you’re not a fellow rocker? Doesn’t matter, because hey! They won a Juno in 2013 for Breakthrough Artist of the Year. If you say you still don’t know them you’re undeniably ignorant or have no social life, which is a statement on its own.
Monster Truck seemed to snag the spotlight rather quickly in a very saturated market., meaning they’re doing something right. It was a quick rise to fame, though Widerman says that’s not necessarily the case. “I know it may appear that way, one of our singles hits the radio waves and sees some commercial success but for us it could be the longest two weeks of our careers. Even now, we aren’t touring, we’re done recording and we are home in Hamilton but we are still visiting nearby radio stations and promoting ourselves.”
This was something that really caught me by surprise, even though I’m rather knowledgeable about music I never stepped back to think about what it’s like on the other side. While it’s growing immensely popular to listeners, it could be a very rough trek to that point. It may seem like their step into the spotlight was pre-empted but again that’s not the case.
“Monster Truck became what it is in the same way many bands do. We all came from different bands that had miscommunications or weak links and things fell apart. Monster Truck become a thing mostly because we were four dudes who wanted to write music, play a few gigs and get drunk time to time. Then there was a point where we all sort of sat down and decided if we really wanted to do this, and from there it just worked.” said Widerman.
Sittin’ Heavy wasn’t a three-month training program, but rather something that grew over time. The quartet didn’t book themselves into a studio with the idea that they’d write and record an album over a six-week period. They didn’t isolate themselves to a cabin on the lake during the summer to hunker down and write all the lyrics either. Then again it wasn’t all done on tour. The beautiful thing with this always developing world, is at any minute in time, if you have an idea, you can write it down in your phone. Hell, if you even want to do a voice recording you can. Television still makes it out that talking to yourself through a voice recorder makes you look weird and maybe a little unstable, but now, here, in the present, it’s just good business.
As Widerman mentioned in our conversation, the conception of the album was really just a little bit of everything. They used several different studios and everything kind of just happened when they had time. I’ve been using this word a couple times but don’t mistake it as a concept album, it’s just the thoughts and emotions the group felt at a certain time. Which honestly makes it feel very genuine and organic. Widerman said it took about a year to make the album. Nothing was forced or rushed. They didn’t face outside pressure. Something that’ll make Sittin’ Heavy likely as strong an effort as their debut.
Since the release of Sittin’ Heavy, the band has been on an exhaustive tour, throughout Canada, and later this fall, the United States and Europe. Stops can be found on their website. A tour which includes a lot of smaller more intimate stages, though not a house or cafe show, still intimate. During their initial break through, Monster Truck performed in England at the Download Festival. One that boasts huge names in the genre like Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, both are lined up for this coming summer’s festival. Along with opening for Alice in Chains, Monster Truck has seen some large stages, but Widerman admits he is very excited for this year’s tour.
“We’re very appreciative of our opportunities to perform on stages like that but when we do our tour we know everyone is there for us. In these smaller capacity buildings, it’s electric. The energy that our fans bring with them make it that much easier and enjoyable to be on stage.”
Though Monster Truck may have been something that came together in a requested fashion, none of the members would change a thing. Their first album was a break through as the award would say, but I don’t think you can expect the same from this album, because we all see it coming and God dammit are we ready.