Vol. 20 No. 17 • April 24 - 30, 2014 In Our 17th Year Serving Greater Hamilton
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Monster Truck

by Ric Taylor
December 19 - 25, 2013
A band that didn’t have to begin, born as a side project for their individual members who were busy in other bands, Monster Truck was brought forth to rock in the truest sense of the word. Jon Harvey (bass and lead vocals), Jeremy Widerman (guitar and vocals), Brandon Bliss (organ and vocals) and Steve Kiely (drums and vocals) have a pedigree in the underground indie rock world since they were underage but when they came together as Monster Truck something magical happened.

    In dimly lit, late night, sweatboxes is how Monster Truck was incubated in Hamilton and with the sole goal of keeping the soul in what they did. They had lots to do, but Monster Truck was done with no other reason than for the music itself. They steamrolled over audiences with a power and energy that most small time bands find difficulty to muster. They had their muse and Monster Truck crushed any competition.

    The band’s wanton lust for the music quickly gained attention from local fans, and that initial warm response burned into a wild fire that has the band blazing their molten rock pretty much around the world these days. With two small EPs released, they’d sign to Dine Alone Records and things ramped up steadily with opening slots for bands like the Sheepdogs and Deep Purple but the snowballing effect has lead to the band winning the 2013 Breakthrough Group of the Year at the Junos and a more recent tour with Alice In Chains. With the release of their debut full-length vinyl release, Furiosity, Monster Truck are slowly proving that they could be the best new band around in this city and maybe this country. Last year, they celebrated Christmas by offering a sold out tour of three shows at three different bars in their hometown, this weekend, the Furiosity Tour ends 2013 with a mammoth show at Hamilton Place. It’s been a wild road getting to where they’re at now, but after four years, Monster Truck knows there is still a lot to come.

    “When we started the band there really was no pre-conceived notion of where it was going or who it was for — we were just playing the songs for ourselves. We wanted to play what we wanted to play and we didn’t want to answer to anybody. We didn’t worry about record companies or booking agents, we just wanted to play this style of music the way we wanted to do it. The number one priority was making music that was fun for ourselves and in doing that, when we started playing shows this was a band that was a band that was just about the fun of playing music. I think all the songs are great and it resonated with people at the shows and it caught on like wildfire which was never our intention but because it came from such a pure place. It really had an infectious nature of getting the people excited about the group.

    “We had to give the fans something they deserved with this record,” adds Widerman. “So the first attempt at recording was done in Los Angeles and it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to and we had to come to terms with that last summer. We decided to redo the whole thing. We spent a lot more time in pre-production and with songwriting so it came out a lot better the second time around. We finished it in January. I’m glad that it turned out the way that it did because we think it rocks but there are a lot of ways that we can improve upon it, so it leaves us somewhere to go for the next album.

    The vintage guitar driven rock of Grand Funk, Deep Purple and more intertwines with their first hand knowledge of real underground sounds in metal, punk, grunge and more and with Monster Truck’s particular amalgam has everyone taking note. It’s been a slow climb to success but one that even already includes a Juno win.

    “We were shocked to win a Juno,” confides Widerman. “We warned our fans at home that there was no way that we were going to win and not get their hopes up. We really thought Walk Off The Earth were going to win because of all of the international attention they had received with their online presence. So to actually win that award was something really special for us.

    “But it’s like the way you define success I guess,” continues Widerman. “From the outside, people can see this as a really fast rise up for us but from our perspective it has been a linear slow grind. We haven’t actually had anything insane happen spontaneously; it’s just been this continuous climb up the hill. Anything that has happened, we’ve taken in stride so I haven’t felt totally overwhelmed by anything. Maybe the Juno, but other than that, it’s been slow enough that we’ve been able to adapt and make it as healthy as we can. I’m glad of that. Other friends’ bands deal with a lot of pressure and in a hurry, like the Sheepdogs and their Rolling Stone cover. We’ve been able to take our time and it makes you more confident to for whatever comes next. There’s a lot more to come next year and I’m looking forward to each challenge.

    “Any working band is always standing on the edge of a knife and you’ve always got to be careful to walk that line and be ready for everything to be over in a blink of an eye,” adds Widerman. “A lot of what has worked for us has just been timing and working really hard. We don’t take things for granted. Every time we have any success, all it does is it shows us just how much more there is to do. Every door that we open is proof that we’re not even close to where we could end up if we just keep at it.”

    With their collective noses to the grindstone, Widerman and company put their all into what they do and it has proven fruitful but with such success comes a backlash. What of the hard rocking fans that want to question this band’s authenticity and even suggest the denim and facial hair is just a put on from their indie rock days.

    “I love those people,” beams Widerman. “The more the detractors or haters you have the more successful it means you are. It’s a strong reflection that you are doing something right. You can’t  truly have any magnitude of success without having people wanting to take it down. I say, bring ‘em on.”

    No one is thinking about haters this weekend in Hamilton, though. Monster Truck has a lot to be proud of and there’s no better way to celebrate and show their gratitude by offering a special holiday show for back where it began, bringing it all back home, albeit this time in one of the city’s biggest rooms.

    “We have reason to celebrate and it was a great way to cap off the year for us,” explains Widerman. “That’s why we’re making sure the last show on this tour is in Hamilton. The original routing didn’t have it like that so we had to finagle a few things to make it happen — we’ve been working so hard the last couple of months that we just have to take a couple of weeks off to re-group and start writing some new songs.

    “But it’s nice to make it the last show of the year for us and especially one for all of our friends and family,” adds Widerman. “They’re the ones that showed us that maybe we had something more than just a bar band for beer money, which is what we thought where we were going to be. Looking out into the audience, I know I’ll be able to see all the people that have supported us, in all of the various music projects we’ve been in for so long. It’ll be a lot of gratitude and a lot of love being thrown around the room that night and we are all looking for it. We pretty much have a standard of leaving everything on the stage every night so people can expect a pretty serious and lively rock show but it is Hamilton. It’ll be what they expect and more.” V

Monster Truck will be performing with Biblical this Sunday December 22 at Hamilton Place Theatre. Doors at 7pm. Click on www.ilovemonstertruck.com
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