Sweet Mountain River. An interview with Jeremy Widerman from Monster Truck.
Every so often, a band comes along that just breaks free from the everyday mundane musical existence that is radio. When that happens, I have a tendency to latch onto them and want them to succeed just as badly as if I too were a member of the band. The latest band to capture my attention is Monster Truck. What you just envisioned in a band with a name like Monster Truck is exactly what you get. Big, gritty, ballsy, full-throttle rock and roll. Tipping their caps to all the greats, Monster Truck has stripped down the music to its core and created something that speaks to me and hopefully you as well. I’m proud to present the awesomeness that is my new favorite band, Monster Truck.
Listen to the entire Jeremy Widerman interview below:
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Today, I’m joined by Jeremy Widerman. Jeremy is the guitarist and sometimes vocalist from the band Monster Truck. First off, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us and welcome to the Unsung Melody family.
Thanks for having me.
For a lot of those in the US especially, this will be one of the first times they have heard about your band. Hopefully, we can help change that. We’re here to discuss your upcoming full-length release titled Furiosity and whatever information I can pull out of ya. For the readers of this site, I’m eager to hear what you have to say about your own band. How would you describe Monster Truck?
Basically, it was created out of the love for all of our favorite classic rock bands. Then of course, all of the band members grew up in the 90’s and were listening to a lot of fast punk and grunge too. We kind of like to think of it as a hybrid of the best of classic rock mixed with a lot of the 90’s fast punk and grunge music. We kind of like to just pull all of the best elements from all those things. Which I think a lot of people can relate with, because I think a lot of people grew up with Led Zeppelin and NOFX and Nirvana, which we are kind of all those things mixed together.
I will say this, Monster Truck is the perfect representation for the band. Big, aggressive, badass, made for destruction.
That’s awesome. Actually, we came up with the band name first. Before we even had all of the members together. It was kind of an idea that came out drunkenly at a party. It almost seemed that since we had the band name, it kind of manifested itself into the rest of everything else.
You gotta love it.
My philosophy on the whole thing is, especially when it comes to artistic stuff, the easier it comes together for everyone, usually the better it is. That goes for songwriting and any kind of collaboration with other people. It was really effortless for us, so that was kind of a sign to us that we were on the right track.
I love everything about the band. It all just screams rock and roll. I mean, the front man is intensely delivering the vocals, and is also the bassist. All four members sing backing vocals. The riffs are ferocious. The drums are thunderous and the hooks dig in deep. Yet, as big as the sound is, instead of a two guitar attack, you guys chose to have an organ. I love it. Was that always the intent or did it just work out that way?
I’m a really high energy person. I do a lot of the songwriting, as well as John. We kind of share the duties, then bring the songs to the rest of the band. That was the idea from the beginning. Really a no-holds barred kind of unrelenting show to everybody and kind of strip away all of the other things that other bands tend to do. As far as long jam out sections and super indulgent solos, we really wanted to cut the fat and just get right down to the meat of what everyone really loves to do at a show. Just headbang and just keep the energy level up. In lieu of that actually, with the new record we knew that we couldn’t just do that for the whole record, so we did actually throw a ballad in there…well, maybe not a ballad, but like a blues song, a slow jam blues song. As well as more of a kind of soulful, kind of Motown-y kind of vibe to mix it up with all of these really hard hitting songs, so that it wasn’t just one note for the whole record.
I love it. I think it’s a tremendous way to layer the music and have it stand apart from the sea of crap that’s out there nowadays.
There’s definitely a level of frustration that helped mold this band into what it is. I was really kind of sick of things. I would see these band names on flyers for shows and I was always kind of expecting to hear bands like this at my local venue, because it seemed like a no-brainer to me. Just take these really simple riffs and have some really great vocals over it. I kept going to the venue expecting to hear a band like ours before ours existed and it just kept getting close, but not quite what I wanted in a band. They would be doing great riffs, but during the singing, it would be this really abrasive screaming or yelling. Or, you would have the great, really powerful vocals, but the songs were really kind of slow and weak. So, I think all of us were just kind of fed up with it. This is not that difficult. We just need to bring all of those best elements together and I think we just kind of decided to do it all of a sudden out of the lack of seeing it for ourselves.
Sometimes when you want something done right, you better do it yourself, right?
It literally boiled down to that for me.
You guys have had some pretty good success in your native Canada. You recently won a Juno award for Breakthrough Artist. Was that something you ever expected?
No, no. When we found out we got nominated, I thought that was really cool to be nominated. The awards, the Juno Awards tend to lean a little more towards the pop category, so when we got nominated it was a little bit of a surprise. Then, we ended up going to the awards not expecting anything. We were going there to see our friends and play a couple of shows and have a good time. I don’t think any of us really expected us to win. We even told our parents before we left, because they would be watching it live on TV at home, we kind of wanted to warn them that our chances at winning this are not good. Don’t get your hopes up. Of course Steve, our drummer, his mom is just a huge supporter. She ended up having a bunch of people over anyway, because she was just excited about us being on TV. When we won, she was hyperventilating. She needed to be taken care of because she was so over the moon about the win. I think everyone was shocked.
You guys performed the first single there at the awards. I’ll say this, you guys seem to have quite the talent of picking the right combination of words to describe things. I mentioned the name earlier, now the album is titled Furiosity. I’d say that sums it up pretty damn well. The first single from the album is Sweet Mountain River. Give us a little insight into that song.
That’s a song that we’ve been kicking around for almost two years now. We always knew it was a really strong track, but it was always missing a couple of really key elements to make it all come together. So, it had gone through a couple of little changes and sometimes the littlest changes can make such a difference to the dynamics of a tune. In this case, it was the intro that we had been struggling with and how to get into the beginning of the song. The radio version is a condensed version. The album contains the full intro. For us, we were working on tailoring the beginning to lightly bring you into the really hard hitting riff. We really spent a lot of time with a couple different people trying to make sure that song was right. It was something that took a long time and we’re glad we got it, because it was really about marrying that kind of sweet harmony chorus with the really hard and big riff of the verse. Just making it all come together. Sometimes that can be tricky.
Check out Sweet Mountain River below:
I think my favorite song is Power of the People. It’s definitely short and to the point. I hope that’s a single at some point.
We always kind of felt that about that track. Especially while we were in the studio working on it. That was a favorite of everyone’s at the time. It’s gone over well live. It’s kind of an homage to Rage Against the Machine. It’s got like, a very RATM riff and again, the lyrics and the vocals are kind of on the same kind of uprising. Where something’s wrong and we need to do something about it kind of vibe. I’m glad you picked that one, because it’s one of my favorite songs on the record for sure.
The Giant is a tale that reminds me very much of bands like Mastodon or The Sword. Which to be honest, would be great tour mates for the band. It seems that you generally opt for more realistic lyrics. Where did this song come from?
It was always kind of cool. Harvey was jamming out the main riff for this song after band practice one night. We were packing up and going about as we do after rehearsal and he was playing the riff. That’s kind of how we know when we’ve got something, because when he was playing the riff, I think he was kind of playing it as a joke, but I whipped my head around and was like, “What’s that? What riff is that?” Because sometimes he plays riffs from other bands, so when I hear something I like, I’m always right on his ass immediately. “Is that yours or someone else’s?” I’m afraid he’s going to say that’s Kyuss or something like that. He said, “I’m just screwing around, that’s something that I just came up with right now.” As soon as that happened, I pulled my phone out and got the voice memo recorder going, because we have a problem of writing wicked riffs and then forgetting them due to whatever we’re smoking. (Laughter) Got the phone out and recorded that riff. I actually got my phone out the other day and I found that riff and the version that we recorded that night is quite different to what the song ended up being. It was a lot more odd time signature and was kind of hard to wrap your head around, and we ended up straightening it out a bit to make it a little more headbanging. That one all came from the seed of that riff and from there we all just kind of worked on it as a group, which we do a lot of the time. All four of us will throw in our input. That was one that we did that with. That’s probably my favorite song on the record. It’s currently the one that we are offering to everyone who pre-orders a digital or physical copy. They get the immediate download of The Giant.
You alluded to whatever you might be smoking. You were putting together the pre-order and I saw where you have a song called Righteous Smoke and you thought about coming up with some papers, but it seems you were stifled upon that. Tell us what happened there.
Well, we really wanted to make rolling papers, because our fans, they do love to smoke. We just thought that would be the perfect item to throw into our pre-order bundle. Apparently it’s illegal to make custom rolling papers in Canada. So, I started checking out other options in the US. I found a place in Tampa Bay or somewhere in Florida, they were offering to sell them to us. To make them for us. I looked into it and it ended up having to be a minimum order of like 5000 books. It ended up being like a minimum order of $3000. Which is not totally out of the realm of possibility, but we were definitely looking for something a little smaller. So, we kind of opted not to do it. We stuck with the flasks and the shot glasses. I think it’s something that we are going to look into a little later on. The only problem about making them in the United States is getting them across the border. I have a feeling there is going to be some kind of serious stipulations as to getting them across. It’s classified as a tobacco product, so I figure if we are going to try and get it across the border, I would opt to do it not on the books. Just kind of bury them at the front of the trailer and stand and try and just maybe pull over the border that way as opposed to doing the legal route.
Check out Righteous Smoke from The Brown EP:
The band played SxSW this year and made a great impression on quite a few people. How was that festival from your guys perspective?
From an artists perspective, especially a smaller artist like us, it was a pain in the ass, to be honest with you. We really did not have as much fun as we had hoped. We were kind of wandering around the city like chickens with our heads cut off the whole time. When we did have a night off, when we got to go to the city, we didn’t have a lot of money, so we had to get a hotel outside the main downtown area. It just ended up with all four of us being dead drunk at 3 in the morning trying to find a way back to the hotel. There’s no cabs, so it was a problem of logistics really, for us. We really just didn’t have the foresight to book a proper hotel downtown, because we didn’t really know for sure if we were going until the last minute. So we were playing shows that were tough to get in and out of with our gear. We’re trying to get around the city late at night, we don’t have a hotel downtown. The last night, we thought we were going to be sleeping in a field downtown because we literally could not find a cab. I had one of our band members, Steve and his brother with me. They were so drunk, they could barely stand and we were just wandering left and right trying to find anyone that would drive us back to the hotel. It ended up being like 4:30 in the morning when I finally found a cab outside a hotel. I shoved those guys in it. Then of course, when we show up at our hotel, they open their eyes from being passed out in the back of the cab and they’re going, “Oh my God, how did we get here?” It was one of those like Hangover nights, where you are just kind of stumbling and having all kinds of insane adventures trying to just get home. So, it wasn’t the best experience. We did good as far as the bands’ business was concerned, but as a have fun and party time, I would definitely rather go as a spectator as opposed to a performer.
I’m really curious to see who you get paired up with here in the States. I have a sneaking suspicion I know one tour you may be on, but for now I’ll leave that one be. After the upcoming Sevendust dates, what are the tour plans shaping up to look like?
Well, like you said, we’re doing the Sevendust tour, which starts on or around May 12th. It’ll be our first real run in the States. We’ve done a couple things here and there, but we actually haven’t done like a serious two week run like this. It starts in Rapid City, South Dakota and ends in St. Petersburg, Florida. We’re hitting a lot cities in between. I really don’t know what to expect. The good thing is, we’re playing some nice rooms which is always good. Because, really it sucks to be playing those tiny little rooms when you are the first band on. There’s nowhere to put your stuff and nowhere to hang out before the show. To go and get ready, warm up and what not. So, we’re really excited about it. It should be a good time. We actually just found out that our visas were approved two days ago. Which is always a planter of a little bit of anxiety before you leave for a US tour. Finding out if your visa has been approved. We’re all good and we are set to go.
Alright, I always end on a random question, so today is no different. We have a band named Monster Truck, so if they had a monster truck team, what be the name of it?
Hmmmmmmm. Hmmmmmmmmm. I don’t know. I think we would probably go with something along the lines of Righteous Smoke. I think we would just do Righteous Smoke. We’d be the Righteous Smoke Monster Truck. It would just either be covered in green pot leaves or it would just be an entire truck that just looked like it was covered in smoke. That would be something that I would definitely be interested in seeing. I’m sure the rest of the guys would too. Yeah, that’s going to have to be my final answer on that one.
Let’s make that happen. I like the idea.
You can expect us to make the Righteous Smoke brand rolling papers. That’s something that we can’t do now, but if we do get a big, long and serious US tour, we’ll definitely reconsider.
Jeremy, I appreciate your time very much. The site and myself wish you nothing but the best. I’m sure at some point this Summer or Fall, that we can get caught up at a show, because I will definitely be there.
Keep up with Monster Truck below:
Pre-orders are available here.
Preview or purchase Sweet Mountain River below:
Check out the video for Seven Seas Blues below: