Out of all the bands I’ve discovered this year, Monsternaut are one of my favourites. Their Fu Manchu influenced desert rock is instantly likeable, with an infectious groove, powerful riffs and free spirited aura that surrounds the songs. Having released their previous EPs as one album via Heavy Psych Records, Monsternaut will be winning over new fans worldwide. I’ve become a bit obsessed with Monsternaut’s sound and I had to learn more, but luckily guitarist and vocalist Tuomas Heiskanen was able to answer my questions.
Jack: Hey guys, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. How are you doing?
Tuomas Heiskanen (Guitar/Vocals): Hi, we’re alright thanks. Anxious to hit the road!
Jack: How did Monsternaut form?
Tuomas: The usual story. Me and Perttu [Härkönen, bass] were left hanging after our previous band died out. We were pretty keen on what we were doing at the time and wanted continuation on that. The musical style was somewhat what we are doing now. We just shaped it a bit more bolder, simpler and well, more into the style that we like.
Jack: Finland is known in the UK for its symphonic and folk metal. What’s the desert/stoner scene like?
Tuomas: Metal and punk and rap seem to be dominating at the moment. As for desert/stoner stuff we wouldn’t really know. We’re more of an isolated unit shining our armor in an undiscovered bunker. We’ve played with a few bands that resonate with the style but apart from that we’re quite unaware.
Jack: What are the main influences of Monsternaut?
Tuomas: Apart from the obvious Fu Manchu and Black Sabbath there are a number of bands/things. Let’s throw in Down and The Sword.
Jack: What I love about Monsternaut is that you really sound like a desert rock band, even though there are no deserts in Finland. How did you create an authentic desert sound in your environment?
Tuomas: Beer and tundra, that’s the recipe for a desert in Finland.
Jack: Has being from Finland influenced the band in any way?
Tuomas: Yes. There was a bad-ass band called Stone from our home town Kerava who sparked the fire we’re burning in today. If it were another country we’d probably be listening to Maroon 5 and taking care of our facial hair.
Jack: You’re releasing your two previous EPs into one bundle – why did you decide to re-release your material as one?
Tuomas: We never planned on much to begin with. The first recording was just a demo for our own amusement. No physical copy of that was ever made. Like the first, the second recording was supposed to be a demo for our own observational use. However it exceeded our expectations thus we made a 10” out of it and put it up on Bandcamp. As time went by people were asking us for more material so we decided to put the first recording online as well. In came the record label and enquired our interest in releasing the material as it is. We were hesitant at first. We thought about re-recording everything and including a few new tracks. But then considered “What’s the point?” if it already seems to be generating positive vibes. For the sake of not fucking everything up we restrained from the do-over.
Jack: Do you have fond memories of recording the EPs?
Tuomas: Recording the second EP had its highlights. We didn’t have a proper studio so we had to improvise. The drums were recorded in the living room of an empty freezing house. Rest of the tracks were recorded in Emil’s (the engineer) house which was undergoing a total renovation. It was more of a construction site then anything else. However, it was remote enough to not bother any neighbours so it served its purpose. This is where we also miked the El Camino and revved the shit out of it. It was no ordinary site to witness, the soundcheck of a V8 engine!
Jack: What’s your favourite song on the album?
Jack: ‘Dog Town’ is my favourite, what’s the song about?
Tuomas: The absurd behaviour of man in general. How a pack of lambs are actually a group of backstabbing werewolfs.
Jack: What’s it been like working with Heavy Psych Records?
Tuomas: Just good. We are a band coming out of nothing with next to zero fan base. Yet they are taking a chance and organizing a European tour for us. We highly respect that. It’s a gamble on their part and we hope it pays off!
Jack: You’ve got some great reviews from this release, how much attention do you pay to reviews?
Tuomas: We pay attention yes. So far the reviews have been positive and assuring. Surely that plays a part in building up confidence in what we are doing. But it’s a double edged sword so probably it works the other way around too. At the end of the day we will stick to our guns and do the music we like.
Jack: Do you think stoner music as a genre is becoming a stagnant genre in any way due to many similar bands emerging?
Tuomas: It’s true that there are a lot of bands practising the same mantra. We’re no exception. We’re recycling the same riffs and melodies just as the next band. There’s no harm in that as long as you’re having a good time doing it. And if people are willing to party along then all is good. It’s a game of supply and demand. If you don’t like milk, don’t drink it.
Jack: The genre is becoming more popular I’ve noticed (at least in the UK), do you think it is going to stay popular or that it will soon fade away again?
Tuomas: Truth be told that we haven’t really followed up on the trends of the trade. So speaking of what is popular and what is not is beyond our comprehension. Heads for staying popular, tails for fading away. We call heads.
Jack: Do you plan to play live and tour again soon?
Tuomas: Apart from the upcoming European tour we have nothing planned. We will gladly jump into any opportunity to play live and hang out with new people.
Jack: Would you like to play the UK in the future?
Tuomas: Yes. We are willing to play anywhere we are welcome!
Jack: When are you planning to record new music?
Tuomas: We have already been working on new material for some time. Probably as soon as we have enough qualifying songs to make up an album we will hit record. As to when exactly will that happen remains to be seen. All eyes are currently on the upcoming tour. After that we will shift focus on the next album.
Jack: Finally, what is the best Fu Manchu album?
Tuomas: Eatin’ Dust.