There seems to have been an explosion of the number of two piece bands currently active in underground music. One band that I particularly love is Falmouth’s Monolithian, a band who combine doom and black metal in an expert two-pronged attack on the bass and drums. Speaking to frontman Simon Walker, we talk about their origins, their music, festivals, Bongzilla, and more in a pleasant chat.
Jack: Hi, thanks for taking the time to speak to me. How are you doing?
Simon Walker (Bass/Vocals): Hey dude, thanks for chatting to me. I’m doing good thanks, just catching up on sleep after the tour.
Jack: So how did Monolithian form?
Simon: Monolithian formed out of my love of doom and Shannon [Greene, Drums]’s love of black metal and our desires to be in a band that covered both those grounds, we decided to have a jam and things started falling into place.
Jack: As a band you’re just a bassist and a drummer, was there a reason to forgo a guitarist?
Simon: Honestly, having a guitar player was never part of the plan. It was always just gonna be us two jamming out some riffs, because we knew we would work best just the two of us.
Jack: You just finished a tour a spring tour with Dark Mother, how did it go?
Simon: The tour was awesome! Every show had great attendance and awesome crowds, all the promoters were super accommodating and reliable and the dark mother girls have been super awesome company.
Jack: What do you like about Dark Mother?
Simon: What I personally love about Dark Mother is the power they exude and the attention they command. It’s very hard hitting, triumphant, psychedelic stuff. It puts me in exactly the right mood that I want doom to put me in which can only be described as earth shattering tranquillity.
Jack: What was the most memorable show?
Simon: All the shows have been memorable, I’d say the London show stands out just because of the size of the crowd and how rowdy they always are every time we return. But every gig was an absolute rager.
Jack: Did any band stand out on the tour?
Simon: It was awesome playing with old friends on the tour such as this ends here, The Slm, Iron Witch, and Gurt and check out bands we hadn’t heard of yet, like Fuckjar, Grim Revine, & Silent Front. Every band killed it at every show to be honest, it’s been a real pleasure.
Jack: What’s the most enjoyable thing about touring?
Simon: The most enjoyable thing for me apart from playing the show itself is talking to the fans and meeting the people who have supported us so much, I appreciate it so much. My least favourite part is waiting around before the show starts. I like to consider myself a patient person but I’ve been known to turn into a grumpy asshole when there’s nothing to do. [Laughs]
Jack: Your album has been out since May 2015, are you happy with the response?
Simon: We’ve been blown away with the response. Every release we do we try and step it up and out do ourselves, so there’s always the anxiety floating over my head where I hope people will like the new songs and if they will resonate like the old ones did. I was so glad that people dug the record, it’s extremely validating.
Jack: Was recording this album different to any of your previous releases?
Simon: The recording process was totally different than other projects because we knew we wanted to up the production value because it was our first official full length album. So before we would record wherever we could with our good friend Jimmers Thomas, but this time we crammed ourselves into Adam Chinner of Freefall Recording’s studios back bedroom and did the whole record in two days. We’re really happy with what Adam did, he’s a real genius.
Jack: Have you started writing new music yet?
Simon: We have been jamming some things here and there but nothing to report at this time.
Jack: Two years ago you did a split with one of my favourite hardcore bands, Let It Die. What do you like about this band’s music?
Simon: Let it Die’s music is about as punishing as it gets, it’s hilariously heavy and Red’s vocals are ridiculous. They’re all super legit nice dudes too, Red is a sweetheart. Fingers crossed these guys get snapped up by a trustworthy label and they release lots more music.
Jack: You played Temples Festival last year, how was that experience?
Simon: Temples was bizarre, the whole thing was like a crazy dream. Francis [Mace, organiser] asked us to play totally out of the blue, I had barely ever spoken to the dude so it was very shocking to be asked to play. The crowd was insane. We were very lucky to play and appreciative of the opportunity. Who knows, maybe one year we’ll be asked back. Fingers crossed.
Jack: What were your favourite bands over the weekend?
Simon: Favourite bands of the weekend… Probably, Torche, Svalvard, Bongzilla, Weedeater, Converge, Grand Collapse. Many more, it’s hard to remember a lot of the weekend. [Laughs]
Jack: When I interviewed Reece Tee who books Desertfest, he stated that “I always knew there was a big scene. Desertfest linked lots of like-minded people together.” Do you think that sludge, stoner, doom, etc. are getting more popular or are festivals like Temples and Desertfest just uniting like-minded people?
Simon: I think it’s a bit of both to be honest, the scene is thriving and more and more bands are springing up out of the woodwork and more and more shows are happening all the time. That being said, it’s still a fairly tight nit group of diehards that keep it all together and festivals like Desertfest and Temples are giving an excellent platform for these bands to play and be heard. By the way, Desertfest should totally book us, just saying.
Jack: You’ve done a few covers and even a cover EP for charity. Is it hard adapting the covers to your style or easy?
Simon: Yeah we do a bunch of covers, it’s just a way to have a little fun and keep things mixed up. It’s never really hard to adapt a song usually played on multiple guitars to just one bass, you just got to be clever with how you layer it.
Jack: Do you play your covers live at all or do you just perform your own material?
Simon: We usually played a cover live, we change it up all the time. Lately we’ve been playing “Hamnerhandle” by Weedeater just because it’s short and sharp and unexpected, we played an Acid King cover on tour with Holly from Dark Mother on vocals and it was awesome. Every now and then we will break out “Dragonaut” just to have a bit of fun. A lot of our music is pretty depressing so it’s good to throw in something fun to break it up.
Jack: You’ve covered Bongzilla before, what do you love about them?
Simon: Bongzilla are just riff masters, I feel that they are totally underrated on how good their riffs are, and also their drummer is incredible. We recently hung out with them at Temples and they spoke to us about our cover and we’re super into it which was surreal.
Jack: What are your plans for the rest of the year? Any more shows or tours coming up?
Simon: Our plans for this year is to play as many shows as we can, hopefully hop over to Europe at the end of the year and write more songs. We don’t usually plan ahead too much, we just take it as it goes. So we will see what happens.
Jack: Finally as you have a song called “Treebeard” about Lord of the Rings, why do you think metal has been so influenced by the works of Tolkien?
Simon: We have another Tolkien song too, “Second of the Istari” which is all about Radagast the brown. I think Tolkien was so influential to metal simply because of how fleshed out it is and how deep the lore stretches outside of the books themselves, there is so much to be inspired by within those pages. I would expect more Tolkien-inspired songs from us in the future, we live that shit.