Instrumental bands are unfairly ignored by people due to the lack of lyrics, many people say you need lyrics to convey emotion and to tell a story. One band that clearly needs no lyrics to express emotions or weave an epic yarn are Switzerland’s Monkey3, an excellent instrumental band. Before they were due to head out on a European tour, I spoke to guitarist Boris about instrumental metal, touring, the new album Astra Symmetry and the future plans for Monkey3.
Jack: Hey guys, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. How are you doing?
Boris (Guitar): We just released a new album and are about to start a new tour, so, we’re doing pretty well and excited!
Jack: You formed 15 years ago, how did you all meet?
Boris: Some of us were part of a jam band community with a lot of musicians from the Lausanne music scene, players coming in and out all the time. That’s where we met.
Jack: When you formed the band 15 years ago, did you think you’d still be going 15 years later?
Boris: Not at all. It was just about jamming, wasn’t meant to last. Funny how sometimes, life takes you to a place you didn’t expect.
Jack: What’s the metal scene like in Switzerland? I’ve heard bands are treated really well there.
Boris: The metal scene is pretty strong in Switzerland, lots of good bands. The venues are nice and willing to do it the right way. The problem is that the market is pretty small and local media don’t care much about the underground scene; there’s not a big support when it comes to local bands.
Jack: When you decided to form the band were vocals ever considered at all?
Boris: In the beginning, vocals were not considered as we were looking for some kind of new direction and new ways of expressing ourselves from what we were used to.
Jack: Does the lack of vocals make the creative process freer in a way?
Boris: Probably…as you don’t use lyrics and vocal expression, you need to find different ways to be interesting without losing the melodic side of music. Also you can more easily get away from the traditional verse/chorus structure which leads you to different places.
Jack: You’ve said in an interview that you “put a great emphasis on writing pieces of music that tell a story.” How do you tell a story and add emotion to a song without vocals?
Boris: I think that you don’t need lyrics to express an idea, a concept or an emotion. Notes, grooves and sounds coming from various instruments can do it also. The main goal is to create an atmosphere, a vibe that takes you to a place you feel comfortable with.
Jack: You’ve just released your fifth album Astra Symmetry, are you happy with the response?
Boris: To be honest, we were a bit afraid about the response on the new record as we tried some new stuff and directions. So far the reviews are great, the album is well received by the medias and it looks like our fans dig it too. As we’ll start touring quite soon we’ll have the real response directly by the audience, which is the only one that really matters.
Jack: Was there recording process any different to your previous works?
Boris: On that one we did some things differently from the previous ones. This album was recorded on analog tape and meant to be on vinyl. As it’s a concept album, we recorded the tracks in the right order (to not lose the story) and 100% live in the studio.
Jack: There seem to be a lot more vocals and samples on this album, was this intentional?
Boris: Yes, it was intentional. We were looking for new sounds and ways of expression and adding a bit of vocals was the way to go, it adds that “down-to-earth” feeling to the album and we like it.
Jack: You’re going to be touring Europe in September and October to promote the album, will the tour be primarily material from Astra Symmetry?
Boris: During the following tour we’ll play a lot of Astra Symmetry material (pretty much the whole record), and a bit of old classics too!
Jack: Do you plan to return to the UK soon?
Boris: Hopefully we’ll be back in the UK next year, really looking forward to it.
Jack: Has the recent Brexit decision affected your view towards playing in the UK?
Boris: Brexit has no influence at all. Promoters and audience do.
Jack: Do you have fond memories of playing Roadburn?
Boris: We played Roadburn twice and both times were absolutely killer, great memories from this awesome festival.
Jack: What are your plans for 2017?
Boris: Touring, touring, writing new stuff, touring and touring.
Jack: Finally, who is your favourite monkey?
Boris: The one who has not been created yet!
Jack: Thanks so much for your time, I hope to see you in the UK soon!