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MONOLORD – Livin’ La Visa Loco

monolordThey may be a young band, but the relentless stoner-doom of Monolord is undeniably making in-roads around the world. Next stop for the Swedish trio is New Zealand and Australia, with Italians Ufomammut as co-headliner, and they’re at The Rosemount Hotel on Sunday, 9 October. SHANE PINNEGAR called drummer Ebsen Willems to learn more about the band whose second album Vænir is scoring rave reviews for its ice cold malevolent beauty.

Ebsen Willems is tired. Dog tired. Talking to me from Sacramento, California towards the end of Monolord’s second visit to The States – their first as headliners – his schedule has been relentless, and there’s a lot more to do before he can rest.

“No, no time to relax at all, it’s been crazy,” he says wearily. “I think it was 32 shows in five and a half weeks, it’s been insane – but then again, fun, so yeah. But soon back home so we can get some sleep.”

It’s really easy and a bit lazy for journalists to say that every doom or stoner or sludge or whatever you want to call it band, all come from Black Sabbath, but there is a lot of other influences out there. Willems agrees that the band have a lot of different inspiration to bring to Monolord.

“Well, that’s a big question, thanks,” he laughs. “I guess, the thing is that all three of us are all different people when it comes to music, because we come from three very different places, which I like a lot. It’s kind of a constant friction when we write music, but that friction is a good thing, I think. So, all three of us look into all kinds of music. Myself, I’m into well produced… I don’t know how to say that… I love Tom Waits – that’s beautiful, good songs, great art. And obviously AC/DC, Motorhead and old Sabbath – I like the hard rock and roll, that’s what mostly that I come from. Mika [Häkki – bass] comes from the psych rock mostly, and ‘60s garage rock. Thomas [Jäger – guitars and vocals] listens to a lot of old death metal and crusty punk. But not only, of course – we all listen to all sorts. It’s a really good cross and it’s impossible to answer!”

The very term ‘stoner rock’ implies a certain level of wastefulness. How important are drugs to the creation and the enjoyment of the music of Monolord?

“It’s not at all, I think. It’s just boring PR for bands,” Willems says, perhaps surprisingly. “I mean, if you want to indulge in and do it – if that makes you happy, that’s one thing, but it’s not necessary. Why should it be? It’s just one of those tired old myths to me.”

Monolord’s next album has been started, but their relentless touring schedule means it’s still a way from being released.

“For a long time now [we’ve been recording], but we haven’t gotten the time to look at it properly because we are on tour again,” he says, sounding more tired than ever. “We need to get some rest, but at the same time also, yeah, it’s coming along. We have no idea [when we will release it], but hopefully next year.”

With so much touring the band’s day jobs fell by the wayside months ago – but touring is expensive for an independent band. Is Monolord’s tour schedule sustainable? Do merch sales cover the travelling expenses?

“Well, it is hard financially – it’s really tough,” admits Willems. “Especially in the U.S., because European bands have to apply for visas to be able to tour the U.S. and they are insanely expensive.

“So we have to tour as much as possible under one year of visa, which especially the second time in the U.S. our fans are great, buying all kinds of merch and supporting us in every way possible, often to [let us] stay at their places to [help pay for] motels. It’s getting there. It will be financially feasible in the long run.”

And with that Ebsen Willems is off to get some sleep, no doubt dreaming of thunderdoom riffs raining down from on high.

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