Monolords Rust was one of the best stoner/doom albums out last year, if not the best and any disciple of hard rocking grooves and mesmerising riffs should check it out if they haven’t done so by now. We caught up with the bands drummer, Esben Willems, to hear all about Rust and talked about other important subjects too like touring, beer, coffee and Black Sabbath.
Your new album Rust is out now. How did the creation and recording of the album go?
We worked on this one the same way we did with our previous releases, which means filtering out songs we all feel have potential, work on them until they feel solid and then recorded everything in our tiny rehearsal space, except for a few overdubs Thomas and Mika made at home.
How has the album been received?
Extremely well, we have had the absolute luxury of once again being blown away by the kind and supportive response from our fans. The album even ended up on a few best of the year lists for 2017 releases, and on top of that we just won an award for best metal release on the Swedish indie awards Manifestgalan. Great stuff.
How does Rust differ in sound from your last album Vaenir?
To me personally, Rust is just a natural step forward in our sound. What I consider our defining band sound is still the core and we have added a few new elements here and there, just to explore. We didn’t decide beforehand that this album should have a specific sound or be a certain statement genrewise, we simply went with where the material guided us to.
Rust is so heavy and has so many great riffs on it. Did you come up with the riffs on the album first or did it all just come together when you were writing it?
We don’t have a set method for writing music, it’s composed in all kinds of ways. Thomas has written all tracks on this one, some of them as rough sketches that we have finished together, some of them as finished songs that we have made our own, sweating it out in our rehearsal coffin.
There is a fair amount of melody on the album especially on a song like Dear Luicifer, did you want this to intertwine with the heaviness on the songs?
The albums closer At Niceae is fifteen minutes of downtuned sludge glory, was it essential that you signed the album off this way?
The track order was the last thing we decided on, so that wasn’t in mind writing At Niceae. But when all tracks were recorded, mixed and mastered, it felt like the perfect closer.
You released a special 9% beer in support of the album in collaboration with Oliver Beer Co. How was the beer received?
My impression is very well. Unfortunately we haven’t had the opportunity to taste the goodness ourselves, but Stephen always deliver great taste experiences, so I have no doubt that that DIPA was delicious.
What kind of beer was it?
Are you big beer drinkers and if so, what is your drink of choice?
We all enjoy good beers, yes. My personal favorites are usually – but of course not always – very hoppy IPA’s or APA’s.
You also released Monolord Dark Rust Blend Coffee with Cozo Coffee, Are you big coffee fans as well?
Oh, yes. The espresso machine at home runs warm daily; coffee fixes everything.
Are these opportunities a great way to get the bands name out there?
Most of all an inspiring possibility to collaborate with great brewers and coffee roasters.
You’re touring Scandinavia with Firebreather in February. Are you looking forward to that tour?
We started the tour last, in Porsgrunn, Norway. It’s always fun to get on stage and Firebreather are great guys and a powerhouse live act, so this is gonna be a good run.
What are your tour plans after that tour has finished?
After this, we go on a four week tour in Europe, supporting Black Label Society. Gonna be great fun! We finish that tour with Durbuy Fest in Belgium, then home and sleep like the dead and then we hit the road on a shared headline tour with Conan in May.
Will you be making it back over to the UK?
Yes, both with Black Label Society and with Conan.
You’re playing on The Valley stage at Hellfest in June with Corrosion Of Conformity, Eyehategod and Church Of Misery in June. You must be looking forward to that?
Of course! We had a blast last time we played there. It was crazy early, but a massive crowd still showed up. A humbling experience.
Do you know if you will be playing any of the other summer festivals yet?
We promise we will announce everything as soon as we’re able. Stay tuned.
You’re touring again with Conan and you finished another tour with them not long ago, how did that go
We had a really good time with them, easygoing guys. Same mindset on both bands there: Chill, coffee, 9000 decibel live show, sleep, repeat. I had a very good time on that tour.
What was the highlight of the tour?
I really don’t want to pick out single highlights as if the rest was less intense or inspiring experiences. To me, the highlights are always getting on stage and kicking off the first song. Never gets old. Ever.
Have you been playing most of the album live or is it a mixture of old and new material?
We usually aim to play tracks from all our releases, if time allows.
What song do you love to play live the most?
That depends on the vibe that night, the crowd, the venue, everything. It differs from place to place.
Who have you loved touring with the most and why?
Again, picking favorites above others is something I dislike. All bands we have toured with have been special in their own way and we have gotten interesting experiences from and with all of them. I hope they feel the same about us.
What were your top three albums of 2017?
I think Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper gets all top three for me. There were so many great releases last year, but that album stands out, in my opinion.
Who were your main inspirations as a musician?
As a kid it was Søren Berlev, Bill Ward and John Bonham. Since then, every musician that have played music that I enjoy.
What are your favourite doom and sludge albums of all time?
Just like playing songs live, it depends on the mood.
What is your favourite Black Sabbath moment and why?
The cowbell around 2:10 in the song The Wizard. Needs no explanation.
What have been the highlights of your career in Monolord so far?
Getting to play music around the world for relentless fans is the ongoing highlight. That’s the soul fuel that makes it all worthwhile.