A while ago I had the opportunity to chat with MONSTER TRUCK’S Jeremy Widerman on Skype, but I wanted to wait until the start of the tour to share it with you guys. They’ve been riding high on their amazing full-length debut Furiosity, and after witnessing them live for the first time I knew I had to get this interview up ASAP. They don’t get much more authentic than this band, and Jeremy is as genuine as they come. Read on and see:
Amps: Steve over at SKH Music turned me onto you guys at the end of last year and I was highly impressed, seriously. He sent me the Furiosity record and I was blown away by your sound and songs, man.
Jeremy: Oh, awesome! That’s so great to hear. It’s been overwhelming to see all this great response we’ve gotten. It’s been really fun. We actually spent a really, really long time trying to make the record sound big and thick. It took us almost a year of screwing around to get it to sound the way we wanted it to.
Amps: Tell me about “For the Sun”…I understand we played it live for a year before recording it?
Jeremy: Yeah. It was a situation where we really tried to make sure that the pacing was appropriate. We didn’t want it to feel like it ended too soon or got to the climax too quick or anything was out of place, as well as the execution of the arrangement. That was vital to making it work. So after playing it live for so long and seeing what was working and what wasn’t and making little adjustments, it really needed to be that long. And from my perspective on the guitar-playing end of things what I wanted to do guitar-wise was out of the realm of my skill level when we started writing the song. So it was a situation where I felt obliged to up my game to be able to play the kind of parts that I wanted to play to do the song justice. It’s unfortunate that radio won’t play those kinds of songs anymore, man.
Amps: So, April 14 is the first night on the tour with ALTER BRIDGE. You guys excited?
Jeremy: We’re really excited! It’s got everything to do with the momentum ALTER BRIDGE has been able to get going with that new record (Fortress) that is really bangin’. It gets us in front of a lot of people, people that have never seen us or heard of us. We’re friends with Myles Kennedy from the SLASH tour that we did about a year and a half ago. It’s gonna be really nice to see him again, ’cause he’s probably one of the most cool and approachable people we’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting on the road and I have a feeling that he was a huge part of why we even got the opportunities.
Amps: I also see you’ve gotten some dates with ALICE IN CHAINS coming in May. So things are really taking off, huh?
Jeremy: Yeah we have a couple and I think there’s gonna be a few more announced. You know how the politics of show announcing and tour routing goes, but we’re gonna do a nice little run with them right after the ALTER BRIDGE tour. It’s amazing to see all these tours coming together and lining up like this, it’s a very fortunate situation for us.
Amps: How does everyone feel about the way things are taking off and rolling right now?
Jeremy: It’s been really great, man. It’s almost like the more momentum we gain the more comfortable the situation gets as far as traveling and the logistics of actually making this work. We grew up in the punk rock days and we did a lot of punk rock van touring and sometimes that can get really, really tiresome. It’s already hard enough to be away from home and doing all that kind of stuff, so when you compound it with uncomfortable living situations and 10-hour drives you have to handle yourself before a show it gets really tough sometimes. So we’ve afforded ourselves a few small luxuries lately that have made it a little bit easier to handle the rigors of the road.
Amps: How long do you plan to be out? Are you even thinking about the next record, or no?
Jeremy: We are writing already. To me, and I think this is something that happens a lot with bands, they have a strong debut album, which I feel like we do, sometimes you can run into situation where you don’t write for two years because you’re supporting this brand new record that’s catching on left and right. And then after that you tour, then you come home, and then the label wants another record immediately, and you’re forced into writing one in a month or two. The first album we did over the course of three years, so it obviously has a lot of different sounds on it. It’s very well-crafted and a lot of time went into making sure everything was right. I think it’s important that we start writing now and start refining the songs and playing them at shows now as opposed to waiting until the last minute. I’d hate to give anyone we’ve got as a fan right now something that didn’t live up to the standard we set with the first record.
Amps: Who does the writing?
Jeremy: The real magic of it all happens when all four of us are together and we get into the jam space. Sometimes the seed of the initial ideas of this song or that song will happen with John or with me. But the real magic of the arrangement and the culmination of each part and the vibe of the whole song comes together when all four members are in the room giving their two cents and refining everything. You know, taking some things out that don’t need to be there, adding some interesting parts to make the song come alive, that’s when it usually takes shape.
Jeremy: We’ve been listening to this Swedish band called BLUES PILLS. They’re really cool, we like them a lot. I’m a sucker for the classics. I spend a lot of time listening to ZEPPELIN, and I got a huge amount of love for early GRAND FUNK RAILROAD from ’69-’72. That was the best music. I also got a thing for AIRBOURNE lately. They feel like brothers from another mother at times because they’re throwing it back but also pushing it forward. They’re super-busy road dogs and they put on a crazy show. We were lucky enough to catch them in Quebec City last year and it was a bit of a game-changer for me because it’s setting the bar as far as entertainment performance-wise, and they delivery on every level.
Amps: I’m a BIG AIRBOURNE guy, too. As far as tour life goes has it been pretty much smooth sailing or are there any Spinal Tap moments along the way?
Jeremy: (Laughs) I don’t think it’s possible NOT to have those moments. We really try and make it all about the show and remember that’s the main reason we’re out here. Everyone’s gotta do their own personal things to keep themselves sane whether it’s playing a round of Tiger Woods on the Xbox or getting a workout in the hotel gym or even just finding a half an hour to go for a walk by yourself where you don’t have a million other people fuckin’ yappin’ in your ear. Everyone’s gotta do their own thing. We’re all 33, 34 years old now and we’ve been doing this a long time whether it’s in this band or another one, and it’s really finding your happy place and being able to find a half hour to go there so you don’t turn into The Incredible Hulk!
Amps: Do you have a favorite track on Furiosity?
Jeremy: I really am a fan of “The Lion”. That’s a song we’ve had for about three years and when we wrote it we just started playing it every night, it became the opener. And that song really sums up the band really well. You can get the idea of where we’re going and where we’ve been with that one. I like “Psychics” a lot. I like really fast and heavy stuff. But at the end of the day it’s hard to pick a favorite because it changes from night to night depending on the crowd, and my mood. Sometimes I like the slower jams, and at the end of the day I’m proud to say I really enjoy the record top to bottom. When we finished it I felt really good about it. I’d never been so satisfied with an album that I’d been a part of. I felt like we achieved every goal we had set out to on that record and it was an amazing sense of relief when it was finally finished.
Amps: What would you like to say to the MONSTER TRUCK fans out there?
Jeremy: If you wanna check out the band we got the first two EP’s on our website (ilovemonstertruck.com) for free download, so you can grab those there and that’ll be all the introduction that you need.
As I said before, last week I saw MONSTER TRUCK for the first time. They came out with power and authority and they made believers out of those in attendance with a quickness. And if they keep putting out records like Furiosity as well as kicking asses live on a regular basis, expect to hear their name a lot more in future.