Monstrous doom-laden riffs and epically drawn out songs are a staple of Monarch’s diet. They are a band that refuses to alter their sound or style to please anyone but themselves, with songs sometimes lasting so long you might only hear one or two tracks in a set. This does not result in compromise from the band, however, as Bassist MicHell explains.
“We never alter the actual tracks. In a live setting, songs can actually get longer,” MicHell explains.
“We’ll think that we’re going to have a half hour or 40 minute set and we’ll end up playing for 70 minutes.” When asked if the band literally plays one song within a set, MicHell goes on, “it usually does happen, just the one song.”
With songs so abnormally long, even by Opeth standards, I probed MicHell for an answer as to how the band decides when it is time to leave the colossal wall of amps in the rehearsal space and enter the studio to record Monarchs signature sound.
“We usually try to get a feel for them in a live setting, that’s when the music will take shape, you can’t really write the song on paper and have it make sense.”
It must be important for a band such as Monarch to refine their sound and get a feel for the live contexts of the songs before entering the studio.
“The whole sound aspect, the sonic aspect and the music is very important to Monarch, we can’t really work with the songs until we’re playing in front of walls of loud amps. We need to see what needs to go now, what needs to feedback, that sort of stuff. We need to tour songs before we actually get a feel for them.”
In relation to Monarch’s upcoming tour to Australia with doom metal legends Saint Vitus (courtesy of touring company Heathen Skulls) MicHell had a lot to say about the underground in Australia.
“Australia has an amazing punk scene. I think for our first Australian tour we did an Australian tour EP with Pisschrist and performed Discharge covers.”
Clearly no newcomer to the punk scene down under, MicHell continues on with some of his favourite Australian bands.
“I could go on forever: Whitehorse, Agonhymn, Hotel City Wrecking Traders, Encircling Sea- there’s way too many,” the bassist cheerfully laughs. “Pisschrist is one of my all-time favourite bands. I’m really getting into Kromosom as well.” (Yeap from Pisschrist’s current band).
MicHell’s knowledge of the Melbourne music scene was overwhelming as he also sounded off various historical Melbourne venues such as the (now non-existent) Arthouse and The Tote, which he was excited to re-visit.
As well as a vibrant taste for punk, Monarch are heavily influenced by metal legends Black Sabbath. With an album title that directly references the band, Sabbat Noir, French for Black Sabbath, they are clearly not trying to hide the influence.
“It’s primordial. It’s probably the first band ever to influence Shiran (guitarist) and myself. When we were 11-12 listening to Black Sabbath tapes, it was like the slowest, most evil music we’d ever heard, and that will always remain [as part of the Monarch sound].”
Monarch are currently working on material for their upcoming album.
“We’re writing and recording a new record as we speak. We’re really happy with the results for now.”
Although the upcoming album is still untitled, MicHell referenced what is possibly the most heavy metal TV show to be aired in recent years, as a direct impact on the next album.
“It’s heavily influenced by compulsively watching and re-watching episodes of Game of Thrones, so it’s going to sound pretty epic.”
MicHell could barely contain his excitement for the upcoming tour to Australia with Saint Vitus. Australia’s reputation as a beer drinking country is not lost on the bassist as the axeman’s eagerness was partly due to MicHell’s fondness of Australian beer, naming Cooper’s Pale Ale as his favourite drop from our wonderful land of finely crafted beverages and extensive beer guts.
“We love touring Australia; great people, great bands and great beer.”
Monarch are touring nationally around Australia with Saint Vitus next month.
Thursday 18th July: Brisbane @ The Hi Fi
w/ special guests AGONHYMN
Friday 19th July: Sydney @ The Hi Fi
w/ special guests LOOKING GLASS
Saturday 20th July: Melbourne @ The Hi Fi
w/ special guests CLAGG
Sunday 21st July: Perth @ The Rosemount
w/ special guests DROWNING HORSE