If you are into extreme metal you should have come across the name MONOLITH DEATHCULT at one time or another. With a new album about to drop an interview had to happen. Anders Ekdahl ©2018
A band name says more than thousand words, or does it? How important is a band name to get people interested in your music?
Robin: In the old days you could just pick a word (or two) and that would be it. These days all the cool band names are taken and you have to get creative, and I think people also look for the band name to get a sense of what kind of music is played. You wouldn’t expect a band called “Goat Fetus Destroyer” to play prog metal and you’d be surprised to hear that “Streams of Buddha” played goregrind for example. Other than that, I think a lot of band names are still something that ‘sounds cool’. I don’t really know if it’s that important for audiences that a band has a special band name.
When you finish a recording and then sit back and relax, what kind of feelings do you get? Are you glad it is finished? Does the anxiety grow, not knowing if everybody will like it?
Robin: Disappointment, regret, self-loathing, and a very deep desire to actually learn our instruments! But other than that, the work is far from finished after the recordings are done. There’s mixing to be done and mastering, promotion, interviews, merchandise, new gigs… I would almost say that the recording phase is the quietest phase of making a new album. Then we eagerly await all the bad review, because those are much more interesting and hilarious to read than positive reviews!
What is it like to be in a studio recording your music? What kind of feelings and thoughts race through your heads?
Robin: We haven’t seen the inside of a proper “recording studio” for years. Nowadays we record everything ourselves, either at home or in our rehearsal rooms. There’s something very liberating about being able to re-record something without the feeling that you’re pissing away hundreds of euros each day. So the recording part is mostly very relaxed and most of the time goes into actually learning our own songs, since so many different demo versions are shuffled in between band members.
Today I get a feeling that the promotion of a band lands a lot on the bands themselves so how does one promote oneself the best possible way in order to reach as many as possible?
Michiel: Well, for our upcoming album ’Vergelding’ we decided NOT to work with a record label this time. Labels are doing a lot of good work but promotional wise, you are still one of the 10000 bands on their roster. Today there are soo many bands and releases that we felt we need a promoplan focussed on The Monolith Deathcult. We started our own label called HUMAN DETONATOR RECORDS and hire Willem van Maele (hifimarketing.be) for promotion and management. Today via Social Media you can reach an enormous ammount of people and Willem knows all about the black magick behind the algorithms.
On November 17th we released our first single “Fist of Stalin” https://youtu.be/7uFiYkH0zio and on otobert 30th we will release the next single. All music will be shared via Facebook/Youtube/Spotify/Deezer/Amazon/Itunes/Tidal and so on. I think this is the way to promote the band as good as possible.
Today we have all these different sub-genres in metal. How important is that you can be tagged in one of these? Why isn’t metal enough as a tag?
-We call ourselves ‘Svpreme Avant Garde Death Metal’, this because the banner “ death metal” isn’t covering the load. It will stuck in peoples mind and we are the first in the Google results. There are a lot of extremely sub-genres like ” depressive black metal”…wtf did anyknow know a happy black metal band?
What importance is there in being part of local/national/international scene? Does playing in a band make you feel like you are a part of something bigger? I know it does to me knowing that in some slight way I was a part of the Swedish death metal scene in the 90s.
Carsten: Yes, it does. First and foremost, I’m in the band to scratch my music-making-itch, to spank my music-making-monkey, etcetera. But getting messages from and meeting fans at concerts from all over the world is just a lovely extra bonus and a great feeling indeed. To think that people around the world voluntarily listen to our music and really enjoy it, haha. I sometimes forget that that can happen after you released an album. It’s a wonderful thing to a part of something bigger than just the music.
Ever since I first got into metal the art work has been a main motivator in buying a record. What part does art work for album covers play in the world of the band?
Carsten: Yes, in many cases it can be the first “touch point” for potential fans. So I think the artwork should ideally reflect the music on the album somehow. For Versus and Vergelding we’ve based the artwork on the concepts behind the albums and made it esthetically different from “conventional” metal covers. We hope it catches the eye of metal fans that are more interested in metal that is not super traditional, like our “avant-garde death metal”.
How important is having a label to back you up today when you can just release your music on any sort of platform online? With the ability to upload your music as soon as you’ve written it the freedom to create has become greater but are there any negative consequences to music being too readily available to fans now that every Tom, John and Harry can upload their stuff?
Carsten: Vergelding is actually the first album we’ve released without the help of an established label. We’ve started our own called “Human Detonator Records”. Up front, it has cost us a lot more money, we had to fund everything ourselves. But every penny Vergelding will make, will be for us so well worth it. Also, there is a lot more work involved for promotion on our side now, and to help us with that we’ve hired a great marketeer specialized in metal bands.
Of course it helps that we’ve been around for a while and have a nice following. But I think bands just starting out can get very far as well. Just read a book on music business and marketing, make a social media marketing plan, start ad campaigns on Facebook etcetera, create a cool music video. It doesn’t have to cost thousands to reach thousands of fans nowadays.
As for Tom, John and Harry, you’ll never stop them. Yes, piracy is wrong and in a perfect world every consumer should pay for the hard work creative people do for them. But I look at the positive side of it: their uploads can be free promotion, you could potentially reach new fans this way. True fans will want to visit your concerts and buy your albums and shirts anyway. It’s like casting a wide net and end up with more fans you could have gotten otherwise.
What is a gig with you like? What kind of shows do you prefer to play?
Michiel: A Monolith Deathcult gig is full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing. A Monolith Deathcult liveshow is a steamroller full of blastbeats, double bass salvo’s mixed with gabberbeats and nasty sampes. I saw Ministry in their good days and I like to reach that thunderous expiernece als close as possible. We like to play al sort of gigs, but we prefer the festival because you reach also people who are not into your music.
What lies in the future?
Michiel: Our fith album is a Triology. In 2017 we released V1-Versus, this year we release V2 -Vergelding and we are aiming on 2020 for V3- Vernedering. In the meantime we like to play as much cool gigs as possible and we hope to play for the first time in Sweden.