Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Interview: Jon of Monsterworks


It's always a pleasure to get the thoughts and things out of some of my favorite artists.

Once again, it's my honor to speak to Jon, the Principle Songwriter of Monsterworks.

Glacially Musical: Well, it's been a little since we've heard from the weird factory of Monsterworks. How are you?

Monsterworks: Very well thanks.  It has been relatively busy in our camp getting this album ready for release and working on two others simultaneously.  

There were delays in post production this time around which lead to a longer than usual gap between releases but, jeez, if we are getting shit for taking 16 months between albums what can you say about Metallica?  

8 years between proper studio albums for an active band is ridiculous.  

GM: Any changes to the factory we should know about?

MW:  Not in the band; my long suffering bandmates are still sticking around!  

We did record in a new studio this time,  since the one we have used for the previous nine (!) albums closed down.

GM: Let's talk Black Swan Annihilation. 

MW:  Yes, let's.

GM: First off, what in the world does that mean? 

MW:  I came across the term "Black Swan Event" and it intrigued me.  

The basic idea is that every now and then an unexpected and unprecedented event occurs which has a profound effect on civilization.  The reference comes from the fact that in Europe they used to consider a black swan something that was impossible or ridiculously rare, similar to a blue moon. 

 There were no black swans in Europe, only standard white ones.  Of course it later turned out there were such animals elsewhere in the world so the original phrase has lots its meaning now, but it is still used in the context of an event that changes history.

I added the "annihilation" part because it sounded metal.  Once I had the title, the concept followed: basically some kind of unpredictable extinction level event.  

The exact nature of it within the context of the album is not disclosed because the whole point is that such a catastrophe comes out of nowhere.  

A good example of something that would not be a black swan event is societal collapse due to man-made climate change.  Such a thing has been predicted for decades so it is hardly surprising if it comes true.

And the cover art...what's all that about?

MW:  Well it is fairly literal.  I just wanted a strong image.  Believe it or not I found quite a few examples of artwork where a skull was merged with a swan, but I made my own using good ol' Photoshop.

GM: This record is a bit different than your previous output. Was this a concerted effort, or did you just find yourself listening to Darkside of the Moon too much?

MW:  Umm.  Is that a good thing?  

The Monsterworks sound slowly evolves and this is just where we are at now.  It is never planned as such.  I just demo music until I have a set of songs that I feel flow well as an album.  

The concept usually comes later.  

GM: Are you ever going to release anything on vinyl?

MW:  Overhaul, the album before last, was released on vinyl.  

I like vinyl although digital music should be sonically superior if the mastering engineer allows it to retain its dynamic range.  To be honest my experience with releasing on vinyl was not a positive one.  

It has high upfront costs and it didn't sell that well.  Possibly because we were distributing it ourselves and the postage costs make it too expensive to ship around the world.

Besides which, while I think our Overhaul album sounds cool, the quality of modern vinyl especially on small run releases is not very consistent.  

The plants are overworked and the art of pressing has been lost to some degree.  Our album had a dedicated vinyl master but many do not and it may be the same dynamically squashed CD master being used in which case there is no sonic advantage to the fan paying twice as much for an LP.  All music is recorded digitally so there is no true all analog chain anyway.  

I will not personally release a Monsterworks album on vinyl again, but if we had label support and they want to do it then great.  I will make sure it is optimized for the format because I care about those kinds of things.  

It may interest you to know that I now pace Monsterworks albums for a classic LP length so they are ready to go as a single LP, even if its not going to be released that way.  One of my pet peeves is bands that don't edit themselves and limit the runtime of an album to something that approximates the "classic" album length of about 40 minutes.  

Your favorite albums from the 70s and 80s are that length.

GM: Any cool plans we should know about?

MW:  Mainly the two new albums are working on.  I can't say too much about it because it is early days but the drums and bass are down for both.

GM: What else do we all need to know about Monsterworks?

MW: The new album, and past ones, are available for free download from bandcamp ( so there is really no excuse for not checking us out!  

It seems we are probably not for everybody but just know, even if our style might seem a bit random sometimes it is never contrived.  This is music made for our own pure enjoyment.

GM: Thanks for taking the time!

MW:  Thanks Nik.  Always a pleasure!

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