Canada's Rip-Roaring Monster Truck Packs Tons of Furiosity
Monster Truckers: Steve Kiely, Brandon Bliss, Jeremy Widerman, and Jon Harvey
Photos courtesy of SKH Media
For this article, this wasn't supposed to be how Rocks Off interviewed Jeremy Widerman, guitarist/singer for the heavy, heavy Canadian classic rock-inspired band Monster Truck.
Widerman was supposed to call from Germany, where the band was wrapping up some European dates before heading to the U.S. and open gigs for Alter Bridge and then Alice in Chains. But when the agreed-upon time came and went, we received a text from their U.S.-based publicist vaguely mentioning that the band "had been pulled over by the cops in Germany and were still dealing with it."
Our mind reeled with the potential possibilities of the situation -- and the punishment that could be dealt with a Teutonic vengeance upon the four hirsute Canucks. But alas, the real explanation, as Widerman relays via e-mail interview two days later, is far more pedestrian. Or at least has something to do with the road.
"They stopped us because they could tell we were overloaded with too much gear and weight in our van!", Widerman writes. "It's something they do with touring bands. We were just the unlucky ones to get tagged. We were 1,800 pounds over the limit, which means we had to split up some people and gear into a second vehicle for the remainder of the drive into Stuttgart."
Well, as the band's motto says, "Don't Fuck with the Truck." International incident avoided, Widerman says he and the rest of the group -- Jon Harvey (lead vocals/bass), Brandon Bliss (organ/vocals), and Steve Kiely (drums/vocals) -- are ready to play fast and furious sets to promote last year's full-length debut record, the aptly titled Furiosity (Dineal One).
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"With this record, we were able to really listen back to what we had done with our [previous EPs] and had the ability to change and redo stuff we weren't happy with," he offers. "We were also able to spend more time playing around with the tones and just generally be more comfortable overall with the end result."
Of the dozen rip-roaring tracks, two follow a well-explored thematic tradition in rock: "Power of the People," about how the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and "Call It a Spade," about how many a traveling musician loves 'em and leaves 'em on the road.
"'Power' is just a general wake-up call in regards to what we believe will be a social uprising in the future," Widerman says. "We tend to stay away from specific political agendas. However, I think there's a large amount of people that feel there is a major shift happening in the way economics are handled worldwide, and the feeling is growing."
And the earthier "Spade"?
"Not much to this one!", he allows. "Just a general touring song and an honest admission of what it can be like in a relationship on the road."
On the road that Monster Truck is steaming down, though, Widerman admits that the challenge for attention, ears and music-purchasers is bigger in this country than the one from which he is typing out his answers.
"Audiences in Europe and Canada, they are so enthusiastic, and they are just in general more interested in old-school [classic] rock and roll," he offers. "We have a much easier time building a fan base in Europe. In the U.S., the taste for rock has shifted from classic rock to something I don't care to explain or listen to."
Growing up in Canada, Widerman notes that he and members of the band were exposed to bands from other lands mostly via videos on the television channel (and now also Web site) MuchMusic.
"They played videos all day and had a really great mix of everything current and upcoming. It's too bad that it's totally turned to shit lately...they pretty much followed MTV right off the bridge," he says, while adding that his father's classic rock music collection had a "ton of influence" on him.
Story continues on the next page.
Slash, a fan, sports a "Don't Fuck with the Truck" T-shirt
As for their upcoming tourmates, Widerman says they have good relationships with both, meeting Alter Bridge singer Myles Kennedy when Monster Truck opened dates for Kennedy's other gig, warbling for Slash and the Conspirators.
"Myles as one of the most approachable and grounded people you could ever hope to meet, and he really made an impression on us," Widerman says.
They've also toured Canada previously with Alice in Chains, whom he says were all very approachable and level-headed, always looking to "help or hang out."
However, the band that managed to escape the wrath of the German secret (or not-so-secret) police for carrying too many amps does have one upcoming destination that holds great intimidation for them. Though there's no way to avoid going there.
"Texas," Widerman writes, "scares the shit out of me!"
Monster Truck opens up for Alter Bridge Tuesday, April 15, at House of Blues, 1204 Caroline. Doors open at 8 p.m.
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