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Dee Snider called us ‘the next greatest thing!’ Monster Truck’s Steve Kiely on getting PR that money can’t buy.

Monster Truck return to the UK in April following a run of shows supporting Black Stone Cherry in December 2018.

Opening to a packed arena every night won’t have done the Canadian’s any harm whatsoever and if the reception they received was anything to go by then the UK shows which will then be followed by a run of dates across the rest of Europe are likely to be completely sold out.

We spoke to Steve, the guy who sits behind the tubs driving the sound and energy of the band forward. If ever one musician bleeds enthusiasm and energy, it’s him.

AH: We really enjoyed seeing you guys at Wembley Arena in December, it was always going to be quite a blast. It was quite a bill you’d managed to put together.

SK: I was so looking forward to that. Especially with it being the last show of the tour.

AH: And then you’re pretty much straight back into it in 2019 as well. You’re out on a club tour in home country from February.

SK: That’s right. Yeah, we’ve got that club tour that is booked and we’re also doing cruises as well. Now that’s an interesting thing that we have only been done once before but it’s still kind of new and so it’s going to be these rock cruises, I don’t know if you’re familiar with them at all. I don’t know if they do them over in the UK but down in the in the Caribbean they do rock cruises where it’s basically a festival on a cruise ship kind of thing.

AH: Yeah, ‘Seventy thousand tonnes’ is the one I’ve seen one of my colleagues at the site cover before.

SK: They always have clever names, this one’s “Ship Rocked”. Very good eh?.

[Laughs] And then we’re doing, the after club tour, we’re doing  a Trailer Park Boys cruise.

AH: Oh are you really?

SK: Yeah, yeah. So that’ll be a blast I’m sure.

AH: Certainly Yeah, I was going to we’ve had the TV series now for quite some time on Netflix. Did they started out as a stand up show or have they always been on TV? It seems to be very popular.

SK: It’s always been a TV show, but they kind of started out kind of small as a Canadian thing. And it seems to gain a bit of a cult following there.

AH: Yeah, definitely.

SK: Around the world really.

AH: So how does that work for you then, I mean presumably there’s a mixture of what those guys would normally do as part of the TV shows plus music as well?

SK: Yeah, there’s a couple, I believe there, Tom Green is the comedian that’s on the cruise. But he but he’s also a music artists as well. So maybe he’ll be, I don’t know if he’s going to be doing, I’m sure we’ll be doing some comedy and some hip hop. And then there’s another Canadian band called ‘Bif Naked’.

AH: Oh, yeah. I heard of them.

SK: Don’t know if your familiar. They are on it as well. And then and I think maybe one or two more, right. I think it’s less band, it’s more centered around the Trailer Park Boys probably was the odd dash music here and there if you know to me but I don’t know really, I’m not sure exactly what to expect, it’s going to be fun.

http://www.trailerparkboyscruise.com/

AH: When you return to the UK, you’ll be touring the new album ‘True Rocker’ the cover artwork for the which is what I can only describe as one of the best movie posters I’ve seen in a long time.

SK: Yeah, yeah, that was done by an artist. His name’s Tony Sklepic. He’s a Canadian tattoo artists, but I guess an artist in general, and we met him when to a couple of us were tattooed by him on tour in Canada, maybe about three, four years ago. And he is just a really good buddy of ours and stayed in touch. And when it came time to come up with our work for this album. We always do that ourselves. Jon and Jer [Jon Harvey & Jeremy Widerman] are very active with pulling that kind of stuff off, coming up with ideas and we wanted a kind of a cartoon, not cartoon, but drawn art piece for our cover. And we wanted pictures of us to be included in that and drawing people to a realistic degree is it a tough thing I think for artists and this guy Tony, he’s a he’s a super realistic artist, he really nailed that stuff.

So we got him to kind of mock up a collage if you will, of some things that sum us up in a picture and then he did a couple more a couple more drawings that we’re going to use for poster art for upcoming tours and yeah it’s just kind of a cool week, we’ve kind of tried to keep with that scene so far with our artwork as we get into this cycle of drawings of artwork of us and our posters and all that stuff and it seems to be kind of a cool unifying thing that people are taking notice of and people are enjoying looking at you know?

AH: Definitely. Harks back to the days of when a full size album cover was something to saver, to give you something to get your head into.

SK: Yeah, I love those album covers and when you open them up it’s a double page picture, so that’s kind of a bonus. We kind of, that’s what we’ve modeled a lot of aspects of this band after is how, how people used to do it back in the day, you know, and I guess it’s just another example of that. Just a kind of an old tried and tested method that maybe not too many people are doing these days.

AH: No, definitely, definitely is. I mean, the one thing that’s missing now is you need some kind of fairground attraction where the spray painters design the artwork, because it’s the perfect collage design that you can see on the the Waltzers or the other rides when it comes in to town.

SK: Right yes, yes, totally.

AH: Yeah, that has worked so, so well and with the name of the band as well it’s perfect, you need your own ride now!

SK: Yeah, yeah, exactly. We gotta get that done.

AH: Definitely. Definitely. And so tell me a little bit about the album. I mean I’m sure you guys have been talking about this a lot as it’s been out a while now but obviously True Rocker had a very tough act to follow as well because the reception of Sitting Heavy, really pushed it through the roof for you, didn’t it?

SK: Yeah it was, it was great. That was a lot of people’s kind of first exposure to us which was cool and you know we feel about that album like we feel about all our albums. It was putting out the best stuff we had at that time and we learned some things from that album and yeah, I mean we knew it was going to be a bit of a tough one to follow but I think if you’re confident with your all of the stuff you record it’s always going to be tough to follow your last album, you always want to be kind of pushing your standards up higher and higher as you go and we didn’t let it daunt us or scare us really at all. It’s just kind of a challenge and we kind of work best when we have a little bit of pressure on us,  a little bit of a deadline of some sort. So…

AH: That’s a great thing
.

SK: Yeah, it’s a good problem to have, right?

AH: If the reception to the previous album had been terrible, you’re almost under as much pressure to well, how can we turn everybody’s opinion around. So this is a nice place to be, the fact that you guys had such a good reaction.

SK: Adds more pressure [laughs].

We kind of went through another process as you have on all our records, of thinking we were finished and then having the powers that be kind of telling us, that we didn’t have radio singles or didn’t have a concise radio single.

So we kind of went back into the studio half under our own, our own premise and half under some pressure from management and labels and we recorded a few more tunes, and to be honest, the best thing I can say about that experience, it was a learning experience.

We pushed ourselves out of our comfort zone and we recorded a few tunes that wouldn’t typically be on a Monster Truck record or wouldn’t typically be tunes that we would ever really like I guess you could say to a degree.

But this being our third full length, I think the thought was we need to push our boundaries a little bit and try not to release the same record every time. And in hindsight there’s arguments saying it was not the best move and there’s arguments to say it was a good move.

But it’s just, the main thing about it is we learned a lot again in recording this record and the fact that there’s divided opinion on which song should have made the record which songs that didn’t, it just kind of as a testament to how strong all material was for this record. So we also kind of pushed ourselves in different directions production wise on this record that we never have before and again learned a lot. And I think once, everyone sees how we’re going to do our next record, I think what we have learned will become more apparent. But yeah, I don’t know if there was really a eureka moment of “We’ve really done it here”.

It was, it was a tumultuous time finishing this record. The release was pushed back months and months and months due to contract negotiations with labels, with switching management companies. So the true pure essence for just recording an album you love and getting it out was lost a little bit in the hold up and in re-recording songs. But like I said, what we came out with was, it’s we’re all proud of. And we’ve all kind of recounted this as a big learning experience. That is really all you can hope for, going forward.

AH: Did that mean when you sent the album out for review, was that slightly nervous moment there for the band, wait to see about first reviews to see if you were right with what you’ve gone for?

SK: Yeah, yeah, it always is. I think it’s taught us to make sure that we do that, we keep them in the loop way more in the early stages of things, so that we’re on the same page the whole way through as we’re creating even, because it is the more nerve wracking the more of a finished product you hand them, you know what I mean? Because in your mind, you’re thinking, this is it, it’s done what you think, and then they’re going to have an answer for you. As supposed to, sharing your development and your demos and the pre-production being like, this is kind of along the lines we’re going. What do you think? And then working more collaboratively on making sure that the end result’s where we need it to be, you know?

AH: Tell me how you got hold of Dee, because having Dee Snider appear on your albums. That’s pretty cool.

SK: Yeah. Well, he was in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Well, because like 45 minutes down the road from Hamilton, our home town. And he was working on a Christmas production there, like a musical that I think he was directing. They were performing it obviously around Christmas time, I guess a couple years ago. And in the rehearsals, during rehearsals, he would he would walk from his hotel to the theater every day. And he’d stopped at this juice bar, like smoothies and juices. He’s a health, total health buff. And he would stop by this juice bar every day to get a juice on his way into rehearsals.

Jim Kiely @ Wembley Arena, December 2018
Picture: (C) Adrian Hextall

And one day our music was playing over the loudspeaker and he asked the guy behind the counter, who is this? I love this, and they said, Oh, it’s Monster Truck. I guess the guy working there was a fan and was playing our music and these are freaking out about us and how much he loved it and the guy I think he gave him an EP or something like that. And then all of a sudden Dee started tweeting that he thought this was the next greatest thing and how much he love the loved our band and then we just kind of got in touch. It’s funny how relationships could start from Twitter these days, you know…?

That’s basically it and then when it came time to work on that song [title track] True Rocker, that he’s on, he had this part where we always had kind of envisioned a preaching kind of part, which is the part that he ended up doing and of course we thought it was better with Mr “I Wanna Rock” himself and we asked him and he said yes right away and the rest is history.

The first time I heard it, I just had goose bumps. It was so cool to to hear him on one of our tunes. It was definitely a special moment.

AH: You can’t buy that sort of publicity that he willingly offered. Just because he latched on to the sound of the band and he really enjoyed it.

SK: Yeah. He really cared, you’re right. That’s as good as it gets. Just him liking us so much that he just wants to be involved in any way he can and he’s been seeing on TV shows wearing our shirts and talking about us and interviews and he’s been more than kind to us and we appreciate all of he’s giving us.

We’re just hoping one day our paths will cross at a festival so he can actually come on on stage and do it with us. Now that would be good. So we’re waiting for that.

AH: Yeah, well we’ve got him back in the UK at Bloodstock in 2019.

SK: Oh. No way.

AH: If you guys can get yourselves on the bill we’ve got him in the UK next summer. We’ll try and hang on to him while you come over.

SK: Yeah, yeah.

AH: Perfect.

The UK tour dates are below and tickets can be purchased here:

https://www.planetrocktickets.co.uk/

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