MONOLITH WIELDER are a quartet made up of several veterans of the Pittsburgh music scene. This month they will release new album for italian label Argonauta Records.
Their guitarist Justin Gizzi and singer/guitarist Gero von Dehn (Von Dane/Zom), gave us this interesting chat.
LFdM: Let's start from a brief introduction of each one of you. Howwould you describe Monolith Wielder to those who still don'tknow your band?Justin: Hi, you have Gero von Dehn (guitar & vocals) and Justin Gizzi (guitar) answering questions today. I'd describe us as a heavy band with doom, stoner, grunge and classic rock influences. Some songs are cut and dry, some are more of a melting pot.
Justin: I used "monolith-wielding" to describe Saint Vitus's sound in a bio I wrote for the Obsessed, referencing when Wino joined up with Vitus. It was on a MySpace fan page I'd made for The Obsessed, so this was quite a few years back. I thought "monolith wielder" would be a good name for a doom band, and finally got the chance to use it. It's really a bit tongue-in-cheek, over the top, you know? But some folks have mentioned that they think it suits our sound, so it's working so far.
LFdM: How would you describe your new release, the self titled albumMonolith Wielder?
von Dehn: This is doomy heaviness with stoner grooves but I think there is much more to the story. We really tried to write not just killer riffs but great songs. I love good ol' fashioned rock n' roll so I'm still a sucker for hooks and a chorus that you want to sing along with. We all have different musical backgrounds and when you use a bit of each you can really create something original. That has really allowed us to find what I think, is a unique direction.
LFdM: Is there a song of yours you feel closer to? If there is one, wouldyou like to tell us the reason why?
von Dehn: I'd probably give you a different answer every day depending on my mood but I'll go with "Chains" today. Lyrically I really dug into a tough period in my head to find relief. But musically, it just slams. I like to write songs that not only sound good but are a blast to play. I'm selfish that way. The same goes for "Best Intentions". I've been at this a while but I still like to bang away on an open E chord through stacks. Or in our case a G# chord but you get my drift.
LFdM: I had the chance to listen to this album and I have to say that Ilike it. I appreciated a lot: Illumination, No Hope No Fear,Monolith Wielder and King Under Fire. Can you tell us somethingin particular about these songs?
Justin: Thank you! I've been in this other heavy band called Molasses Barge, since 2008, and we get to do a lot of cool shows and it's a fun band, but we're sometimes limited with everyone's schedules- jobs, kids, other bands, ex-wives, etc. One afternoon, after having to turn down a good show offer, I just started thinking maybe it might be a good time to get another heavy band going. I ended up writing the music for Monolith Wielder, Illumination, King Under Fire, and Lift Your Eyes all that afternoon. A bit irregular for me, I normally don't write in a burst like that. No Hope No Fear is one of Gero's, I like that one a lot because it has a cool Obsessed vibe to it.
LFdM: Which songs of the new album do you think would work betterlive?
von Dehn: We often open our sets with the song "Monolith Wielder" and that really sets the tone. It's a great way to break the ice and introduce ourselves properly. "Angels Hide" seems to get the room going too with it's doomy, grinding intro before blazing down the final stretch.
Justin: Well, for the album, as I mentioned earlier I'd wrote those four songs at once there, and threw in Electric Hessian, which was something I'd written years prior. I flagged down Ben, and then Gero, and luckily for me they were both interested in getting together. Unfortunately, Ben's father was terminally ill at the time, so Gero and I got started learning each other's songs. Later, the drummer from Molasses Barge, Wayne, jammed with us so we could get some rough recordings together, sketch the songs out a bit more. Once Ben was able to join us he contributed right away, putting his touch on the songs. He plays open handed, and does some things particular to him, so they took on a different feel right away. With our new batch of songs, Gero and I have both come up with some riffs and rough structures, and we all work together to iron them out. Gero has written just about all of the lyrics.
LFdM: Concerning the lyrics, where do you find inspiration for yoursongs?
von Dehn: I try to look for inspiration in various places, be it in my own emotional headspace or in something I've been thinking about. I usually don't have a clue what I'm going to write about lyrically until I sit down with a pencil and paper. When I write lyrics they almost always come after the music is already down. The music is my main inspiration for the lyrical direction, not vise versa.
LFdM: What about your music heroes when you were younger?
von Dehn: All of us would probably give you a different answer but I still have those monumental figures in my mind from my youth. Being introduced to a couple of Black Sabbath albums as an eleven year old changed my entire life in one day so they always remain at the top. My teenage years thereafter were a typical haze of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, AC/DC and early Metallica. I saw all of those bands in concert countless times.
LFdM: Is there a band or a musician you would love to work with, both live or in the studio?
Justin: We were fortunate enough to have Jack Endino master our album, I wouldn't mind going out to Seattle and recording with him if we had the opportunity. I think Mike Dean from Corrosion of Conformity would be another good guy for us to work with.
LFdM: Is there a band you've been often compared to, but you'd prefer not to?
von Dehn: Fortunately, it's been difficult for people to compare us to other bands. Sure, we have a sound that is familiar at it's core but I think we have enough variables that steer us into a new territory. We'd much rather be good at our thing than great at sounding like someone else.
LFdM: When you are not recording or touring how do you spend yourspare time?
Justin: I think we all enjoy getting out to see other bands play. We all have pretty steady jobs that take up a good bit of our time. For example Ben handles shipping and receiving for a big motorsports company, and Gero does play-by-play broadcasting for various sports teams here locally and in Alaska a few months a year too. I play in multiple bands, at times up to 6 or 7, so I don't get much down time.
LFdM: Did you plan an extensive world tour?
Justin: Not yet. We're still somewhat in the beginning stages of the band. We'll see how the release does, and go from there.
LFdM: Do you think you'll manage to come to play in Italy one day?
Justin: We would love to! Time will tell on that one. Thank you for interviewing us, we really do appreciate any support we get.