NEW ALBUM: Monsterbator - The Pox-Um Brow Through Intercom Suite
By: Dillon Collins
Writers and journalists at times have a glaring tendency to try to categorize and group – if for nothing else but convenience. For example, if you were to write; ‘rock icon Keith Richards,’ it would be much more informative and illuminating than say; ‘musician Keith Richards.’ So we categorize, label, and quantify into neat and tidy packaging. Sometimes, however, anomalies come along that defy easy description, that make the job of genre generators painstaking and downright maddening.
Case in point, St. John’s cult favourite and the personification of electric, Monsterbator. It’s difficult to file them away into a particular box because doing so would be a disservice to all involved. No, Andrew Waterman, Victor Lewis, Christian Gagnon, Devon Milley and Stefan Warbanski have worked too damn hard to be just considered a run-of-the-mill rock band. There’s layers, and these guys can unspool and unravel like a yarn that would make your grandmother blush.
“Just for ease I usually call it rock ‘n’ roll, because it has all the elements of it,” Andrew Waterman says during a coffee chat with Rock Eden, Gagnon sitting to his immediate right. “I’m sure if James Brown were still around, God rest his soul, he wouldn’t (agree), It’s all a continuation of the same spirit. It’s in the same vein."
“It’s never been a thing where we’ve gotten together and said, let's write a song like this or that. I’m sure there have been times where we can say it would be cool to write a song with this beat. Usually Christian has a guitar riff and we’d see where it takes us. We never really have a goal in mind, we just let it take us where it will.”
On the cusp of the release of their genre-bending new album The Pox-Um Brow Through Intercom Suite, the band's first release since their acclaimed third album The Libel Belt, there is a certain anticipation that only comes around every so often in a music scene with more talent than reasonable for its population. For Waterman himself, he’s just happy to release the damn thing.
“I’m a little disappointed at the amount of time this one has taken,” he says. “We’d say we’re going to put out an album every year. 2012 was the first, 2013 the second and 2014 was the third. It was one a year. Between the second and third, we had recorded the third album during the week, and that Friday we released our second. It was like we had a momentum going and I had always been terrified of that momentum stopping or slowing down and it has a little bit, unfortunately. It has been written for awhile, it was just a matter of getting it recorded. It’s the other stuff that takes all the time.”
The album drops October 13th, and longtime fans and local music connoisseurs and collectors will be pleased to know that Monsterbator will continue their trend of releasing the album on vinyl. LPs are back in style, after all, but above that noise is the fact that it’s the preferred method in which the band chooses to digest their tunes.
“It’s how we like to listen to music,” Waterman explains. “It’s more so a matter of convenience for us. That’s how we want it. We know we’re not going to sell a whole fuck ton of them … we know how many to order, and we know how many to sell.”
For those looking for the band to make some kind of wall-of-sound, artisan and out of left field release, you’ll likely be disappointed. While Monsterbator are that certain eclectic that make them interesting enough, weird in places, and obscenely far from basic, they’re not about to blow up a model that has been working for the sake of change.
“It has only changed so much as the others have changed in comparison to the other, if you catch my drift,” Waterman says. “It’s the same people, and that’s the big part of it and everyone has their own individual sound that is unique to them. We try to keep each other in check for the most part. It’s not a stagnant thing – we don’t really consciously think about how we sound or what we want something to sound like. It just sort of naturally progresses in certain ways, but remains similar because it's us.”
“We’re all kind of constantly developing,” adds the man of few words Christian Gagnon. “We’re developing as players.”
That maturation is evident in much more than just the physical recordings. Monsterbator has made waves as of late for some outside the box performance choices, including an all-ages show in Bowring Park that proved to be a hit with fans. So why take such a risk? Boredom, mostly, and because if the guys don’t jump themselves, no one is likely to take the plunge.
“It wasn’t happening. Nobody is going to come ask us to do it. I don’t blame them and I’m not saying I’m bitter about that, but if no one is going to ask us and we want to, then I guess we have to do it ourselves,” Waterman says of the partial reasoning behind the Bowring performance. “The biggest thing I think too was that I wanted my daughter to see what I do and that was kind of the beginning of it. Also, there are a lot of bands in St. John’s that I think are really doing something worthwhile that unfortunately are relegated to the bars and clubs at like two in the morning. There’s only a certain amount of people willing to stay up to see music at 2-230 in the morning. I don’t even want to be out at that time.”
And here comes the familiar rhetoric spewed by just about every musician, fan, promoter and barkeep in St. John’s – how the fuck do we fix the problem of performers being asked to perform at such ungodly hours? It’s a broken system, one that everyone owns, but few are willing to fix.
“The argument is always ‘well, it’s going to take so much to change it.’ I would argue, no, you just do it at 9 or 10. People say no one will show up. Well, not that many people are showing up anyways,” Waterman notes. “I feel like people want it to happen and maybe there is a bit of reluctance. Every excuse is just that, an excuse. People say people won’t show up, but who fucking knows? They might, and we’re not playing for that many fucking people anyways.”
Defying convention once again, Monsterbator are taking to the iconic LSPU Hall in St. John’s on October 13th for their official release show. It’s perhaps an unlikely venue for a ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ gig, but one that is bound to attract curious observers and the strong diehard fanbase the band has accumulated over the years.
“It was just us wanting to have an alternative venue to do it at,” Waterman says. “I didn’t know the ins and outs of doing it. I usually just jump into stuff like that. I don’t know how it works so I’ll dive in head first. I’m just as interested to see how it’s going to sound.”
“We’re definitely a little selfish,” Gagnon says with a laugh. “There was self-interest and definitely for ourselves mostly, but we hope people come along for the ride.”
For tickets to Monsterbator’s album release on October 13th with special guests Cicerone visit http://rca.nf.ca/event/