MUSIC INTERVIEW: Monuments
Since they released their stunning 2022 album In Stasis, Monuments have been showing no signs of slowing down. Ever. Since then, they have dropped a brand new single and have been firm-favourites on international support tours, most recently supporting legends Leprous on their UK and European run. Back to their Radar stomping ground to headline the second stage on Friday, we sat down with the lovely Andy Cizek and Werner Erkelens to talk all about the band’s latest single Nefarious, merch cuts, breaking Download Festival and why they love Radar Festival so damn much.
Monuments recently dropped a new single called Nefarious and the accompanying music video was in a comic book style, in collaboration with your good friend Charlie. Tell us more about how the music video came to life for the single, your relationship with Charlie. Also how you’re clearly being a very visually artistic band, going by the artwork for last year’s album In Stasis where you worked with Visual Amnesia.
Andy: I’ve been watching Charlie’s videos for a while and I’ve always known about him and have always been a massive fan of his. Randomly, I got a message from him on Twitter and he was like hey man, do you give voice lessons? I’m a massive fan of Monuments – and I said of course. So we did a lesson with a little bit of vocal coaching because Charlie is into metal and he sings too with his project, and we immediately became friends after. Then he said to me that he really wants to help bands out, because he knows how hard it is for bands to fund stuff this day in age, so he proposed this plan where he funded and help us produce a song for his graphic novel. So we went with the theme of half anime, half live performance and we just did the damn thing and I think it’s one of our best songs ever and that wouldn’t have happened without Charlie.
Andy, since the last time we spoke you have been openly discussing the merch cuts bands endure whilst they are on tour, especially on your episode of The Downbeat Podcast with guitarist John Browne. Talk to us about your developed views on that subject especially seeing as you guys recently did a run with Leprous and only just about broke even on that tour. It seems like venues are taking this on board, with places like The Underworld in Camden not taking a cut of the profits of bands’ merch, but it still seems like there is so much more work to be done right?
A: The only thing I can think that we can do is openly talk about it and complain about it, which we have in the hope that other artists follow suit. Then we end up selling less merch because of all these extra costs. Venues taking merch cuts is very opportunistic, it doesn’t feel like they are looking out for bands, they are just looking out for themselves.
Werner: With merch cuts, it’s something that is everywhere and something that everyone does more so in certain venues, which we see a lot of touring in countries. Sometimes they have these things that they shouldn’t charge for. For example in Italy, they would charge us more for selling our merch, where we ended up having to pay two people. The first being our merch person and then the venue’s merch person. Then on top of that they have a designated area which they make you rent out and pay for, so they are charging us for all these extra costs. We couldn’t even stand at our own merch stand and that’s one of the things we love doing the most. That’s something that really ticks us off.”
We want to talk to you about your history making, record breaking set at Download Festival this year. It seems you guys literally broke the security during your set. What was that experience like for you guys as the band in that situation? Are we going to have a recreation of that today?
A: I really hope not! We wanted to get as rowdy as possible whilst still being fully safe. The thing at Download was that they didn’t anticipate how rowdy we were going to be and they didn’t have enough security to cover us. I was just like fucking circle pit, get the fuck up! But during the last riff of our last song, all of a sudden the drums stopped and I turned around and it was just chaos. I’m not mad about it because it was a cool and interesting memory, and the staff just praised us saying you broke Download. But that’s a one and done thing, I don’t want that to happen for a while.
So you guys are back at Radar Festival this year and this isn’t your first time performing at this festival. Now in its new location in Manchester since its inception, it seems like you are firm favourites at Radar. What is it that you love so much about this relatively new festival that makes you want to come back time and time again?
A: I always feel taken care of here. We played here a few years ago and it was my second appearance with Monuments ever and I was nervous as hell, but when we got here and I did our set I felt so relaxed and comfortable, so I was itching to do this one again.
W: Well this is my first time playing Radar, and one of the first things I noticed was how well organised it is. The amount of crew who are happy to be here and make this work is inspiring. We are not seeing enough of these types of festivals for the prog and metal scene, which is something that is not mainstream at all. So to be in an environment like that is amazing, and Radar brings that like no other festival.
Lastly, Monuments are back in the UK later this year supporting Electric Callboy on tour alongside As Everything Unfolds. How did that booking come about for you guys?
A: We got a new agent fairly recently and he is Electric Callboy’s agent too, so it was just a match made in heaven.
W: For me personally, I really love Electric Callboy and I think that’s the German in me, I gravitate towards them. They bring a level of energy and silliness which fits us too, because we go hard on stage but we love to be goofy too. We like to joke around and I think that will translate extremely well in the package.