Canada, we hear you! MT is back with a new record but what about it?
Hey guys, how are you? How was the gig yesterday?
Jeremy Widerman (guitar): Great! Everything we expected really. I was looking for this the whole tour, great night and great response.
Steve Kiely (drums): Fantastic! Really good, great crowd, great venue.
You released a new record “True Rockers” in September and since, reactions are diverse. Were you aware that it might be as animated within your fan community?
Jeremy: Yeah, yeah. I was just saying this before actually. We knew that it was gonna be the case. But actually watching it happen and going through it was the worst thing I was expecting. I knew it would piss some people off. With releasing “Evolution” first, it kind of misrepresented what was the album was about. It’s kind of a one-off song on the record. It was tougher than I thought. But once we got the singles out, everything calmed down a bit. Everything is fine afterwards. I think the only major mistake we made is taking too much time to get there and get it out. Regardless of what we did. Adding new songs, not adding new songs.
Marv’ said in an interview that: “you wanted to try some new stuff”. Which stuff? Is it the songwriting/sound/lyrics? All of them?
Jeremy: All three.
Steve: Yeah. The sound, I mean it was supposed to change because it was the first time we were working with someone else in the studio. So we knew that was gonna be different.
Jeremy: One of the things was to really make the organ it’s own thing. In the past, it was more smashed in with the guitar. With this album, we realized that we were missing many opportunities with it, making it more existant. So many people don’t really notice the organs in records, ’cause they sound so familiar to the guitar. And the guitar being so loud. So there’s a real achievement with Brandon, spending time to have his own parts. It may go a little bit unnoticed but if you really listen to it, it’s sonically different to the other records.
Is there any link between the title and the record’s music? Is this album your definition of “true rockers”? Or maybe lyrics related?
Jeremy: It’s just having fun. We’re not trying to take it too seriously. We’re not trying to have an authority on the subject. It’s just something we thought that’d be fun, to express like how we feel. We talked about it really on.
Steve: We’re not claiming to ourselves that we are the true rockers.
Jeremy: No and this is just the funny Canadian bullshit take on. I’d like to make “True Rockers II” and make it sound different. The album is also a love letter to our fanbase because you guys also support other bands, show up to the shows and have fun with them too! That’s another meaning of the “true rockers”.
Steve: That’s why we try to make each of our shows a great rock n’roll party, like true rockers.
How did you manage time, during tour, to write and record this album? Was it different comparing to “Sittin’ Heavy” (2016)?
Jeremy: We did a lot of the pre production on tour. We had a lot of time during the day and we had a little recording rig with also an electrical drum kit. So we just set a time, make it to the room and work on a song and record it. It sounded pretty good and once at home, we were almost ready to record.
Steve: That’s how we made the biggest and best changes in our songwriting. Just writing and listening back that often. By the time we recorded the songs in the studio, we recorded them ourselves like three or four times. With little changes along the process. Being able to do that while on tour is great because once you’re back, you have to go to the jam room. But you just want to spend time with your family and…
Jeremy: We took two weeks off.
Steve: Yeah. Doing it on the road, it’s just using an efficient amount of time and it also gave the time to listen to it back constantly.
Songs like “Undone”, “In My Own World” or “Hurricane” could be on the previous record, in our opinion. It looks like you focused a bit more on “singles” for radio or easy listeners, in order to promote your music with catchy song and catchy lyrics. Do you agree?
Jeremy: A little bit. I don’t think we were much there but “Evolution” and “Young City Hearts” are obviously the ones fitting the radio singles label. Plus in the past, radio single really opened us opportunities so. In doing that, we lost a little something from the band. Even if it’s a necessary part of the group’s success. Overall we tried to keep our songs catchy. We want to attach them to you. We want people to sing, to clap. It wasn’t so different for me but definitely put the production tend to make it more accessible to radio. Maybe it’s something we shouldn’t have done?
Steve: You’re not wrong. It’s more in our heads now whether that could be a single or not.
Jeremy: It’s funny because with “Furiosity” (2013), I remember constantly saying: “I want every song on this album to be a single”. And we didn’t write any single on that one on purpose and ended-up with three singles. Still people like that album because the rest of the songs are great and it’s also the first album so people always like the “first album”.
Now, maybe some people didn’t hear “Furiosity” first and were introduced to our music with “Sittin’ Heavy”. People always have affinity to the first album they hear from a band. Usually it’ll stick as their favorite record. The impact you make like: “holy fuck! It’s amazing” and when you ask if they listened to the first album they went: “euh no?”. Whatever man! (laughs)
The same will happen with “True Rockers” and that’ll be their favorite one.
It also looks like there’s more space for voices, backing vocals and also simple lyrics/choruses in order to attract and interact with the audience, right?
Jeremy: I think that we do a less of that actually. The backing vocals for sure. Like I said before about the organs and the guitar, it gave us more space. Steve has a good eye on it. But the singalong stuff, I don’t think we did enough of. I miss it because I love those moments in our live shows when we have the crowd join in with us. I feel like we didn’t provide enough of these moments on the new record.
Steve: In like rock n’roll, especially heavier rock, these days, vocals are used in production but in a weird way. A lot of classic rock bands used to have the backing vocals higher in the mix because it was the four guys on stage singing while they’re playing. That was part of the show. I don’t think there’s really that going on in modern rock these days. That’s why backing vocals are like polish on the surface today either than a real part. On each record we make, I fight for getting those up in the mix.
Like the two previous albums, the last track is a bit formal and a bit sad. Why do you always close the tracklist with that kind of mood?
Jeremy: It feels like the end of the record! I’m a blunt guy. I like to get things out. I like the beginning of the album to sound like the beginning of an album, and the end to sound like the end of an album. It’s just about finding a way to fit everything in the middle and have a nice journey to get there. When you do that correctly. I like a bang-bang opening. Track 1 and 2 just hit you fucking hard. Then you can ride away in the middle and have an ending that is just like: “here it comes, it’s the end”. We’ve done that on every record and I love that. All my favorite records have that.
Jeremy: Oh fuck I can’t remember the last song of that album.
Steve: I’m thinking of, it’s not the same kind of style but, the last song on “The Battle Of Los Angeles” from Rage Against The Machine, “War Within a Breath”. It’s not really a slow sad song but that’s an idea of a final song. When I hear it, I have the sense that it’s over.
Jeremy: I got mine! “Closer to Home” by Grand Funk Railroad. One of my all-time favorite album and also one of our huge influence. The two first tracks “Sin’s A Good Man’s Brother” and “Aimless Lady”, fuck I freak out. Then the last song “I’m Your Captain (Closer To Home)” which was the single off the record. It’s a perfect finish, it’s ten minutes long.
I was also a bit punky as a young man and I liked each first track of Pennywise records. Opening songs were great and I didn’t care of the rest.
Our records are also the best fucking examples, just look at “Furiosity”!
You supported Nickelback in Vegas for a few nights. How was that experience?
Jeremy: Fucking brutal. (laughs) The shows were fine. It’s just living in Vegas for a week and a half, it was fucking awful. It’s like living in this bar for a week and half. You’ll sleep on this bench and live in this place except everyone is smoking. I did a lot of gambling and won but it still didn’t make it fun. A won like 1,000 bucks and still. “Let me the fuck out of here” especially before loosing the money.
Steve: Weird. It was spread out. It was four shows on eleven days or so. There was so much down time and it was hard to feel it. “What am I doing here again? Oh yes I have a show in three days”.
Jeremy: It sucked.
Steve: Luckily my wife and my son came by. He was 6 months old at the time. That was cool. We drove to the Grand Canyon.
Jeremy: My dad came. He’s like the biggest fan of the band so he came to hang out in Vegas. We played a few poker tournaments, I won one of them. Those were good moments but I couldn’t wait to go home.
Steve: It was a weird experience.
Next year is the bands’ tenth anniversary. Any special project? What’s next?
Steve: Nothing special. Hopefully we’re getting ready to release a new record next year, so we’ll see. We’ve been off the road for a year and a half so we’ll spend most of the year working this record and trying to regain some momentum.
We don’t know if you heard about Adam Levine’s comments on rock music. “Rock music is nowhere really”. Any reaction?
Jeremy: First consider from whom it’s coming from. Take that first of all. It’s something I came up the last couple of weeks. I don’t like to put too much thought into the whole thing, because it’s silly. It’s always the people who have no credibility taking about it. I think that a band like us has a lot of credibility to talk about it because we live in the fuckin’ clubs and we put our lives on the line to be a rock n’roll band everyday.
This is the way I look at it and it’s only a perspective. If you could just for a moment imagine that we didn’t know what was rock like in the 70/80s and even the 90s. Forget how decadent and rich and popular rock music was for those three decades. And consider, regardless of the genre, the music that we’re making, Rival Sons is making or Greta Van Fleet is making. Imagine this was like a new genre. We would be fuckin’ shocked how good it’s going. These bands are travelling all over the world, playing for thousands of people every night, just constantly working and having awesome dedicacted fanbases.
It’s only by comparing it to the lavish, overblowned popularity in the 70s that it looks like it’s going down. And it is. But it’s still very healthy as soon as you don’t compare it to something unachievable. Which is like a level of success that no one really has. I think we’re doing great, rock n’roll is still doing great. People are making outstanding albums and there’s still people out there willing to support it.
When I hear shit like that, I don’t give it a lot of credibility. Even the “rock is dead” question. Because you’re asking a guy who’s risking his life travelling by bus, planes, treating our bodies the way we do to get to the next place. We’re sacrificing a lot to do this. So to ask me that: “hey dude I’m standing right here doing it asshole”.
Before the last question, Jeremy you also make bread and have an Instagram page about it. Explain us please.
Jeremy: You know what? I can explain. It has a lot to do coming to France and Germany. You guys bake the shit out of those breads over here. I was in a dressing room with that bread and I was having a problem at home with bread. It was congestive and I wasn’t feeling better. Over here, I would have a little bit and I wouldn’t feel bad. “Why the fuck is this bread okay?” apart from being delicious. Then I was searching about it to find naturally levain bread, real sourdough, to make bread the way it’s supposed to be made.
I went home and found a place selling sourdough “this is it!”. And then I met this girl who makes it in her apartment. She taught me how to make sourdough bread from scratch, which is fucking hard. I waited four months until I got it right. Then we fell in love and now we’re just like…
When you want something you have to be passionate about it and then you combine with the fact that I fell in love with the girl who taught me that. She’s making some right now and she’s texting me about it. It’s like anything else that I love. Just diving into it a 1000% and it just becomes a part of my life. And the Instagram page? What the fuck I don’t know. (laughs)
Finally, we are “RockUrLife” so what rock your lives guys? Knowing that last time Jeremy, you answered Agnes Obel’s record. What is it now?
Jeremy: Elder. The band called Elder. They’re the best. This prog, kind of experimental/stoner. I don’t even like prog rock but they do it so well, every section connects so well.
Steve: What rocks my life? My 16-month old son. My wife is sending me videos of him playing a little drum kit I bought. That’s got me pretty excited right now.
Jeremy: I’m more excited and that’s not even my kid! (laughs) His kid and Marv’s are both gonna be like magic. They’ll be MT2. (laughs) Show your parts.
Steve: Once someone die in the band, we’ll have his son to replace him. (laughs)