Brandon Bliss of Monster Truck took time out of his busy schedule to chat with us about returning to the UK and playing the Download Festival again after two years without being able to tour. Using his time productively, Bliss has become instrumental in the production and mixing of EPs for fellow bandmates. Next up, back to touring and preparing the release of their new album after holding back throughout the pandemic for various reasons. (Hit play below, or click this link, to listen along via SoundCloud.)
So, I’m joined by Brandon from Monster Truck, and first of all, thanks so much for talking to V13. How have you been?
Brandon Bliss: “I’ve been great, man; it feels so good to be back here in the UK. This is kind of like, home away from home for us. So especially after being gone for two and a half years, it feels really good.”
It does throw the mind a bit. Anyway, you’ve just played Download, and the one song I heard, because everything got pushed back a bit, was a kick-ass song, but how was it received for you? How did it go?
“Um, it’s always a little bit of shit show because that stage is just bigger than every other stage you ever play, so it took me a couple of songs to get my mix all dialled in, and everything sounded just right, but yeah, by about three or four songs in it was there and I felt really good. And just that crowd, you know, there’s, I don’t know, about 30,000 people maybe. It’s not very often 30,000 people are out there listening, so that’s a whole extra energy level that you get.”
So, of course, this isn’t your first rodeo with Download. You’ve played here; I think, four times previously, which is becoming a veteran with it now, but has this year stood apart at all because of everything that’s happened in the last few years?
“I think, yeah, absolutely, but just because for those couple of years, we weren’t sure what the hell was going on, you know? And then you don’t know when it’s going to come back, and then if it comes back, what’s it going to be like? So it feels the same to me, which is a good thing; it feels like COVID didn’t hurt things as much as we thought it might have. So it feels good.”
Now, you just recently had a new single come out called “Golden Woman.” I checked it out; it does kick ass, man, but how long before we can actually see a full new album from you guys?
“Well, I don’t think we’re allowed to announce specific dates, but it’s definitely coming. It was just (last month) we launched that song. Which, of course, is the precursor to a new album, which we’re super excited about. We’ve had it in the bag for a while, and first of all, we didn’t want to release during COVID. We just felt like it might get lost. We started noticing that a lot of people who were releasing their records were disappearing, you know that people would be excited for a week, and then you would hear nothing else about them, and we really love these songs, we feel like this is our best album in a long time. So we wanted to give it the proper release, not during COVID. So it’s coming soon.”
Cool. Well, you know, it is good to be free, but how did you as a band handle the pandemic? I mean, you’ve already highlighted you didn’t want to release this upcoming album at the height of it, and for obvious reasons, you’re not able to tour to support it, and it kind of disappears off into the ether. But how did you guys handle it all? You know, with everything, the music, the entertainment music industry, just essentially being shut down?
“Yeah, it was; it was pretty scary there for a while, and everybody kind of questioned our existence at some point; it was like, when’s it going to come back? And if it does, what’s going to be like? And maybe people will be scared to come out to shows, and therefore it’ll make it harder. But we did keep our heads down; we kept demoing; we probably have another album or two worth of demos that we’re ready to start recording again. So we kept doing what we would do at home; it was just not being able to go out and see the fans was the big question mark, and well feels, it feels like we’re beyond that. So yeah, we were basically just getting ready for this.”
Now, obviously, I mean, what was the most challenging part of the pandemic for you personally?
“Um, I think, like I said, it was just questioning whether are we still going to be able to do this? Do I have to get another job? I did a lot of learning how to produce and mix and all that kind of stuff. Our new drummer, Theo (McKibbon) and Jeremy (Widerman), the guitar player, have a little band on the side that I’ve produced a couple EPs for. So it’s kind of feeling out becoming a producer/mixer guy, just in case I wasn’t able to tour again. And also just because I enjoy it. And then my brother and I bought a shitty old, beat-up house, so I was fixing up the house. I had things to keep me busy. I wasn’t really sitting around doing nothing. But all the while praying that this would come back and we’d be back here sitting doing this exact same thing.”
Now, obviously, it was a shit show this whole pandemic, it was a nightmare, but was there anything positive that you could bring out of it personally? Or as a band?
“Um, yeah, I think those things I just mentioned about putting your head down and working on things that you don’t pay as much attention to because you’re busy with regular life that disappeared. So, like I said, I feel like I have a little bit better of an ear for music, just doing the producing and mixing thing, like I listen a little bit different and kind of went back to school in a way. So I feel like I’ve improved musically, and just the approach towards it. Yeah, I think a little bit of studying.”
It’s always good to broaden your horizons. Now, apart from obviously, the impending album that we’re all looking forward to. I know you’re on tour with Those Damn Crows as well, but is there anything next on the horizon for Monster Truck?
“We have a bunch of festivals in Canada that we’re doing, we probably have, I don’t know, seven or eight across the next two months. So yeah, a lot of, a lot of that stuff. We’re trying to work out going back to mainland Europe. So now just the Canadian run. Obviously, there’s talk of going back to America, but we don’t quite know where or when. So basically, planning the campaign of the new album, trying to be a little more focused.
“Previously, we kind of just did everything that was available to us, just throw it all at the wall and see what sticks. So now we’re trying to be a little more focused and go to the places that we know we have better traction and a fanbase, as long as they allow shows to be happening, that’s what we’re hoping, to be playing a bunch.”
Amazing. But we are limited on time, unfortunately.
So, I always like to end my interviews with a joke. So I’m going to ask you for one in a minute. If you’ve got any. You don’t have to if you haven’t gotten one, but this is one I’ve got for you. So I’ve got a friend and they are convinced their microwave is gathering data on them, and their TV is spying on them. I told them not to worry too much as their vacuum cleaner has been collecting dirt on them for years.
Have you got one for me?
“I’m not a very good joke guy. I mean, I don’t watch enough standup comedy. I don’t know… I’m not a funny guy.”
It’s cool. You know, not everyone can be as hilarious as I. But no, Brandon, thank you so much for talking to us today. Thanks so much. And once you’re finished, enjoy the rest of what’s there.
“I’m excited for that. Yeah, there’s a few bands to go and see that I’ve never seen before. I’d like to see Mastodon; I’ve never seen Deftones before, and then maybe Sepultura, never seen them.”
Alright, thanks again, my friend. Cheers.
“Cheers, man. Thank you.”