Interview With ‘Monotheist’


monotheistHailing from Orlando, Florida, Monotheist draws influences from such acts as Death, Extol, Opeth, Suffocation, Emperor and Immolation, E. A melting pot of death, black, thrash, and progressive metal, Monotheist writes complex compositions that extend the boundaries of extreme metal. Furious riffing and ferocious drumming walk hand in hand with progressive stanzas and melodic nuances, painting an aural masterpiece of intensity. Each song has an epic feel and flows effortlessly from one stanza to the next without ever losing the interest of the listener.

In 2012 the band signed with Shigionoth Records, and their album Unforsaken [2007] was re-released last November. About this and more can be read in the following interview with Monotheist.

TMR: Hello guys this is´The Metal Resource’ Holland, how are things going there in Orlando/Florida ?

P: Things are going pretty well. Just wish the weather would make up it’s mind on weather it wants to be hot or cold.

TMR: Will you Introduce yourself and the line-up please [name and instrument]

P: I’m Prophet, I play guitar.
CB: My name is Cooper and I am the drummer.
S: I’m Shiv and I do lead vocals
P: We also have another guitar player named Christian.

TMR: Is ‘Monotheist’ a band or a project ?

P: Though it started out as a project around 2003-2004, it has evolved into an actual band over time.

TMR: Tell us the brief history of ‘Monotheist’.

P: I started Monotheist around ’03 or ’04, somewhere around there. It was a solo project for a few years until around 2007 I got a few other people involved and we were able to record our first album Unforsaken that year. Unfortunately, after a handful of shows, life got in the way and people moved or couldn’t play for whatever reason and things fell apart. The worst was losing our original drummer Eirek, who moved back to his native California. We couldn’t play shows without a drummer and it took 4 years until we found someone else to play with us but now we’re blessed to have Cooper holding down the rhythm. The good thing about that downtime was that me and Shiv were able to write the songs that are going to appear on our new mini-album Genesis of Perdition.

Unforsaken_2007TMR: Are you guys full time musicians ? If not what kind of job or school do you do beside the band ?

P: Not a full time musician (yet!) but I’m working to achieve that one day. It’s a dream and a goal of mine. However, right now I work for a laser safety company full time as an accounting assistant and do some music production work on the side. I’m working with Jeff Carter (Deus Invictus, ex-The Chariot) on his new project Darkening which will be really cool. I’m hoping to work on more high-profile projects in the near future and move into doing that full time, eventually.

S: I myself do vocals in various other bands, the other most active being 7 Horns 7 Eyes and Ovid’s Withering, plus various studio projects like Enpedestalment, Bloodmouth, Maroth (with Mike), and The Nameless. I pick up whatever work my music schedule allows me to have, which can be anything from landscaping to acting.

TMR: What is your musical background ? [for everyone personal]

P: My parents started me on piano when I was about 6 years old. I hated it back then and stopped taking lessons after about a year (which I deeply regret now!). Later on I moved briefly to saxophone (which I also didn’t like) in 5th grade, and finally found my passion for stringed instruments when I started taking bass lessons at age 12. The next year I also started teaching myself guitar and I haven’t looked back since.

CB: I (Cooper) have grown up around music my entire life, starting with my dad’s bands. My father has been a musician since the 60’s and basically bred me to be a drummer. I started drumming when I was about 4 or 5, but never got serious about it until my high school years. I have been in various other bands but the only one worth noting was Spear Induced Carnage. Monotheist is my only band now.

TMR: Why the name ‘Monotheist’ ? Is there a story behind it ?

P: When I started this band as a solo project, it was originally under the name “Beneath the Flesh”, but decided to go with a shorter-sounding name that was concise, yet poignant. I felt Monotheist fit the bill as sounding cool but also reflecting my personal belief in one God.

TMR: Who writes the music/lyrics in ‘Monotheist’ ? .. how do you get in the mood for writing music? And which bands/situations have influences you for writing music and lyrics ?

P: Up until now, I’ve written all of the music and lyrics for Monotheist, but the other guys are starting to get more involved in the writing process, which is great. Writing music is something that comes naturally. I’m always thinking about some idea or riff, so much so that I have trouble paying attention to things I should be paying attention to. My short attention span to anything other than music usually gets me into trouble at work haha.

As for lyrics, I’ve never been huge into lyrics in general, always preferring the music of a band to their lyrical content. However, after studying English Literature in university, I’ve come to a deeper appreciation of lyrical art. These days, my inspiration comes from observing the way the world is going and how that fits into my personal belief system. There’s so much going on that most people don’t know about, a lot of information I want to get out there.

S: Mike and I split the writing duties these days. Most of the time my muse is the stuff that life puts me through, or I get myself into by being a fallible human being. These days though I seem to be writing concept albums all the time, so I’m forced to put actual research into my topics. Influence-wise, my greatest ones would be Daniel Weyandt from Zao, Deathspell Omega, CS Lewis, and various writings on the paranormal that I’ve been entertaining lately.

TMR: How do you describe the music of ‘Monotheist’ the best ?

P: I’d like to think our music as being “progressive extreme metal”, that is, music that incorporates a variety of different extreme metal subgenres, be it black metal, death metal, thrash metal, progressive metal, etc. As well as other genres of music like classical, jazz, and folk.

S: Progressive Death Metal at the heart, but with various kinds of experimentation. The upcoming ‘Genesis of Perdition’ EP, for example, is the first real experimentation with shorter songs overall, and more streamlined structure. Also where many bands experiment by toning down the brutality and softening up, we adventured creatively by amping it up more than ever. There are songs on this EP that make Unforsaken look like child’s play, when it comes to the brutality factor.

TMR: How does ‘Monotheist’ stands in life till events in the world, religion and politics and in which proportion stands that till your music and lyrics ?

P: I can only speak for myself personally, but the lyrics that I write these days deal with my own observation about the world, be it what is happening politcally or spiritually. I find both to be linked, actually. That is, I believe that the political corruption that is running rampant, not only in my country but all over the world, is a result of a globalwide spiritual crisis that has been growing throughout the ages. It’s the same crisis that has plagued humanity from the earliest of times – the result of greed and the worship of money/power above all else. When you replace the Creator with these false idols, it opens the door to all kinds of corruption and decadence. These days, it seems these things are coming to a head.

S: We all have our own views, which manifest in various forms lyrically, but I’d never seek to push them on anyone or try to convince anyone of anything by any means other than the merit of the concepts themselves. I don’t intend to use my position as an artist to preach at anyone from a pulpit, whether it be a stage or an interview. If someone really wants to know what I think, you can talk to me in person, when the conversation isn’t being broadcast to the multitudes.

TMR: For a lot of bands the lyrics are just a accidental circumstance, but for some bands they use them to communicate ! ..can you tell us how that is for ‘Monotheist’ ?

P: On the first album, the lyrics were more a standard expression of my faith and spiritual beliefs. But the last couple of years have given me many new experiences to draw inspiration from. These days I write lyrics to communicate the message that there is more to this world than the material. There is more to this life than just “now”. I know that this the mantra for this age is “live in the now” and “you only live once”. But I don’t believe that to be true. You have a chance at a second, eternal life. I want to open people’s mind to that possibility. So I guess you could say that I write lyrics for Monotheist as a way to help people to become aware of the truth about the world around them.

I also want people to wake up to the fact that there’s a lot of underhanded things going on by the rulers of this world designed to enslave the people. People need to be privy to this fact. Unfortunately, most people would be happy to trade their liberty for comfort, which is a big theme in my lyrics.

S: My lyrics are a manifestation of my thoughts and emotions, nothing more. My views are constantly evolving as I grow and learn, and as such my lyrics will contradict themselves over time. I write so that it resonates with me, so that I can read them back and remember exactly what I meant. If people can relate to them then I consider myself extremely blessed to have been able to provide that, but by no means do I seek  to write for other people. I don’t know anyone else’s life and inner workings but my own, and I don’t presume to have the answers.

P: As you can see, me and Shiv’s lyrical styles are different but I think as we write together more it will create an interesting amalgamation. Shiv’s contribution to “Genesis” is an example of that.

TMR: Is there a highlight you will always remember, since the beginning of ‘Monotheist’ [2004]?

P: I remember being so proud of writing a song called “Frailty”. It was the first “real” Monotheist song I wrote and I remember thinking it was so cool. There were all these weird time signatures, fast guitar riffs, drums, a solo played in 5/4, etc. Of course, now that I go listen to it, it’s an awful song, but back then, it was a big accomplishment for me and helped give me the confidence to write more progressive extreme metal songs.

TMR: And the worst thing were ? [if there is one]

P: The worst thing I can remember is our band breaking up after the original drummer leaving and us not being able to continue. It was tough because up until then I was so excited that we were finally playing shows and I was really optomistic about our future. It was a huge blow. Another one that would tie with that would be when Anthony (ex-Monotheist guitar player) moved away suddenly. He had been in the band for about 4 years and is one of my closest friends and favorite people to play with. I’m thankful that we were able to recover by finding Christian, though. But before that, it was really tough.

CB: For me, the worst feeling was when Anthony told us he was moving to Utah and was leaving the band. It was such a blow to the morale and all the preparing we had been doing had to start over.

S: Going so many years without a drummer.

TMR: The last album you bought? [for everyone personal]

P: I just started getting into Steely Dan, and upon hearing songs from “Aja”, I knew I had to buy that album right away. I’ve been really into jazz and fusion lately, so anything I hear with that kind of vibe that sounds good, I’m ready to snatch up.

CB: Cooper – Aborted – Global Flatline

S: Woe Is Me-Number[s]

TMR: What makes you laugh? [for everyone personal]

P: That’s a hard question to answer because I laugh at so many things. I love watching good comedies like Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development, Seinfeld, etc. Right now I’m really loving New Girl and The League (my personal favorite). A lot of silly humor in these but some really clever stuff as well.

CB: Cooper – The TV show American Dad. It’s my favorite.

S: These days its mainly Trailer Park Boys, and seeing how butthurt Internet Metal Nerds get when you like the “wrong” music

TMR: How do you promote your band and shows ?

P: Lately we’ve been promoting our band primarily via Facebook and Twitter. We’re trying to amass many twitter followers and then sending them to our FB to find out more about the band. We also have a youtube channel with some videos of us and songs. Eventually we’d like to make some music videos to help us promote the band. We might do some funny, off-the-wall videos as well, for promotional purposes. I’ve been talking to Cooper about that and we’ve come up with some good ideas, so we’ll see.

TMR: How do you prepare for a show? [for everyone personal]

P: I just practice a lot and make sure I know the material, as well as everyone else. I also like to say a prayer that everyone will do their best that night. I do some warm-ups, then hit the stage.

CB: Cooper – I generally do not like to warm up or practice before a show. I feel I am at my best before I get all sweaty and tired. I honestly don’t do anything special.

S: Vocal warmups before hitting the stage, and alcohol

TMR: Describe your show, visual and musically ? And tell us about your next shows and why we should be there.

P: Well, right now, since we are just starting to play again, I expect the shows to be standard fair. But our plan is to incorporate video and visual media into our stage show, to make it more of an “experience”. But right now, we are going to focus on getting comfortable on stage playing these demanding songs and sounding as great as we can. Regardless, it’s going to be a fun and savage show, so you should be there!

TMR: Name some of your favorite bands to play with live [past and future] and tell us why ?

P: In between Monotheist’s break-up, I played in a rock band called Star Lake. One of my favorite bands to play with was a rock band from Orlando that specializes in playing video game covers and originals inspired by video games. They are called Random Encounter. Such a fun group of people. There is also another band from here that is wonderful to share the stage with. They are called Judy Tribune and play progressive rock inspired by Tool, Deftones, and Oceansize. Highly recommend checking out both bands.

S: For me my favorite shows have been with Jeff Loomis, my boys in stealing Axion, I Declare War, and I always love playing with Dark Sermon.

TMR: What is the dumbest question you have ever been asked? [for everyone personal]

P: “how can you listen to that devil music?!”

S: When I do interviews for 7 Horns 7 Eyes and they ask me about sound engineering stuff or how we hooked up with Jeff Loomis. I’M JUST THE VOCALIST, BRO!

TMR: Do you have a life philosophy / favorite quote ? [for everyone personal]

P: Educate yourself.

S: Zao lyrics in general, as an answer to both questions

TMR: Are you visiting many gigs and what do you listen to these days? [for everyone personal]

P: Lately, I’ve gone through a period of being over going to metal shows, unless it’s an exceptionally good lineup. Luckily, Orlando is about to have some wicked shows soon; I’m very excited to finally see Meshuggah and Animals as Leaders live. But usually I will go to local rock shows and support the scene when I can make it out. Other than that, I’m listening primarily to jazz fusion like Allan Holdsworth, Chick Corea Elektric Band, Casiopea and Tribal Tech. Can’t get enough of this music!!

S: I go to all the shows I can transport myself to, most recently Dying Fetus and Cattle Decapitation. These days I mostly listen to slam, anything with my vocals on it (lots of songs to learn), and popular new heavy music that makes people in Death shirts really butthurt. My current favorites are Woe Is Me, Cerebral Incubation, my boys in Defiler and Exotype, and that new Defeated Sanity album.

TMR: Tell us about the hardrock/metal scene in your area please?

P: The rock scene is definitely growing. There are some bands that are making waves like Traverser, the Dropa Stone, a Brilliant Lie and Last Minute stars, along with my afforementioned favorites Judy Tribune and Random Encounter. I’m not really up on the metal scene in Orlando but as we’re going to be playing soon, I’ll definitely get to know more about it in the near future.

TMR: What’s your outlook on the record industry today?

P: The industry has changed a lot since I was a kid and not necessarily in a good way. I mean, it’s cool that now, you can record your albums in the convenience of your own home for a fraction of the cost of going to a studio. However, this also leads to saturation of the market, so it’s harder to stand out and get a good record deal/recognition when everyone and their mother has a band and album. Generic music is praised and fed to music listeners en masse. It’s not about being creative and writing good music anymore. It’s just about what’s catchy, even in the metal scene. Leave that to mainstream pop radio!

However, it’s good in the way that it forces bands to work harder to stand out. That’s definitely a huge positive.

S: It’s a strange game. Labels are definitely still useful and pretty important if you want to actually get any reasonable guarantees on tour, but doing a full album DIY is more possible and cost-effective than ever. Bands are realizing they don’t need to wait to get signed to take themselves in the direction they want. Look at Aegaeon, they’re blowing up and it’s literally ALL on their own terms. Yes, selling music itself doesn’t make you profit anymore, but the relationship between bands and fans is more intimate than ever, and we’re all being forced to get creative with promotion and merch, which is exciting. It has its drawbacks, but heavy music isn’t going anywhere, and there is still a dedicated fanbase willing to support the art they love.

Monotheist_unforsakenTMR: What can you tell us about your latest album ‘Unforsaken’ [such as the recording proces, the songs, who did the artwork ?]

P: Well, I recorded that album while I was in college back in 2005-2007. I used to go to my laptop and record after classes, sometimes at the expense of doing homework haha. The original artwork consisted of photos my best friend Gabe Mastrapa took while on a weather balloon. I thought they were beautiful shots and decided to use them for our album. He is a professional photographer from Miami and is incredible at what he does, so it was an easy decision to use some of his work for the album.

The reissue artwork, on the other hand, was done by Gab Neale of Ectithrion – such a talented and fantastic artist. I’m really happy the way the new artwork turned out. Also, it should be noted that the reissue has the songs to be mastered by Erik Tordsson. The original version was not mastered properly, so it’s definitely worth getting the reissue. The killer artwork and enhanced sound make it worth picking up.

TMR: The album was released last year via ‘Shigionoth Records’. How did you get signed by them ?

P: I’ve known Jeremy for years now since his clothing company Starve the Flesh printed up our original shirts. He is a good guy and I knew I could trust him. When he told me about his idea to start up his own record label and his interesting in signing us, I felt like it would be a cool opportunity to help each other out and work with each other.

TMR: What is your favorite ‘Monotheist’ song ? [for everyone personal]

P: My favorite Monotheist song right now is The Great Awakening from our upcoming EP.

CB: My favorite Monotheist song is Feeding The Pestilence, which is going to be released on our up coming EP.

S: Feeding on Pestilence because SLAM SLAM SLAM SLAM SLAM SLAM

TMR: What are your plans for this year/near future?

P: Well, we are finishing the recording/mixing of our new mini-album “Genesis of Perdition”, so we hope to have that ready to release in April 2013. In the meantime, we’ll be playing shows, getting a presskit together, etc all that typical band stuff. We’ll also be writing some new music and figuring out what direction to go after the new album. It’s actually very exciting to think about starting to write new music because even though “Genesis” will be new to many people, those songs are actually 2-4 years old now so I feel they don’t accurately represent where we are musically now. I’ve purposely held back on writing metal lately so that the new stuff will not only be new to the fans, but new to us as well.

TMR: What advice would you give to fellow bands?

P: Take the songwriting seriously and don’t try to sound like other bands. Do your own thing and do it the best way you can. Make a lot of friends and swallow your pride. Ego will get you nowhere good in life.

TMR: Guys thanks for your time and the interview, we wish you all the best for 2013 … Is there anything you wanna say at last? [any final statement ?]

P: Thank you for your support, it means a lot that you took the time to put this interview together. God bless and stay metal!!

S: Real Steel

Upcoming Shows:
Feb 13 The 321 Local, Cocoa, FL

Band members:
Shiv – Vocals
Prophet – Guitar
Cooper Bates – Drums/Vocals
Christian Martinez – Guitar

Unforsaken [2007]
Unforsaken, re-issue [2012]

Weblinks: Facebook / Reverbnation / Twitter

Live Montage 2013_1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts