On the last day of Desertfest we had the chance to sit down for a bit and have an interview with Monolord’s frontman Thomas Jäger after their amazing gig. Here it is:
MR: – Hi Thomas! How is the tour so far?
TJ: – It’s good. Three days in, started in Berlin and went to The Netherlands, so it’s like three festivals in a row, it’s all good.
MR: – Do you like the festivals more or the club gigs?
TJ: – It’s different. If it’s a club gig you usually know that everyone is there for you, on festival shows it could be bigger crowds but… I don’t know. I think I prefer a club gig when it’s, like, packed with a bunch of people who are only there for you and you get so close to the audience. It’s hard to beat. But both things are really fun.
MR: – How was the gig today?
TJ: – It was actually really good. I was a bit worried ’cause we played so early.
MR: – Yeah, 3 o’clock was a bit early but there was a fair amount of people and more came in during the set. And everyone enjoyed it.
TJ: – Yeah, it was great. I think that the audience enjoyed it too. You can tell because of the reactions, you know, when you stop a song, and they were really awesome.
MR: – You even took a picture of the crowd.
TJ: – Yeah, I usually do that during the last song, the ‘Empress Rising’. Not always, but most of the times that’s the last one. On record I think it’s like 12 minutes and 40 seconds but when we play it live it’s more like 15-16 minutes. So we try to break it down and it’s fun to do different things. If it’s possible I sometimes go down to the audience to play guitar and stuff.
MR: – And you made that warcry with your arm in the air and people went crazy.
TJ: – Yeah!
MR: – So your latest album, ‘Rust’, came out last year, when will the next one come?
TJ: – We don’t know ’cause we have a lot of touring still to do, we have a few… er… two… two tours planned that we haven’t announced yet. This summer we’re gonna do some festival shows then we’ll go to Psycho Las Vegas, and after that we have the rest of the year pretty much planned. So maybe we’ll start to figuring out what to do early next year. Maybe. So probably sometime next year, maybe, like, in a year or so.
MR: – Sweden is a country known for amazing music, do you think there’s a reason behind this? Education, funding or something else?
TJ: – Yeah, there is some government funding. So, basically, you can get rehearsal space pretty cheap, or if you pay the full rent then when you buy, for example, strings or drumheads, you can get some money back if you send them the receipts. That helps of course. And there’s always been, like, a strong culture of rehearsal spaces. In most big towns – like Gothenburg where we are based – there are lot of complexes with rehearsal rooms. But since there’s not much money to make in it, like, it’s good PR for Sweden, but they don’t make any money out of it, so now they’re cutting the funds a bit.
Swedish music I sometimes compare to old Swedish folk music. It’s pretty sad, sad sounding. It’s got a vibe to it, not depressing, but there is some mood in there. The instrumental song ‘Wormland’ is actually a tribute to an old folk song we sang in school.
MR: – So do you have a good music education?
TJ: – If you want then your parents can apply for you to learn the piano or the acoustic guitar or flute or whatever, and then you can go to the public music school. When I was young it was more or less free.
MR: – Did you go to this school?
TJ: – Yeah, I played both drums – I started with drums actually when I was 11 – but then I switched to guitar when I was 12 or 13.
MR: – What was the reason behind that change?
TJ: – I think when I went to the music school it was so boring ’cause I had to play notes all the time on the drums, but I wanted to play rock ‘n’ roll, and I’d just recently discovered Deep Purple and I felt that I needed to try this on guitar.
MR: – So Deep Purple was the first band that you dicovered?
TJ: – And I think the first band I played too. I got my mothers ‘Made In Japan’ album and it was really worn down – it was cracking and made a lot of noise but I put it on. The first song that I actually remember I taught myself was the rhythm part of ‘Highway Star’. After that there was no turning back.
MR: – Do you think that it influenced you and helped that your mum listened to this kind of music?
TJ: – Yes, and after that my mom was really supportive and gave me more of her albums, then I took every record from her collection and I started playing Status Quo and AC/DC; after that I went more into Swedish punk rock from the mid ’80s like Anti Cemex – a bit more what they called raw punk I think, in the beginning, and then it turned into hardcore, but then the other hardcore scene came. So I got into that and started to play more aggressively. But my mother has always been really supportive; she bought me guitars from time to time or gave me money to buy a new amp and stuff, so it’s because of her I’m playing, I think.
MR: – Which is your favourite guitar?
TJ: – The one that I have now. It’s a old Greco, a Japan built from ’81 or ’82. They made copies of Gibson V’s, but they had, like, the law suit era when they couldn’t sell them in Europe, but if you want to you can buy them from Japan and get them sent. I have a guy I know who does that from time to time, so sometimes I mail him and say can you get one of these. What I’ve got is a copy of an anniversary model and I haven’t played anything near it since I got it, it’s the most perfect guitar. It’s light and the neck is pretty thin. I always put Lace pickups in my guitars, so yeah, it’s a perfect guitar.
MR: – How is the community, the metal scene? There are lots of bands from Gothenburg, do you know each other?
TJ: – I know some, I know the guys in Graveyard a little bit, but as soon as you get to know, like, one or two then it just explodes, you know. It’s a good community and we always hang out if we meet on gigs.
MR: – What inspires you to write music?
TJ: – I can get inspired by anything. I drive, like, one and a half hours to and from work everyday, so I try to listen to something new all the time to get me inspired. If I sit in my car and get, like, a melody or a line, lyric or whatever, then I take my phone and record my hum, then when I get home I have a small home studio so I can just go upstairs and record it immediately if I want to.
MR: – Any new bands you’ve discovered recently?
TJ: – We saw a band yesterday, I mean we didn’t see them ’cause they played really early, but I bought the vinyl ’cause we listened to them in the car on the way to the hotel last night. They’re called Insect Ark, they are two girls, just a duo with drums and keyboards, with a bit of drone in there but sometimes it’s really mellow – it’s really, really good.
MR: – Do you have any time to watch any bands on a festival like this?
TJ: – Today we have since we played early. So, after the interviews we’re gonna catch up with some friends and check some bands out. We’ve actually been playing both in Berlin and yesterday in The Netherlands with Monster Magnet and I have seen a total of five minutes, so I think I’m gonna watch Monster Magnet. Maybe Primitive Man.
MR: – Well, I’m not going to take any more of your time. Thanks for the interview; enjoy the gigs!
TJ: – Thank you, man!