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    "The Puppeteer"

    The New Monosphere Album

    Interview von Anne
    23.11.2021 — Lesezeit: 10 min
    Deutsche Version lesen
    "The Puppeteer"
    Bild/Picture: © Monosphere

    The critically acclaimed new Monosphere album "The Puppeteer" will be out on November 26th. Time for an interview with the post-metal/prog band from Mainz. Drummer Rodney has not only answered my questions about the record. He has been vegan for almost ten years now, so we also talked about that topic.

    Anne: You told me that "The Puppeteer" is a large-scale concept album. Would you like to tell me what concept it is? Does it tell a story? Who is the puppeteer?

    Rodney: Yes, exactly. The album sees itself as a concept album on both: the musical and the lyrical level. As far as the music is concerned, "The Puppeteer" builds on various trademarks that we took up as conceptual in the canon of the concept album. These are, for example, recurring elements, a through-composed structure, the taking up of various motifs and further details, such as the incorporation of sounds that benefit the textual plot. For example, in "The Marionnette", you can hear a fire burning; in the plot here, Protagonist One is burning Protagonist Two. We have incorporated many details, just waiting for our listeners to discover them.

    A fictive world

    Monosphere - "The Puppeteer"  cover image (An abstract face build of white cables on a pink background)
    Monosphere - "The Puppeteer"

    Linking to the music videos, the designs, and even our Instagram channel are also part of the concept we are following with "The Puppeteer". The puppeteer himself is a fictional character. Together with another character, he lives in an imaginary world within the story. You could say it's a love story, but our singer Kevin, who wrote the lyrics, wouldn't necessarily subscribe to that (laughs).

    Anne: You are a musicologist and have written a companion piece to "The Puppeteer". I am sure it also deals with the concept? Where can I read it?

    Rodney: My idea was to capture the process. I wanted to give people the opportunity to understand how and why the album came about in this way. I show different aspects that explain why "The Puppeteer" is a concept album. It has become very analytical in parts and also a bit music-theoretical. But it's also more of an offering for anyone who would like to dive deep into the concept. Previous knowledge is not necessary because there is also an essential part in which the basics are explained.

    There will be a printed book on the release day of the record. However, I am still looking for a way to publish it online as well.

    "Every album needs a concept

    Anne: You told me you think an album without a fundamental concept hardly makes sense. How do you recognise a conceptless album? Can't it already be a concept to work together on something that all band members want to do? Or would it be a nightmare for you not to define a structure in advance?

    Rodney: For me, every album is based on a concept. After all, something must have prompted me to put a collection of songs on a record. For me, an album without a concept is just a collection of singles someone put on a record – just for marketing reasons and to generate sales – without a common thread and without the idea behind writing an album. I think in this way, an album can never become an actual album.

    The term "album" actually comes from classical music, or from the time of shellac records, where each side had only three to five minutes of playing time. If you wanted to listen to an entire work, such as a complete symphony, you needed several records collected in large albums. The term derives from the Latin word "albus" ("white") – the backs of the record sleeves were usually white.

    Anne: Your style is somewhere between post-metal, mathcore and prog. Which bands would you say are your biggest influences here?

    "We are a DIY band"

    Monosphere (Picture of the band standing behind the entry of a concrete ruin)

    Rodney: Our influences are as varied as our music. Bands like Between The Buried And Me, The Ocean, Rolo Tomassi, Cult Of Luna and Deafheaven, influenced me as well as composers like Philip Glass or Steve Reich did. In addition, neoclassical artists like Joep Beving had a significant impact on our songwriting. You can hear that especially in the track "No Strings Attached".

    Anne: You are a DIY band. Is it important to you to do the entire production yourself, or would you also work with sound engineers or a label, for example, if the opportunity arose?

    Rodney: We produced our album ourselves but left the mixing and mastering to professionals. We worked with Phil Kaase from The Mixing Mine and Brad Boatright from Audiosiege. We could have done it ourselves, but to be honest, the album wouldn't sound nearly as good. As far as labels are concerned, we contacted some before releasing the album ourselves. It was also about proving to ourselves that we can do something without a record label. It wouldn't do the work for us but would also make particular demands on us. We also didn't want to enter into a label deal where we give away more than we get out of it. Since we are very well connected and have a lot of contacts, the decision to do it ourselves was obvious to us. Of course, if something comes up in the future, we are still not opposed to it. The deal should be right in any case, and the label has to fit us. But at the moment, that's just a pipe dream for us.

    Anne: Your album lives from its contrasts. Light and dark, loud and quiet, good and bad. Does it reflect life?

    "People need contrasts"

    Rodney: The album lives on contrasts because they make the music exciting for me. A cadence is only exciting when it dissolves or leads unexpectedly into a modulation. Consonance and dissonance are nothing more than tensions that clash or have hardly any tensions and sound beautiful. I think we are used to looking for contrasts and living them out.

    The rhythm of day and night squeezes us into a system that dictates a strong contrast. It may not directly reflect life, but it can be projected onto it.

    Anne: You are producing concept videos for your songs. Will we see them at your live shows as well?

    Rodney: Yes! We work with a beamer at our live concerts that is pointed at us during our set and plays a video projection. Because the videos pick up the album's story, they only make real sense in combination with the shows. But even apart from the videos, enough material for a continuous projection. So the Monosphere shows follow an audiovisual concept. The moving pictures are supposed to create a unique overall experience in addition to the music.

    Anne: You told me that you have also been living vegan for almost ten years. How did that come about? What finally convinced you back then?

    "Living vegan in the future was the right decision"

    Monosphere (Picture of the band standing in front of a concrete wall)

    Rodney: Yes, that's right. I started getting interested in vegan food in 2011 because I constantly came into contact with it at concerts. There was vegan chilli everywhere at the time, and I still remember how I didn't want to believe it was vegan at first. It ended up being a mixture of influences from the scene and the educational videos from PETA that enlightened me. I wanted to try living vegan for as long as possible. The experiment I did together with a friend only worked for one week. However, four weeks later, after a short time as a vegetarian, I decided that I could and would also give up cheese.

    I am still firmly convinced after almost ten years that I made the right decision.

    Anne: How is it that so many people in the music business are vegans or vegetarians or on their way to becoming so? Some (like Belinda and Justin from Crippled Black Phoenix, who I interviewed some time ago) are even active animal rights activists. So it's by no means just about band catering. Is it?

    "On tour, the vegan food is better."

    Rodney: I think that even many musicians who don't usually go vegan like to eat vegan food on tour because it's a specific guarantee of fresh food that provides vitamins. It might be a bit cliché, but any touring person is grateful for vegetables. I also work as a promoter, booker and band manager myself, and I experience this all the time. But I also think that the music business has its share. So many artists act as role models and sometimes educate people without necessarily appearing agitational or activist.

    The question is, of course, where activism begins and where it ends. Bloggers are also activists in a way. For example, if you take flyers or stickers on a tour that you distribute along the way, you quickly start a small fire. I came to veganism precisely through such aspects. I think that many use their music as a vehicle to spread their convictions – as is the case with straight edge hardcore, for example. Being a metal musician in a left-green oriented scene makes it even easier to live vegan.

    Anne: You are meeting many people through the band and have blogged about vegan life under Rodey's Vegan World for a long time. Do you have any idea how many people you've inspired for veganism to this day?

    Rodney: Yes, I meet new people every week and often converse with them on topics like veganism. I can't say precisely how many people I've been able to inspire.

    Back then, as a student, I was one of the few vegans in the whole school – maybe even the only one in my grade. By the time I did my A-levels, at least five in my year and a few more in the sixth form. Back then, many came to me and asked me for tips. Maybe there are many more than I think. But that's not what it's all about for me either. I am happy when I can "infect" others with my enthusiasm. After all, everyone benefits from it.

    Anne: Can you imagine letting that flow into your songs, or do you already do that? Are you already doing that?

    "Fried vegan food is the best the day after a gig"

    Rodney: I would love to incorporate it into the music. I think it's a hugely important subject and should be tackled much more often.

    Because "The Puppeteer" tells a fictional story, it's not an issue in this case. In addition, I don't write song lyrics, or instead, I haven't done so yet. But let's see, if we get away from our fixed concepts at some point, maybe that will become an option at some point.

    Anne: What is your favourite thing to eat after a hard gig?

    Rodney: To be honest, I usually don't eat anything after a performance because it's usually too late. The next day, however, I eat even more – preferably something greasy, of course. For example french fries, and maybe some fancy substitute like nuggets – and lots of vegan mayonnaise! But as much as I love junk food sometimes, I also love to cook at home. Lasagne is always a guarantee. I discovered it for myself over the Corona period. After a performance, however, it has to be quick. So fries with some deep-fried stuff are my first choice!

    Anne: Enough about veganism. You formed in 2015 from the progressive deathcore band Lost Without Direction. How did the change come about?

    "We started our first band when we were about 16 years old"

    Monosphere (Sepia photo of the band standing behind the entry of a concrete ruin)

    Rodney: Lost Without Direction was the band we started making music in 2010. We were just 16 years old at the time, and we put everything into that band. Over time, our taste in music changed a bit. At some point, we reached a point of frustration and wanted to do something new. In the beginning, it was just our singer Kevin and me. Then the rest of the troupe joined relatively quickly.

    So, in the beginning, we were the same band – just with different music. Then, at some point, some of the band members changed. In the meantime, we play a mix of what we started with Monosphere and what we used to with Lost Without Direction. It seems to be a good compromise for me.

    Anne: Unlike many other bands, you didn't write your album during the various Corona lockdowns, but back in 2018. How come you're only releasing it now?

    Rodney: That has to do with the fact that we only started recording it in 2020. We didn't have a fixed line-up in the band for a long time. So we didn't use the time at first, which has different reasons. But it was important for us to take it and create a specific lead time. We often rushed things in the past and wanted to avoid that this time.

    So we tried out a lot and discarded some things. Then we finished the album as far as possible. We then used the Corona break to exchange ideas digitally.

    We almost didn't even release the record until 2022 because there's hardly any touring possible at the moment, and the vinyl won't arrive until next year.

    Anne: What's next for you? Touring might become complicated again in the short term if you look at the COVID figures. Are you working on new songs?

    "There will be a Monospere tour in 2022"

    Rodney: At the moment, I'm still entirely caught up in the promo for the album and empty as far as new songs are concerned. There are sketches and finished demos, and the goal is to continue working on them as soon as possible, but I need a break.

    I think I need a break first. I need to gain a certain distance to be able to dedicate myself to new music. We also want to see how our previous music is received – this will undoubtedly give rise to one or two ideas.

    For 2022 we plan to release an instrumental version of the record. Maybe there will be a piano version of some tracks or some remixes. So we have some ideas that we would like to try out.

    Nevertheless, we are already working on tour plans for 2022 and have already contacted some bookers. We'll see when the time comes. We definitely want to perform next year.

    Monosphere consist of Kevin Ernst (vocals), Max Rossol (guitar), Valentin Noack (guitar), Marlon Palm (bass) and Rodney Fuchs (drums). "The Puppeteer" is a great album full of contrasts, about which we will indeed read one or two headlines in the music magazines. Fans of metalcore, cinematic post-metal, and bands like Cult of Luna and Between The Buried And Me should not miss it.

    Monosphere – "I Am In Control, Pt. I" (ft. Nils Wittrock from The Hirsch Effekt)

    © 2024 · · Anne Reis