Monstrance: Band Of The Day

By on 11 February 2016

monstrance

Carlo Regadas – ex-Carcass guitarist and replacement for Michael Amott shortly after the ‘Heartwork’ album was released – is back on the scene again and active with a new band that goes under the name of Monstrance. After hearing three promo demo tracks he’s recorded, we can safely say that this material should definitely appeal to fans of the later Carcass albums and the early Arch Enemy albums, where melody and technical prowess meets death metal aggression. Carlo has been joined by the ex-vocalist from his old pre Carcass death metal band Devoid and current Lock Up/Brujeria drummer Nicholas Barker for this new band, they have already attracted the interest of a couple notable labels and an announcement should be forthcoming regarding that. I got in touch with Carlo to find out more about Monstrance and his return after a long hiatus.

Words: Kat Gillham

WHO ARE THEY: Monstrance
WHERE ARE THEY FROM: Liverpool / Northern England
FOR FANS OF: Carcass, Devoid, early Arch Enemy, Exhumed, Death
LATEST RELEASE: Promo Demo 2015
WEBSITE: Facebook

Hi Carlo! You have been inactive in the scene for quite some time so why the return to being in bands now? Did it just seem like the right time to get involved in the scene actively again? What was the inspiration behind your decision to become active with a band again as you didn’t do anything official after your post Carcass band Blackstar split up in the late ’90s?
“To be honest, it was a purely personal decision rather than a musical one. I’ve always continued to write music, I just didn’t want to play in a band anymore. I guess there was a lot of self doubt and other personal issues that prevented me doing it before, so, yeah, it’s definitely a timing thing. Tony definitely plays a massive part in all this too, as he’s always championed my song-writing and had faith in these songs when I originally wrote and recorded them ten years ago. A few people on Facebook had asked me if I’d done anything musically during my 17 year hiatus so, reluctantly at first, I sent a few people some of these songs I’d home recorded. They were all written and recorded by myself, all instruments. A lot of the riffs, songs and ideas where around from my Carcass / Blackstar days, some even predate that. I was floored with the response to be honest and it gave me a big lift in my confidence. I was urged to send the material to a few labels, again, I was reluctant at first but thought “hey, why not?” The response from the labels has been nothing short of shocking for me. I don’t want to divulge which labels are interested at this stage as ultimately, I don’t want to end up with egg on my face should things not work out. Suffice to say, the labels are really into the music and are very excited about the band. I originally was only intending to try and put together a group of guys for a studio project, just to record the material properly but both labels were keen for me to look for a proper line-up, with a view to touring, playing festivals etc. I wanted to make sure that I chose people who were good, nice lads and genuinely into the music. I wasn’t too bothered about what bands they’d been in previously, I was more concerned about personalities. The line-up is a fantastic bunch of likeminded, non egotistical lads who are all fantastic musicians and it couldn’t have worked out better in my wildest dreams.”

What actually happened to Blackstar as it was such a shortlived band?
“To be honest, Blackstar was a lot of fun, especially after all the tension and inter-band frictions of Carcass, it was nice to just enjoy being in a band again and writing music. It was a very productive time and the song-writing was so easy. I remember coming back from a recording session in Lincoln, for a Peaceville compilation. I remember we were driving back and I’d made the decision in my head to leave, I just wasn’t enjoying it anymore. The idea for me was to make a no-holds-barred heavy metal album with good, catchy riffs and screaming guitar solos and I think we achieved that. There were some things I wasn’t happy about but that’s just part of a band democracy and I lost the vote, so to speak. I was never into the saxophone and horn ideas as I thought they sounded a bit novelty-sounding and possibly a little bit comical and I wanted the record to be taken seriously. I still think it’s a good album though and in a lot of respects, it’s better than ‘Swansong’, in my humble opinion.”

You sent me a few rough recordings of some songs that will appear on the debut album by your new band Monstrance – when was this material initially written and was that material left over from the ’90s, or were you constantly writing new riffs/coming up with new ideas even in the years when you were officially inactive bandwise?
“I’ve always written and recorded music, whether I was in a band or not, I have music in my head all the time and it drives me crazy unless I get it out of my head and record it. I write most of my riffs and melodies in my head and sometimes I need to get to an instrument to play the ideas before I forget them, sometimes I’ll hum them into a voice recorder or something like that. Most of the material is from 1996 to 2005 but some of it goes as far back as 1992.”

The material I have heard definitely has a latter Carcass vibe to it musically, some very familiar sounding guitarwork there which sounds like a cross between ‘Heartwork’ and ‘Swansong’ era Carcass to my ears, would you agree with this? What would you say are the significant differences are between Monstrance and Carcass?
“Well, I have been in other bands besides Carcass but I understand that people will always want to bring that band up because Carcass are a massive band now, so it’s perfectly understandable that people will want to draw comparisons. If some of the material sounds like ‘Swansong’, I guess that’s understandable as I wrote and arranged music on that album and performed on it too, although the approach and delivery is nothing like that album whatsoever. To be honest, I honestly couldn’t imagine any of these songs being Carcass songs. Carcass has a lot of those atonal, angular style riffs, which I don’t tend to write. These songs could actually be regular metal songs, without the down-tuning and extreme vocal style. Everything is tuned to B standard, which Carcass were the originators of, as widely documented. The main differences would be the entire approach, the song-writing, the lyrics, everything really, other than tuning down to B and having guitar harmonies and stuff, my material doesn’t have any blast beats either. I think the Monstrance material will probably be more immediate maybe, as there aren’t any of those atonal, angular riffs and blast beats. I feel there has been something missing in this genre of music in the last 20 or so years and hopefully people will see this material as a welcome return to the music we all loved back in the halcyon days. I don’t know, we’ll see what the reviews say when the album comes out, I guess.”

How much of the material on the Monstrance album will be old and how much has been written recently? How does a typical song come together from its inception? Are you responsible for the writing of the material that will be on the album?
“There’s only one ‘new’ song that will appear on the album but it fits in perfectly, stylistically speaking as my song-writing hasn’t changed as to how I approach melodies and structures. Usually, I’ll work on a song in its entirety and record the song, playing all the instruments, that’s how I’ve always done it, although it was different in Carcass and Blackstar. Yeah, all the material has been written entirely by me.”

When can we expect the debut Monstrance album? What can the readers expect from the album and it’s content musically etc..?
“Well, hopefully, once a deal has been signed, we can start working on the album as soon as possible. We are all itching to get into the studio and start recording. A wild guess regarding the release of the album, I don’t know, maybe early 2016. Musically speaking, I guess there is something for everyone who appreciates any form of metal. We’re not interested in putting ourselves into any of the plethora of sub sub sub genres, as far as we’re concerned, it’s just metal. We don’t need to add a prefix to that, suffice to say that the music has all of the elements that I personally love about heavy metal; guitar harmonies, classic riffs, tasteful guitar solos, tight and heavy rhythm section and strong and emphatic vocals. You could say that it could be likened to traditional and classic metal, albeit with crushing, down-tuned guitars and extreme vocals.”

What is the inspiration behind the band name? Why the name Monstrance?
“To be honest, I was really mindful that I didn’t want a name that would pigeonhole the band into something genre specific. The name isn’t limiting in the sense that a name like, I don’t know, ‘’Morbid Execution’’ or something equally as banal and puerile would be. I chose the name simply because I quite like ecclesiastical terminology and imagery, probably because of my Catholic upbringing. I am an atheist but I have always quite liked the paradox of the use of the terminology and imagery in metal.”

Lyrically what kind of subjects will the album deal with?
“This is actually my first foray into lyric-writing. The subjects I’ve written about are things that I feel strongly about. The lyrics deal with injustice, hypocrisy, oppression and all things that I view as unfair in life. I wouldn’t say they are overtly political in the sense that they are not dogmatic, rather they are more observational.”

I know you initially had a full line up assembled featuring Tony Glover (ex-vocalist in your old death metal band Devoid) and Ian Treacy (ex-Benediction drummer, now no longer part of the line up), why did you decide to bring these guys into the line up and what qualities do you think they will bring into the Monstrance sound? You also recently added a bass player, please tell us about him too.
“Tony was always going to be the vocalist in this band, there was never a question in my mind of it being anybody else. Tony and myself have been close friends since we were teenagers and Tony played a key role in the Monstrance story. Tony has always championed my songwriting and guitar-playing and has always tried to encourage me to do something with this material. Thankfully, it was Tony who had kept hold of my home-recorded demos, as I’d lost them several years ago. Ian is an old friend of ours and also a great guy and a well-respected extreme metal drummer. He was the first name I thought of and he said yes without any hesitation after hearing the songs. Our bass player is Aleksandar Kokai, who also plays in Liverpool metal band Crush Depth Experiment. I was very keen to find a good bass player and Alek is a fantastic musician. We also will have Steven Hargraves on second guitar for live purposes. A lot of the material features twin guitar harmonies and it was essential to recruit a live guitar player. Steven is a friend of ours too, so he was the perfect choice.  I never had any intention of looking for big-name musicians from the genre, I was more concerned with finding like-minded personalities who just happen to be great musicians. I couldn’t be any happier with the enthusiasm and togetherness within this band.”

You recently got Nick Barker on board to play drums – how did this come about and what happened to Ian? Have you started rehearsing with Nick?
“Basically, Ian couldn’t commit to the band, which was a shame really, as the vibe was really enthusiastic and positive. I had to think of another drummer who would be suited to the music and Nick was the first name that came to mind. I asked him and he said that he was up for it. I’m delighted to be honest, Nick is a fantastic musician and in my opinion, he’s the best extreme metal drummer on the planet. I’m sure he’s going to put his stamp on the album and I’m chuffed to have him on board.”

Once the album is released do you plan to play live much/tour in support of the album?
“Absolutely, we hope to tour as much as possible and hopefully get on as many festivals as we can. It would be great if we could get some really good support slots and we hope to tour this album as much as we possibly can.”

Having toured heavily with both Carcass and Blackstar back in the early-mid-late ’90s have you missed that aspect of your life much in the inactive years? Are you looking forward to once again touring extensively or will the Monstrance tour schedules be less gruelling and lengthy? What aspects of touring and playing live do you A/ Enjoy the most, B/ Hate the most C/ Have missed the most over the years?
“I can’t say I have really missed that aspect of my life much because I haven’t been in a band while inactive, so it wasn’t something I’ve given much thought to, until now. Yeah, really looking forward to going out on the road with Monstrance as much as possible. Hmmm, regarding the aspects of touring, I really enjoy seeing different places, playing live and having a laugh with the lads. I don’t really enjoy flying but it’s not like it can be avoided. Like I say, I haven’t really missed it because it’s not been a part of my life for such a long time.”

Have you got an album title already in the pipeline?
“We do have a working title, although that may be subject to change.”

Any idea where you will record the album? Have you already got someone in mind to work with?
“To be honest, it all depends on the budget, so it’s difficult to even start thinking that far ahead until we have a clear idea of what we have to work with. Of course, there are plenty of great producers and great studios but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”

Your old band Devoid (who released one demo and a full length album in the early ’90s before you joined Carcass) recently had a discography CD released by Spanish underground label Dark Blasphemies titled ‘Return To The Void’ – how did this come about? Are you happy with how it turned out overall? What was your initial reaction when you were first approached about this release? How does it feel to get the Devoid material back out there in the spotlight? I always thought the band was quite underrated. Are you not tempted to reform the band like so many other old bands are doing or is this discography release enough for you regarding that band and more people getting to hear what you did all those years ago? How can people get hold of this album?
“Yeah, it’s great and I’m completely surprised that anyone was actually interested enough to want to even re-release it. To be honest, I’ve never even thought about any of the Devoid stuff being reissued, the stuff was recorded so long ago. The first demo and the LP were recorded in 1991 and a second promo demo was recorded in 1992 but was never released. I was only 16 when we did the first demo in April 1991. I guess, as a guitar player, I am hyper-critical of my own playing, I’m my own biggest critic, so hearing stuff recorded that long ago makes me cringe a bit to be honest, as it certainly doesn’t represent my ability as a musician some 24 years later. I was quite reluctant at first, mainly because I didn’t think anyone would even be interested, we were never a big band. Then, out of the blue, I was approached by David from Dark Blasphemies Records regarding a CD reissue of the ‘Blackened Empire’ LP, along with the first demo and the unreleased promo tape from 1992 and I just thought “fuck it, why not?”. The album was never originally released on CD, so it seemed like a good idea, I guess. I’m just a bit concerned for the label as to whether it will sell or not but we’ll see. One thing is for sure that the packaging is great and all the material has been remastered, so I guess it will be a nice thing to own and will actually be a huge improvement on the original releases, both sonically and aesthetically. I still have a few for sale if anyone wants to contact me through the Devoid UK page on Facebook.”

Any updated news regarding label interest?
“No further news regarding a record deal as yet. The same labels that expressed an interest in signing the band are still interested, so, hopefully, there will be some news regarding a deal in the near future.”

That’s all for now Carlo, the last words are yours!
“Many thanks, Kat, for the interest and support, it’s very much appreciated. People can keep checking our Facebook page for news and updates at www.facebook.com/monstranceofficial.”

About Kez Whelan

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

%d bloggers like this: