I think every great leader is only as good as the people he leads. I’m lucky in that all of the people involved in the Monolith are amazing, inspiring people. I love them all like a family and I feel humbled to be able to write alongside them; let alone lead them. One thing I cannot thank them for enough is their tenacity and patience. The Monolith has taken a long time to come to fruition, and it would never have made it to this day without them.
Speaking of making it to this day, when I think about how I got into the world of online music journalism, I have to say it was a pretty unique path. I had just finished a film degree at university; the day I handed in my dissertation was a time in my life where I felt truly lost as to what to do next. So, I hit up The Number Of The Blog, a now defunct metal blog, and spoke to its editor Grover. I originally signed on to write film reviews for the site, but that quickly bled over into writing about music. I rose through the ranks and enjoyed a stint as one of the site’s main editors during the time that it was at peak performance.
It was around then that I became frustrated with a lot of the negative stuff that I saw happen in the industry and decided that I wanted to help. The problem with a lot of sites is they’re more interested in being entirely self centred ego trips rather than actually trying to help the music community and bands. The Monolith will change that.
While the focus of The Monolith is on music of the extreme variety, there will be articles written on film as well. Back in the glory days of The Number Of The Blog, some of the best community discussions were hosted through one of my film articles, so I intend to not only continue that here, but enlist some more help in that area. Last year I was given the tremendous opportunity to visit the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF, second only to Cannes in prestige) as a fully accredited member of the press, and was able to meet and interview a whole host of amazing people, as well as consume as many films as my brain could possibly process. Ideally I would love to help independent film as well as independent music, and I have some ideas – but more on that in the coming days and weeks!
I love music. I suppose that’s pretty obvious right about now, but I’ll state it again regardless: I fucking love music. Oh my, he swore; he must be serious. I realise that pretty much everyone here could make the same claim, but that doesn’t make mine any less valid. My love of music comes from an eventful and relatively traumatic past. Music gave me the power to harness my negative experiences and use them positively. I found heavy music at a time in my life where I was incredibly emotionally vulnerable, and as ridiculous as it may sound, I suddenly didn’t feel alone anymore.
Three artists that have had the largest impact on my life are Devin Townsend, Anaal Nathrakh, and Slipknot. I suppose sonically they couldn’t be more different, but what they’re actually linked by is the extreme raw emotion that emanates from every chord. These three artists have never made music for the sole purpose of making money; they pour their hearts out and it moves me completely. The first time I heard Corey Taylor yell his lungs out on Iowa I was gripped by this intense feeling; someone else knows the meaning of pain and hardship. I realise this may come across as a little too serious and heavy handed, but there is a purpose. Music changed my life and filled a hole in my heart. Music gave me a new lease on life.
I predominantly came from a background of listening to rap music and electronic, which is why nu metal and industrial were so appealing to me when I was younger. I feel a lot of this has carried over to my love of drums, low end and vocals over general guitar acrobatics. This means that a lot of thrash metal has never appealed to me because it’s not a genre renowned for its incredible vocalists and gripping emotion. This is another reason why the three artists previously mentioned mean so much to me. Three of my favourite vocalists ever, three men who always play music that they believe in and in which they are emotionally invested. It doesn’t try to be anything more than an honest and raw expression, and throughout their careers they have always made the music that they have wanted to make, not what other people wanted them to make – yes, even SlipKnot.
Because of my focus on vocalists I have the uncanny ability to identify a vocalist through his voice at an incredibly rapid pace, and while that doesn’t sound particularly special, I’m not just talking about a handful of famous singers. I also have an ear for lyrics and seemingly have a photographic memory for vocal melodies, harmonies and lyrics to a point where I can sing a song I’ve only heard three times in my life, five years ago, as soon as I hear it again. The same ability presents itself when after watching a movie: I can recite huge chunks of the screenplay. Considering that other than these focus points I have the memory of a sieve (I genuinely forget my own birthday, and don’t even get me started on the hoo-hah that occurs when I inevitably forget my partner/family/friends special days) it is pretty remarkable.
The Monolith is my gift to music. I envisioned it as a way that I can repay the emotional wealth and compassion that it has shown me. I’m creative at heart, but as a writer, not a musician. I can’t make music myself, but the Monolith is my way of helping to support the scene that has supported me through the difficult time in my life – giving back as it were. If I can help proliferate and support great music, so that others can have those same life changing moments that I had, then I will have done something worthwhile in my life. Because art lives forever – far beyond when the body rots away.
It’s morbid, I realise, but this spiel has a purpose. I’m an honest man; a guy that believes in doing the right thing and holding onto my integrity. I’ve travelled a lot, and never really put my roots anywhere. There is no place in the world where I particularly feel like I belong. Instead I latch on to the art and the people who make my life great. I’ve tried and tested the corporate lifestyle and frankly it’s not an area in which I thrive. For the last year and a half I have searched for a home and I’ve found it. The Monolith is my home and it’s a place we’ve made big enough for everyone. I want us to be a family, because sharing is caring and we all have so much to offer one another and experience.
I humbly welcome you guys on board and I offer myself to all of you.
I will make you one promise though; my next article will be a lot funnier.
Choosing a favourite song of the year thus far is pretty difficult considering the number of great releases we’ve had, but I’ve made my staff do it, so I suppose I should follow my own mantra… I’ll go with a song from Anaal Nathrakh’s new album. It’s called “Todos Somos Humanos“, which has one of the heaviest and filthiest grooves I’ve ever heard, and it ties very nicely into the more emotional nature of this post.