Monster Truck motor across the UK this month on the True Rockers headline tour. Rushonrock editor Simon Rushworth caught up with frontman Jon ‘Marv’ Harvey ahead of tonight’s opening show.
RUSHONROCK: This year marks the 10thanniversary of Monster Truck – a decade ago where did you see the band heading?
JON HARVEY: Nowhere! We started this whole thing as a bit of fun – it’s still fun but it’s become a full- time thing. We started Monster Truck as a vehicle for something to do at the weekend. For it to turn into a 10-year touring career is amazing. A decade ago I was working at a tool story doing the inventory. It had a massive 30,000 square feet floorspace and I managed the stock. The rest of the guys all had jobs and we lived for the weekend and played a couple of live shows a month. It was just the easiest way to get free beer. You put on a show and get free beer – what’s not to like? Then we did a show in Toronto where we met our first manager and he said I’ll take you on if you’re prepared to put the work in. We’ve never been afraid of hard work so we all quit our jobs and made Monster Truck the priority. In hindsight it wasn’t the most responsible thing to do. But when has rock and roll ever been about responsibility?
ROR: Has there ever been a time when you considered quitting?
JH: There’s no point in thinking about that kind of stuff. We need to give all our attention to the band while it’s happening because we know it could all end suddenly. The whole point is that you have to love it to live it and we all still love it. And what’s the alternative? A real job? This isn’t like a real job and we know how lucky we are.
ROR: What are the challenges facing musicians in bands like Monster Truck?
JH: I think the most difficult thing for us is working out when we should be working and when we shouldn’t. There’s no denying the fact that we love to tour. We tour a lot. And we’d probably tour some more! That’s what I like most about being in Monster Truck but on the flipside I have a young child and that’s become the hardest thing to juggle. My instinct is to work all of the time but there’s a time when I have to step back and be a father to my son. Fortunately, this isn’t the hardest or the most regimented job and so I do get the time to be that father. It gets back to what I was saying before. Bands who say that this is the hardest job just aren’t doing it right. Monster Truck have found a way to make it work and still have fun.
ROR: What do you love most about being in Monster Truck?
JH: I get too bored too quickly in the studio so I definitely don’t like that side of it. Playing live and seeing new places is what does it for me. Getting out there and immersing myself in new cities is very important to me. I see this whole thing as a scouting mission for my vacations when I get older! It would be a waste not to see the places that we play and meet the people who come out to our shows. When we’re in the UK and Europe I love to experience the culture. It’s like living all of the fairytales that I was told as a kid – the castles, the countryside and all of that stuff. I soak it all up. I’m not a 20-year-old any more and I don’t stay out all night partying. I like to get up around 9am, have a cup of coffee and go explore.
JH: It was a good year. And it looks like a great year if you’re in the UK. But apart from those trips we didn’t do too much else in 2018. We didn’t really play anywhere else! We spent a lot of last year working on the record and making sure it was the best it could possibly be. I’d like to make a record in two weeks and get back out on the road but it didn’t really work like that. From a UK perspective we loved every minute of 2018 and that’s why we’re so excited to come back. We really wanted to do Download – who doesn’t? And how do you say no to opening up for BSC? We went all over Europe with those guys but this year it’s all about us. We’ve already done three tours and so we’re primed for the UK. Our fans better be ready!
ROR: Does selling out your own headline shows give you just as much pleasure as playing huge festivals and arenas?
JH: More so. Wedid that. We can take ownership of our shows and our tours. It’s on us if it’s sold out or nobody turns up. Maybe we sold a few tickets on the BSC tour and a couple of kids might have seen we were playing Download. But when it’s your tour it means so much more. You can’t put a value on what it means to sell out a Monster Truck show. It’s an incredible feeling.
ROR: As a band that’s worked its way from the bottom up and stuck together through thick and thin are Black Stone Cherry an inspiration to Monster Truck?
JH: Totally. They’re just awesome. Chris [Robertson, singer and guitarist] is the hardest working dude. I used to poke my head into their dressing room and he was always working on something but that’s just his Kentucky mentality. It’s in his nature. But you look at Chris and you look at his band and it’s clear that if you want to be successful then you probably have to put the time in. You can’t expect everything to fall into your lap. Chris and the BSC guys are so engaged with their fans and their music. It’s impossible to not be inspired by what they’re doing.
ROR: You’re bringing the True Rockers tour to the UK but what is a True Rocker?
JH: It’s whatever you want it to be. People look at it as a specific thing but it’s way broader than that. If you want to be a True Rocker then be a True Rocker. We’re trying to empower people rather than pigeon-hole them. We want people to make their own decisions and be true to themselves. Rock is a broad school and a huge thing. It’s inclusive. That’s what I love about it as a fan and what we love about it as a band.
ROR: You’re working with the guys from Old Sarum tattoos in Bristol and London – offering up Monster Truck ink. Are tattoos synonymous with true rocking?
JH: Totally. But they don’t have to be. It’s just a bit of fun. These guys are great at working with bands and doing something a little different but would I encourage anyone to get a Monster Truck tattoo? Of course not! It’s a ridiculous idea! But if that’s what you want then go for it. One of our biggest fans has a whole sleeve of Monster Truck ink – way to go buddy but I wouldn’t have done it!
ROR: You’re bringing fellow Canadians Royal Tusk along for the ride on the UK tour – what can you tell us about those guys?
JH: We know a couple of guys in the band and the producer of our last two records worked on their album. We’re good buddies and when it became clear that it was an option to bring them over to the UK with us we didn’t think twice. It wasn’t a hard decision. They’re a great band and good guys.